I am an F5 Certified Product Consultant & Systems Engineer for LTM (F5-PCL, F5-SEL) and have about 5 years experience in supporting their products and slightly more experience working with other Networking Vendors. I was quite intrigued by this certification program as this is one of the first exclusive certification for Application Delivery Networking that was intended to be set up similar to the Cisco’s multi level certification culminating in CCIE which is a lab based test.
Sometime in the summer of 2012, I took my first test (Beta Test) in the newly created F5 Certification Program – 101 Application Delivery Fundamentals. As of now, I have successfully completed 101, 201, 301 & 302 exams. 303 & 304 are still remaining and I understand that the 401 exam will be released for beta testing by Q4 2014 or Q1 2015.
Exams currently available (Q3 2014):
- 101 Application Delivery Fundamentals
- 201 TMOS Administration
- 301a LTM Specialist: Architect, Set-up & Deploy
- 301b LTM Specialist: Maintain & Troubleshoot
- 302 GTM Specialist
- 303 ASM Specialist
- 304 APM Specialist
- 101 & 201 – BigIP Certified Administrator
- 301a & 301b – F5 Certified Technology Specialist – LTM
- 302- F5 Certified Technology Specialist – GTM
- 303- F5 Certified Technology Specialist – ASM
- 304- F5 Certified Technology Specialist – APM
As you can see, passing the 101 exam doesn’t provide you with any certification. However, it is a prerequisite in order to take higher level exams.
The beta tests cost $95 and the production, non-beta tests cost $135. The pricing is given in US Dollars. Of course, now that the production tests are available, beta tests are not available for 101, 201, 301a, 301b, 302, 303 & 304 tests.
Beta tests had a duration of 2 hours. Production tests have a duration of 90 minutes.
Without hands-on experience working on F5 products, it is going to be quite tough to pass these exams. The questions are closely tied to the blueprint for each exam. You can get the blue print from the F5 exams page.
Some of the early test takers and F5 Engineers have put together a study guide in order to help the test takers. You can find the study guide, after you register for the exam at the F5 Credential Management System (F5 CMS)
Before you register, I highly recommend that you check out the F5 Certification Page.
Exam Retake Policy:
- 1st Failure: 15 days wait
- 2nd Failure: 30 days wait
- 3rd Failure: 45 days wait + complete retake allowance form
- 4th Failure: Wait 2 years
F5 has a policy were, upon failing an exam for the third time, you may request a review of your past exam performance before taking the exam for the fourth time. This review will provide a list of objectives on which you have scored less than 50% in at least two of the three attempts. To request this review, simply email F5certification@f5.com a day or two after your third failure.
This link provides access to information on individuals who are F5 certified in different regions. As of Q3 2014, there are about 30 individuals who have achieved all the 3xx level certification.
I had taken the F5-PCL & F5-SEL tests (older F5 certification) and I must say that they were a bit too easy with excessive emphasis on certain configuration elements.
The newly created tests are quite challenging & credible in my opinion for the following reasons:
The tests are conducted by Pearson Vue in test centers with more security (Photo, Palm) which means there is a lesser chance of tests being leaked.
The stricter retake policy would prevent people from taking the exam multiple times just to memorize and leak questions.
F5 seems to have a better tracking system to prevent multiple attempts from individuals.
The tests are tougher in general compared to the previous F5 exams and are set up in such a way that you need at least 1-2 years of real world experience before you can ace them. In other words, bookish knowledge alone won’t help you. In my opinion, the tests and exam scores are easier to achieve than a Cisco certification.I think this will get more complex and challenging as we gain more certified individuals.
Ken Salchow, the F5 Program Manager for this certification has created a linkedin community for F5 Certified Professional and engaged with techies with F5 expertise to answer their questions and address their concerns related to the new certification program. The linkedin community is a great resource for any questions related to the certification program.