TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Road To Certification (Part 2)

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 01
Column Tag: Professional development

The Road To Certification (Part 2)

Increase your knowledge and build credibility on the way

by Doug Hanley

Introduction

In this series of articles we have been looking at Apple's IT certifications. We have examined reasons for and benefits of getting certified as well as the testing experience and the changes to Apple's IT certifications that Leopard brings with it. Now we are going to review the exams required for ACSP (Apple Certified Support Professional) and ACTC (Apple Certified Technical Coordinator). We will also discuss how best to prepare to pass those exams and become certified.

ACSP & Support Essentials...

Apple's first level certification for Mac OS X 10.5 is ACSP, Apple Certified Support Professional. The exam will be available starting in February at Apple Authorized Training Centers and Prometric testing centers, and will be approximately 80 to 100 questions in length. The test verifies that you have a core understanding of Mac OS X functionality and that you can successfully configure the key services. It is also expected that you can implement basic troubleshooting and to aid users with the essential capabilities of Mac OS X.

More specific areas covered by the exam are broken down into ten categories. Those ten categories happen to be the same number of chapters in the Peachpit Press book, Apple Training Series: Mac OS X Support Essentials (2nd Edition), ISBN# 0321489810. Correspondingly, those ten categories are also the same number of lessons in the Apple Training class Mac OS X Support Essentials v10.5. The classes are only available at Apple Authorized Training Centers. To find one near you, visit http://training.apple.com and click on Locations.

Before I take you through the ten categories, lets examine two ways to prepare for the certification exam. The first, of course, is the Peachpit book. Kevin M. White is the editor of the Support Essentials Book for Mac OS X 10.5. Each chapter of the book begins by providing an estimate of the length of time it might take one to read the information and complete the exercises. Each chapter concludes with a list of additional resources and a quiz to help you review the material covered. The book is more than just an "Exam Cram" giving you just enough to pass the test publication. It is a solid reference for those looking to build their skills and gain a better understanding of Mac OS X and how to support it. The book has the combination of information and hands-on exercises that can help you master the skills and concepts needed. If you are a visual learner and can absorb technical concepts by just reading, this may be all the preparation you need to pass the test and get certified as an ACSP.

However since we all have different learning styles, this brings us to the next way to prepare for certification: leader instructor-led training. Mac OS X Support Essentials is a three-day hands-on course that is a combination of interactive lectures and case study exercises that offer students real-world challenges and support scenarios. In a classroom situation, you have the benefit of not only asking questions of the Apple Certified Trainer, but also interacting with other students who bring their own points of view, knowledge, and experience in the field. Furthermore, the classroom is a safe place to experiment with the technology (without endangering a production machine) and a safe place to ask questions about concepts or procedures that aren't readily clear from simply reading a book. If you decide to take a course and are evaluating training centers, ask for an instructor who does more than teach - someone who also works in the industry supporting clients in the real world. Often, some of the most valuable information you will get from the course are the practical real world experiences and the solutions discovered in the process of supporting the Macintosh.

Categories Covered in Support Essentials Exam

So let's get back to the ten categories covered by the Support Essentials exam. The first one covers aspects of installing Mac OS X. It is important to know the base requirements for a machine on which Leopard installed. It is also essential to understand how to troubleshoot an unsuccessful installation and verify a good one. The second category addresses the ways to create, manage and secure user accounts in Mac OS X.

The next two categories are file systems and file management. You should know how to manage the file systems supported by Mac OS X and how to handle permissions and ownership of the files and directories. One of the key areas in of troubleshooting is understanding the file system layout, where things belong and why. You also need to know how files are stored (i.e., packages, plists, resources, images, etc).

The fifth area deals with applications. You need to understand the differences between a Unix process and an end-user GUIactual application. It is key to know which tools can help you monitor, troubleshoot, and manage those processes and applications.

Next up is network configuration. There is more than one way to connect a Mac to another machine. These days, no Mac is an island; most computers are connected to at least to aone network, if not the Internet. You should understand network protocols, proper network configuration and troubleshooting those connections.

The next two areas are accessing and providing network services. The Mac is a good network citizen and can connect to a variety of different network services. It can also provide those services to other machines. You will need to know what services and protocols are supported, as well as how to configure and troubleshoot those services.

The peripherals category covers all the devices you can physically or wirelessly connect to your Mac, in addition to printing and faxing. To support peripherals you need to know how they are connected and how they are supported by the operating system.

Lastly we deal with the Mac OS X startup process. By knowing what is going on during the startup process you can better determine what area is being affected if a problem is encountered during that process. You need to understand all the phases of the Mac startup sequence.

