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CompTIA bows to pressure over certification limits

The IT trade organisation has reversed a policy change that would have seen holders of lifetime certifications having to requalify every three years
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The Computing Technology Industry Association has backtracked on a change that would have forced people with 'lifetime' certifications to undergo requalification every three years.

In a letter to members on Tuesday, CompTIA chief Todd Thibodeaux said anyone who is awarded an A+, Network+ or Security+ certification before the end of 2010 will have that qualification for life. The three-year limit will be instituted for anyone who gets certification after 1 January, 2011.

The letter follows an announcement on 11 January, in which CompTIA said its certifications would have to be revalidated every three years, via credits for activities such as passing an exam, participating in industry conferences or publishing blogs. The IT trade body said the move would bring its certifications in line with those of other certifiers, such as Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle. It also made the change retrospective to the start of January.

"The new certification renewal policy is applicable to all individuals who hold CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ certifications, regardless of the date they were certified," the organisation said in a statement at the time. "Other CompTIA certifications are not affected at this time."

CompTIA's original announcement had sparked angry protest from many members, some of whom said they had qualified at the start of January 2010 in the expectation of gaining lifetime certification.

"If I had know this was going to happen, I would have never taken the exam in the first place," a commentator wrote on a CompTIA blog post. "Great business tactics, CompTIA. False advertisement and not even one notice this sort of change was going to happen."

Thibodaux's letter welcomed the "honest feedback" that had followed the original announcement, and stressed that existing members will not be required to retest to maintain their valid CompTIA certification.

"For candidates currently preparing to sit for a CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ exam, if you pass an exam and become certified by 31 December, 2010, you too will have a lifetime certification with no requirements for recertification or retesting," Thibodeaux wrote.

Details on the backtracking were given on Tuesday by the CompTIA certification team in a blog post entitled You Spoke, We Listened. Old Certifications Still Good For Life!. Some members commenting on the blog post expressed relief at the adjustment to the policy change. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am so glad you decided to make this change, this is so much more fair to all your past cert holders!" one member wrote.

However, another commentator wrote that the altered policy change was "still a raw deal" for anyone certifying after 2010. "[CompTIA] are still suggesting experienced IT workers somehow need to prove they possess entry-level skills every three years by passing a generic vendor neutral test," the commentator wrote. "This is still total nonsense."

In September 2009, the British Computer Society (BCS) also changed its certification policies for senior IT professionals, instituting a Certificate of Current Competence that needs to be renewed every five years. The BCS stressed at the time that its move did not mean that existing holders of its Chartered IT Professional (CITP) qualification would lose that certification.

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