CompTIA CE

In 2007, I passed CompTIA’s A+ exams; that gave me a qualification which is valid for life. In April 2012, I enrolled in the CE (Continuing Education) program. In April 2015, I passed the Network+ exam, which gave me the Network+ ce qualification (valid for 3 years). Since I was within the deadline, I could also use this exam to get the A+ ce qualification, but that involved navigating CompTIA’s website: this blog post explains how to do it, since they haven’t made it obvious.

My main concern was that I’d cut it quite close with the timings. I took the Network+ exam on 2015-04-24, and the deadline for A+ ce was 2015-04-26. When I got the printed report after the Network+ exam, it said: “Please allow five business days for your CompTIA web record to be updated with exam results.” So, if the website didn’t process my results until after the deadline had passed, would I still be ok? Also, I took the exam on Friday and my deadline was Sunday, so I had less than 1 working day. However, it was all fine so if you’re in a similar situation then don’t worry about it.

On the day of the Network+ exam, I logged into the CompTIA website to check the CE dashboard:

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This said that I had 2 days remaining in my current “cycle”. It also reported that I’d already submitted 100% of the CEUs; that’s because I passed a Microsoft exam in July 2012, so it’s not connected to the new Network+ exam, and I’d normally expect to see 0% there. Similarly, the dashboard said that I’d already paid $25 in annual fees; that’s correct, because I foolishly paid for my first year (non-refundable) before I realised that I wouldn’t have to pay that fee if I went for the Network+ exam. Again, that would normally say zero.

I logged into the website again the following day (on Saturday evening), and the “Recent activity” section at the bottom of the page had good news:
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So, they knew that I’d passed the N10-005 exam, and I had 2 new active certifications (A+ ce and Network+ ce). However, I still had a few more hoops to jump through.

The top of the page had this message:
Before the system will attempt to deliver your fulfillment, you must update your address information (on the demographics page) to confirm that it is correct.

I can see the logic there: they don’t want to post the certificate to the wrong address. So, this was really just a formality, and if you haven’t moved house then you simply need to go to the Demographics page and click Submit. However, it’s worth noting that they didn’t send me any kind of email notification for this; you need to take the initiative by going back to the website.

After I’d confirmed my postal address, the website prompted me to update my other settings, e.g. my email preferences:
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Note that the CE Intended Path box is disabled, and it currently says “A+” rather than “Network+”; this will be significant later.

Anyway, I clicked Submit without changing anything there. I then went to the CE dashboard again:
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The CEU Progress section now listed the A+ce as being valid from 2015-04-24 to 2018-04-24. So, this is based on the date I took the exam rather than the original expiry date (2015-04-26). As before, the CEU Progress and CE Fees sections referred to “A+ ce”; they didn’t mention my new Network+ exam or qualification at all.

The CE Fees section confused me, because it said that I owed them $75 by 2015-04-24 (i.e. the previous day). This wasn’t simply out of date, because the “CE Fees Paid” had reset to zero (i.e. it no longer showed the $25 that I’d paid before). I initially thought that it was in a hybrid state, where the amounts had changed but the date hadn’t, but that’s not actually correct. Going back to the previous version of the dashboard, that said that the CE fee was due on 2013-04-26 (i.e. 1 year after I signed up for the CE program). I contacted CompTIA about this, and they said:

CE fees are due annually based upon your CE certification date. Since you achieved your Network+ certification on April 24th 2015, your CE fees are due for each 12-month period from that date. Below are the dates that your CE fees are due:

  • April 24th 2015
  • April 24th 2016
  • April 24th 2017

Since you are now within your 1st annual period, there is a CE payment due for $49.

I think that’s misleading, because it means that the due date will always be in the past, implying that I’m overdue with my payment. However, since it’s apparently a deliberate choice rather than a bug, I assume that they’re not going to change it. So, just be aware of it. As I mentioned before, you don’t actually have to pay any money until you’re ready to renew (and maybe not even then), so I’ll ignore it for the time being.

I then looked at the Certifications page:
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This listed all 3 of my qualifications: my original “good for life” A+, and the new CE versions of A+/Network+. It’s interesting to note the start dates on the CE certifications: 2012-07-06 (the date that I took the Microsoft exam) rather than 2012-04-26 (the date that I enrolled in the CE program). It doesn’t really make any practical difference, but it seems like an odd choice.

On the CE dashboard, it referred to my “certification intent level”. So, I needed to update that, but I couldn’t do it through the Demographics | Settings page. Instead, I went to Continuing Education | Continuing Education Units.
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The CE Intent section displayed my intended path as “CE CompTIA A+”. This matched the corresponding box on the demographics page, but this time I was actually able to click the drop-down list. The list only showed A+ and Network+ (not Security+), i.e. it was filtered based on the exams that I’ve actually passed. That’s sensible, but I think it would be reasonable for the intent to automatically change rather than assuming that I want to let my new qualification lapse!

Anyway, I changed the selection to Network+, and then the website prompted me to pay more fees:
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I didn’t want to do that, because I won’t owe any fees if I take the Security+ exam next.

Instead, I went to the Continuing Education | CE Maintenance Fees page. This defaulted to Network+:
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When I clicked Submit, it took me to another page where I could pay fees.
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Again, I didn’t want to do that!

I then went back to the Demographics | Settings page:
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The CE Intended Path box was still disabled, but it now displayed Network+ rather than A+. So, that’s good news: you can change the setting without paying a fee.

NB CompTIA have redesigned their website recently, so it now looks slightly different to some of my screenshots. In particular, there’s no longer a menu option for CE Dashboard: you see similar information on the main Continuing Education page. They’ve also split the Continuing Education | Continuing Education Units page into Continuing Education | Add CEUs and Continuing Education | Edit CEUs. You may able to take a shortcut if you just go directly to the Continuing Education | CE Maintenance Fees page (as above) and make the change there.

When I went to the History page, I could see my extra exam:
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NB There was only 1 new entry here, because it's tracking exams rather than qualifications.

Finally, I returned to the CE Dashboard. Now that I’d changed my intent, the CEU Progress and CE Fees sections referred to Network+ rather than A+:
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This also means that the “CEUs Required” has changed from 20 to 30, and my “Annual CE fee” has changed from $25 to $49.

Just for reference, here’s the equivalent page on the re-designed website:
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They’ve removed the Continuing Education Code of Ethics Agreement section; that info is still available on the History page, so there’s no need to repeat it here.

About a month later, I received a couple of letters from CompTIA, containing ID cards and certificates for my new qualifications. These came by airmail from the USA (Chicago) to the UK, which explains the delay. The Network+ ce letter arrived on 2015-05-22, and the A+ ce letter arrived on 2015-05-30. I’m not quite sure why they came separately, since the website said that they wouldn’t post anything until I’d confirmed my address, and at that point they’d already linked the new exam to both qualifications. It would also have been more cost-effective to put everything in the same envelope. Ah well, no matter.

Now that I’ve sorted all this out, my basic plan is that I’ll never have to take the A+ exam again: I’ll keep that qualification up to date by doing higher exams every few years. Similarly, I think it’s unlikely that I’ll do the Network+ exam again. If I do the Security+ exam next then I won’t have to pay annual fees, but I will have to pay them if I stick at the same level (either Network+ ce or Security+ ce). As another option, I’ve already passed the CWTS exam; if I move on to the CWNA, that will give me enough CEU units to renew the A+ ce and Network+ ce (along with an annual fee); since I’d have to recertify for the CWNA every 3 years, that would be a viable long term strategy. Anyway, I’ve got 3 years to decide what to do.

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