Time to read: 5 minutes.
If you have any love of technology, then you should be somewhat familiar with the information technology (IT) industry. It’s a huge enterprise which has been rapidly expanding for decades, and it shows no signs of slowing down. It’s innovative, it’s here to stay (job security), and let’s not kid ourselves, it can pay very well… if you have the right skills. But what’s the first step towards becoming a true IT professional? How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the applicants? How do you get your foot into the door, and develop a thriving career? The answer: a CompTIA A+ certification.
Let me preface by saying that almost nothing beats hard work, passion, and dedication but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some tools which will help catch a recruiter’s eyes. So, let’s jump in.
What is CompTIA?
CompTIA stands for Computing Technology Industry Association and they have developed a certification aptly named the CompTIA A+ certification. Why the A+? Patience, patience, we’ll get there.
At its core, this certification acts as a validation for your skills in the essential areas of IT including: information security, network administration, computer repair, software, operating systems, and troubleshooting. What makes CompTIA special? This certification is globally recognized and encompasses a wide array of operating systems. Other certifications may only cover one domain, that’s where the A+ comes in. As an entry-level IT technician, your unofficial job is to be a sponge. You are often expected to handle more than one system, so knowing of multiple systems automatically sets you apart. Knowing the material covered by a CompTIA A+ certification allows you to have a deeper understanding of your environment enhancing your ability to troubleshoot, spot and contain security breaches, and obtain core network skills far beyond your peers.
Expand your skillset with CompTIA A+, a globally recognized certification!
Why Do Recruiters Look for CompTIA A+?
The CompTIA A+ certification is a recognized validation of a candidate's skills, it’s a sort of guarantee to the recruiter that this person knows what they’re talking about. CompTIA A+ certifications show something less concrete, but just as important, as validating a candidate’s skills: self-improvement. Most employer’s don’t necessarily require a CompTIA A+ certification. However, when a candidate takes the time to study and prepare for the exams to earn the certification, it tells a recruiter that this candidate is willing to go the extra mile to prove themselves and their skill set. Having more education always helps.
How Do You Earn a CompTIA A+ Certification?
There are two exams related to earning the certification. Both exams must be taken and passed through the same series in order to receive the certification. The exams are conducted for 90 minutes and have a max of about 90 multiple choice questions.
The first exam revolves largely around hardware including PC peripherals and mobile hardware as well as networking content including general networking, troubleshooting, and connectivity. The second exam is largely software focused including: configuring and installing operating systems (i.e. IOS, Windows, Linux, etc.).
Both exams require separate vouchers, as of today, a voucher is set at $246 each on the CompTIA website. There are also various practice and retake bundling options at higher price points. Certifications are valid for three years but may be renewed for a much smaller fee.
While the exams and costs may seem daunting at first, many companies cover the costs of these exams for their employees. And if you’re in the job market, candidates with CompTIA A+ certifications receive an approximate 15% increase in pay over candidates without the certification. In addition, the wide range of exposure that CompTIA offers typically allows candidates to move up to level II help desk positions and beyond much quicker than their peers. Of all the tools to pursue for entry to mid level IT positions, nothing beats out CompTIA A+.
So what are you waiting for? Get studying!