The Path to Project Management Mastery

March 21, 2014 at 10:02 am | Posted in Certification Paths, CompTIA, PMI | 2 Comments
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Project management is needed in almost all fields and includes both commercial and non-commercial projects. Many colleges and universities offer degrees in the field of project management. Search any job Web site, and you will find project management positions available with  many companies.

But what if you want to prove your proficiency in project management? There are many popular project management certifications that you can obtain. In this article, I want to discuss three of those certifications: CompTIA’s Project+, PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), and PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP).

CompTIA’s Project+

Of the three certifications, CompTIA’s Project+ certification is probably the easiest to take. Like most CompTIA certifications, there are no prerequisites or qualifications to take this exam, although CompTIA does recommend one year of managing, directing, or participating in small- to medium-scale projects. The certification also does not require an application process. To take the exam, you simply register for the exam through Vue and pay the examination fee of $261 U.S.

The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. You are given 90 minutes to complete the exam and need to obtain a score of 710 (on a scale of 100-900) to pass the exam.

Currently, this certification does NOT have an expiration date, meaning you will be Project+-certified for life.

PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

To take the CAPM exam, you must first complete an online application. To qualify for the exam, you will need to have a high-school diploma (or equivalent) and 1,500 hours of professional experience on a project team OR 23 hours of formal project management education. Once the application is approved for completeness, you must then pay the exam fee of $225 (PMI members) or $300 (non-members).  (If your application is selected for audit, you have 90 days to submit the audit materials.) You have one year from the application approval date to take the exam.

The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that focus on the material covered in the PMBOK 5th Edition. You are given 180 minutes to complete the exam. PMI does not publish the minimum score that you need to receive to obtain the certification, but you will receive a report when you complete the exam that lists your score and proficiency in the topic domains.

Currently, this certification expires five years from the date you originally passed the exam. You will need to re-take the exam to re-certify.

PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)

Like the CAPM exam, the PMP exam requires the completion of an online application. To qualify for the exam, you should have either of the following:

  • High-school diploma, associate’s degree, or equivalent
  • 5 years of professional project management experience
  • 35 hours of formal project management education

OR

  • Four-year degree or equivalent
  • 3 years of professional project management experience
  • 35 hours of formal project management education

Once the application is approved for completeness, you must then pay the exam fee of $405 (PMI members) or $555 (non-members) for the computer-based exam.  (If your application is selected for audit, you have 90 days to submit the audit materials.) You have one year from the application approval date to take the exam.

The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice, scenario-based questions based on the PMBOK 5th Edition. You are given 240 minutes to complete the exam. PMI does not publish the minimum score that you need to receive to obtain the certification, but you will receive a report when you complete the exam that lists your score and proficiency in the topic domains.

To maintain the certification, you must complete 60 professional development units (PDUs) within three years to renew the certification. If you do not obtain and report the PDUs, this certification expires three years from the date you originally passed the exam.

Certification Suggestions

If you are new to the project management field and only have a one or two years of experience, I suggest that you take the Project+ exam first. This exam will be a great start in your career path and will help you to gauge your knowledge of project management.

If you have several years experience in the project management field but do not have enough formal project management education to take the PMP exam, you should take the CAPM exam, which is also the next logical step after the Project+ exam.

As far as formal project management education goes, most college courses or training courses from a reputable training provider qualify. While PMI has a list of approved training providers for CEUs (the training credits required to maintain certification), the educational requirements for taking the certification exams are usually not as strict. However, you may need to provide a transcript or proof of completion. Find out the latest on education, certification requirements, and more on the PMI web site.

Once you have enough experience and formal education, take the PMP exam. This is one of the most highly respected certifications in the industry today.

While experienced project managers might choose to jump right in and take the PMP, newbies should probably start at the Project+ level.

If you are still undecided on whether project management certifications are the right way to go, consider this fact: According to salary.com, the median expected salary for a typical project manager in the United States is $107,056.

For most of us, that salary statistic may speak volumes and help to solidify our resolve to pursue the certifications.

Here’s hoping you achieve certification success in 2014!

-Robin

Join us: FREE CompTIA webinar starring Robin Abernathy

January 29, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Posted in CompTIA, Conferences, Performance-Based Testing, Transcender news | Leave a comment
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Our very own Robin Abernathy will be talking all about performance-based testing, CEUs, and security certifications on Thursday, January 30th at 4pm ET in a webinar hosted by CompTIA. This event is the first of what will be a Professional Development series of webinars hosted by CompTIA and starring some of our favorite industry experts.

