Being at the very first stage of any journey is exciting. You get to choose your way, experience the successes and learn from some … not so successful moments. If you want your IT career journey to go smoothly, CompTIA’s A+ certification is the bullet-proof starting point for it. It validates the knowledge and skills in maintaining PCs, mobile devices, laptops, operating systems and printers.
A+ may be as basic of an industry certification as it gets. This brings you a couple of great news:
- No expensive classes or preparation materials. You can get pretty much everything you need online and on a budget, study on your own and do great on the exams. It’s more than realistic.
- Being A+ certified is your ticket to being considered for proper help desk/IT technicians’ entry level positions. Moreover, it opens the doors for taking next steps with CompTIA: Network+ and Security+. Why are we telling this now? Keep reading.
- It is worth pointing out that CompTIA’s reputation now is soaring all times high, with their certifications being required by leading companies, as well as US Government bodies, including the Ministry of Defense.
To achieve the A+ certification, you will have to pass 2 exams: CompTIA A+ 220-801 (A+ Essentials) and CompTIA A+ 220-802 (A+ Practical Application):
- CompTIA A+ Essentials covers the fundamentals of computer technology, installation and configuration of PCs, laptops and related hardware, as well as basic networking.
- CompTIA A+ Practical Application tests the skills required to install and configure PC operating systems, as well as configuring common features (e.g. network connectivity and email) for mobile operating systems Android and Apple iOS.
Both of these exams consist maximum of 90 queries each – all of them being either multiple choice or performance-based. Both exams are 90 minutes long, so expect to have around 1 minute per query. While this may sound overwhelming, people who have gotten their certification claim both exams to be absolutely doable. With rather generous passing score margins, you have a room for mistakes (don’t enjoy it too much though): the 220-801 has the passing score 675 (on a scale of 900) and the 220-802 needs you to get at least 700 out of 900.
If you aren’t a native speaker and would prefer taking the exams in the language other than English, keep in mind that at the moment CompTIA also offers these exams in German, Japanese, Spanish , with Simplified Chinese expected to be added soon (it has already been announced).
What’s the deal with CompTIA certifications?
Over the years, CompTIA has boosted their reputation from being just an IT-certifying non-profit into a real industry certification trendsetter. Their certifications are recognized by the leading industry manufacturers, including Dell, Intel and Lenovo. The main advantage of CompTIA certifications is the fact that all of them are vendor neutral, unlike, obviously, Cisco, Microsoft, etc. They give you the knowledge of approaches, technology, tools in general – the understanding you need to become a professional – without tying you up to solutions from a particular vendor.
In the very beginning of the journey, when it’s very hard to be sure about the IT area where you will eventually end up, A+ sounds like a great start! Should you be interested in networking and routing, you can proceed with either CompTIA’s Network+ or Cisco’s CCNA Routing and Switching (we have discussed the difference between them a few weeks ago). So, we say that universal applicability of CompTIA certifications, and A+ in particular, make them a great choice that will truly open the door into the world of IT careers.