If you’re looking to kickstart or advance your career in the information technology field, you’ve probably heard about the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam. But is it really worth your time, effort, and money?
Let’s dive deep into the details of this popular certification to help you make an informed decision.
So, is the CompTIA A+ certification worth it? Yes, the A+ certification is a great start to your career in IT or cyber security.
But do keep in mind, the A+ certification is geared towards entry-level IT support, service, or technician type of roles. This won’t hold as much value if you have significant experience or more advanced certifications.
If you already have an established career in the IT field or have a sufficient amount of IT knowledge, skip this certification. Instead, you should consider other certifications that align better with your current skill set and experience level, such as CompTIA Linux+, CompTIA Network+, or CompTIA Security+.
But if you are committed to starting your IT career, this is absolutely the right certification for you. By investing your time and effort into obtaining the CompTIA A+ certification, you’ll build a strong foundation in IT, expand your skill set, and increase your marketability in the job market.
Ultimately, the A+ certification can serve as a valuable stepping-stone on your journey to a successful IT career.
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Is the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam Worth It? Click below to find out!
What Is the CompTIA A+ Certification?
In case you’re wondering, the A+ certification was introduced in 1993 by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). It’s an entry-level certification that validates your foundational knowledge and skills in IT.
And, it’s one of only eight CompTIA certifications that’s ANSI Accredited. It’s often referred to as the “starting point” for IT careers, and many employers consider it a must-have for their entry-level tech support roles.
Of course, over the years the certification has evolved to reflect the changing demands of the IT sector. The current versions of the exam are 220-1101 and 220-1102.
What are the Benefits of A+ Certification?
Let’s check out some of the reasons why you might want get the A+ certification:
For starters, the A+ certification is widely recognized as a standard for entry-level IT roles. It’s such a critical baseline certification that even U.S. Department of Defense has approved the A+ for use in their agency.
There are even some technology companies that require the A+ certification: Dell, Intel, HP, etc. and others that request it because it validates you understand the fundamentals.
Want more money? The CompTIA A+ certification can also lead to higher earnings for IT professionals. On average, A+ certified folks earn more than their non-certified peers.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for A+ certified professionals in the United States is around $54,493. So, getting certified could make you a more attractive candidate for higher-paying job opportunities.
However, I do want to stress that while an A+ might be preferred, it isn’t needed to get an IT support role; it just makes getting an IT job easier.
Who Is the A+ Certification For?
Are you wondering if the CompTIA A+ certification is right for you? This entry-level certification is perfect for aspiring IT professionals. You might find it an excellent fit if you:
1. Are new to the IT industry and want to start your career in a technical support role. The CompTIA A+ equips you with essential skills. You’ll learn to troubleshoot and resolve common hardware and software issues. This is undeniably an important concept to learn in any IT or cyber security role.
2. Have some IT experience and want to validate your skills and knowledge with a globally recognized certification. The CompTIA A+ certification demonstrates your expertise in IT fundamentals. This makes you a valuable asset to potential employers and gives you an edge in the competitive job market.
3. Are looking to transition into the IT field from another industry. The CompTIA A+ certification provides you with a solid grounding in core IT concepts. This allows you to make a smooth transition and build a successful career in the technology sector.
4. Want a strong foundation in IT fundamentals before pursuing a more specialized certification. The A+ cert serves as an ideal starting point for your IT education and prepares you to tackle more advanced certifications (mentioned at the beginning) with confidence.
And by earning more advanced certifications, you can boost your earning potential even higher and move up the IT career ladder even faster.
So, if you see yourself in one of these categories, the CompTIA A+ certification might be the perfect choice for you!
What Jobs Can I Get with an A+ Certification?
So, you’re thinking about getting a CompTIA A+ certification and wondering what job opportunities it might unlock? Great news!
Earning this certification will open the door to various entry-level IT positions. Let’s explore some of the roles you can snag with the A+ certification:
Help Desk Technician: As a help desk technician, you’ll be the go-to person for troubleshooting and resolving IT issues. You’ll assist users in finding solutions to their technical problems. This ensures they can get back to work as quickly as possible.
Technical Support Specialist: In this role, you’ll provide support for a wide range of hardware and software products. You’ll collaborate with customers to diagnose and fix technical issues. This ensures their systems run smoothly and efficiently.
Field Service Technician: As a field service technician, you’ll travel to different locations to install, maintain, and repair IT equipment. You’ll play a crucial role in keeping businesses up and running. You’ll do this by addressing on-site technical problems.
IT Support Analyst: In this position, you’ll analyze and troubleshoot complex IT issues. You’ll use your technical expertise to recommend solutions. You’ll also collaborate with other IT professionals to keep systems in tip-top shape.
Desktop Support Technician: As a desktop support technician, you’ll assist users with their computer hardware and software needs. You’ll ensure they have the necessary tools to stay productive and probably address issues like software installations, updates, and hardware troubleshooting.