Register here to join in the fun! Note that although the description says ‘For Academy Partners,’ this webinar is open to anyone who creates a login ID.

To see the lineup of upcoming events, or to meet some of these experts in person at the next CompTIA Academy Educator Conference this August in Phoenix, AZ, visit:  CompTIA Events

CompTIA Academy Educator Conference 2013: Don’t Miss this Event

June 25, 2013 at 8:14 am | Posted in CompTIA, Conferences | Leave a comment
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For the last two years, I have been attending the CompTIA Academy Educator Conference (which used to be part of CompTIA Breakaway, which is now renamed ChannelCon…but I digress!). The first year I was an attendee and just took in all the IT certification information that was handed out. Last year in Las Vegas, I gave a small presentation on CompTIA’s CASP certification (you can read about that here).

This year, I will be speaking on “Security Certifications and Performance-Based Testing: Taking Your Students to the Next Level.” If you have attended this event in the past, you already know just how valuable it can be for educators who are responsible for any CompTIA training. And this year looks to be no different, especially when you consider all the changes that CompTIA has implemented over the past few years.

If you have never attended this event, I encourage you to do so, particularly if you provide training for any CompTIA certifications. At this event, you often get access to some A-list authors in an informal environment. They give you pointers and show you some of the tools you can use in your classroom. It is a great value – especially for its low cost.

And I have GREAT news – you can use Promo Code EDU25%  to receive 25% off the published conference rate. Go to http://www.comptia.org/events/events/academy_educator/index.aspx to register and obtain conference details. (Register before 7/24 to get the best rate!)

Hope to see you there!

-Robin

Interested in Learning More about the new 800-series A+? Watch our Webinar video!

May 13, 2013 at 7:47 am | Posted in CompTIA | Leave a comment
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So a few months ago…after much arm twisting…I had the “opportunity” to host an A+ Webinar. (The term opportunity is in quotes because anyone who knows me knows that I get very nervous when speaking to a group, whether live or virtual, and I hate my recorded voice.) Well, the Webinar went off without a hitch…That is, unless you consider my very southern accent as a “hitch.”

The video of that Webinar is available now.  So if you’ll pardon my southern accent, agree NOT to count the number of times I say UMMM, and ignore the long pauses, here’s your chance to learn more about the new 800-series A+ exams:

http://www.kapmarketing.net/CertPrep/TRA_Webinars/MRKT-9887_TRA_Feb282013/index.html

Hope you enjoy it!

-Robin

CompTIA offers tips on passing their performance-based questions

May 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Posted in CompTIA, Performance-Based Testing, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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Our in-house CompTIA product developer, Robin Abernathy, was among the experts interviewed in a recent article published on CompTIA’s IT Careers Blog.

The article, How to Prepare for Performance-Based Questions, brought together a variety of tips and opinions from experts across various training and IT industries. Having all taken exams with performance-based test items, we can attest that they present a solid challenge to the test-taker and eliminate some of the rote memorization.

Robin also summarized a lot of excellent information in our previous blog posts:

CompTIA’s CASP exam now approved for DoD 8570.01-M

March 22, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Posted in CompTIA, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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CompTIA recently announced that the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification has been accredited by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program 8570.01-M.

The CASP certification is intended for IT professionals with at least 10 years of experience, of which 5 years should be hands-on security work. Like other D0D-accepted certifications from CompTIA (A+, Security+, and Network+), it must be renewed every three years or maintained through CompTIA’s Continuing Education program.

Transcender’s CASP practice exam includes 160 practice test questions and 238 flash cards, including several interactive items that help prepare the customers for the live exam experience.

How to Learn More About CompTIA’s Performance-Based Questions (with FREE Webcast offer)

December 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Posted in CompTIA, Performance-Based Testing, Vendor news | 3 Comments
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With the release of CompTIA’s new A+ series, 220-801 and 220-802, many of you will finally get your first look at CompTIA’s performance-based questions. The performance-based questions were actually first released by CompTIA in their CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) exam, but the CASP has a more limited audience than CompTIA’s A+, Network+, and Security+ exams.

