Apple certifications fall into one of two categories: those geared for IT professionals and those for creative professionals. There's also the Apple Certified Trainer (ACT) credential for those interested in teaching the Apple certification curriculum to others, both in the creative and IT areas.
Apple IT Professional Certifications
Certifications in the IT professional bucket focus on OS X and the Apple Certified Mac Technician (ACMT) certification.
An Apple OS X certification recognizes an individual's ability to
manage and support OS X in standalone systems and networked computers in
an organization. Certifications under the Apple OS X umbrella include:
- Apple Certified Associate -- Mac Management,
- Apple Certified Associate -- Mac Integration,
- Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP),
- Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC).
The two associate-level certs cover techniques involved in system
image creation, policy configuration, deployment and remote management,
creating network accounts, setting up file sharing and printing,
configuring security, and managing networked data. The ACSP is all about
installing, configuring and troubleshooting OS X and is geared toward
help desk personnel and service technicians; in other words, it's for
anyone who supports Mac users. The ACTC is similar to the ACSP, but
focuses on support of both OS X and OS X Server, and requires two exams.
If you never work with OS X Server and don't see yourself doing so in
the future, stick with the ACSP.
Apple OS X certifications have no prerequisites. Candidates can sign up for exams through Pearson VUE,
and choose to take any exam at an Apple Authorized Training Center or
online (limited to certain exams, such as those for the Apple Certified
Associate -- Mac Management Basics and Mac Integration). The cost is $65
USD for each associate exam and $250 USD for the ACSP and ACTC exams.
The Apple Certified Mac Technician (ACMT) credential focuses on
troubleshooting and repairing Macintosh desktop and laptop computers,
along with associated Mac OS X issues. Two exams are required, which
cost $150 USD each, and the ACMT certification does not expire.
Apple service-related certifications are ideal for IT technicians
seeking jobs that require such certs; for example, Apple Authorized
Service Locations are required to use ACMTs to diagnose computer
problems, make repairs and perform upgrades. If you plan to spend
several years in an organization that's mainly a Mac shop, an Apple cert
could help you negotiate a higher salary or land a more responsible
position. These certs also serve as stepping stones to higher level
support and networking credentials, much like CompTIA's A+ and Network+
See: CompTIA Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths
Apple Creative Professional Certifications
On the creative side, there are the Apple Certified Associate and the
Apple Certified Pro certifications. These types of certs appeal to
multimedia designers, editors, artists, photographers and the like.
Although creative types tend to be self-taught, pursuing an Apple
creative cert helps you learn about a particular application in depth --
much more than you're likely to learn on your own -- and you can add a
credential to your resume or portfolio that validates your skills in as
few words as possible!
The Apple Certified Associate is a foundational certification that
recognizes an individual's skills in using a specific application. The
exam costs $150 USD, and may be taken from home.
The Apple Certified Pro certifications also focus on specific
applications -- currently, Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X and
Motion 5. Aperture is photo management and editing software, Final Cut
Pro X is post-production video-editing software, Motion 5 is editing
software that complements Final Cut Pro X, and Logic Pro X is used to
edit sound files. Pro certs are either Level One (basic) or Level Two
(advanced), but Apple doesn't offer Level Two certifications for every
product. If a Level Two certification is available, you must achieve
Level One first. Apple Certified Pro creative exams typically cost
either $150 or $250.
Apple Certified Trainer (ACT) Certification
If you feel you're an Apple creative product master or have great
skills and passion for supporting Macs or OS X, consider getting your
Apple Certified Trainer (ACT) credential. An ACT teaches Apple
certification courses in Apple Authorized Training Centers, helping the
next generation of candidates to earn their certifications. You need to
be certified in any area you want to teach, and you must also pass a
Train-the-Trainer (T3) exam.
Apple Training and Certification Resources
Classes on Apple products are offered through Apple Authorized
Training Centers, which are usually two- to five-day courses with live
instructors who lead students through lectures and hands-on labs, and
answer all kinds of questions along the way.
Candidates for the IT professional (Apple service) certifications can
also take AppleCare Technician Training, which is self paced.
For creative certification candidates, some Apple Authorized Training
Centers offer a "Prime Time" delivery model, which means a two-day
training course gets divided into three-hour seminars that can be
attended around a busy work schedule. Candidates can also subscribe to Creative Edge,
an on-demand digital library from Peachpit, which includes lots of
eBooks and video training, including the Apple Pro Training Series.
Visit the Apple Training and Certification Web page for links to books and eBooks, video training, classroom training and more.