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How Do I Become a Certified Computer Technician?

Computers are everywhere. They’re in our homes, offices, pockets and even on our hand. And if there’s one thing that all these computers have in common, they will all eventually need maintenance.

That means computer technicians are always in high demand. But to build a thriving career as a computer technician, you must put in some work to build the skills you need to succeed. And one of the best ways to do that is by studying for and earning an industry-leading certification. So, if you’re interested in building a career as a computer technician, getting certified is the way to go.

To help you on your way, here’s a guide to becoming a certified computer technician. We’ll cover why earning one or more certifications will get you off to the right start, which certifications to consider, and what technologies and skills each one covers. By the end, you’ll have a working knowledge of today’s major computing certifications and be ready to get started on your journey to a career as a certified computer technician. Let’s dive in.

Why Do You Need a Certification in IT?

Becoming a certified computer technician comes with some major benefits. First, it’ll help you learn the skills you need to excel at your job and provide you instant credibility in a crowded and competitive job market. With the right certifications under your belt, you’ll approach each new opportunity with confidence, knowing that you have what it takes to succeed. Second, it will give your employer reassurances that they can trust you to maintain mission-critical computing and networking equipment.

Plus, IT certifications aren’t only helpful to those just starting out in the field, certifications are also a way that currently employed computer technicians can help advance their careers. That’s because, for some IT roles, specific certifications are considered mandatory. Regardless of how much direct experience you may have in the field, some companies simply won’t take a chance on hiring you without the proper credentials to back up your experience. The most common certifications in IT include CompTIA and CCNA.

What are CompTIA Certifications?

Although there are countless IT certifications you can earn, many of them are specific to the hardware or software of one vendor or another. However, an industry organization known as the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) offers vendor-neutral IT certifications that are considered the gold standard industry-wide.

And because they’re so universally recognized, they’re the best place for any aspiring computer technician to begin. Plus, CompTIA offers sequential certifications that allow you to build skills specific to your desired career path. So, they’re not something you’ll outgrow any time soon. CompTIA certifications form the foundation for a career’s worth of learning and advancement opportunities. They’re an investment that will keep paying off for as long as you’re working in a related IT role.

What are the Different CompTIA Exams?

CompTIA offers multiple certifications that cover everything from basic IT skills up to high-level infrastructure and security. But their three core certifications offer the best starting points for a career as a certified computer technician. They are:

CompTIA A+ Certification

The A+ certification is one of the most widely recognized and desirable computing certifications in the world. And to earn it, you must learn and master a variety of baseline computing skills. These include a working knowledge of modern computer and internet security concepts and the ability to perform device configuration on multiple platforms.

However, the A+ certification isn’t just about gaining knowledge, it’s also about building practical skills. To pass the test, you must complete multiple performance-based demonstrations. These prove that you not only understand the underlying concepts but also that you can apply that knowledge to solve real-world problems. Ultimately, it serves as proof that you’ll be able to perform the work required of you as a certified computer technician on day one of your new job.

CompTIA Network+ Certification

The Network+ certification is a credential that proves that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to design, build, and diagnose modern computer networks. To earn it, you’ll have to learn about concepts like network topology, as well as how to configure and maintain common network hardware.

Along the way, you’ll have to demonstrate an ability to identify and fix multiple types of network issues. This includes network issues stemming from simple hardware failures to problems resulting from misconfigurations and lack of capacity.

CompTIA Security+ Certification

The Security+ certification is the premier baseline cybersecurity certification in the world today. Its holders are hired regularly by major corporations and cyber defense businesses. And because the certification qualifies for compliance with the US Department of Defense 8570 directive, its holders can work for defense contractors and others requiring DoD clearance.*

Like the Network+ certification, earning your Security+ credential requires that you master cybersecurity best practices and learn how to implement common cybersecurity solutions. By the time you’ve completed your training to get certified, you’ll be able to assess the security posture of both on-site and cloud hybrid environments. And you’ll be capable of monitoring those environments and responding to any security threats that arise.

Where to Start with CompTIA Certification?

The CompTIA A+ certification is an excellent starting point for a career in IT. The A+ certification is a prerequisite to the other CompTIA certifications. And, CompTIA offers additional certifications beyond its core programs, it’s possible to use them as a springboard to a specialized career. For example, after earning a core certification, you might opt to earn a Linux+ certification. Then you’d be able to specialize in a variety of Linux-focused support roles.

You could also earn a Cloud+ or Server+ certification and work toward a career managing on-premises, hybrid, or cloud-native server infrastructures. Those are specialized roles that always remain in high demand, offering the possibility of challenging and rewarding careers in a variety of environments. The point is, earning a CompTIA A+ core certification is the first step on your road to a long and rewarding career as a certified computer technician.

What Subjects are Tested on the CompTIA Exams?

Although the CompTIA exams themselves are constantly updated each year to remain relevant to current technology, the subject matter they cover typically remains the same. Here’s what you can expect to find on each exam.

A+ Certification Exam

  • Basic computer and network security skills
  • Device configuration of Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Chrome OS devices
  • Administration of local and cloud-based SaaS software
  • Computer and network diagnosis while adhering to best practices in documentation, scripting, and change management.
  • Basic IT infrastructure support
  • Storage management, including administering backup and disaster recovery technologies

Network+ Certification Exam

  • Network security concepts to facilitate collaboration between network administrators and security professionals
  • Cloud computing models and best practices
  • Network hardware virtualization and techniques
  • Network resilience skills and techniques

Security+ Certification Exam

  • Infrastructure security analysis
  • Implementation of common cybersecurity solutions
  • Multi-environment security monitoring
  • Governance, risk, and compliance issues
  • Security incident identification, analysis, and response

What is the CCNA?

