The life cycle of a certification
Your certification proves your knowledge of a skill or product. To stay competitive in your career and prove your expertise, it’s important that you keep your certifications up to date.
Earning a certification is no small feat. After putting in the hours to study and practice for your exam, it’s important to know how long the value of that certification will last for you and what you’ll need to do to maintain it. Here, we’ll review when and how to renew some of the most popular IT certifications.
Why does my IT certification expire?
The expiration of your certification will depend of the certification vendor. For many product-based certifications, they never expire. This is because if you are certified to use Microsoft Windows 7, you will likely always have enough knowledge to use that operating system and the certification will not pass on to certify you in their next operating system. Skill-based certifications usually need to be renewed. This is because the technology associated with the skills is constantly changing and you will need to be up to date on the changes made.
AWS certifications are valid for 3 years. The AWS recertification process is simpler than most. You must retake the latest version of the same AWS certification, or you can earn a higher-level certification from AWS. For example, if you are trying to renew an AWS Certified Solution Architect — Associate cert then you may take the AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Professional to recertify. Don’t worry, AWS gives you a break on pricing. You can take a certification exam to renew for 50% off.
Most CompTIA certifications expire every 3 years. This includes CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Linux+, CompTIA Cloud+, CompTIA PenTest+, CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+), and CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+). If you fail to renew the certification within 3 years, you will need to retake the latest version of the exam in order to recertify.
CompTIA Server+ and CompTIA Project+ are considered good for life and do not need to be renewed.
To renew a CompTIA certification, they have a few different options.
In an effort to keep IT pro’s knowledge up to date, CompTIA allows people seeking renewal of the certification to do so with their continuing Education Program. With this program, you can earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to earn renewal. Each certification requires a specific number of CEUs within 3 years for renewal. CEUs can be earned by completing activities such as work experience, publishing a relevant blog, or attending an ITProTV webinar. ITProTV CompTIA courses are approved to earn CEUs. You can earn your CEUs through watching ITProTV content by submitting your certificate of completion. If you want to watch ITProTV content that is not related to CompTIA to earn CEUs, you can refer to their documentation.
CompTIA is generous in recertification options. You can also recertify by completing one of the following single activities:
- Complete CompTIA CertMaster CE
- Earn a higher-level CompTIA certification
- Earn a non-CompTIA IT industry certification
- Pass the latest release of the same CompTIA certification
You can get 10% off all single exam vouchers if you are a member of ITProTV.
Cisco certification expiration varies between 2 to 5 years. In order to recertify, you must register and pass the appropriate Cisco recertification exam. If your cert is past expiration, you must repeat the entire certification process.
ISC(2) has a program for keeping your certification current that is similar to CompTIA’s. If you are a certified ISC(2) member, you are required to earn a certain number of CPEs within your 3–year certification lifecycle. CPEs can be obtained in many ways such as reading a book, attending a conference, or managing a chapter of a professional organization. If you fail to meet your CPE requirement within 90 days after the certification expiration date, your certification will expire.
ITIL®, AgileSHIFT, Prince2®, MSP, P30, MoP, MoV, and Resilia have no expiration date. The only certification from Axelos that expires is M_o_R. The M_o_R Practitioner certification expires after 5 years. The only way to keep your qualification is to retake the M_o_R Practitioner exam before the expiry date.
In 2018 Microsoft announced that their certifications no longer expire. The MCSE, MCSA, and MSCD certifications used to expire after a certain number of years, but Microsoft has been revamping its certification program over recent years.
Microsoft identifies certifications as “active” or “legacy.” Active is an indicator that the technology associated with the certification is the most current version and still relevant. Active means that the certification is for a Microsoft product or service that has not reached its end–of–life support and the exam has not been retired.
Legacy certifications are for products or services that have been replaced or updated and are no longer relevant. Legacy indicates that the product or service has reached its end–of-life support and the exam has been retired.
So, your Microsoft certification will never expire, but it will be marked as an Active or Legacy certification. It’s important to keep your skills up to date, so once your most recent Microsoft certification reaches Legacy status, it is recommended that you earn an active certification.
Your PMP certification expires after 3 years. In order to keep your certification current, you need to earn a certain amount of Professional Development Units (PDUs). PDUs are one hour blocks of time that you spend learning, teaching others, or volunteering. For the PMP certification, you must earn 60 PDUs every three years in order to retain your certification. PDUs are split into two categories, Education and Giving Back to the Profession, and you must have PDUs in three different topic areas. Jo Peacock breaks down the categories and topic areas for PMP PDUs in this video.
VMware has decided to put the choice of recertification in your hands. VMware used to require recertification every two years to keep your certification valid. In response to consumer feedback, VMware decided in early 2019 to no longer make recertification mandatory and instead allow you to choose when to recertify. VMware still expires exams that are no longer current. Since their certifications are product based, you can update your certification by getting certified in the most current version of the product if you are no more than 3 certifications behind. VMware still awards badges for certifications and provide upgrade paths.
Whether you’re interested in getting recertified or just looking to keep your skills sharp, you’ll need IT training that’s engaging and effective. ITProTV offers training for all of the popular vendors listed above and many more to keep your skills up to date. Get started with a free membership.