As some of you may know, despite working in a support role for the last 6 or so years, I have only recently certified as an ACSA (Apple Certified Systems Administrator). Enjoying my new found smugness I quickly found out that Apple will only provide the ACTC (Apple Certified Technical Coordinator) certification for Lion onwards, therefore making me ACSA forever!
I quickly recertified my ACTC for Lion to continue my ability of smugness, until my Manager had a brain wave; ‘We need more Windows Certified engineers, go get some books and get certified!’ My first port of call was the Microsoft Certifications webpage, and boy is it confusing….
Apple Certification Process
Since Lion’s release, Apple’s Certification process has become a lot simpler:
For the cross platform Desktop Support / Helpdesk Technician there is the ACA (Apple Certified Associate) certification. This is a fairly basic offering and one that most technicians avoid, in favour of the ACSP (see below)
For the Hardware Technician there is still the ACMT (Apple Certified Macintosh Technician) that involves a Hardware and basic software course and exam.
For the dedicated Mac Desktop Support / Helpdesk Technician there is the ACSP (Apple Certified Support Professional) certification. This is a more in depth course for the standard technician including general troubleshooting but concentrating on the Client OS.
And finally, for the Mac Server Support Technician there is the ACTC (Apple Certified Technical Coordinator) certification. To obtain this certification, you will have needed to pass the ACSP requirements, plus an additional Server Essentials course, therefore making you fully support qualified in the Lion OS.
The benefit of this system is that, no matter which Certification an Apple support professional has, you can tell what level of work they are certified for.
Microsoft Certification Process*
On my initial research, the Microsoft Certification Process looked very similar. You have your separate levels (shown to the right) and it all looked very straightforward. That is until I delved further.
It would seem Microsoft offer a more tiered certification, in that you can be Microsoft Certified, but a MCTS would be a less qualified technician than a MCITP or even an MCM!
But it seemed even this view is skewed with inconsistencies! It seems a lot of the certifications (for example the Small Business Server) are limited to certain levels and the nearest equivalent on the next level is a fairly large leap.
After more research and detailed reading it seems that you are better off picking an area you want to specialise in, and then look at the levels you can certify in.
After much pondering and reading I have decided to first concrete any self-taught Windows knowledge followed by expanding my Windows Server knowledge. On this note I have elected to attempt the following Certifications/Exams:
MCTS: Configuring Windows 7 – 70-680
MCITP: Windows 7 Enterprise Desktop Support Technician – 70-685
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 – 70-686
MCTS: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuration – 70-169
MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008 – 70-640, 70-642 & 70-646
Some may ask why a happy Mac Engineer is openly discussing Microsoft Certification, but a requirement nowadays is the ability to support, not just one system alone, but a larger mixed environment, including any random strange reactions between the two.
What are your experiences of the certification processes? What do you think of my choices? Any stories to share?
As always, let us know in the comments.
* Please note: I am new to the Microsoft Certification process and these are just opinions I have on them via my own (very) limited knowledge!