‘MacBigot, ACSA’ [Apple finally provides tech certifications… but keeps them a secret?]

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In reference to Apple’s latest Big Idea for reclaiming marketshare in the education segment, one reader noted,

“My first thought was, ‘Having Macs in schools will be good for building the Mac userbase. Students who learn on Macs will want a Mac at home.’

Now I’m beginning to worry. I have heard nothing but complaints about school Mac labs, ranging from, ‘The network guys at school don’t know anything about the Macs so they never help me,’ to ‘Macs suck, the Macs at school are slow and they crash all the time!’

Maybe Apple should have a ‘Macintosh Network Administrator Certification’ and require that the schools have a certified Mac head on campus.

Just a thought.”

Bob Arlauskas
Systems Admin

We’re not surprised no one has heard of them.

For a long time, the lack of any professional training and certification on the MacOS platform has been used as ammunition against installations of Apple products. People would point to the number of technicians with MCSE (Microsoft) or CNE (Novell) certifications and count this as an advantage for the Wintel platform — even a ‘proof’ that the MacOS is not a ‘serious’ business tool.

To be clear, we agree that technicians on other network platforms have had a real advantage over Mac users… but only in that more standardized training has been available for the products they support.

The idea behind these vendor-sponsored certifications (Microsoft, Novell, HP, Cisco, etc.) is that your IT personnel are always up to speed with the latest product lines; and this increases the chances that you’ll continue to purchase and use that vendor’s products in your company. From Microsoft’s point of view, that’s a Good Thing.

Times change. Apple learns from its mistakes… eventually.

We are now aware of three Apple-sponsored certifications; schools and IT shops should adopt one of them as their standard and pay to get someone on staff certified as an ongoing Standard Operating Procedure.

  • AppleCare Technician:
    ‘Provides all the information you need to prepare for the AppleCare service certification exams for Macintosh and PowerBook systems. This easy-to-use, self-paced course includes training materials, diagnostic tools, and extensive information from Appleƕs own technical library.’

  • Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA), available in fall 2001:
    ‘This certification is designed for full-time professional system administrators managing medium-to-large networks of Mac systems in demanding and relatively complex multiplatform deployments.’
  • Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC), available in June 2001:
    ‘This certification is ideal for a traditional Mac and AppleShare IP user who may not be a full-time professional system administrator but who is tasked with maintaining a modest network of machines. Typical technical coordinators are teachers and school technology specialists, designated power users within larger organizations, or helpdesk personnel.’

The links above also outline Apple’s Certification Roadmap, Benefits, and Technical Training. It’s worth an hour of your day to read it well; and place copies of the downloadable PDFs where they will be reviewed by your local school board, your IT manager, and every technician that has opportunity to deal with cross-platform issues.

We’re not sure why Apple hasn’t marketed these products more aggressively (has their marketing department ever done justice to a product?); but those who use Macs for profit should make an effort to get this training included in their support plan.

Dan Oblak

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