The Ultimate Guide to CompTIA A+ Certification: Everything You Need to Know

Futuristic CompTIA A+ illustration, CompTIA A+ Certification

CompTIA A+ is a certification that validates the skills and knowledge of IT professionals who want to start or advance their careers in technical support and IT operations. It is one of the most widely recognized and respected credentials in the IT industry, and it covers a broad range of topics, from hardware and software troubleshooting to networking and security.

In this post, I will cover the following aspects:

  • What is CompTIA A+ certification and why is it important?
  • What are the exam objectives and format?
  • How to prepare for the exam?
  • How to renew the certification?
  • What are the benefits and opportunities of being CompTIA A+ certified?
  • How does CompTIA A+ certification compares with other IT certifications?

What Is CompTIA A+ Certification and Why Is It Important?

CompTIA A+ certification is earned by passing two exams: Core 1 (220-1101) and Core 2 (220-1102). These exams are created by IT industry professionals who have extensive experience in technical support and IT operations. The exams are performance-based, which means they test the candidates’ ability to perform critical IT tasks in real-world scenarios.

CompTIA A+ certification is important because it demonstrates that the candidates have the skills and knowledge required to support today’s digital world. According to CompTIA, A+ certified professionals can:

  • Support core technologies from security to networking to virtualization and more
  • Identify and protect against security vulnerabilities for devices and their network connections
  • Install and configure laptops and other mobile devices and support applications to ensure connectivity for end users
  • Compare and contrast cloud computing concepts and set up client-side virtualization
  • Follow best practices for safety, environmental impacts, communication and professionalism

CompTIA A+ certification is also trusted by employers who are looking for qualified IT support specialists. According to CompTIA, A+ appears in more tech support job listings than any other IT credential. Some of the job roles that recommend or require CompTIA A+ certification are:

  • Help Desk Technician
  • IT Support Specialist
  • Field Service Technician
  • Desktop Support Analyst
  • Associate Network Engineer
  • Systems Support Technician
  • Junior Systems Administrator

What Are the Exam Objectives and Format?

The exam objectives for CompTIA A+ certification are divided into five domains:

  • Hardware
  • Operating Systems
  • Software Troubleshooting
  • Networking
  • Security

Each domain covers a number of topics that reflect the current trends and challenges in the IT industry. For example, some of the topics include:

DomainTopics
HardwareIdentifying, using, and connecting hardware components and devices, including the broad knowledge about different devices that is now necessary to support the remote workforce
Operating SystemsInstalling and supporting Windows OS including command line and client support, system configuration imaging and troubleshooting for Mac OS, Chrome OS, Android and Linux OS
Software TroubleshootingTroubleshooting PC and mobile device issues including common OS, malware and security issues
NetworkingExplaining types of networks and connections including TCP/IP, Wi-Fi and SOHO
SecurityIdentifying and protecting against security vulnerabilities for devices and their network connections
Mobile DevicesInstalling and configuring laptops and other mobile devices and supporting applications to ensure connectivity for end-users
Virtualization and Cloud ComputingComparing and contrasting cloud computing concepts and setting up client-side virtualization
Operational ProceduresFollowing best practices for safety, environmental impacts, and communication and professionalism
CompTIA A+ Certification Topics

The exam format for CompTIA A+ certification consists of multiple-choice questions, drag-and-drop questions, performance-based questions, and simulations. The exams are delivered online or at a testing center. The candidates have 90 minutes to complete each exam. The passing score for Core 1 is 675 out of 900, and for Core 2 is 700 out of 900.

How to Prepare for the Exam?

To prepare for the CompTIA A+ exam, the candidates should have at least 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in the lab or field, or equivalent training. They should also review the exam objectives thoroughly and use various study resources such as:

  • Official CompTIA study guides, e-learning courses, labs, practice tests, video training, etc.
  • Third-party books, courses, podcasts, blogs, forums, etc.
  • Online communities such as Reddit, Discord, Facebook groups, etc.
  • Peer support from mentors, colleagues, friends, etc.

The candidates should also schedule their exams in advance and plan their study time accordingly. They should also take advantage of the free online resources such as:

  • CompTIA CertMaster Learn: An interactive e-learning platform that covers all the exam objectives with videos, assessments, flashcards, games, etc.
  • CompTIA CertMaster Practice: An online adaptive test engine that provides personalized feedback and tracks your progress.
  • CompTIA CertMaster Labs: An online platform that provides hands-on experience with real equipment and scenarios.
  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+): A free online course that covers the basics of IT and helps you prepare for CompTIA A+.

How to Renew the Certification?

CompTIA A+ certification is valid for three years from the date of passing the exam. To renew the certification, the candidates have two options:

  • Earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) by completing activities such as training courses, webinars, conferences, work experience, etc.
  • Take a higher-level CompTIA certification exam such as Network+, Security+, or Cloud+.

The candidates need to earn 20 CEUs to renew their CompTIA A+ certification. They can submit their CEUs online through the CompTIA Continuing Education (CE) portal. They also need to pay an annual maintenance fee of $49.

What Are the Benefits and Opportunities of Being CompTIA A+ Certified?

Being CompTIA A+ certified has many benefits and opportunities for IT professionals, such as:

  • Enhancing your credibility and confidence as an IT support specialist
  • Increasing your chances of landing a job or getting a promotion in the IT industry
  • Boosting your salary and earning potential
  • Expanding your network and connections with other IT professionals and employers
  • Keeping your skills and knowledge up to date with the latest technologies and trends
  • Accessing exclusive resources and discounts from CompTIA and its partners

How CompTIA A+ Certification Compares

CertificationPerformance-based questionsExam LengthExperience LevelExam FocusPre-requisites
CompTIA A+2 exams, 90 min. eachEntryTechnical and professional skillsNone. 9-12 months experience recommended
Microsoft MCSA2-3 examsEntryTied to specific products such as MCSA Windows 8None. Prior experience recommended
Microsoft MTA InfrastNot specifiedEntryBroad-based intro to ITNone
Cisco CCENT1 exam, 90 min.EntryEntry-level networking for CISCO solutionsNone
CompTIA A+ Certification Compared To Microsoft MCSA, Microsoft MTA Infrast & Cisco CCENT

Final Thoughts

CompTIA A+ certification is a valuable credential that can help you start or advance your career in IT. It is a comprehensive and performance-based certification that covers a wide range of topics and skills that are essential for today’s IT support roles.

If you are interested in becoming CompTIA A+ certified, you can visit the official website for more information and resources.


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