In the realm of information technology, many qualified individuals are itching and vying for the same positions and begin work on lucrative projects with lucrative people. How exactly do you distinguish between the achievements of these qualified candidates who come to your company looking for a job?
The CompTIA A+ Certification is only an entry-level certification, but it is an essential first step for any prospective employee to enter the lucrative information and computer technology field!
What is CompTIA A+ Certification?
When it was founded in 1982, the Computing Technology Industry Association (better known as CompTIA) became a power that would give qualified professionals within the technology industry their due with special certifications. As the top trade association in the United States, with a fierce and tight presence throughout the world, becoming certified under their standards will be very valuable for any employee or budding computer science student to succeed in the world of IT.
CompTIA A+ professionals are board-certified technicians who handle a variety of Information Technology tasks, the credentials of which ensure that they can take difficult work and owe up to the demanding jobs in the IT workplace. CompTIA A+ professionals are problem solvers first and foremost, and there are a lot of problems that need solving. Being CompTIA A+ certified is a necessary first step in a lucrative career in computer science and computer security.
If a candidate completes these two exams, they become CompTIA A+ certified and demonstrates that the individual has developed the following abilities:
- Installing virtual machines,
- Configuring and installing operating systems,
- Assembling and disassembling computer hardware,
- And troubleshooting for peripheral devices.
Once you become CompTIA A+ certified, you will be placed into one of four groups: core certifications, infrastructure certifications, cybersecurity certifications, and the final group—Additional Professional Certifications—which comprises other forms of certification that do not fit into the above. Each of these groups has its brand of certifications.
Core Certifications are based around the fundamental IT skills:
- IT Fundamentals+, or pre-career foundational knowledge on IT frameworks,
- CompTIA A+, or device connectivity and user support skills (not to be confused for the general CompTIA A+),
- CompTIA Network+, or system connections and becoming a network support specialist,
- CompTIA Security+, or providing entry-level skills in cyber security.
Infrastructure Certifications are about expanding the knowledge around IT infrastructure:
- CompTIA Server+, or server support and administration.
- CompTIA Cloud+, or deploying network storage resources, virtual system administration, and hybrid clouds,
- CompTIA Linux+, or the administration and management of Linux operating systems.
Cybersecurity Certifications are based primarily around cyber security:
- CASP+ (CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner), or designing and implementing security solutions,
- CompTIA CySA+ (CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst), or becoming an IT security behavioral analyst,
- CompTIA PenTest+ (CompTIA Penetration Testing), or working in penetration and vulnerability testing.
Additional Professional Certifications consist of certifications that do not entirely fall into the categories mentioned above:
- CompTIA Cloud Essentials, furthering knowledge of cloud computing and shifting from in-house to cloud storage,
- CompTIA Project+, or project management, such as bringing a project from planning to completion, finishing in time, etc.,
- CompTIA CTT+, for technical training and becoming a computer technology instructor.
Now that we have established what being a CompTIA A+ certified professional is like. What exactly do you expect or need to confront your only obstacle to becoming a certified IT technician on the exams?
What Is Covered in CompTIA A+?
The CompTIA A+ Core Series ask that candidates pass two distinct exams: Core 1 and Core 2. Core 1 is the exam that deals with hardware, networking technology, and troubleshooting, while Core 2 deals with software, operating systems, and security. These exams each deal with two very distinct disciplines in the realm of computers and thus will test your computer science knowledge.
Both exams are each made up of a maximum of ninety questions. These questions include:
- multiple-choice questions that ask you to choose the correct answer out of a set of responses (i.e., “which one of these belong to a MAC address?”),
- “drag and drop” questions that require you to match the responses with the proper definitions,
- And finally, performance-based questions, which test your ability to solve problems in real-world settings and are delivered as either simulation or within virtual environments as if they are working on an actual project yourself.
The exams are held in a designated test center, in which the candidate performs them online. For the performance-based questions, you use the software that the examiners present to you in order to perform and answer the simulations.
