Esri Technical Certification: ArcGIS Desktop 10.1 Exams Released

Note: This post has been updated since it was first published.

If you’ve been wanting to take the 10.1 version of either the ArcGIS Desktop Associate or ArcGIS Desktop Professional certification exam, your wait is officially over. Registration for the 10.1 versions of both exams is now open.

At version 10.1 the changes to ArcGIS for Server are extensive. The same is not true of ArcGIS for Desktop—version 10.1 introduces few significant changes to the desktop environment (but note there are some nice usability improvements, additional data storage capabilities, and more ways to share your work and access ArcGIS Online resources). As a result, the 10.1 exams for both ArcGIS Desktop Associate and ArcGIS Desktop Professional are not significantly different than the 10.0 exams. Your knowledge of new functionality is measured, but overall the changes to most ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop workflows are minor when compared with ArcGIS 10.1 for Server.

But Here’s the Big News

If you have an ArcGIS Desktop Associate or ArcGIS Desktop Professional 10.0 certification or if you take (and pass) an ArcGIS Desktop 10.0 certification exam, you are eligible to receive the equivalent 10.1 certification. Yes, you read correctly. If you are a current ArcGIS Desktop 10.0 Associate or Professional or if you earn one of the 10.0 Desktop certifications in the future, you may submit a request to receive the 10.1 certification without taking the 10.1 exam. We will be communicating with all current Desktop certification holders in the near future about how to submit this request.

Why are we doing this? First, because the changes to the desktop environment are nominal and we want to provide new certification candidates an opportunity to make an informed choice between the 10.0 and 10.1 exams.  Our intention is not to encourage anyone to unknowingly take an exam that is similar to an exam they already passed (and paid for).

Which Exam Should You Take: 10.0 or 10.1?

If you are not currently certified but plan to achieve an ArcGIS Desktop certification in the future, perhaps you’re now wondering which exam version is right for you. Suppose you work for an organization that uses ArcGIS 10.0 and has no immediate plans to upgrade to 10.1. Which exam should you take?

The answer to that depends on your specific circumstances. Some organizations cover certification exam costs but only if the exam applies to software the organization uses. Other organizations may cover the cost of the 10.1 exam because they are planning to upgrade and understand that having certified individuals on staff can help ensure a smooth migration process. It’s a good idea to discuss certification with your manager to make sure your decision aligns with organizational directives and goals.

What if you’re pursuing a career change? Which version of the certification exam should you take? Once again, it depends on your specific goals and circumstances. Understanding that the software versions are similar may help, so the particular software version you have access to may be the greatest influence on your choice.

What Exam Preparation Resources Are Available?

This is still a popular question. Here’s the latest answer.

  • We continue to offer two instructor-led skills review courses. These courses are now taught using ArcGIS 10.1 software in the classroom, but course content applies to ArcGIS 10.0 as well. Where there are differences between ArcGIS 10.0 and 10.1, the instructor will point them out and provide information for each version.
  • We continue to offer the free sample question web courses that we developed for version 10.0. We will be updating them to include some sample questions specific to ArcGIS 10.1, but for now the questions apply to both the 10.0 and 10.1 exams.
  • Watch one of our free training seminars on an ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop topic.
  • Read What’s new in ArcGIS 10.1 and search the ArcGIS Resources website to learn more about specific functionality.
  • If you have access to ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop, the tutorials that come with the software are useful to learn specific functionality that you may not use on a day-to-day basis.
  • If you are not yet using ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop at work, you can download free trial software or consider laying out $100 for ArcGIS for Home Use (includes an Advanced license at 10.1) and use it to get familiar with the new functionality. Note that ArcGIS 10.0 and ArcGIS 10.1 cannot be installed on the same machine.

About SuzanneB

Suzanne is a Maryland native with a degree in English Literature who enjoys writing about Esri technology and other topics. She works with Esri Training Services in Redlands, California.
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  1. vipulb says:

    Hi , Thanks for info.1. Will there be any fee involved for attaining 10.1 Desktop certification, if someone already have 10.0 Desktop certification before November 2012? (I have one)2.  Is the Desktop 10.0 will be the only certification eligible for this upgrade to 10.1 without appearing for exam ? e.g. What about Geo-database certifications?3. When will the 10.0 Desktop certification holder receive the 10.1 certification and the procedure involved ?- Vipul Bhatia ( You can write to me at: )

    • SuzanneB SuzanneB says:

      Hi Vipul, individuals who have achieved an ArcGIS Desktop Associate or Professional certification will receive the equivalent 10.1 certification upon request, at no charge. We will be notifying those individuals about the process to submit a request in the next couple of weeks. Because 10.1 technology changes affecting the other certifications are much more significant than the ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop changes, candidates will need to pass the exam if they’d like to earn one of those 10.1 certifications.

  2. inteller says:

    when will the info about submitting a 10.1 cert request for existing 10.0 certs be coming out?

    • SuzanneB SuzanneB says:

      Hi Joseph, our certification team has e-mailed current ArcGIS Desktop 10.0 Associates and Professionals with the instructions to request the 10.1 certification. If you haven’t received that e-mail, please contact