For more specifics, CompTIA provides a job matching tool giving you a great idea of what jobs are available depending on the certification you obtain. What’s great is that these roles often serve as stepping-stones to more advanced positions in the IT or cyber security field such as network or system administrator, security analyst, etc.
How Popular Is the CompTIA A+ Certification?
The CompTIA A+ certification is one of the most popular and widely recognized IT certifications worldwide. In fact, more than one million IT professionals have earned the A+ certification since its inception in 1993.
This makes it one of the most a sought-after credentials by both employers and aspiring IT professionals.
To add to its popularity, the A+ is even a DoD Approved Baseline Certification (discussed previously), which establishes the baseline requirements for the training, certification, and management of the DoD workforce in cybersecurity roles.
This means that the A+ certification is recognized and valued by the DoD, making it a great choice if you’re seeking IT positions within the U.S. government or military.
Specifically, the A+ certification meets the requirements for the Information Assurance Technical (IAT) Level I designation, which is the baseline certification requirement for multiple entry-level IT roles within the DoD.
What Are the A+ Certification Exam Details and Domains?
When studying for the CompTIA A+ certification, you’ll cover a wide range of IT domains, helping you develop a well-rounded understanding of the industry.
Surprisingly, you’ll need to pass two separate exams to earn the certification.
Both exams consist of a maximum of 90 questions, including multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and performance-based questions. You’ll have 90 minutes to complete each exam, and a score of 675 for Core 1 and 700 for Core 2 (on a scale of 100-900) are required to pass.
Here’s a very brief overview of the exam outline:
Core 1 (220-1101) Domains
Mobile Devices (15%): Familiarize yourself with mobile device hardware and operating systems, like Android and iOS.
Hardware (20%): Dive into different types of computer hardware, such as motherboards, processors, memory, and storage devices.
Networking (25%): Grasp networking concepts, protocols, and devices, including routers, switches, and wireless access points.
Virtualization and Cloud Computing (11%): You’ll learn about virtualization technologies and cloud computing concepts, like hypervisors, virtual machines, and cloud storage.
Hardware and Network Troubleshooting (29%): Develop the skills needed to diagnose and resolve common hardware and network issues.
Core 2 (220-1102) Domains
Operating Systems (31%): Explore various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Security (25%): Study IT security fundamentals, such as encryption, firewalls, and authentication methods.
Software Troubleshooting (22%): Acquire the skills to troubleshoot software-related issues, like operating system and application problems.
Operational Procedures (22%): Understand best practices for IT professionals, including documentation, change management, and disaster recovery.
As I mentioned, this was only a brief outline. For a list of comprehensive details, CompTIA provides the official exam objectives that you’ll need to download in order to prepare for the exam.
What Experience Is Required to Take the A+ Certification Exam?
There aren’t any strict prerequisites to take the CompTIA A+ certification. However, CompTIA does recommend that you have at least 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in the lab or field.
If you’re new to the IT industry, you might want to consider gaining some practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or entry-level positions before attempting the exams.
Is the A+ Certification Exam Hard?
If you have little to no IT experience, the exams can be challenging, as they cover a broad range of topics and require hands-on troubleshooting skills. With a structured study plan, access to quality study materials, and a commitment to learning, you can increase your chances of success on the exams.
So, the difficulty of the CompTIA A+ certification exam really depends on your existing knowledge, experience, and how well you prepare for the exams. But don’t take my word for it, you can even check out Reddit to see what others say.
How Much Does the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam Cost?
The cost of the A+ certification can be significant. Each A+ certification exam costs $246 for a total of $492 for both exams.
Keep in mind, this cost doesn’t include study materials, training courses, or any retake fees. Therefore, you’ll need to factor those expenses into your budget as well.
For some, this cost may be a hurdle, especially if you’re just starting out in the IT field or have a limited budget. Be sure to explore various resources and look for cost-effective options, such as online training courses, used study materials, or even free resources to help minimize expenses.
To save you a good amount of money, Professor Messer has an amazing program to help you study for the A+ exam for free!
How Long is A+ Certification Valid For?
The A+ certification is valid for three years from the date you pass your exams. To maintain your certification, you’ll need to accumulate 20 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) over the three-year period and submit them to CompTIA to keep your A+ certification active.
You have two options! You can either participate in the single renewal option, which means taking another exam (not my favorite) or spend $129 for an 8-10 hour CertMaster CE A+ refresher course. Personally, spending the $129 isn’t a bad way to save yourself the time.
Or, CompTIA also offers you the opportunity to gain CEUs through other renewal options, some which are free. These activities include attending industry events, completing training courses, college courses, webinars, etc.
Basically, CompTIA want to ensure that your skills remain relevant and valuable. The only way to do that is to make sure you to stay current with industry trends and advancements.