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Important Skills for a Mac IT Professional

written by: •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 12/15/2009

If you are looking to broaden your Mac skills or you are an existing Mac technology professional, here are some of the important skills that can help you find a job that involves support and management of Mac OS X machines.

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    Apple Desktop Certifications and Support Skills

    It may sound obvious to say that Mac Desktop support skills are important but it is worth knowing that although Mac OS X is a UNIX-based operating system, Apple has customized the platform to meet particular needs. Possessing a solid knowledge and understanding of Mac OS X and knowing how to support it is the most essential skill for a Mac IT professional.

    It is equally important to understand Apple hardware. Macs come installed with standard industry technology and interfaces but the motherboard designs and the firmware are customized. Therefore understanding Mac hardware besides the operating system is important in basic Mac support.

    Apple offers certifications and training options, which can give both these skills. Certifications are offered on Mac support and troubleshooting of notebook and desktop hardware. Training classes are available and you can find the text of the training classes here. You can also look at Apple’s own Knowledge base for additional information, any Mac support professional should be familiar with Apple’s Knowledge Base and Apple’s mailing list and forums.

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    Working With Apple Remote Desktop

    There are many desktop management and control solutions in the market for Mac OS X, however one of the most popular ones is Apple Remote Desktop (ARD). Besides just being a remote control solution, ARD also provides a good number of features including remote control and monitoring, easy-to-use interface, software and hardware inventory capabilities. ARD is low-cost software and supports varied scheduling options and permissions. Working with all these features of this product require a skill for any Mac engineer on a helpdesk position to possess.
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    Working With Mac Software Update Strategies

    Apple provides an automatic software update option for Mac OS X Server and Mac OS X. This is helpful to ensure that your operating system and software are up-to-date.

    Dealing with software updates in business environment can be a bit complicated or problematic therefore many organizations rely on a number of update strategies for third-party applications and Apple software. These strategies can include using NetInstall, third-party client deployment and management tools, Software Update Server and Apple Remote Desktop. It is important to be aware of these options and learn to use these.

    Moreover, it is important to stay updated with the reported problems and available updates. Being also aware of the options like MacUpdate and Versiontracker for maintaining your third-party software can be important skill.

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    Mac OS X Security

    There has been a debate among IT professionals as to whether or not Mac OS X is more secure than Window. Whatever the case is, it is essential for any Mac IT Professional to understand and learn Max OS X security, which is unique from Windows and even Unix in many ways. Apple provides a comprehensive security guide on their website, which is a very good starting point for acquiring such knowledge.

    There are many antivirus solutions available for Mac OS X , understanding licensing and managed client antivirus options is essential particularly if you’ll need to provide cross-platform support and management.

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    Mac Client Management

    One of the most important and biggest skill set that is useful in managing Macs in a network environment is client management. A very rich client-management system is provided by Mac that can be used to set user preferences, access level for almost any component of Mac OS X or installed application.

    These capabilities along with many flexible options are found in Mac OS X Server’s Open Directory. In environments with more than one Mac or in a Mac OS X Server environment, Open Directory is a core skill for an administrator and can also be equally valuable in other technology integration roles.