2014 Rewind: The year's top IT certification stories

Big news

The world of IT certification continued to grow and evolve this year. Whether you were an IT professional looking to add some relevant expertise to your resume, or an employer wanting to keep the members of your IT department up-to-date on the latest products and technologies, IT certification programs from vendors and industry organizations offered a wide selection of choices. And, for every certification track, there was a multitude of training options available.


Looking back on 2014, there were a number of interesting developments in the IT certification industry. Here is a recap of our choices for the top certification stories of the year.


CompTIA Releases CertMaster


Certification stalwart CompTIA made some big waves this year when it announced the debut of its own proprietary training system called CertMaster. Marketed as an adaptive learning tool that leverages established science from the fields of game theory, cognitive psychology, and neurobiology, CertMaster has received generally positive reviews from industry critics.


One contributor to the product's initial success is the availability of CertMaster apps for Android and iOS devices, which makes it remarkably easy and convenient for candidates to do training from any location. CertMaster licences are available for CompTIA's Network+, Security+, A+, and IT Fundamentals certifications. CompTIA has said it intends to add more of its designations to CertMaster in the future.


Microsoft Launches Home-Based Certification Exams


Microsoft ended its relationship with testing vendor Prometric in 2014, opting to switch to Pearson VUE. This was big news in itself, but paled in comparison to what we learned when the other shoe hit the floor: Microsoft and Pearson VUE announced a new beta program offering candidates the ability to take certain MCP and MTA certification exams from their own homes, rather than having to travel to a testing center.


The qualifying home-based exams are delivered online, and employ the use of remote exam proctors who constantly monitor the candidate via webcam and microphone, to ensure that no cheating shenanigans take place. The Microsoft-Pearson VUE home-based exam program is currently only available in the United States, and the number of available exams is limited. That said, the program marks a major potential change in how the majority of Microsoft MCP exams will be offered in the future.


Red Hat Celebrates 15 Years with a Cert Revamp


Red Hat Linux appeared in the mid-1990s, and the accompanying training and certification program was launched by the company in 1999. Red Hat celebrated the 15-year anniversary of its program in 2014, and feted its popular Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) designation.


Red Hat also revisited its certification program this year, making several important changes. There are now more options available for candidates looking to earn the top-level Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) certification. A number of Red Hat designations are being phased out, in order to make the program easier for employers and IT pros to understand. And, Red Hat Certificates of Expertise are now valid for three years; they didn't have an expiry date before the Red Hat revamp.


Oracle Announces Retirement of 10g Certifications


Database professionals who were looking at earning a certification in Oracle Database 10g got a warning shot across the bow this year, when Oracle announced that it is retiring the bulk of its 10g exams on March 1, 2015. Oracle has recommended that candidates consider taking the exams for the newer 11g or 12c versions of its massively popular database management system.


Five-Year-Old Becomes Youngest Microsoft Certified Professional


Back in November, tech blogs and news feeds picked up on the story of Ayan Qureshi, a boy from the United Kingdom who was only five years old when he passed Microsoft's Supporting Windows 8.1 certification exam, becoming the youngest person to achieve Microsoft Certified Professional status.


While this story celebrated the achievement of a young prodigy who is very likely destined for bigger and better things, it also placed a spotlight on Microsoft's current exam policies, and how it doesn't serve the greater MCP community to have children (gifted or otherwise) participating in the same program as IT professionals.


A+ Reaches One Million Certified


Without a doubt, CompTIA's A+ certification is the flagship designation in its training and certification program. Computer technicians have been earning the A+ certification for over two decades. Still, it was a remarkable story when CompTIA announced in October 2014 that it had awarded its one-millionth A+ credential.


The one-millionth A+ certification was earned by Logan Murphy, a computer tech from Fort Collins, Colo. Murphy received a prize package from CompTIA that included paid hotel and admission to a technology trade show of his choice, and an opportunity to star in a new training video.


Did We Miss Something?


Was there another big certification story that you thought we should have featured? Let us know in the Comments section below.

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About the Author
Aaron Axline is a freelance technology writer based in Canada.

Aaron Axline is a technology journalist and copywriter based in Edmonton, Canada. He can be found on LinkedIn, and anywhere fine coffee is served.