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Apple Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Apple Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths
Credit: Alexey Boldin/Shutterstock

Much like the products for which Apple is well known – the Macintosh computer, and devices like the iPhone and iPad – Apple's certification program is focused and elegantly simple. The certifications fall into one of two categories: those geared for IT professionals and those for creative professionals. There's also the Apple Certified Trainer (ACT) credential for those interested in teaching the Apple certification curriculum to others, both in the creative and IT areas. Apple certifications in the IT professional bucket focus on macOS certifications, the AppleCare Mac Technician (ACMT) certification and the Apple Certified iOS Technician (ACiT) certification.

A macOS certification recognizes an individual's ability to manage and support macOS in stand-alone systems and networked computers in an organization. As is Apple's tradition, operating system certifications are available for the two most current editions of the operating system, which are currently macOS Sierra and macOS High Sierra.

macOS Sierra certifications

  • Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) 10.12
  • Apple Certified Associate – Mac Integration Basics 10.12

macOS High Sierra certifications

  • Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) 10.13
  • Apple Certified Associate – Mac Integration Basics 10.13

The ACSP is all about installing, configuring and troubleshooting macOS. The Apple Certified Associate – Mac Integration Basics certification focuses on tasks related to networking. This certification covers connecting to directory services; creating network accounts; setting up file sharing and printing; configuring email, contacts and calendar access; configuring security; and managing networked data.

Apple operating system certifications have no prerequisites. Exams for the ACSP are available only through an Apple Authorized Training Center, but candidates can sign up for all other exams through Pearson VUE, an Apple Authorized Training Center or online. (Online test-taking is limited to certain exams, such as the Apple Certified Associate – Mac Integration Basics 10.12.)

The AppleCare Certified Mac Technician (ACMT) credential focuses on troubleshooting and repair of Macintosh desktop and laptop computers and displays, as well as troubleshooting Mac operating system issues. The Apple Certified iOS Technician (ACiT) certification recognizes required skills for servicing iOS-based devices, such as iPhones and iPads.

Both certifications require two exams (available through Pearson VUE), and neither certification expires.

ACMt exams

  • Apple Service Fundamentals Exam (SVC-17A)
  • ACMT 2017 Mac Service Certification Exam (MAC-17A)

ACiT exams

  • Apple Service Fundamentals Exam (SVC-17A)
  • ACiT 2017 iOS Service Certification Exam (iOS-17A)

The concept of "performing repairs" on Apple products can be confusing. The company points out that achieving the ACMT certification verifies that you have the skills to repair Apple products, but certification alone doesn't mean you're authorized to make such repairs. For that, you'll need to become an Apple Authorized Service Provider, which establishes a business relationship with Apple. However, Apple has a self-servicing program in which participants such as schools are allowed to service and repair Apple products they own at their own sites.

Our Best Computer Hardware Certifications article features the ACMT as one of the top five hardware-related certifications and provides a more detailed look at this certification and its requirements.

On the creative side, there are two types of certifications available: Productivity App certifications and Pro Applications certifications. Both the Productivity App and Pro Applications certifications are designed to appeal to graphic artists and multimedia professionals. An Apple Certified Professional (ACP) Productivity App designation recognizes an individual's skills in using some specific application. Currently, three Apple Productivity App certifications are offered:

  • ACP – Pages
  • ACP – Keynote
  • ACP – Numbers

Apple Certified Pro Applications certifications focus on Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X. Final Cut Pro X is post-production video-editing software and Logic Pro X is a full-featured sound editor. Two Apple Certified Pro Applications certifications are available:

  • Final Cut Pro X (10.3 exam)
  • Logic Pro X (10.3 exam)

Although Productivity and Pro Applications certifications don't have specific prerequisites, Apple recommends "knowledge of OS X and basic computer navigation" across the board before taking associated training courses.

If you're an Apple creative product master or have great skills and passion for supporting Macs or macOS, consider getting your Apple Certified Trainer (ACT) credential. An ACT teaches Apple certification courses in corporate settings and in Apple Authorized Training Centers, helping the next generation of candidates earn their certifications. To become an ACT, you need to be certified in any area you want to teach, possess a combination of teaching and real-world experience, and pass a Train-the-Trainer (T3) exam. LearnQuest administers the ACT program on behalf of Apple.

The Apple Certified Support Professional, or ACSP, is geared toward help desk personnel and service technicians. The Apple Certified Associate – Mac Integration Basics certification is useful for network professionals who must know how to add a Mac to a network (Windows or other) and manage services for users.

An ACMT or ACiT diagnoses hardware or device problems, makes repairs and performs upgrades. Both certifications are ideal for service technicians seeking jobs that require such certifications, such as those employed by an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP), a Self-Servicing Account (SSA) or an Apple reseller. If you plan to spend several years in an organization that's mainly a Mac shop, an Apple certification could help you negotiate a higher salary or land a more responsible position.

Apple creative certifications are geared toward videographers, multimedia designers, editors, artists, photographers and the like – folks who use Apple productivity and professional applications daily. The certifications also appear in job postings for digital A/V specialists and library associates who oversee implementation of and/or use of the tools. It's also suited for creative managers who lead creative strategy for corporate marketing teams but must also design and develop creative assets.

To get started, visit the Apple Training and Certification website. There, you'll find links to books and e-books, video training, classroom training, and more. Apple provides free exam preparation guides for most certification exams. A guide lets you know the type of exam that's required, the total number of questions and time allotted, and it lists exam objectives so you know which topics will be covered. Guides also list recommended resources – books, courses, etc. – that best prepare you to take Apple certification exams.

Classes on Apple products are offered through Apple Authorized Training Centers, which are usually two- to five-day courses with live instructors who lead students through lectures and hands-on labs and answer questions along the way. Candidates for the ACMT or ACiT certifications can take AppleCare Technician Training, which is self-paced. AASPs and SSAs offer the same self-paced training for employees seeking ACMT certification through ATLAS, which is offered through Global Service Exchange (GSX).

Apple's creative certification candidates interested in self-study options can subscribe to Safari Books Online, an on-demand digital library that includes lots of e-books and video training, including the Apple Pro Training Series. Candidates for Final Cut Pro certification should also browse the web tutorials, user guides and whitepapers on the Final Cut Pro Resources page.

Although official certifications aren't attached, Apple also offers Introduction to Swift 4 and Introduction to the iOS 10 SDK for developers, as well as iOS 10 Deployment Essentials training.