Life-Time Certifications May Not Be Such a Great Thing

Early this year, CompTIA modified its certification renewal policy to come more in line with other players. Until the end of 2010, anyone who passs the A+, Network+, or Security+ certifications will be certified for life. But:

As of January 1, 2011, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and ComptTIA Security+ Certifications are valid for three years from the date the candidate becomes certified. A’valid through’ date will appear on all certificates and certified holder CompTIA ID cards.

The vendor neutral test service reversed a policy that was originally issued in January that effectively invalidated lifetime certification status for thousands who had already passed the tests. Under the new policy, certificate holders had less than two years to renew their certification, which is plenty of time but violated their original testing agreements.

The blowback from cert holders caused CompTIA to reverse policy a few weeks later. Those who have already passed the tests would keep their lifetime certification and the new policy would not go into effect until January 1, 2011.

That leaves a window of opportunity for those who have yet to take these tests to squeeze in under the wire. However, the lifetime certification comes with a caveat: After December 31, anyone certified will receive a "CE" next to their certification (indicating "Continuing Education"), essentially setting a two tier class of certs for the same test. The distinction of CE and non-CE certifications may show up on hiring managers’ checklists. In an atmosphere of greater applicant scrutiny, the CE would carry more weight, which is what CompTIA wants.

It’s up to the test taker. A lifetime certification is very tempting, but the status CE may have a greater impact.

By the way, Cisco professional level certifications are valid for three years. VMWare and Microsoft certifications do not expire.

— Dino Londis 

4 Responses to “Life-Time Certifications May Not Be Such a Great Thing”

  1. WOW certifications for building PC’s…. if I even had one it’d be approximately 20 years old now…. and even without stupid certs I can still build new PC’s. I also have 20 years of networking experience… just because I don’t have network + doesn’t mean I can’t install a network.


  2. I agree with you, Patrick. I will be 42 next week and have been servicing/building/programming them since I was 13. Most of the people whom I have had dealings with don’t even care anything about certs.

  3. I think it’s a different game for the younger generation (like me). Certs pull a lot of weight when you’re either fresh out of college, or when you’ve worked in different fields and recently went back to school in IT. You easily get passed over for not having been in the field as long. Companies want innovation, yet they don’t seem to connect the dots that you have to bring in fresh talent, even though they aren’t the most experienced. I’ve noticed a lot of places either don’t know or don’t care about CompTIA… only A+ for helpdesk. Networking jobs want CCNA and MCSE certs. Combing through job postings I notice a trend towards vender-specific technologies. (In a recent interview I was scrutinized over using the most recent version of the software in question.) So, A+, Network+, Security+ won’t make much of a difference if they expire in 3 years because you would have likely already used it to get a new job or bump up your salary.

  4. Certs is a money-making endeavor by the likes of CompTIA and Microsoft and the other vendors. Why must we pay to support their products for them to sell more of it? They should be paying / incentivising us.