It seems that new IT certifications are popping up every day. It makes it difficult for IT professionals and job seekers to sift through and determine which certifications to earn. A simple place to start is to consider whether a vendor-specific or vendor-neutral certification would best suit your interests and situation. If you are currently in a role that demands knowledge of a specific vendor’s technology, you may want to follow that path. For example, if you are working on Microsoft servers or Cisco® routers, there are certifications specific to those technologies. If you prefer to keep your options open to work on any vendor’s technology, then a vendor-neutral certification may be better suited to your interests.
The most recognized vendor-neutral certification for technical support and IT operational roles is CompTIA A+. It requires competency in nine domains, so employers know that you are a well-rounded professional that can take on a variety of roles. The domains are:
- Mobile Devices
- Virtualization and Cloud Computing
- Hardware and Network Troubleshooting
- Operating Systems
- Software Troubleshooting
- Operational Procedures
It prepares you for roles like desktop support, field technician, service desk analyst, systems engineer, and more. Workers with CompTIA certification are sought by employers like NCR, NTT Data, and Fry’s Electronics. A search on indeed.com and monster.com turned up a total of over 5,000 jobs in the United States where CompTIA A+ certification was either required, preferred, or “a plus” (no pun intended).
Hunter Business School in Long Island, NY prepares students for the CompTIA A+ exam and has seen a demand for their students who get CompTIA A+ certified. Dominick was a substitute music teacher, who got a full-time job as a technical support specialist at Zebra Technologies, where he troubleshoots bar code scanners, mobile computing devices, and tablets. Michael went from working at McDonald’s® to Customer Computer Specialists one month after earning CompTIA A+. Daniel was a grocery store cashier who used his CompTIA A+ certification to land a job at Pathway Systems Design where he provides IT support for local area hospitals. CompTIA A+ certification gave them the advantage over other candidates that helped launch their new careers.
In addition to the value of the CompTIA A+ certification itself, it is an excellent foundation for other certifications from CompTIA and other vendors. The next logical step is the CompTIA Network+ certification, which can, in turn, lead to more advanced certifications. On the vendor side, Cisco® says that most CompTIA Network+ certified professionals move on to a Cisco® exam within 6 months and have a higher Cisco Certified Network Associate exam pass rate. Another certification path after CompTIA Network+ is CompTIA Security+, which can help you fill one of 3 million job openings that Cybersecurity Ventures predicts will increase to 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021.
So, what’s in it for you if you get CompTIA A+ certification?
- an education that can prepare you for a variety of roles in the information technology that are in high demand
- an advantage over others competing for those roles
- a foundation from which to advance your career through experience or more advanced certifications
That’s some pretty good stuff!