To reiterate the categories:

Installation

User Accounts

File Systems

File Management

Applications

Network Configuration

Accessing Network Services

Providing Network Services

Peripherals

Startup Process

A more elaborate list of exam objectives will also be in the Skills Assessment Guide (SAG) for the exam when that

becomes available on the Apple Training website, http://training.apple.com/. As there was for the Support Essentials v10.4 exam, there may also be a Sample Test with a few questions to give you a better idea of what to expect on the exam. The SAG is a great review tool you can use with the book and/or following the training class. After you have passed Support Essentials you are on your way to the next milestone on the road to Apple certification: Apple Certified Technical CoordinateorCoordinator, or ACTC.

ACTC & Server Essentials Exam

ACTC certification is granted when you pass both the Mac OS X Support Essentials v10.5 Exam and the Mac OS X Server Essentials v10.5 Exam. An ACTC is expected to not only know how to work with and support Mac OS X client, but also set up and maintain Mac OS X Server. The Peachpit book based on Mac OS X Server v10.5: Apple Training Series: Mac OS X Server Essentials (2nd Edition) was edited by Schoun Regan, a name well regarded in the Mac IT industry (ISBN# 0321496604).

Again, you can take the self-study approach to ACTC and Server Essentials, but you will need two computers: one running Mac OS X client and the other running Mac OS X Server. Mac OS X Server costs $499 for 10 User Licenses and only $999 for Unlimited User Licenses. This could be price limiting for most people. In contrast many Apple Authorized Training Centers not only have the two machines for each student, but some will actually use Xserves as the server for the course exercises. This might be another deciding factor in where you would like to take your training course.

Categories Covered in Server Essentials Exam

There are also ten basic categories in the Server Essentials exam and materials. In the class, there is an eleventh lesson that is the challenge. It builds upon the knowledge and skills you have learned throughout the class and gives you a real world task to implement with multiple machines working collaboratively.

The first category is installation and configuration. It also covers the basic server administration tools. Of course, troubleshooting installation issues is also a key part. The next is providing DNS. DNS is truly the glue that most network services rely upon to function properly.

The third area covered is authentication, authorization and access control. It is extremely important to know how Mac OS X Server handles these concepts of proving who you are and what you are allowed to do on the server and network. Open Directory is the fourth topic, and deals with providing directory services, single sign-on and an introduction to Kerberos.

The next two categories are file services and mail services. File services are among the key uses (reasons?) for a server. You will need to understand what protocols Mac OS X Server provides and learn how to manage and troubleshoot them as well. Email is also a major use of a server. You should understand how to configure, maintain, and troubleshoot mail service on Mac OS X Server.

Web service and collaborative services are the next two categories. How to host multiple sites and provide WebDAV service are critical. Two of the collaborative services build upon the web server. Wikis and blogs extend Mac OS X Server's web service to provide rich simple collaborative services. iCal services and iChat services will also need to be understood.

Next to last, we have deployment, using Mac OS X Server Netboot/Netinstall to deploy Mac OS X to other machines. You will need to know not only how to configure the service but also troubleshooting issues.

Finally the tenth lesson deals with managing accounts. Part of Open Directory is the ability to manage preferences and network views for your users. You should understand how to manage users this way and troubleshoot that management.

To reiterate the categories:

Installation and Configuration

Providing DNS Service

Authentication, Authorization, and Access Control

Open Directory

File Services

Mail Service

Web Service

Collaborative Services

Deployment Solutions

Managing Accounts

Challenge (only in the class)

When you pass both the Support Essentials v10.5 and Server Essentials v10.5 exams, you will be an ACSP 10.5 (Apple Certified Support Professional) and an ACTC 10.5 (Apple Certified Technical Coordinator). AndDo note that the Server Essentials v10.5 exam applies toward your ACSA 10.5 (Apple Certified System Administrator) certification.

In the next article we should will have more detailed information about the requirements for the ACSA 10.5 certification. We will discuss the kinds of topics covered on the several exams required for the ACSA, and what resources are available to help you prepare for them. Those resources will, of course, will include Apple Authorized Training Center classes and books.


