- Where Certification Programs Stack Up On Recert/Maintenance
- Between Credential Expiration and Nothing, What Is There?
- Ranking Programs by Expiration Date, Version, or No Expiration
Between Credential Expiration and Nothing, What Is There?
The grey area that sits between explicit credential-maintenance requirements and an explicit lack of credential-maintenance requirements generally touches on programs with credentials that are tied to specific versions or releases of software or systems. This category actually accounts for the majority of all programs surveyed, as reported in Table 2. The reason it's a grey area is because there are three varieties of programs that fall into this category (and frankly, it's not always clear which variety applies to specific programs or their constituent credentials):
Some version-related programs do impose explicit recertification requirements, which means they institute time limits (generally, from 6 to 18 months) between the time when new versions or releases and related exams appear, and when certified individuals must take new or upgrade exams to maintain credential currency.
Other version-related programs include credentials that will never be revoked, but which do become passésuch as Microsoft's MCSE on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, for examplethe assumption being that professionals who don't upgrade old credentials or recertify to obtain new ones won't get much good from those credentials when demand for them declines beyond a certain point. What makes things interesting here is that some sponsors define upgrade paths from old credentials to new ones (Novell and Microsoft chief among them), whereas others do not.
Some version-related programs do not require holders to upgrade, recertify, or otherwise refresh stale credentials, but they do recommend that holders do so to keep their skills fresh and their customers happy. Many of these same vendors do, however, require participants in their partner programs (as resellers, developers, trainers, and so forth) to upgrade their credentials or to recertify as new exams are releasedusually within no more than one year after new exams become available.
These subtle distinctions between what it means to be version-specific are addressed in the spreadsheet that accompanies this article, but are too numerous and varied to summarize effectively here. Suffice it to invoke that old Internet acronym, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), which means that the details can vary amazingly from one program to the next.