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CompTIA Certifications Get an Expiration Date

If you hold a CompTIA certification and are a little bit pleased that it will never expire, ambulance sorry to burst your bubble, but it may be getting close to doing just that.

In early January 2010, CompTIA quietly posted information on their website that CompTIA A+, Security+, and Network+ certifications would have to be renewed every three years, effective January 1, 2010. The plan would apply to everyone who already held one of those certifications as well as individuals who earned them going forward. Previously, there was no particular expiration date or recertification requirement, although updated certifications with new exams were made available from time to time.

Are you Kidding?

The response from the certification community was swift and angry; existing certification holders were outraged. How could CompTIA change the rules retroactively and take away what had been promised as "lifetime" certifications? Faced with a tsunami of angry complaints - there are more than 700,000 A+ certified individuals alone - CompTIA quickly backpedaled and withdrew the plan, regrouped, and some weeks later put forth a new, gentler recertification plan.

The New and Improved Plan

Under the revised plan, recertification requirements will only apply to individuals who earn a certification after December 31, 2010. Individuals who already hold them will get to keep them "for life" as originally promised. Starting January 1, 2011, individuals who earn the affected certifications will have to renew them every 3 years or the certifications will expire. Renewal can be accomplished through proof of continuing education or by additional testing. To distinguish for the outside world who has to keep their skills current to retain certification and who does not, CompTIA will append CE after the affected certification names starting January 1, 2011; for example, Security+ will be known as Security+ CE going forward.

According to CompTIA, recertification requirements are necessary to bring the CompTIA program procedures in line with those of other major certification vendors such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Oracle. In addition, recertification is required for CompTIA's certifications to maintain the accreditation from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which CompTIA's A+, Security+, and Network+ designations received in 2008.

On the bright side, if you hold more than one of these certifications, you only have to renew the one at the highest level. For example, if you hold A+, Network+ and Security+, you only have to meet the Security+ renewal requirements.

Although they are not required to do so, individuals currently considered "certified for life" can opt in to the recertification at any time up until December 31, 2012. By doing so and then completeing the renewal requirements, the individual then becomes "dual" certified, for example in CompTIA A+ (the older "for life" certification) and CompTIA A+ CE (the continuing education version). If enrollment is not accomplished by December 31, 2012, however, then the candidate for the new certification will need to start from scratch.