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

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

How to become the ultimate robot warrior...
Chrono Strike is a delightfully immersive beat ‘em up with a sense of humor (any game with a good Sims reference gets points in my book). [Read more] | Read more »
Tips and tricks to get a higher score in...
Snow Roll is a devilish endless runner very much in the vein of Flappy Bird. It revels in its dastardly level of difficulty, and doesn’t really care how angry you get at it as it knows you’ll keep coming back for more. [Read more] | Read more »
How to win big in Slots Deluxe
Cheating while gambling is illegal and morally wrong, and in some parts of the world it leads to men with names like Vinnie "Six Knuckles" Manchenzo beating you to a pulp in a dark alley. [Read more] | Read more »
How to take over the world in Dictator 2
Running a country isn't easy - especially when you're a dictator who wants to take over the world and crush everyone in your path while you do it. [Read more] | Read more »
Tips and tricks to get a higher score in...
Tank.iois - you guessed it! - another multiplayer arena battler likeAgar.io and Slither.io. It does differentiate itself by putting you in a tiny tank though, so it's not exactly the same. To help you get that all-important high score, we've got a... | Read more »
How to unlock characters in One Tap Tenn...
As the title suggests, One Tap Tennis requires only a single tap to play its particular brand of tennis, and rewards you with a ton of unlockable characters if you perform well. Fortunately for you, we at 148Apps have got a few tips and tricks to... | Read more »
Grab it now: Game Craft’s Legend of War...
The real time strategy game is now available for you to sink your teeth into, through the App Store and Google Play. Combining elements of skill, strategy and empire building, Legend of War is a real gamers’ game. [Read more] | Read more »
Skateboard Party 3 ft. Greg Lutzka (Gam...
Skateboard Party 3 ft. Greg Lutzka 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Skateboard Party is back! This third edition of the popular sports franchise features professional skater... | Read more »
Cubious (Games)
Cubious 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Cubious – How smart are you? How high is your IQube? Solve the impossible puzzles to find out, and help a lost little cube find his... | Read more »
Goat Simulator Waste of Space (Games)
Goat Simulator Waste of Space 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICESiPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better.** | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Enterprise Workers Pick Technology Over Perks...
New Adobe study shows surprising attitudes about office jobs and where the future of work is heading. Adobe has released survey findings revealing that a surprising 70 percent of U.S. office workers... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: $50-$100 off 11-in...
B&H Photo has 13″ and 11″ MacBook Airs with 256GB SSDs on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air: $999 $100 off MSRP... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sales: Apple MacBook Pro...
B&H Photo has 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $210 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sales: Apple iMacs and M...
Take up to $150 off the price of a new iMac or Mac mini at the following Apple resellers this Memorial Day weekend: iMacs: B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP... Read more
Apple refurbished Retina MacBook Pros availab...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free... Read more
Apple refurbished 11-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $170 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
Goal Zero and OtterBox Partner to Expand iPh...
Goal Zero, specialists in portable power, have announced a partnership with OtterBox, brand smartphone case protection, to offer the Slide and Slide Plus Batteries as modules compatible with the new... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $210 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
Clearance 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs available...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available for $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook Air (MJVE2LL/A): $799... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple TVs available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs available for up to $30 off the cost of new models. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more

Jobs Board

Senior *Apple* Engineer - Signature Technol...
One-year contract for an Apple consultant. The resource should be an Apple Certified Technical Coordinator or get the certification within 60 days of starting Read more
*Apple* Architect - AECOM (United States)
**Requisition/Vacancy No.** 132759BR **Position Title** Apple Architect **Job Category** Information Technology **Business Line** Government **Country** United Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Project Engineer - Smart Source Inc...
SmartSource is in need of an Apple Project Engineer for a 12 month contract opportunity in Pittsburg, PA. Role: Apple Project Engineer Location: Pittsburg, PA Read more
Automotive Sales Consultant - Apple Ford Linc...
…you. The best candidates are smart, technologically savvy and are customer focused. Apple Ford Lincoln Apple Valley is different, because: $30,000 annual salary Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.