Time for Your Annual Certification Check-up
It's time to take stock of your IT certifications. Here's a quick checklist for you to put to work to decide what certs to keep active and which to replace.
Credit: ShutterstockWith the end of 2016 in sight and 2017 just around the corner, it's time to take stock of your IT certifications. So many of them come with expiration dates, or quickly become obsolete or irrelevant, that it's important to start planning now to recertify those credentials you want to keep active and to plan to replace those that are passing into oblivion. Here's a quick checklist for you to put to work toward accomplishing this task:
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- Take stock of what you've earned: make a list of all of your current or lapsed certifications. Decide which ones remain interesting and relevant, and prune the other entries on that list.
- For each item on the list, do the following:
- Check the sponsor's website to see if they agree you've earned this credential. If not, you may need to contact them to resolve any potential issues exposed by this omission.
- For those certifications you find, check to see if they have an expiration date. If they do, and it falls in 2017 (or has already elapsed) you must investigate recertification requirements.
- For those certifications that accept continuing education units (CEUs) or other proof of recent professional activity in lieu of retesting, you must determine if you can meet their stipulations. If so, you'll want to put your paperwork together to inform them about that activity (and you'll probably need to pay to renew annual membership fees as well). For those that don't accept continuing education, you need to investigate your testing options. Some certs – most notably, those from Cisco – let you keep less senior credentials current by earning a more senior credential instead. Thus, you must decide if you want to retest for your current cert, or try to advance to some more senior counterpart credential.
- For those certifications where you must retest, determine your cutoff date, and schedule the exam no closer than 30 days beforehand (that should give you time for a retake should one prove necessary). Then, you'll want to pull together a study plan to start boning up to take that exam, run down study materials (study guide, exam cram, practice tests, and so forth) so you can get going and be ready when the exam date rolls around.
- For those new certs you choose to pursue – whether to keep a more junior certification active, or to replace an older, obsolete, or increasingly irrelevant credential – this drill is more or less the same. At least, for those certs where you go after something more senior to supplement something more junior that's kept active thereby. For out-and-out replacement items, the schedule is more flexible. You'll either set a cutoff date 30 days prior to the expiration date of a more junior cert, or pick a cutoff date arbitrarily for a replacement cert. After that, the tasks are identical: pull together a study plan, run down study materials and get to work.
- You may also want to ponder new topics, tools, technologies or programs that interest you. Depending on how much work you elicit from completing item 2 above, you may decide that's enough for 2017.
Good luck preparing for a new year in life and work. Hopefully, this checklist will help you be ready to excel, and do what's necessary to achieve your professional goals.