Kimberly Larson

ACA vs. ACE?

What are your thoughts on ACE /ACI (Adobe Certified Expert / Instructor) vs ACA (Adobe Certified Associate / Educator)? 

The reason I ask is that I am a high school graphics teacher who LOVES Adobe Illustrator! I have my ACE in Adobe Illustrator CS5, CS6, and CC. I looked into becoming an ACI (Adobe Certified Instructor) but because of my full time high school teaching status I was told that I wasn't the right fit. I was told that I could get my Adobe Educator Certificate but I would have to take the ACA test(s). I have not taken any of the ACA tests yet as the ACA is an entry-level test and the ACE is the Expert test with years of experience. The experience of getting my ACE in Illustrator was extremely beneficial and I'm going to take my Photoshop ACE this summer. Does anyone have both their "Adobe Certified Instructor" and "Adobe Certified Associate Educator"? Again, I have not taken any of the ACA tests, I'm judging by the review material. Any thoughts or suggestions would be wonderful.

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Amy Roberts

Posted on 4/6/15 2:34:14 AM Permalink

Where can we get the educator discount for the certification exams?

Melissa Jones

Posted on 1/5/15 3:39:19 AM Permalink

FYI we just launched a new ACA portal on EdEx where you can find answers to questions like these:

Chris Holbrook

Posted on 7/23/14 1:21:02 PM Permalink


Great question! I am going through this same process with Premiere Pro and Photoshop at the moment. I would love to hear your final decision. I have completed all of the ACA-E requirements except for the fee, and am preparing to take the ACE.

I don't know if the ACA-E and ACE are both certifications we can promote at the same time. If I had to pick, I'd say my full-time employer and freelance employers would be more satisfied with the ACE. Being an educator we get 50% off the ACE test. So, the price of the ACE exam comes to about the same as ACA-E.

Christina MacLaughlin

Posted on 7/15/14 8:39:30 PM Permalink

I've been getting my 8th graders to take the ACA for the past two years. It's my goal to get them to ACE status at the end of their high school career. I know that's pretty ambitious, but the confidence they acquire from the ACA cert gives them the confidence to reach higher.

The only issue is the certification pricing. I don't agree that it should cost as much for a beginner cert vs. the professional grade.

Lukas Engqvist

Posted on 7/12/14 10:22:11 AM Permalink

There are some areas that the ACA cover that are not in the ACE/ACI, but that being said I believe that the ACE/ACI route is better path to audit your skills in the software. The ACA have more "soft skills" and are not as software centric as the ACE exams. I am trying to get ACA certification as a minimum requirement for teachers at our school, and to offer ACA to students. I hope to take the ACA for software I don't have as ACI. For example being ACI for premiere requires a special train the trainers course besides the ACE, so that is one I plan to go for the ACA.

jorge barrigon

Posted on 5/6/14 3:51:48 AM Permalink

Hello Kimberly i'm an ACI for:

Photoshop - Illustrator - InDesign CS-CS2-CS3-CS4-CS5-CS6

Acrobat 7-8-9-10

Dreamweaver CS4 CS5

Lightroom 3 and 4

I dont know if you visit the page

Here you will find all the info you need, i don't know where you get that you need $500.00 fee, each exam cost $150.00 you can certified in any product you want, and as i remember becoming an ACI only requires that you present your credentials as a teacher in case you don't have any you hace to present a CTT+ certification and i think this is the one that cost $500.00 but in your case i dont think you will need this.

In order to work as a freelance instructor or cosultant you dont need to become an AATC you can teach as a freelance and only promote the courses of the products you are certified.

I will recommend to certified as an ACE and apply for the ACI.

I hope this helps you

Kimberly Larson

Posted on 4/25/14 1:47:33 PM Permalink

Thanks @Melissa for the reply! I guess the question I have is that what if I teach both? Yes, for 10 months of the year I teach high school students but throughout the year I also teach / train professional Graphic Designers and Illustrators in a 1:1 setting. During my summers "off" I teach Adobe Illustrator at several workshops / conferences. I have been paid for those as freelance contractor for those events but do I not teach the required 15 students per month (professional & corporate training) as required by ACI program. I know the ACI application fee is $500, AATC is $5000, and the ACA Educator is $95. I'm not yet sure what the requirement are for the ACA Educator (i.e. the 15 students per month for ACI). I guess in the end I could continue doing what I'm doing. I believe being an Adobe Certified Expert and teaching my students at the at a higher level has been extremely beneficial to the students as a whole. I've had SkillsUSA National winner as well as several top 10 winners using Adobe Illustrator as well as other Adobe products. Thank you again for your time and your reply!

Melissa Jones

Posted on 4/25/14 2:32:30 AM Permalink

Hi Kimberly,

I can speak from the Adobe perspective but I'd love to hear from others who have actually had experience with both programs as well...

ACA is a program designed for entry-level folks who are trying to get their first job in a creative industry. It measures basic product skills as well as on-the-job skills like project and asset management. ACA Educator is designed for instructors who teach at the ACA level (i.e. high school or college), as a means of showing that you have the skills to teach at this level.

ACE is designed for individuals with 10+ years industry experience. It measures expert-level product skills. The ACI is designed for instructors who teach at the ACE level (i.e. professional & corporate training).

My understanding is that both certifications require you to simply submit a teaching credential, fill out a form and pay a fee AFTER you've passed the qualifying exam. I'm not 100% sure on ACI but I know for ACA that is the case.

My advice as the manager of the ACA and ACA Educator program is to pursue the instructor cert that aligns with the level at which you hope to teach/train. If you want to train professionals, get an ACI. If you want to train K12 or higher ed students, get an ACA Educator.

Earning your ACE in Illustrator is a very impressive feat and you should be very proud! You could easily pass the ACA if you decide that the ACA Educator cert is more in line with your career goals.

Let us know if you have further questions! aca at adobe dot com