Youth served again: 12-year-old earns CompTIA certification


Is certification a (very) young man's (or woman's) game? Are all of the 26- and 27-year-old codgers out there getting too old for this stuff? Earlier this year, our friends at Certification Magazine ran a feature about San Antonio, Texas-based high school IT instructor Johnny Carrera. Several years ago, Carrera was told by career education administrators that his high school students would never possess the IT wherewithal to earn professional IT certifications. Now it's starting to seem like the next certification trailblazer will be the one who successfully launches a first-grade certification program.


Just last month, news broke across the industry that Microsoft had granted a Windows 8 certification to 5-year-old British whiz kid Ayan Qureshi. Now leading IT industry association CompTIA has come forward to acknowledge that a 12-year-old South African lad, computing prodigy Mark Botros, has earned its widely acknowledged A+ certification. According to a post at CompTIA's IT Careers blog, Botros is already moving ahead, and plans to add CompTIA's Network+ credential to his resume before he turns 13.


Unlike Ayan Qureshi, who's a little too young to have done much more than arrive like a bolt out of the blue, Mark Botros's remarkable IT ascendancy at least has a history. His mother, Mary Botros, told CompTIA that his interest in computers began at age 4 when his father gave him a Spider-Man PC game. Mary quickly tired of Mark's constant requests for help with loading and playing the game, and told him to figure it out for himself. By the time he was 5, Mark had taught himself so rapidly that he could take apart and reassemble the computer he used to play his game.


Mark began studying computers in the first grade, and was quickly singled out by his teacher for having a level of computer literacy that far exceeded the knowledge of his classmates. At age 10, he earned an ICDL (International Computer Driving License), a computer fluency certification administered by the ECDL (European Computer Driving License) Foundation. Not long after that, he enrolled at Boston City Campus and Business College, a South African technical college. It was Mark's BCC studies that led him, earlier this year, to become CompTIA's youngest-ever A+ certified professional.


It's a heartwarming story of a clearly exceptional student. Mark intends to enroll at Harvard University (just like his IT hero, Bill Gates), work in computer science, and eventually own his own computer company. So are two exceptional certification stories in the span of a few months an outlier? Or does this signal the start of a new trend that could undermine the value to adults of IT certification programs? Or is the rising generation just amazingly more computer literate than any yet glimpsed? Among other things to watch for in 2015, certification observers must now be on the lookout for the next child certification prodigy.

Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
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GoCertify's mission is to help both students and working professionals get IT certifications. GoCertify was founded in 1998 by Anne Martinez.