The CompTIA exams dominate the IT certification market because they’re vendor neutral. And that means they prepare certified computer technicians to work in a variety of computing environments. But there is one vendor-specific certification that makes for an excellent addition to any computer technician’s resume: the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification.

The reason that the CCNA certification is so valuable is that Cisco Systems’ products form the backbone of most modern networks. They exist in most network deployments, meaning almost every computer technician will encounter them at some point. And because many of Cisco’s products rely on proprietary interfaces and technologies, knowing how to deploy and manage them is essential to most IT roles.

What Does the CCNA Exam Cover?

Although the CCNA exam features a heavy focus on Cisco-specific networking technologies, it does cover just about everything there is to know about modern computer networks. The exam includes sections that test your knowledge of:

  • Fundamental networking concepts
  • Network access (including VLANs, inter-switch connectivity, and Wi-Fi networking)
  • Routing and IP networking concepts
  • IP network services (NAT, DHCP, DNS, and others)
  • Network security fundamentals
  • Network automation

By earning a CCNA certification, you’ll master the skills and knowledge necessary to design, build, and manage computer networks, especially those that rely on Cisco hardware. But the breadth of the exam also ensures that you’ll have an excellent working grasp of how computer network’s function. And because that knowledge is broadly applicable to any IT role, a CCNA certification is useful even in roles that don’t require Cisco-specific expertise.

What are the Objectives and Outlines for the CCNA Test and Lab?

The purpose of the CCNA exam is to test your skills and abilities as a Cisco-oriented network designer and administrator. And to make sure you have a real-world ability to put your knowledge to work, preparing for the CCNA certification involves hands-on lab activities. But the lab activities aren’t just to help validate your memorization skills. And that’s why some of the exams will ask you to demonstrate specific skills you’ve learned, but others will challenge you to complete a broad task using whatever skills you deem necessary.

It is this mixture of general and challenge lab work that will prepare you to face the CCNA exam. On the exam itself, you’ll need to complete virtualized versions of the lab activities you’ve mastered. The test presents these activities in three ways:

Simulations – You’ll have to work with a simulated version of a configuration or tool to complete a specific task

Testlets – Groupings of questions related to a specific networking scenario or technology

Simlets – A hybrid of a testlet and simulation where you’ll have to complete a configuration task or diagnose a problem without any specific prompts, from beginning to end

What is the Best Way to Prepare for These Certification Exams?

Although it is possible to prepare for the CompTIA exams or the CCNA exam on your own, it’s a very challenging undertaking. That’s because the subject matter covered on these exams is broad and complex, and all the certification exams require you to demonstrate some level of hands-on ability. Working alone, it’s difficult to build the required real-world skills, unless you’re already a very accomplished computer technician.

But even then, the best way to prepare for any certification is by taking a continuing education prep course, such as the ones offered by Florida Technical College. The courses are designed and taught by experienced instructors that know the covered material inside and out. They’re the most effective way to learn the required material and understand how to put your knowledge to work in real-world circumstances.

What are the Benefits of a Prep Course?

If you choose to take a prep course to get ready for one of these certification exams, you’ll have several advantages over your peers. First and foremost, you’ll have access to the complete curriculum as prepared by instructors who have experience with the real certification exams. You’ll spend your time and energy learning the required concepts with a focus on how you’ll need to demonstrate them on the exams.

But that’s not all. You’ll also be able to draw on your instructors’ experience and ask detailed questions when you’re having difficulty with learning some of the more complex exam topics. They’ll work side-by-side with you to help you build the hands-on skills you need, using the actual computer and networking hardware you’ll encounter on the exams and in the field. And you’ll get a head start on building your new career by making contacts with other computer technicians.

In other words, certification exam prep courses feature advantages that extend beyond gaining the ability to take an exam. They’ll also make you a better computer technician that is more prepared to handle the work that is ahead. And that will help you advance your career at a pace that your self-taught peers won’t be able to match.

The Beginning of a Rewarding Career*

By earning one or more of the CompTIA and CCNA certifications, you’ll become a certified computer technician with access to many career opportunities. You’ll have what it takes to tap into the demand for the skills you’ve developed and have the chance to keep building your knowledge in the field. And given that computers and networking technology are only going to grow in importance in the future, that’s a good position to find yourself in.

So. if you’re ready to set out on the journey to becoming a certified computer technician, you now know exactly where to start. You also know what you’re going learn and the best way to make sure you succeed in passing the exams you’ve elected to take. Your future awaits.

Want to Learn More?

Florida Technical College has been offering exam prep courses for decades and understands how to prepare you for your certification exam. FTC was founded in 1982 to provide post-secondary training in specialized business fields.  Florida Technical College programs are exciting and dynamic, evolving over the years to meet the needs of students and the job marketplace.

Ready to move from a job to a career? Florida Technical College Continuing Education is here to help. Contact us to learn more about 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 graduates any particular job. Some positions may require a license or other certifications. We encourage you to research the requirements for the particular position you desire.

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