Several members of our Content Development team have seen the CASP, the new A+ and Network+ performance-based questions, and we all feel that CompTIA is headed in the right direction with these item types. While we can’t share any details ourselves, CompTIA has released information over the past few weeks that will hopefully answer some of your questions. Here are a few resources I would recommend:

Did you notice CompTIA has increased the recommended hours of hands-on field experience to one year, up from the previously recommended six months? Those of us who have already taken the exam perceived a small but definite increase in difficulty. Again, with those performance-based items, you can either perform a task or you can’t. Hands-on experience is key. If the question simulates an action you do every day at work, then you’re probably going to find it a breeze. If it tests a concept you’ve only read about in books or studied in the abstract, it may take you a little longer to puzzle out the solution.

As I already mentioned, the new A+ and Network+ exams include performance-based questions. CompTIA will integrate performance-based questions into the Security+ exam in January.

So it looks like the move is permanent, folks! Embrace it! And know that what CompTIA has released is just the tip of the iceberg. Does anyone remember Microsoft’s 83-640 exam? I think that was a glimpse of where performance-based testing should really go.

-Robin

Mobile Devices in the new CompTIA A+ exams (Part 2 of 2)

October 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Posted in CompTIA | Leave a comment
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Well, it’s been two weeks since I introduced you to the Mobile Devices domain in the new A+ 220-802 exam. In that post, I gave information on the first two objectives in the Mobile Devices domain. In this post, I want to finish by discussing the last three objectives from the domain:

3.3 Compare and contrast methods for securing mobile devices.
3.4 Compare and contrast hardware differences in regards to tablets and laptops.
3.5 Execute and configure mobile device synchronization.

For objective 3.3: Compare and contrast methods for securing mobile devices, the main focus is mobile device security. The main points that you should concern yourself with are as follows:

  • Passcode locks – This is the most basic security measure. Passcode locks block unauthorized users from accessing any of the device’s functions. In Android phones, this is configured in the Settings Location & Security section. In iOS-based devices, it is configured in the Settings – General section.
  • Locator applications – This security measure uses the GPS feature to locate a lost or stolen mobile device. For iPhones, you would enable the Find My iPhone feature. For Android devices, you can use a number of third-party security applications (such as Android Lost, AVG Antivirus, or Lookout) to remotely locate a phone.
  • Remote wipes – This security measure ensures that all data on the mobile device can be erased if the mobile device is lost or stolen. For iPhones, there is an iCloud feature (available in iOS 5) that allows the Remote Wipe feature. Google Apps administrators can perform this function with Google Sync (in beta, as of this writing). Most third-party Android security apps will have the option to locate, lock, or remotely wipe the device.
  • Remote backup applications – This functionality allows all data and applications to be backed up to ensure that the data could be restored if the mobile device is lost or stolen. For iPhones, backups are managed by the iTunes application. For Android devices, you will need to download an application that provides this functionality.
  • Failed login attempts restrictions – This security feature will lock a device after the configured number of failed login attempts. For iPhones, the lock occurs by default after 6 failed attempts and erases the data after 10 failed attempts. For Android devices, this feature is not built in, so you will need to add an application to provide this functionality. Most mobile devices also let you wipe the device contents after the configured number of failed logins.
  • Antivirus – Because mobile devices can be corrupted by malware, you should install an anti-malware application. Desktop antivirus vendors, like McAfee and AVG, also have products designed for mobile devices. Keep in mind that the product must be regularly updated to protect against the latest malware and virus threats.
  • Patching/OS updates – Patching the operating system and applications is necessary for all mobile devices. Most mobile devices have a built-in function that will notify you periodically when updates are detected. Make sure your device is updated so that all the latest security patches are installed, because security patches are the most common type of update.

For objective 3.4: Compare and contrast hardware differences in regards to tablets and laptops, you need to understand the hardware that is used in a mobile device and how it typically compares to laptop hardware.

  • You should keep in mind that most mobile devices do NOT have field-serviceable parts. Specialized tools are needed to replace any mobile device hardware, including the screen and internal parts. Repairs should only be carried out by technicians who are properly trained. If you have a device repaired by a technician that is not backed by the vendor, the warranty will be voided.
  • Also, keep in mind that mobile devices typically cannot be upgraded. Therefore, you should purchase the device that provides the maximum level of hardware for your current and future needs.
  • Most mobile devices are touch screen devices, which uses two technologies: touch flow or multitouch. With touch flow, finger movement (up, down, left, right) controls how the screen scrolls. With multitouch, the screen will recognize multiple touches, which means that more than one finger can work with the interface at the same time.
  • Mobile devices typically use solid-state drives, which are lighter and less prone to crashes.

