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Why should you keep your Red Hat certifications current? In a two part series, Director of Certification, Randy Russell, will tell you why and how to stay current. Part 1 of 2.

Part 1: Why stay current? (Current blog post)
Part 2: How to stay current

Whether it is a medical board, a bar association or a technology company like Red Hat, the entire premise of certification and licensure is that neutral, authoritative party is offering an assurance of people's readiness to do certain kinds of work. Certification and licensure programs across all professions and trades virtually always have policies stipulating that the certification or license must be kept current by meeting certain criteria. The reason for having such policies is the same for all such programs: requiring credential holders to stay current ensures that their skills are up-to-date and that they are capable of performing on the job today.

Skills and knowledge that are regularly applied can stay fresh, but they deteriorate when they are not applied. We can forget how to perform even relatively simple tasks if we never perform them. Furthermore, the requirements for job roles also change over time. In the medical field, for example, new treatments are introduced. Medical professionals are expected to stay abreast of these. For IT professionals, it is critical to stay up to date with new and revised technologies. Red Hat's policies about staying current ensure that Red Hat Certified Professionals' skills and knowledge are fresh and up to date.

Words matter, so we do not refer to people's Red Hat certifications as "expired", "terminated" or "invalid". We say certifications become non-current. Non-current conveys accurately the status of a certification that was earned some time ago and for which no actions have been taken to keep it current. We hope that everyone who has earned a Red Hat certification views it as an achievement and views themselves as a Red Hat Certified Professional even if their certification is no longer current.

That said, we also must recognize that there is a difference between the person whose certification is current versus someone who is not. Ironically, it could be the case that someone who certified ten or fifteen years ago has been working with the same Red Hat technology throughout the intervening years and brings a high level of experience and expertise. The problem is that we do not know that so we cannot make representations about what such a person knows or does not know based on that person’s experience. All we know is that we have data from ten to fifteen years ago that might or might not be relevant today.

It comes down to what we can represent about a given individual. We can represent things about someone's skills and knowledge who has certified recently. Someone who certified long ago might never have used the technology again after passing the exam, for all we know.

The benefits we offer to people who are certified differ based on whether someone is current or not. The following benefits and resources for Red Hat Certified Professionals are only available to those who have one or more current certifications:

  1. Verification of certification status on Red Hat Certification Central
  2. Online search for Red Hat Certified Professionals
  3. The quarterly Red Hat Certified Professionals newsletter
  4. Red Hat Certification Badging
  5. Recognition in the Red Hat Customer Portal
  6. Purchases from the Red Hat Certified Professional Store
  7. Discounted passes to Red Hat Summit (beginning 2017)

The biggest benefit to being Red Hat certified is being Red Hat certified - a benefit that is strongest when it is current and up-to-date.

In Part 2, I will describe the options available for Red Hat Certified Professionals to keep their certifications current.

Learn more about all the exams we offer.

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About the author

Randy Russell is the director of Certification and leads the team that develops and delivers Red Hat's certification programs and exams.  A long-time proponent of performance-based testing, he has served on the board and as president and chairman of the Performance Testing Council, as well as having presented on this subject and others at industry conferences such as the Association of Test Publishers, the European Association of Test Publishers, CeDMA and TSIA.  Prior to joining Red Hat, Russell was a system administrator and programmer at an environmental economics consulting firm.

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