Doug Hanley owns MacTEK Consulting & Training, an Apple Authorized Training Center in Las Vegas, NV. His time is divided between teaching and wrangling servers. He has been providing support on the Mac since the early 90's. To track him down, go to http://www.mactektraining.com or doug@mac-tek.com

 
AAPL
$102.13
Apple Inc.
+1.24
MSFT
$44.87
Microsoft Corpora
-0.14
GOOG
$571.00
Google Inc.
-6.86

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LaunchBar 6.1 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
BBEdit 10.5.12 - Powerful text and HTML...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
Microsoft Office 2011 14.4.4 - Popular p...
Microsoft Office 2011 helps you create professional documents and presentations. And since Office for Mac 2011 is compatible with Office for Windows, you can work on documents with virtually anyone... Read more
TextWrangler 4.5.10 - Free general purpo...
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator's tool. Oh, and also, like the best things in life, it's free. TextWrangler is the "little brother" to... Read more
BitTorrent Sync 1.4.72 - Sync files secu...
BitTorrent Sync allows you to sync unlimited files between your own devices, or share a folder with friends and family to automatically sync anything. File transfers are encrypted. Your information... Read more
Cyberduck 4.5.2 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

ALONE... (Games)
ALONE... 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: ALONE is a handcrafted, intense survival journey through space. Navigate caves, rip through rocky debris, dodge rocks and comets... | Read more »
Almightree: The Last Dreamer (Games)
Almightree: The Last Dreamer 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The world is shattering and you are the only hope to restore the balance. A thrilling and challenging 3D puzzle... | Read more »
The Nightmare Cooperative (Games)
The Nightmare Cooperative 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Fiendishly difficult! Adorably cute! Utterly engrossing!How much gold can you get before your entire team is... | Read more »
Mobile Convolution (Music)
Mobile Convolution 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Invaders! From Outer Space Review
Invaders! From Outer Space Review By Rob Thomas on August 27th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RETRO NOSTALGIAUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad It’s a shame that Invaders! doesn’t offer deeper gameplay, as this retro-inspired... | Read more »
Spooklands Review
Spooklands Review By Jennifer Allen on August 27th, 2014 Our Rating: :: ONE-TOUCH SHOOTERUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad One-touch simultaneously controls your direction and your weapon in this unique arena shooter.   | Read more »
Heroes of Order & Chaos Add Twitch I...
Heroes of Order & Chaos Add Twitch Integration, New Heroes, and More Posted by Ellis Spice on August 27th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Foodie Yama Review
Foodie Yama Review By Jennifer Allen on August 27th, 2014 Our Rating: :: BRIEFLY HOOKSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Foodie Yama will draw you in for a brief while, and you’ll never be entirely sure why.   | Read more »
Spotify Connect Turns One, Now Supports...
Spotify Connect Turns One, Now Supports New Devices Posted by Ellis Spice on August 27th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
The Rise of PicsaStock and How You Can M...
We all take plenty of photos, right? That’s the joy of having a reasonably powerful camera in your pocket, thanks to your trusty iPhone and a bevy of similarly useful apps. Wouldn’t it be great to make some money out of those snaps? While your... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-Inch MacBook Air Coming in 4Q14 or 2015 –...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that according to Taiwan-based upstream supply chain insiders, Apple plans to launch a thinner MacBook model either at year end 2014 or in 2015, and that... Read more
Sapphire Screen “Most Wanted” iPhone 6 New Fe...
According to the ‘uSell.com iPhone Most Wanted Survey’ — a representative survey of 1,000 U.S. smartphone users conducted by used iPhone marketplace uSell.com — close to half of all smartphone users... Read more
The iPad’s Real Competitive Challenger (Not S...
It’s been my contention for some time that the iPad is suffering from something of an identity crisis, and I suspect that may be a factor in slackening sales this year. Apple can’t seem to decide... Read more
13-inch 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro on sa...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1379 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. Read more
Life Inventory iOS Apps – Learn to Know Thyse...
James Hollender’s Life Inventory apps s are now on sale with 20% off thru Labor Day, 09/01/2014. This is a great opportunity to get started on that Moral Inventory you’ve been putting off doing for... Read more
Pocket Watch, LLC. Reveals Cloud Server For P...
Beaumont, Texas based Pocket Watch, LLC. has announced the availability of its new ActivePrint Cloud Server Powered by Raspberry Pi. With this small standalone box almost any USB printer or available... Read more
902it Simplifies Area Code Changes For Nova S...
The east coast Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are phasing in 10 digit telephone dialing, to be fully in place by November, in order to accommodate a second area code to... Read more
Boomerang iPad Stand Mounts Your iPad Anywher...
Boomerang, a Mountable Stand with Multiple Viewing Angles, is now available for iPad Air. Boomerang combines several functions that aim to expand your iPad’s potential in one, elegant product. The... Read more
Retina MacBook Pros available starting at $10...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros available starting at $929. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros (4GB RAM/... Read more
Apple 27-inch Thunderbolt Display (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 27″ Thunderbolt Displays available for $799 including free shipping. That’s $200 off the cost of new models. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.