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Certification Watch (Vol. 17, No. 17)

News about another certification world champ, cough the best cities to live in for top tech paychecks, and more.

ACA World Champions Named In Anaheim

ACA WinnersIt's not quite at the level of the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship event that it piggybacked last week in California, but the Adobe Certified Associate World Championship is growing. In its second year, the fledgling faceoff attracted participation from more than 60,000 competitors, with the field narrowed to 32 finalists (representing 16 countries) who traveled to Anaheim, Calif., to compete for fortune and glory. Organized by Certiport, the ACA event was dominated by a trio of young masters from Macau and Taiwan: first-place winner Cheon Wai Hang (from Macau), second-place winner Kao Jui-Hung (Taiwan), and third-place winner Lin Siou-Yuan (Taiwan). Contestants in the final round tackled a poster design challenge, which required them to draw on functions of the flagship Adobe programs Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. The posters were designed around themes and specifications supplied by micro-lending foundation

If At First You Don't Succeed

What happens when a certification candidate fails a certification exam? Most people probably don't just roll over and accept defeat, but how long should one wait before taking the field of battle once more? Cisco has taken that decision at least a little bit out of candidates' hands, with new CCIE and CCDE retake policies that took effect over the weekend. The new guidelines bump up the wait times between retakes and impose a few other restrictions. Both certs require passage of written exam, followed by a lab exam for CCIE candidates, and a practical exam for CCDE candidates. Instead of the previous five-day cooling off period, candidates who fail the written exam for either cert must now wait 15 days before making another attempt, and cannot make more than four retake attempts in the same 12-month period. For the CCIE lab exam, the previously established wait time before a retake was 30 days. Under the new guidlines, candidates may not even schedule a retake before 30 days have passed, and the waiting period increases to 90 days after a second failed attempt, and to 180 days after a fifth failed attempt. You must learn patience, grasshopper.

Or You Could Just Succeed The First Time

From time to time we stumble upon articles, videos and the like that are positively ancient by internet standards, but still worthwhile and applicable in real world terms. Such is the case with a compilation of tips for taking your next certification exam posted to YouTube last November by CBT Nuggets. Yeah, we know: November of 2013? In internet content years, which make dog years look positively geologic, that's practically "older than Methusaleh," as the kids used to say. Even a whopping nine months after the fact, however, advice like "mentally prepare for the testing environment" (Tip No. 2) and "take a practice test when available" (Tip No. 6) is probably still valid and helpful. The video is longish, and 24 minutes, but it's also free, and it might just help you pass that next crucial exam.

Upgrade + Discount = No-Brainer

From time to time, certification tracks get overhauled, or shifted, or phased out, or whatever the case may be, and people who already have one certification have to keep pace with the changes by shifting to the newer version of that same credential. Such is the case for Oracle Database Administrator Certified Associate (OCA) holders, many of whom are now in the throes of changing over to the newer Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) standard. Oracle Certification now has a couple of upgrade exams available in beta, which means, at least for a limited window, discounted exam fees. So if you've been dragging your feet about upgrading your OCA, this could be a literally golden opportunity.

Update Planned To Major Security Cert

Speaking of changing certifications, one of the biggies in IT administration is due for an overhaul in 2015. A tuned up and recalibrated version of the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) credential offered by IT governance group ISACA will be rolling out onto the lot in June 2015. ISACA conducted a nine-month assessment of CRISC to determine which areas needed to be upgraded, and certification requirements will be modified along with the certification itself. If you fear change, well, thank heavens for advance notice. No you have almost a year to certify under the old requirements before the game gets a little more physical.

IT Is Where You Hang Your Hat

As with real estate, sometimes the key factor in making an employment decision is location, location, location. How much your IT skill set earns you can depend on where you live. InfoWorld underlined the point last week with a report naming the best cities for top tech jobs. Not surprisingly, the biggest paychecks tend to cluster around the biggest cities, but cost-of-living variances can makes your paycheck stretch a lot further in some locations than in others. There are several good points to ponder here if you're an IT free agent consider where to take your talents next.

That's all for this edition of Certification Watch. Please keep your certification news and tips coming to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..