CompTIA recommends that test takers arrive with at least nine to twelve months of hands-on experience in the field of computer technology before they attempt the test. The website also cites the nine core skills the candidate needs to develop and understand before they take the exams, namely:
- Hardware, or the ability to identify, use, and connect hardware components and devices,
- Networking, or the ability to explain types of networks and connections, including TCP/IP, WIFI, and SOHO,
- Mobile Devices, or how to install & configure laptops and other mobile devices,
- Operating Systems, or installing, understanding, and supporting Windows OS, Mac OS, Linux, and mobile OS (including command line & client support),
- Hardware & Network Troubleshooting, or the ability to troubleshoot device and network issues,
- Virtualization & Cloud Computing, or how to compare & contrast cloud computing concepts & set up client-side virtualization,
- Software Troubleshooting, or how to troubleshoot PC and mobile device issues, including application security support,
- Security, or the ability to identify and protect against security vulnerabilities for devices and network connections,
- Operational Procedures, or following and upholding the best practices for safety, environmental impacts, and communication and professionalism.
Each exam has a separate passing score, though both are rated on a scale of 100 – 900. The Core 1 exam’s passing score is 675, while the Core 2 passing score is slightly higher at 700.
Each certification requires its own exam to earn, necessitating you to buy a separate exam voucher and repeat the steps as necessary.
If a test taker fails their first time taking the exams, they can immediately retake it. However, from the third time they take the exam onward, they will have to wait two weeks (or exactly fourteen calendar days) to retake it. Additionally, you have to pay for each retake. However, once the exam is passed, the CompTIA A+ certified individual could not retake the test without explicit permission from CompTIA (for that particular certification, mind you). You do not need to (nor could you) retake the test to get your certification renewed if it is expired.
Now that we covered the material on the exam, we should ask who would be the kind of person to take it?
Who Should Take CompTIA A+?
As we have mentioned before, CompTIA recommends that the test takers for the exams have at least nine months of on-field experience, which is asking a lot for someone to take a test. However, this shows how precious and essential the certification is: the kind of candidates expected to pass the exams already know how these concepts and projects play out.
The kind of person who should take up CompTIA A+ is generally a person keenly interested in becoming a professional in the field and hopefully attaining higher and more valuable certifications in the future.
And hopefully, the person who takes the CompTIA A+ exams has just enough money to buy an exam voucher. Which begs the question, how much will CompTIA A+ certification cost you?
How Much Does CompTIA A+ Cost?
Like most useful or necessary things to live life, it costs money to become CompTIA A+ certified. Think of it less as “buying your certification” and more “paying money just to earn your certification.”
To take the CompTIA A+ certification exam, you need to buy an exam voucher—and you need to buy an exam voucher for each exam. An exam voucher is around $232, or $464 altogether. We recommend not purchasing the voucher until you are sure you are prepared for the exams and ready to pass with a high grade.
On that subject, the other costs of the certification are only implied. Still, they must indeed be acknowledged, as you will likely spend money buying the textbooks and resources to study and gain the experience to pass the test reliably. Altogether, pursuing a CompTIA A+ certification could run you hundreds of dollars.
No cost is too great in pursuing the CompTIA A+ certification. However: the jobs and positions you will be qualified for in being CompTIA A+ certified will easily offset the costs of an exam!
How Hard is CompTIA A+?
While becoming CompTIA A+ certified is only the first step towards a career in information technology, do not take that status lightly. Becoming CompTIA A+ certified will become exponentially harder if you do not prepare, study, and understand the material. The CompTIA A+ exams ask of its potential candidates to have a strict and varied understanding of the subject and have the skills to match up.
Is the CompTIA A+ hard? If the article has not painted you a good enough picture of its difficulty, then let us say, with confidence: yes, it is hard. You need an intense amount of experience and study time to pass it. But once you do pass it, the benefits will be worth it.
