Apple Certification Changes for Leopard

by on November 24, 2007 » Add the second comment.

Apple has recently updated its training site showing some Leopard updtes. The ACSA (Apple Certified System Administrator) gets the biggest change. The ACSA is the big daddy of Apple certifications. But if employers are to understand what an applicant has accomplished by attaining the certification, then the test objectives should not change whenever a new OS comes out.

10.3 and earlier ACSA required two tests, a client and a server exam. Both covered a little bit of every subject. Mail, file, print, web, directory services, server install & config, etc. Most of which you needed to know how to accomplish many tasks from the CLI. These exams were very similar to ACTC which covered much of the same subjects, just mostly GUI and not as detailed.

10.4 ACSA was a big change by moving to a “credits” system somewhat similar to MCSA/MCSE. There are 8 “electives” to choose from, each worth 2, 3 or 4 credits with 7 or more needed to be an ACSA. So 2 or 3 of these exams would be needed. The problem with this system is that it does not tell a potential employer which skills you had to acquire the ACSA. Someone who passed a Podcasting or Xsan exam may not know how to install OS X Server from the command line or know how to run a web server.

10.4 Elective Exams: (7 credits required)

  • Deployment v10.4 (2 credits)
  • Network Account Management v10.4 (3)
  • Directory Svcs Integration & Admin v10.4 (4)
  • Security Best Practices v10.4 (3)
  • Podcast & Streamed Internet Media Admin (3)
  • Mac OS X Server Command Line v10.4 (3)
  • Xsan Administration v1.4 (3)
  • Xsan for Pro Video (3)


10.5 ACSA, which might not be fully figured out yet now shows four exams as being “required”.

  • Mac OS X Server Essentials v10.5
  • Directory Services v10.5
  • Deployment v10.5
  • Advanced Administration v10.5

I actually think this is better than 10.4 since it should cover most subjects with the Server Essentials and Advanced Administration exams being included, and also looks to be more challenging than 10.3 or 10.4 was which will give it more credibility in the workplace. But what if someone has no interest in Directory Services? They still have to answer 80 or so questions on the subject. The problem is, HR departments and IT managers need to keep tabs on what the different versions of the certification entail. I understand change happens, but this might be a little much.

Personally, I would like to see a general ACSA cert with optional or required “specializations”.

Here is how I would design it:

Required (3 tests)

  • Mac OS X Server Essentials v10.5
  • Advanced Administration v10.5
  • Mac OS X Server Command Line v10.5

Open Directory Specialization (2 required)

  • Network Account Management v10.5
  • Directory Svcs Integration & Admin v10.5

Security Specialization (1 required)

  • Security Best Practices v10.5

Xsan Specialization (2 Required)

  • Xsan Administration
  • Xsan for Pro Video


You get the idea.

ACTC 10.5 looks the same as previous versions but the ACHDS (Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist) has been renamed to ACSP (Apple Certified Support Professional).

If you’ve never had the chance to attend an Apple training, I highly recommend it. Back when 10.3 came out, my employer at the time (CDW) sent me for 4 courses (2 for ACTC and 2 for ACSA) in an 8 month period. This was when i lived in NJ and the closest trainings were at the CitiCorp building in NYC. The last course I attended at Novaworks in SoHo instead of the Apple Center because of the terrorist threats against the CitiCorp building at the time. Back then, there was no way to really prepare for the exams without going to the courses because there were no books available. From what I was told, Apple didn’t allow books to be written for the exams because there was a 10.1 ACSA book (Exam Cram) that was essentially a brain dump. Then with 10.4, Apple finally started allowing Peachpit (with Apple’s editing of course) to come out with the Apple Training Series. These are very good books and are essentially the training materials that are included with the courses (in a more commercialized book form instead of spiral bound).

A few Leopard training books are available for pre-order from Amazon:
Apple Training Series: Mac OS X System Administration Reference, Volume 1 (2nd Edition)

Apple Training Series: Mac OS X System Administration Reference, Volume 2 (2nd Edition)

Apple Training Series: Mac OS X Support Essentials (2nd Edition)

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One Response to Apple Certification Changes for Leopard

  • Dennis Wurster says:

    Thanks for spelling out how the certifications have changed over the years. I’ve always wanted to supplement my IT degree with Apple certification, but every time I look into it, the requirements have changed.

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