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Non-Apple Certifications of Interest to Mac Technology Professionals

Beyond the programs offered by Apple, there is a wide range of certification options that Mac professionals might consider. Some of these are application-specific, others are platform neutral, and some are not Mac-related at all. Each of the following programs demonstrates a level of knowledge about commonly used technologies both in the Mac field and in IT in general.

Adobe Certified Expert Program and Quark Certification

Editor's Note: It appears that Quark has discontinued its certification program since the publication of this article. If you know otherwise, please leave the information in the discussion section at the bottom of this article.

Adobe and Quark both offer certification programs for their respective products. Although they are application-specific programs intended to ensure that creative and design professionals are adept in the use of these products, they can also be beneficial to Mac IT professionals. As a general rule, most Mac support jobs exist in either the creative or education fields. For those providing support to creative professionals, a solid understanding of the applications being used can be extremely helpful. Understanding how Quark, Photoshop, and Illustrator are supported to function can make troubleshooting them much easier. It can also aid in understanding exactly what a designer is trying to convey when experiencing a problem and discussing application purchases and overall technical strategies. As such, these certifications, like the Apple Pro certification, demonstrate your understanding of the products and concepts in use, as well as your troubleshooting and/or administration abilities.

CompTIA Certifications

CompTIA offers a number of industry-standard, vendor-neutral certification. The most well-known of these is the A+ for PC technicians. Although the A+ is not the first thought for a Mac technician, it can still be useful because there are very few Mac-only environments. Thus, having a certification that demonstrates you are capable of working with PCs as well as Macs, and that you are capable of troubleshooting Windows and PC hardware issues, can be very helpful.

CompTIA also offers the Network + certification that conveys a strong knowledge of networking concepts and technologies. The Network + exam tests general knowledge of network hardware functions, protocols, and troubleshooting. It is not a test of any specific platform, however. The Network + is a good choice for anyone working in systems or network administration.

Another excellent consideration is the Security + certification, which identifies individuals with a solid understanding of how to identify, prevent, and respond to network security breaches. It covers topics such as encryption and secure communications, as well as network security strategies and general computer and server security concepts. In today’s world, security is a major concern for any network or server administrator, regardless of platform, which makes this a useful certification.

The Server + certification demonstrates an understanding of basic server management and configuration concepts. Although it is vendor-neutral, this can be a good addition to a resume that includes the Apple Certified Technical Coordinator certification. As a general rule, however, it might be better to opt for a vendor-specific certification if you expect to work in a dual or multiplatform environment.

The Linux + certification might also be a worthy consideration for Mac IT professionals. Linux has achieved a solid foothold in the IT industry and the Linux + certification demonstrates a solid grasp of the Linux platform (and, by extension, Unix). However, given the array of Linux releases available, CompTIA’s vendor-neutral approach makes it a good choice for achieving certification of your understanding of the platform.

CompTIA also offers programs of interest to those working in Internet-specific capacities and in project management. Although not of interest to the broad spectrum of Mac professionals, they can be helpful for those working predominantly in the Internet fields or for developers.

Microsoft Certified Professional Program

There are few Mac-only environments out there. Many Windows Server–based networks include Mac clients. Likewise, many networks that include Mac OS X Server also include Windows servers. For this reason, having at least one of the Microsoft server certifications can be helpful to most Mac IT professionals. Depending on the type of jobs you are interested in, having a solid understanding of Windows servers can be critical to systems administration positions.

Novell Certifications

Although Novell does not enjoy the level of market share that it once did, it is still alive and well in many networks. Like Apple, Novell has a long history of use in education. If you are considering jobs in systems and network administration, Novell certifications might be worth considering. In addition to the Certified Novell Administrator and Engineer programs, Novell also offers a Linux certification program. More information on these are available.

Cisco Certifications

The Cisco certification lineup is really intended to demonstrate competence when constructing and managing the physical components of a network. The various exams and certifications focus on how to configure and manage Cisco routers and switches (although much of the underlying knowledge translates to other vendors as well). This places Cisco certification down the line somewhat for Mac professionals unless you are interested in moving into full network engineering and administration jobs. However, some smaller organizations do expect the job roles of network and systems administrator to be handled by a single person, so although this isn’t at the top of the list, depending on your goals, it might be worth considering.

BrainBench Mac OS X Certifications

BrainBench is an online technology certification company. Unlike most technology certification programs, in which the exam is conducted at a Prometric training center, BrainBench enables you to take certification exams from the comfort of your home through a web-based interface. BrainBench exams are typically more general in content and significantly less expensive than other certification (some exams are offered for free).

BrainBench has provided various Mac certification exams for quite some time. In fact they have a longer running history than most of Apple’s current certification options. Although they provide exams for many different fields of expertise, they specifically offer Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server exams as well as a handful of application exams that might interest Mac professionals.

BrainBench exams typically do not bestow the same level of credibility by employers that vendor-specific or industry standard exams do. This is partly because you can take them in an open-book format if you choose. However, they still demonstrate a certain level of knowledge and capability. Although they are not a replacement for other certification programs, they can help build your resume, particularly for areas in which there are no other appropriate certification options. Because BrainBench periodically offers exams for free or at low cost, it can be a way to test and demonstrate your knowledge in new areas without the investment of a more mainstream certification.

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