In early 2011, we briefly covered the Continuous Education program from CompTIA, which provides ways you can keep your time-limited certifications up to date with relevant industry information. Because you have a few years to renew the certificates, now is the perfect time to take a look at its requirements and examine what it offers.
Before you make the plunge, it is worth noting whether you really should or can take advantage of this program or not. According to CompTIA’s website, it really depends on when you completed previous IT certificates in the CompTIA lineup:
If you earned one or more of the following certifications, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+, on or before Dec. 31, 2010, those certifications will never expire, and you will always be considered “certified for life” for those certifications, regardless of if you participate in the CE program.
If you earned a CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ certification after January 1, 2011, you are automatically enrolled in the Continuous Education Program, and your certification has an expiration date of three years from the date certified.
This means that you will have three years to complete the Continuous Education Program from the date you got certified in any of these specialties. Alternatively, you can retake the most recent version of the certification exam to stay up to date on your certifications. You also have a period of three years from enrollment in the CE program to meet all its requirements. These include completing an appropriate level of continuing education units and receiving a new CE designation (which will appear on your certificate).
Besides supporting CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+, CompTIA also mentions CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) on another section of the website as being supported by the program. It may be worth looking into if you deal with security and have that certificate on your resume, although it doesn’t seem to support the certified for life option for those of you who earned a certification in it before Dec. 31, 2010. You will most likely need to take part in the program to keep this particular certificate up to date.
On the CompTIA FAQ, CompTIA Storage+ is mentioned as another option that may be supported by the time you read this, because it comes with a “ce” notation as part of its certification process, along with the four other certificates. Here is how the FAQ describes the “ce” notation and the different noted certificates:
To comply with the new certification renewal policy beginning January 1, 2011, CompTIA launched American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited versions of the CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Storage+ and CASP certification programs. The new program certifications will have a notation on the certificates: CompTIA A+ce, CompTIA Network+ce, CompTIA Security+ce, CompTIA Storage+ce and CompTIA CASPce. The name change will denote the new continuing education requirement associated with these programs.
It is also worth noting that your employer may still ask you to take part in the Continuing Education program despite being certified for life. This is because IT changes on a constant basis and technology advances at a rapid pace. Your employer may want you to stay up to date on these changes and enroll.
The CE program includes an activity chart that lets you participate on your own or at your work place and earn education units (CEUs). Once you’ve reviewed the submission guidelines, you can submit the information from the activity in the chart. The activities you choose should be relevant to the level of certification you are renewing and meet the requirements to be considered. Keep in mind it can be audited.
Activities must show your understanding of relevant industry knowledge. Some examples mentioned on CompTIA’s website include “teaching on relevant industry topics, attending industry conferences and events, joining in a CompTIA exam development workshop, and publishing articles or white papers on industry topics.”
The price will set you back $75 for CompTIA A+ and $147 for the other certification program renewals in terms of the total CE fee. Annual CE fees vary from $25 to $49. You can see the cost breakdowns for all the different options on CompTIA’s website. The amount of CEU units required is also shown in the chart.
For those of you not in the United States, you can still take part in the program as it is global, according to the CompTIA FAQ. The different certificates available for this program are accredited under ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024. ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization and works globally on various IT certificates.
If you are certified for life and still want to participate in the program, head on over to certmetrics.com/comptia/login.aspx, click on the “Continuing Education” link, and finally on “Enroll.” Otherwise, you are automatically enrolled and have three years to complete the requirements.