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


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 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:


User Accounts

File Systems

File Management


Network Configuration

Accessing Network Services

Providing Network Services


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, 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 or


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Markly 1.5.3 - Create measurement and de...
Markly is a measurement and design-spec plugin/extension for Photoshop and Sketch. It is made for modern Web designers and app front-end developers. You can add specification marks simply by clicking... Read more
Suitcase Fusion 6 17.3.0 - Font manageme...
Suitcase Fusion 6 is the creative professional's font manager. Every professional font manager should deliver the basics: spectacular previews, powerful search tools, and efficient font organization... Read more
Nisus Writer Pro 2.1.2 - Multilingual wo...
Nisus Writer Pro is a powerful multilingual word processor, similar to its entry level products, but brings new features such as table of contents, indexing, bookmarks, widow and orphan control,... Read more
calibre 2.40.0 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Vivaldi - An advanced browser...
Vivaldi is a browser for our friends. In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind... Read more
OmniPlan 3.0 - Robust project management...
With OmniPlan, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success,... Read more
Yummy FTP 1.11 - FTP/SFTP/FTPS client fo...
Yummy FTP is an FTP + SFTP + FTPS file transfer client which focuses on speed, reliability and productivity. Whether you need to transfer a few files or a few thousand, schedule automatic backups, or... Read more
Tweetbot 2.1 - Popular Twitter client. (...
Tweetbot is a full-featured OS X Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds and animation, or features like multiple timelines and column views... Read more
MacPilot 8.0 - Enable over 1,200 hidden...
MacPilot gives you the power of UNIX and the simplicity of Macintosh, which means a phenomenal amount of untapped power in your hands! Use MacPilot to unlock over 1,200 features, and access them all... Read more
Typinator 6.7 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more

Balloony Land offers a fresh twist on th...
Balloony Land by Palringo offers a fresh twist on the match three genre and is out now on iOS and Android. First-off, you'll be popping balloons instead of crushing candy and the balloons will float up and fill the empty spaces instead of dropping... | Read more »
Graphic - vector illustration and design...
Graphic - vector illustration and design 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Autodesk Graphic is a powerful full-featured vector drawing and illustration application right in... | Read more »
Sago Mini Babies (Education)
Sago Mini Babies 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Introducing the Sago Mini babies. Boys and girls love caring for these adorable characters. Feed Robin her favorite mush... | Read more »
PAUSE - Relaxation at your fingertip (H...
PAUSE - Relaxation at your fingertip 1.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Healthcare & Fitness Price: $1.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Super Sharp (Games)
Super Sharp 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Your finger has never been so sharp! Cut with skill to complete the 120 ingenious physics levels of Super Sharp and become a cut... | Read more »
Assembly - Graphic design for everyone...
Assembly - Graphic design for everyone 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Assembly is the easiest most powerful design tool on the App Store. Create anything you can... | Read more »
Dub Dash (Games)
Dub Dash 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ARE YOU READY FOR THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE? UNIQUE SYMBIOSIS OF MUSIC AND GRAPHICS | Read more »
Leave Me Alone (Games)
Leave Me Alone 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 33% off launch sale!!! Somewhere between the 1980s and 1990s there exists a world that never was. A world of skatepunks,... | Read more »
YAMGUN (Games)
YAMGUN 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The invasion has begun! Protect the walls of the citadel against waves of enemies! But watch out, you will soon run out of ammo...... | Read more »
Chesh (Games)
Chesh 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: It’s like chess, only not at all. ***40% off for a limited time to celebrate our launch!*** Chesh is a game of skill, strategy, luck,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

TP-LINK Next-Gen Routers Support a Large Numb...
TP-LINK, specialists in consumer and business networking products, have announced the availability of Archer C2600, the company’s next-generation router featuring wireless AC, multi-user MIMO, and 4-... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Save up to $350 with Apple refurbished iMacs
Apple has Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $350 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac – $1949 $350 off MSRP - 27... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2818.99, $181 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3699... Read more
5K iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP, fre...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. They have the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149, $150 off MSRP... Read more
Twelve South Redesigns BookArc For Today’s Sm...
Twelve South has announced a redesigned version of their very first product, BookArc for MacBook. Tailored specifically for the newest generation of MacBooks, BookArc holds the new, smaller Apple... Read more
Phone 6s Tips & Tricks – Tips Book For iP...
Poole, United Kingdom based Tap Guides Ltd. has announced the release and immediate availability of iPhone 6s Tips & Tricks, an in-depth eBook available in the iBookstore that’s priced just $2.99... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch Retina MacBook...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off original MSRP, starting at $979. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $994,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $994.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $105 off MSRP. Price valid... Read more
Is The iPad Pro Really A Serious Laptop Repla...
Probably not, at least for productive professionals and other power users. Steve Jobs declared that we’d entered the “post-PC Era” with the advent of the original iPad in 2010, a phrase we don’t hear... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…work with some of the brightest engineers. Job Description Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Points:Depth of Read more
*Apple* Retail Online, Customer Experience R...
**Job Summary** Apple Retail's Online Store sells Apple products to customers around the world. In addition to selling Apple products with unique services such Read more
Frameworks Engineer, *Apple* Watch - Apple...
**Job Summary** Join the team that is shaping the future of software development for Apple Watch! As a software engineer on the Apple Watch Frameworks team you will Read more
Senior Manager, Global Direct Marketing *App...
**Job Summary** Apple Retail is looking for an experienced Direct Marketing Leader to join its Marketing team. This position will take a leadership role in creating Read more
*Apple* Online Store Expansion - Apple (Unit...
**Job Summary** The Online Apple Store is seeking a person to lead its expansion into new countries. Based in Cupertino, CA, this person will develop and maintain an Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.