For objective 3.5: Execute and configure mobile device synchronization, you need to understand how to sync your mobile device. This includes understanding the type of data that will need to be synced, the software requirements to install the syncing application on your desktop computer or laptop, and the connection types that can be used with synchronization. Users will need to be able to sync contact information, applications, e-mail, pictures, music, and videos.

  • Push synchronization is automatic and requires no user effort. Any change made will be synced to the other devices at regular intervals that you configure. (Remember that push synchronization can consume battery so use a longer schedule time if battery consumption is a concern.)
  • Pull synchronization, on the other hand, requires the user to actually activate the synchronization, which then pulls new information from the other device.
  • Synchronization can occur via a direct USB connection between devices, over a Bluetooth connection between the devices, and even over a 802.11 wireless network. Some specialized synchronization applications even allow you to use the Internet for synchronization.

While most mobile devices have a built-in sync feature, applications available through the marketplace usually do a much better job and include many more options. If you purchase a synchronization application, make sure that your mobile device meets the application’s requirements.

In closing, I hope these two Mobile Devices posts have helped to shed a bit of light on just where CompTIA is going with this topic. I have to say that I am glad to see this topic included as part of an IT technician’s job analysis. As mobile devices gain in popularity, technicians will definitely be expected to understand how to configure mobile devices in the real world.

I’ll be taking the 220-801 and 220-802 exams this week. I am really looking forward to seeing how the exams have changed, and assessing the new mobile device coverage and performance-type items.

Watch for my post in the coming weeks where I review Mike Meyer’s Eighth Edition of the CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Guide. I’ll also be posting some ideas about mobile phone emulators to help in labs and classrooms, and to help students self-study for the new mobile device topic coverage on the 220-802.

- Robin Abernathy

Mobile Devices in the new CompTIA A+ exams (Part 1 of 2)

October 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Posted in CompTIA, Study hints | Leave a comment
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Last month, I posted an article about the virtualization topics in the new A+ exams. At that time, I indicated that I would be posting about the new mobile devices topics. I expected to get the two articles out within a few weeks of each other, but as it always seems to happen around here, other things took precedence….and a month later, I am finally sitting down to fulfill my promise.

Mobile devices have increasingly become part of our lives. Because of the popularity of these devices and our dependence on them, the CompTIA A+ certification now includes  mobile device topics to ensure that A+ technicians are proficient in certain aspects of mobile device management. The new A+ 220-802 exam has an entire domain that is dedicated to mobile devices. Domain 3, the Mobile Device domain, makes up 9% of the exam. The objectives from Domain 3 are as follows:

3.1 Explain the basic features of mobile operating systems.
3.2 Establish basic network connectivity and configure email.
3.3 Compare and contrast methods for securing mobile devices.
3.4 Compare and contrast hardware differences in regards to tablets and laptops.
3.5 Execute and configure mobile device synchronization.

There’s a lot to chew on here, so let’s focus on the first two of these objectives. (I will discuss the other three in a coming post.) Please remember that I’m writing based on my experience with mobile devices and on what I’ve read in several reference books. As of this posting, I have not actually taken the new A+ exams. CompTIA released those exams this week, so I’ll hopefully have some time to take them before Part 2 of this blog post! But since I’ve been writing study material for the A+ exams since the 300-level A+,  I am fairly confident that I won’t be too far off the mark.

For Obj 3.1: Explain the basic features of mobile operating systems, you will need to understand the features of the Android and iOS mobile operating systems.

  • Android is an open-source operating system, while the Apple iOS is a vendor-specific OS.
  • Developers for Android have access to the same APIs used by the operating system. Developers for Apple must use the software development kit (SDK) and must be registered as Apple developers.
  • Android apps are purchased from the Google Android market (now called Google Play) or from other Android app sites, while Apple apps can only be purchased from the Apple App store.
  • For screen orientation, mobile devices use an accelerometer and/or a gyroscope. While only one of these is required, many newer mobile devices use both because they work better together.
  • Touch-screen mobile devices require screen calibration. The screen calibration tool will require you to touch the screen in different ways so that the mobile device can learn how you will touch the screen. If the device does not react in an expected manner when you touch the screen, it may need re-calibration.
  • GPS information can be obtained from cell phone towers or from satellites. Keep in mind that keeping the GPS function enabled will cause the battery to be depleted much quicker. Android phones normally use satellites to obtain GPS data, while iPhones use a combination of satellites, cell phone towers, and WiFi towers to obtain GPS data.
  • Geotracking  allows a mobile device to periodically record location information and transmit this information to a centralized server. Consumers have recently raised privacy concerns overs this feature.

