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December 12, 2011

A Concise Guide to Apple Certifications

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Apple is known for its iconic products and services. This is precisely the reason why Apple products are immensely popular among general users and are adopted by professionals and businesses in an array of industries. Though many people know or have heard about Apple and its products, many are unaware of the fact that Apple provides certifications to professionals in the IT field and other creative areas.

The aim of Apple certifications is to help individual deepen their knowledge and facilitate effective implementation and usage of Apple products and technologies. Students, computer technicians, innovative professionals and educators are the major beneficiaries of these certifications.

Why Apple Certifications?

Certain qualifications can make you stand out in today’s highly competitive job market and Apple Certified Professionals (ACPs) have a definite edge over non-ACPs. Possessing an Apple certification makes it easier for hiring managers to identify that you have the right skills and knowledge for the job. Whether you are a freelance consultant or an IT professional at a big company, an Apple certification will open many doors for you and may be just the difference maker that saves your resume from entering the shredder.

Apple Study Materials and Training

There are multiple options on how to obtain an Apple certification. Apple provides study materials to all applicants for a small fee. Regular coaching/tutoring and study material is also available at any of the Apple Authorized Training Centers. For the majority of the programs, books are also available on the market. Apart from these alternatives, you also can seek help from any of the privately held coaching centers. Study material is also available online for free. Numerous dedicated discussion forums also provide an excellent support group while preparing for any of the exams or just the exam. Do not worry, you are not the only one committed to this and you are not the first one to attempt this venture.

Apple Exam Logistics: Who, Where and How Much

Anyone can appear for the certification examination and become an ACP. There are no age, educational, or experience limitations (Apple does not discriminate against anyone). However, some higher level certification examinations may require some prerequisites, such as passing the necessary primary level certification courses with Apple. The proper order for the Apple certifications is listed and explained down below. Makeup exams are allowed only after one week has passed.

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Those of you who want to appear for an Apple certification exam can register for a slot at any of the Apple Authorized Training Centers or Prometric Testing Centers. Depending on the availability of open spaces, you either can take the exam immediately, or you may have to wait a couple of weeks.

For Beta exams, anyone can appear to take this test for free. For certification exams, the fees are in the range of $65 to $200. This may change from one region, city, or state to another.

Apple Certification Programs

Apple’s certification programs are categorized as follows:

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1. Mac OS X Certification
a. Apple Certified Associate (ACA) – This program enables you to integrate Mac’s in Windows or any other network; anyone who wants to know how to fully utilize conventional services such as file sharing, directory services, and resource sharing on a Mac and how to integrate these services in a different type of network.
b. Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) – After passing this exam, you will be in a superior position to better understand the core functionalities of the Mac OS, and to troubleshoot any problems associated with network integration on a Mac; ideal for technical support professionals, technical coordinators, and power-users.
c. Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC) – This certification is meant for professionals who wish to setup and administer Mac OS based networks. Establishing and fabricating Mac OS servers, troubleshooting problems associated with the network are some of the key skills acquired; ideal for technical coordinators and system administrators. You must be ACSP certified to be able to take this exam.
d. Apple Certified Specialist (ACS) – This certification is meant only for advanced technical professionals who wish to specialize in deployment, directory management services, and the security and mobility of Mac networks. Having qualified for the ACTC is a must before engaging this exam.
e. Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA) – This is the ultimate certification as far as Mac OS is concerned. Once armed with this certification, you will be able to setup networks, customize them according to the needs of the client, design network architectures, troubleshoot basic to high level problems. Do not get ahead of yourself; you will not be equal to the late Steve Jobs, though you may be an Apple Jedi Knight.
2. Xsan Certification
This certification is geared towards network integration rather than focusing on the Mac OS. Once certified, you will be better equipped to configure systems, maintain networks made up entirely of Mac’s or a few Mac’s in a different network, customize and troubleshoot network services, and design a network. The study of the SAN file system is another focal point of this certification. The exam is available in multiple languages including – Chinese (simplified or traditional), French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian.

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3. Professional Applications Certifications

Media and creative professionals who are Apple certified are in great demand in the media and entertainment industry. These certifications are especially meant for such professionals. As the product suites made by Apple are considered standards in the media industry, anyone looking to break the ice in this highly competitive industry is encouraged to procure one of these certifications. There are three tiered exams and can be summarized as follows:

a. Apple Certified Associate (ACA) – Meant for entry level professionals. The exam can be taken online.
b. Apple Certified Pro (ACP) – Level One – Designed for mid-level professionals who want to enhance their proficiency in a particular product suite. Can be taken only after completion of the ACA certification.
c. Apple Certified Pro (ACP) – Level Two – People who want to demonstrate themselves as masters of a particular product suite are encouraged to take this exam. Only ACP – Level One certificate holders are qualified to take this exam.
4. Apple Certified Macintosh Certification
This certification program is meant for techies who are more interested in hardware rather than OSs or networks. An Apple Certified Macintosh Technician can repair and troubleshoot hardware problems associated with Mac PCs and/or laptops.

Benefits of Apple Certifications

So what can you do after becoming Apple certified?

Besides updating your resume, (which you probably have been salivating to do) all ACPs are eligible to join the Apple Consultants Network which is comprised of independent professionals and firms that specialize in providing custom third party solutions to businesses. It need not be reiterated that Apple Certified Professionals are highly sought after and climb the career ladder more swiftly than non-ACPs. How high you climb, most of the time, is in your control.

About the Author

is from Sacramento, CA. He has two master degrees and served time in the U.S. Navy. His second master's degree is an MBA in Global Management from the Univ. of Phoenix where he attributes his writing prowess-2006. His bachelor's degree is from Ca. St. Univ. of Sacramento-1999 where he was on a baseball pitching scholarship. Now he writes professionally for several clients and a few online companies, one of them in which is publically traded. He spent 4 years in the U.S. Navy, worked in the corporate world, and for public agencies. He teaches English online to Korean elementary school students in the Spring and Summer and has lived in Korea and Saudi Arabia while he was an English Instructor. He misses Saudi food and living in Korea. Benjamin has a tremendous work ethic and is quite focused. He spends his time in between Northern, CA. and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico writing on various subjects, one of which is the spectacular rise in SEO needed content.