The Changing Nature of Certification Renewal

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CompTIA recently announced that effective Jan. 1, 2011, certifications such as A+, Network+ and Security+ will be valid for three years and then will need to be renewed. In order to keep its certifications up to date with technology changes and to guarantee a certain level of knowledge and skills, CompTIA has offered certificate holders the option of a retest or continued education that has the function of keeping them certified. These options provide IT professionals with alternatives to decide how to best remain current with technology certifications and maintain their skills.

In revising its recertification policy, CompTIA brought itself in line with an overall trend in the certification industry of making certification not once and done but rather a continual process. People typically prefer to have options, so by letting them decide how to keep up to date, companies are empowering individuals to keep their skills relevant, which has a positive impact on the company as well as the IT professional.

Sitting and taking a certification test can be stressful, and giving the option of a retest or continued education can help lower the stress levels of IT professionals. Consequently, they can concentrate on their clients, perform as expected and be ready to deploy the latest technology solutions available.

Take a look at ISC(2) for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. Certificate holders have the option to retest every three years or to take continuing education courses and complete 20 continuing education units (CEU) per year to keep their credential. In addition, the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification requires certificate holders to continue education to keep their PMP certification current.

In the health care field, occupational therapist (OT) professionals must pass their licensure test in order to be allowed to work as OT professionals. They must then complete 36 hours of continuing education programs every three years to keep their license. This is also true for doctors, nurses and any health care professional.

Even though the industries are vastly different, what’s common is that changes in both fields happen constantly. Where the OT learns new techniques to help children with autism, for example, the IT professional must learn new operating systems and hardware. Both professionals must maintain current knowledge of up-to-date technologies and new techniques.

Some of the continuing education programs that IT professionals could use to keep their certifications current include online training, computer-based training, IT conferences and workshops. Even a course at a community college about certifications could be an adequate option.

Nelson Velez is the director of Network Operations at Bunker Hill Community College, where he is responsible for the network infrastructure. He is also an adjunct faculty member at BHCC for the College of Computer Information Technology. He can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

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