The CompTIA A+ certification is usually the first thing people think of when talking about a career in IT, and there’s good reason. Many certifications demonstrate skill within a given computer-related subject, but the CompTIA A+ certification is quite distinct from those more singularly focused items. The CompTIA A+ exam covers almost every conceivable subject related to computers. The only exception is that the CompTIA A+ exam won’t go in-depth on subjects related to computer programming.
Of course, the underlying question is whether CompTIA A+ will translate into a job. Are employers actively looking for people who’ve passed the CompTIA A+ exam? Will it open doors to additional certifications? The short answer is that yes, most people find that CompTIA A+ certification translates into a rewarding career path. And the CompTIA A+ certification does open further paths for certification. But to fully understand how we can leverage CompTIA A+ certification we need to go into more detail about what the title entails.
Demonstrating Skills to Potential Employers*
One of the most important parts of the CompTIA A+ certification is the sheer scope of what it means to an employer. You usually look at the job market from our own point of view. You naturally wonder about the kind of job that will suit you and how you can go about getting it. But it’s always useful to essentially flip the situation on its head and think about things from the other party’s point of view. Namely, how is an employer looking at potential candidates?
You can imagine a business owner who needs someone who can provide support in a data center. The position would require a diverse skillset. Most data centers offer both Windows and Linux based servers. Customers will typically use Windows, OSX or Linux to connect to the servers. However, the customer might also want to use iOS or Android on tablets or phones to manage their server. Because of these requirements, the business owner will want someone who’s familiar with every major operating system.
Managing IT Software
Managing IT software will require an ability to understand the basic software offered on many of the popular operating systems. This will mean jumping between server oriented operating systems and home versions.
The employer will also want someone who’s able to pick up new software quickly. If the company uses custom software in-office, then the learning curve needs to be as small as possible. Likewise, a new employee might need to first learn and then explain any proprietary software distributed by the company to its customers.
Managing IT Hardware
In regard to hardware, an employee may need to do some basic maintenance on servers in a data center. The candidate would also handle the hardware on the PC used for customer support and server monitoring.
So, as an employee, you should have the ability to put together a computer to act as your workstation. If that station shows a problem with a server, then you should have the ability to run out to the server rack and diagnose what’s wrong. Finally, you will ideally be able to put in some minor repair work for either the hardware or software as needed. The same goes for upgrading any type of system’s hardware or software.
IT Jack-of-All Trades
In short, an employer needs to go through an elaborate checklist to determine whether a candidate is qualified for the position. It’s difficult and time consuming to really go into depth on every subject that’s needed. And the same goes for trying to contact any past employers.
However, the exam covers much of the material our hypothetical employer was looking for. Not to mention that the scope of the exam is so expansive that the employer can be sure we’re qualified for anything new that may be introduced. The employer would even be able to rest assured that a CompTIA A+ certified candidate would be ready for a cloud computing-based transition of existing servers if needed.
One of the certification’s major strengths is that it covers both hardware and software. Demonstrating skill in both categories provides an exponentially useful range of talent. Even when employers are only focusing on one category, the secondary skills almost always prove useful in the end.
Academic Preparation for the Exam
Of course, the extensive skill set also calls for a difficult exam. The CompTIA A+ exam is notoriously hard to pass with self-study alone. Saying that the study guide is intimidatingly large would be an understatement. Thankfully there are some ways to make the preparation stage less intimidating.
Most people recommend an exam prep course as a basic prerequisite for the exam. A CompTIA prep certification course provides several benefits. One of the most important benefits is that you can actually ask questions. When you are studying on your own you generally must guess about the representation of any given subject within the exam. But in a prep course you can simply ask the instructor about the significance of any given topic.
A prep course also provides you with the chance to take practice tests. This is often a far more important part of the process than people suspect. The CompTIA A+ exam is usually administered with the same level of vigilance as you might expect from something that opens up a whole new job market. The practice tests are useful ways to ensure you have covered everything on the exam. But they’re also an important way of getting over pre-test anxiety before we’re presented with the real thing.
The Continued Importance of the Human Element
Instructors aren’t the only people who are an important part of the preparation stage. When you take a prep course you are also benefiting from the presence of classmates going through the same process. This gives you an important opportunity to form study groups, share questions and concerns, and generally benefit in a wide range of unpredictable ways.
One of the best things about working with classmates is that everyone has a slightly different view of the material. Likewise, everyone’s bringing a different range of experiences and technical backgrounds to the table. The human element is immensely valuable as a study aid.
Networking as an Introduction to the Job Market*
You have seen just how valuable a CompTIA A+ certification is when looking for a job. But the process of preparing for the exam can be quite useful as well. Prep course instructors often find themselves in a position to recommend students for jobs that might match their skillset. On top of that, it’s quite common for employers to ask a particularly impressive new hire for contacts. The study group for the CompTIA A+ exam can turn into a valuable networking tool as members find new jobs. Take the CompTIA A+ exam seriously by taking a serious exam prep course from Florida Technical College.
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Ready to move from a job to a career? Florida Technical College Continuing Education is here to help. Contact us to learn more about the CompTIA certification exam preparation courses at Florida Technical College.
*These examples are intended to serve only as a general guide of possible employment opportunities. There are many factors that determine the job an individual may obtain and Florida Technical College cannot guarantee its graduate any particular job. Some positions may require license or other certifications. We encourage you to research the requirements for the particular position you desire.