What are the Benefits of Being CompTIA A+ Certified?
The benefits of being CompTIA A+ certified cannot be overlooked. Like all exclusive certifications, your certification signals that you are not only well-educated and experienced enough in the craft but also that you are serious about your work and are open to undergoing bigger and better tasks and challenges in the world of information technology.
Below are just a few bonuses and benefits that directly come from being CompTIA A+ certified, but remember that there is always more where that came from!
You Have Access to Better Prospects in the Future
Being CompTIA A+ certified will grant you a certain prestige and make you stand out among the crowd. In a competitive field such as information technology and computer science, you will constantly be measured against other IT students and employees. It becomes easier to be called upon for lucrative projects and not spend much of your time languishing over whether your last interview went well.
You Can Improve Your Pay
In any competitive field that deals with work too complicated for the layman to complete, being certified is a guaranteed way to get access to jobs that will get you a higher salary or pay. Certified CompTIA A+ professionals would get access to higher-than-entry level positions that put them in the forefront of the company, netting their more elevated amounts of money and better security.
A few examples of jobs that you can get with CompTIA A+ certification, along with their salaries, include:
- IT support specialist ($54,500)—responsible for analyzing, troubleshooting, and evaluating technical issues, and keeping the other employees productive and on the job,
- Field Service Technician ($46,000)—provides service and customer support on the field, such as dealing with on-site installation and maintenance and other technical problems that happen on the spot,
- Desktop Support Analyst ($60,000)—who handles troubleshoot issues on on-site desktop computers, namely Windows and Apple machines; includes configuring user accounts and repairing malfunctioning desktops.
For an entry-level certification, a five-digit salary is an excellent investment!
You Will Rub Shoulders with Industry Experts
Over a million in the United States are CompTIA A+ certified. While this sounds like a large number, in truth, it means that this would be a very intimate and close industry where you get to know many people within your local industry. If the job itself isn’t very lucrative, then at least you get to know people who can help you ascend the corporate ladder and achieve better positions. Even if you don’t, you can get friendly with the people who may share your everlasting pain!
However, good things like this do not last forever. Indeed, your CompTIA A+ Certification will eventually run out. But for how long does it last?
How Long Does CompTIA A+ Certification Last?
Unfortunately, we regret to inform you that CompTIA A+ certification does not last forever after so much good news. The certification only lasts three years after you have passed your certification exam because the world of information technology—nay, technology in general—changes and shifts remarkably quickly. What you learned three years ago may be outdated or require a second look.
However, do not fret because such opportunities do not become lost forever. For starters, it is not as if you suddenly lose your job and salary and that all of the benefits and bonuses you accrued vanished into thin air. Employers do not require you to keep or renew your certification once you have been hired (though this is not the case for every employer, nor is it helpful if you are looking for a new job).
Thankfully, you can always renew your CompTIA A+ certifications, and don’t worry—you do not necessarily have to redo the exam that you took a precise amount of time to study for and complete!
In fact, you have more than a few options to reclaim your certification and get back on board on the war path as a certified professional. For example, you can complete a CompTIA CertMaster CE Course. This e-learning course focuses on helping you retain the knowledge and information you had to gather to complete the exam. Its material is similar to the exams, though not as strict.
You can retake the CompTIA A+ Core Series Exams to earn different, specific certifications as well. Generally, if you want to avoid having your certificates expire at the worst possible time, it is an excellent investment to go and get multiple different certifications.
Wrapping Things Up: Is CompTIA A+ Worth It?
If you are CompTIA A+ certified, then you have proven yourself to be a serious and educated craftsman of the IT arts. You overcame the hurdles and challenges, and you stand out amongst the crowd. Anyone looking to enter the IT field and land a lucrative job should immediately look into acing the CompTIA A+ exams and become a certified CompTIA A+ professional now! And don’t forget that being CompTIA A+ certified is only the first step into becoming a veteran computer science technician! In short, CompTIA A+ is worth it.