Time To Get Certified

Everyone is joining the certification gold rush. And HP is no exception. under the program named HP Certified they have introduced a series of tests designed to give an official stamp of approval to those information technology practitioners who wish to be recognized for their HP specific skills. The HP Certified program began in January of 1999. Like nearly all certification programs, this one is designed to recognize those IT professionals who can demonstrated a certain level of competence in a given area.

The HP Certified program has two ties: HP Certified IT Professional and HP Certified Advanced IT Professional.

The IT Professional certification is awarded to those who pass any of six computer based tests. The tests focus on different HP specific categories and include HP-UX System Administration, MPE/iX System Administration and UNIX/Windows NT Integration. Three Open View oriented tests are available including Windows NT Server and Applications Management.

These tests are administered by Sylvan Prometric (Baltimore, Md.), a third-party firm specializing in the administration of computer based testing for a variety of companies such as Novell, Microsoft and Cisco. Usually, the tests are taken at a firm affiliated with Sylvan, such as a training facility.

The HP-UX System Administration test has 60 questions which must be completed in 90 minutes. A score of 70% is required to pass the test although the individual sections must be passed with a score of at least 50%.

The Advanced IT Professional certification is a brand new program that uses hands-on testing to certify skills. This program is designed to recognize specialized skills in certain areas such as Performance & Capacity, Management, Availability Management, HP-UX Operations, Configuration & Change Management, Problem Management and Help Desk. After achieving a "regular" IT Professional certification, someone may wish to continue and get one of the advanced certifications. These advanced tests are administered at the official HP Education Centers. They consist of both written and hands-on exams.

If you wish to pursue an HP certification, you have several options. If you think you know your stuff, you can simply take the tests. HP's certification web site lists the general requirements for each exam. For instance, for the HP-UZ Systems administration test has topics such as "create and manage typical shell programs and user accounts" and "reconfigure the kernel." The Web site also features a set of practice exams that you can use to test your skills.

Another way to prepare is to take the recommended courses from the HP Education Centers. As part of the announcement of the certification programs, HP also introduced a new curriculum "that moves away from product-based coursework to a program built around new job roles."

The new curriculum is an attempt to make the courses applicable to the day-to-day functions that people must perform. This approach should make the courses more accessible and more relevant. For the HP-UX System Administration certification, three courses are recommended: Fundamentals of the UNIX System and HP-UX Systems and Network Administration I and II. Each course is five days long.

I have always been a big proponent of certification. The IT industry seems to attract a lot of self-trained people, or people who are moving from one area to another. This seems to stem from the rapid pace of change in our industry and lack of understanding by non-technology managers who don't realize that just because a person is a Windows NT expert doesn't mean they are an HP-UX expert. That isn't necessarily bad, it usually means that there are gaps in training.

Spending money on professional training or time on self-directed study is a wise investment on the greatest asset you have: your intellectual capital.

If you are a professional working in the HP arena, consider getting HP Certified. It may have a positive effect on your skills and your marketability.