For Obj 3.2: Establish basic network connectivity and configure email, you will need to understand how to connect mobile devices to networks and how to configure email on mobile devices. For all of the following points, I would expect this to focus mainly on the two major smart phones (iPhone and Android), but wouldn’t be surprised if you are expected to know how to do this for the iPad and other tablets.

  • Enable/disable the wireless and cellular data network.
  • Understand Bluetooth configuration, including enabling/disabling Bluetooth, enabling device pairing, finding devices for pairing (including entering the PIN code),  and testing Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Configure email. You will need to know the URL of the incoming and outgoing email server, the port numbers used by these servers, and the encryption type (if applicable). You probably will also need to know your account details, including user name, password, and domain name. The process for setting up email will vary slightly based on the mobile device that you are configuring and the type of account. Some of the more popular mail services, such as Exchange and Gmail, are easier to set up because of configuration wizards.

To fully prepare for these objectives, it may be necessary to install a mobile phone emulator on your computer if you do not have access to a physical mobile phone. In many cases, there are free mobile phone emulators available so that you can learn how to perform many of the basic configuration steps. You may want to research the options that are available and install them in a lab environment, particularly if you are an instructor. These emulators can provide a valuable service to students who do not have experience with mobile devices.

Part 2 of this topic will be released in the coming days and will cover the other three Mobile Devices objectives in the 220-802 exam. I also plan to have a post in the coming months on mobile phone emulators, so feel free to send me any information on what you have found in this area.

Until then….

-Robin

Grab your discount: Security+ and Network+ exams on sale until CompTIA rolls out new test format

October 3, 2012 at 9:14 am | Posted in Certification Paths, CompTIA | Leave a comment
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As many of you may know, CompTIA introduced performance-based questions on the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification exam. These questions have really added to the difficulty of the exam. The new A+ series (220-801 and 220-802), to be released in October 2012, will also include this item type. We were told that CompTIA was looking into expanding some of their other certifications to include this item type, but we weren’t told when the changes would occur other than “fourth quarter of 2012.”

Finally, CompTIA has released some concrete details about upcoming changes to the Network+ and Security+ certification exams. And the news? Both of these certifications will be adding performance-based questions in as soon as one month!

Network+ candidates: How the product changes affect you

For Network+, the last day to take this exam WITHOUT performance-based items is November 3, 2012. Starting on November 4, 2012, all Pearson VUE-delivered Network+ exams will include this item type.

CompTIA is encouraging individuals who are already studying for Network+ to take the current exam before the performance–based questions become incorporated. As part of this initiative, CompTIA will allow you to purchase a Network+ exam voucher by November 3 and save 15%.  Purchase a Network+ Exam Voucher Now if you plan on taking the exam by November 3rd. Once you buy the voucher, you’ll have between ten and twelve months from the date of purchase to redeem it for a test. After November 3, these exam vouchers revert to full price.

Security+ candidates: How the product changes affect you

For Security+, the last day to take the exam WITHOUT performance-based items is December 31, 2012. Starting on January 5, 2013, all Pearson VUE-delivered Security+ exams will include this item type.

As with Network+, CompTIA is encouraging individuals already studying for Security+ to take the current exam before performance–based question become incorporated. Purchase a Security+ exam voucher by December 31, 2012 and save 15%. Purchase Security+ Exam Voucher Now if you plan on taking the exam by December 31st. The voucher is valid for ten to twelve months from the date of purchase. On January 1, 2013, these exam vouchers revert to full price.

Click here for more information on performance–based items from CompTIA.

In addition, CompTIA has created a great video all about the CompTIA testing experience that includes information about the PBT item type. The item type discussion section starts at around the 5-minute mark, but I would suggest watching the whole video, because it contains some great information.

Transcender customers: how the product changes affect you

As far as the Transcender products go, we will definitely be adding performance-based items to our current practice tests. But keep in mind that we do NOT get an advance viewing of these items — so we cannot see what these items entail until November 3rd for Network+ and January 5th for Security+. Once we see how CompTIA handles the performance-based aspect, we will put together a plan for revising our practice products so that they’ll best prepare you for the actual exam. We anticipate that we’ll be adding our own performance-based items approximately 6-8 weeks after the CompTIA exams release.

Any Transcender customers who have an active practice test license at the time we release the product update will be able to update their purchase to the new version at NO additional cost. (What a great value add!)

Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have, and happy testing!

-Robin Abernathy

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