CompTIA A+ certification is an entry-level credential covering key topics relevant to information technology support. The vendor-neutral curriculum covers fundamental skills in computer systems installation and management, making it a versatile credential for IT administrators, field service technicians and support personnel. An estimated 800,000 IT technicians have earned A+ certification since the exam's inception in 1993.
CompTIA A+ certification: An overview
CompTIA A+ covers the basic skills necessary to succeed in IT administration and support. The credential validates an IT professional's skills in core entry-level competencies such as:
- Computer systems installation
- Preventative maintenance
In addition, CompTIA A+ certified technicians must demonstrate communication and customer service skills.
Unlike many vendor-specific certifications, the A+ examination covers Microsoft, Apple, Linux and many other technologies. Classroom training programs for A+ certification are available through third-party education partners. They take approximately 35 hours or five full days to complete.
A+: The examination process
To become certified in CompTIA A+, candidates must complete two exams, CompTIA A+ Essentials and CompTIA A+ Practical Application. Each exam is 90 minutes long and consists of 100 questions.
CompTIA A+ Essentials tests the baseline competencies necessary for all entry-level IT workers. Examinees demonstrate technical understanding of computer technology, networking and information security as well as communication skills and professionalism. The body of knowledge represented in the Essentials exam reflects the expected expertise of a professional with 500 hours of hands-on experience on the job or in lab training.
CompTIA A+ Practical Application covers the same ground as the Essentials exam, but tests these skills in a hands-on context. The exam focuses on "scenarios in which troubleshooting and tools must be applied to solve problems."
CompTIA A+ in context
CompTIA A+ certification is a versatile qualification for entry-level careers in information technology. Job titles of CompTIA A+ certified technicians include:
- Enterprise technician
- Field service technician
- PC or desktop support technician
- IT administrator
A number of technology companies make CompTIA A+ a requirement for IT service technician jobs. Dell, Intel, Lenovo and Ricoh are among the companies that rely on CompTIA A+ certification as an IT job qualification. The federal government also endorses candidates with CompTIA A+ certification. The U.S. Department of Defense recognizes the credential and the Department of Homeland Security incorporated it into their computer forensics program. According to Certification magazine, CompTIA A+ certified technicians earned an average salary of $69,470 in 2009.
CompTIA A+ certification also serves as a springboard to additional technology training. A+ is part of the certification track for Microsoft, HP, Cisco, Novell and Certiport. For example, CompTIA A+ certification combined with Network+ satisfies some of the requirements for Microsoft MCSA and MCSE certification.
CompTIA offers an important resource for technicians looking to break into IT administration or advance their existing careers. The A+ certification offers a versatile credential demonstrating mastery of information systems fundamentals.