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 maximise your profits in Bakery B...
Running a bakery can be an expensive venture. You’ll need to continuously upgrade your oven, your kitchen supplies, and even your ingredients to keep customers happy. Most of these renovations in Bakery Blitz cost a pretty penny, but we have a few... | Read more »
How to manage your time in Bakery Blitz
It can be tricky, especially when you risk burning your kitchen to the ground if you forget a cake in the oven, so make sure to use these time management tricks to keep your bakery running smoothly. Don’t collect the money right away [Read more] | Read more »
Model 15 (Music)
Model 15 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Music Price: $29.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The Moog Model 15 App is the first Moog modular synthesizer and synthesis educational tool created exclusively for iPad, iPhone and... | Read more »
How to deal with wind in Angry Birds Act...
Angry Birds Action! is a physics-based puzzler in which you're tasked with dragging and launching birds around an obstacle-littered field to achieve a set objective. It's simple enough at first, but when wind gets introduced things can get pretty... | Read more »
How to get three stars in every level of...
Angry Birds Action! is, essentially, a pinball-style take on the pull-and-fling action of the original games. When you first boot it up, you'll likely be wondering exactly what it is you have to do to get a good score. Well, never fear as 148Apps... | Read more »
The beginner's guide to Warbits
Warbits is a turn-based strategy that's clearly inspired by Nintendo's Advance Wars series. Since turn-based strategy games can be kind of tricky to dive into, see below for a few tips to help you in the beginning. Positioning is crucial [Read... | Read more »
How to upgrade your character in Spellsp...
So you’ve mastered the basics of Spellspire. By which I mean you’ve realised it’s all about spelling things in a spire. What next? Well you’re going to need to figure out how to toughen up your character. It’s all well and good being able to spell... | Read more »
5 slither.io mash-ups we'd love to...
If there's one thing that slither.io has proved, it's that the addictive gameplay of Agar.io can be transplanted onto basically anything and it will still be good fun. It wouldn't be surprising if we saw other developers jumping on the bandwagon,... | Read more »
How to navigate the terrain in Sky Charm...
Sky Charms is a whimsical match-'em up adventure that uses creative level design to really ramp up the difficulty. [Read more] | Read more »
Victorious Knight (Games)
Victorious Knight 1.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.3 (iTunes) Description: New challenges awaits you! Experience fresh RPG experience with a unique combat mechanic, packed with high quality 3D... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Global Tablet Sales Slump Continues, iPad’s F...
Another miserable showing for the global slate tablet category in calendar Q1/16, with global tablet shipments falling another 1ten percent to 46.5 million units during the according to Strategy... Read more
Revel Systems to Showcase iPad POS Platform w...
Revel Systems, specialists in iPad Point of Sale management solution for brick-and-mortar retail, food businesses and more, today announced that it will showcase its innovative iPad Point of Sale... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 iMacs available for up...
Apple now has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are... Read more
Indian Smartphone Market Grows Annually by 12...
India’s smartphone market grew by 12 percent year-over-year, with 24.4 million units shipping in Q1 2016. The top five vendors stayed the same, with Samsung in the lead, followed by Micromax, Intex... Read more
Get Notifications When Your Friend’s Phone Ba...
Calgary, Canada based Stonelight Pictures has announced the release of Battery Share 1.0.1, its new utility for iOS 9 supported devices. The company notes that people are spending more time on their... Read more
11-inch 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for...
Amazon has the current-generation 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MJVM2LL/A) on sale for $749.99 for a limited time. Their price is $150 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model... Read more
Price drops on clearance 2015 13-inch MacBook...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on clearance 2015 13″ MacBook Airs by up to $250. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook Air (MJVE2LL/A): $799, $200... Read more
Mac minis on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
B&H Photo has Mac minis on sale for up to $100 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $449 $50 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $649 $50 off MSRP - 2.8GHz Mac mini... Read more
13-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $130-$200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1169 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 2.7GHz/... Read more

Jobs Board

Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Simply Mac *Apple* Specialist- Service Repa...
Simply Mac is the largest premier retailer of Apple products in the nation. In order to support our growing customer base, we are currently looking for a driven Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation WHY YOU LL LIKE IT You ll be the Big Apple You ll solve problems You ll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.