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So when does a certification expire – or should it expire?

By Randy Muller on Tue, 06/17/08 - 11:09am.

You have spent tremendous time and effort to earn a certification only to have re-certify a few years down the road.  Some might gnash their teeth in protest over this and assume it is only a ploy by the various certification entities to part more money from our pockets and others just think it ridiculous, yet I believe there is validity in this concept of having to recertify or earn continuing education credits.  Ours is a field that changes constantly.  New technologies are released or new versions of current technologies.  There are always new updates and service packs that are released. In other words, the IT field is always changing and we have to keep up with these changes or we risk falling behind the technology power curve.

There are some certification programs that require you to either earn Continuing Education credit (taking classes, attending conferences, teaching classes, etc) or to recertify or take a test in the next higher sequence of certification tests (Cisco).  There are also some certification organizations that do not require recertification at all  - CompTIA being one of them (though they do strongly encourage you to recertify on the newer technologies).  Once you are certified - say on Security+, you are certified for life (or as is found on their web site "CompTIA certifications are valid for the rest of a professional's career").  This is nice - you take a test and you are certified for life - no fuss and no worries.  But let's say you are A+ certified and that you were certified in 2000 - yes, you are A+ certified and for life - but the technology that you originally were tested on is now 8 years old and has changed significantly.  Microsoft also had a similar approach.  If you are an MCSE on NT4 - you kept that certification, even though there aren't many NT4 networks left (they have changed this approach with the MCTS and MCITP - which I will talk about in another blog).

The argument that is put forward for continuing education credits or recertification is that there is concern about the relevancy of the certification with regard to current technology.  Three years ,in many cases, is enough time for a technology to have matured enough that you might need a "refresher".  I like the idea of continuing education credits - if you resit the class, teach a class that covers the material or even jus t attend a conference or seminar - that should suffice.

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