Is the CompTIA A+ Worth It?

Is the CompTIA A+ Worth It?

While other industries are scrambling to stay afloat in today’s tumultuous economy, one industry is experiencing consistent, above-average growth. That industry is computer and information technology, also known as IT.

IT is a broad field, incorporating subfields ranging from computer programming to cybersecurity to basic troubleshooting. There are many paths to break into IT, although one certification stands out above the rest.

That certification is the CompTIA A+, the latest in the long line of CompTIA certifications. CompTIA is a non-profit organization that has been setting IT industry standards for over 25 years.

Is the CompTIA A+ certification worth it for you? What should you know before starting the certification process? Read on to find out.

What Is the CompTIA A+?

The CompTIA A+ is the latest version, updated in April of 2022, of CompTIA’s IT certification for general IT, software support, and computer hardware. It has a general troubleshooting focus, making it the leading intro-level certification for IT professionals. CompTIA regularly updates its exams to reflect the latest changes and trends in IT, and the newest exam includes questions regarding cloud storage and cybersecurity.

To receive CompTIA A+ certification, you will need to take and pass two related exams.

What Is Covered on the CompTIA A+ Exams?

The purpose of the CompTIA A+ exams is to demonstrate your knowledge regarding several key skill areas.

These skill areas include:

  • computer hardware

  • operating systems

  • troubleshooting software

  • networking

  • troubleshooting hardware and networking

  • cybersecurity

  • mobile devices

  • virtualization

  • cloud storage and computing

  • operational procedures

To prepare for the exam, it’s recommended that you study test prep materials or take IT classes at a technical school or university. While this isn’t a requirement, the exams are recommended to people with at least 9-12 months of hands-on experience doing relevant work.

What Is the CompTIA A+ Cost?

CompTIA’s goal has always been making certification affordable for more IT candidates. Advanced and specialized certifications offered by different organizations can cost upwards of $1,000. Fortunately, the CompTIA A+ exam is less expensive.

To take the CompTIA A+ exam, you must purchase a voucher for $246. Remember that to earn certification, you have to take both exams, which means you have to buy two vouchers. The actual cost, then, is just under $500.

CompTIA offers bundles that include test prep materials. These bundles cost upwards of $400 and still only get you one voucher to take one of the two exams.

Some IT candidates may find scholarships that offer full or partial coverage for the voucher costs. People who may qualify include veterans, ethnic minorities, displaced workers, women, and people facing unemployment.

Does the CompTIA A+ Boost Job Prospects?

The CompTIA A+ certification is likely a must if you are an entry-level IT candidate. Many employers will include CompTIA A+ certification or equivalent experience in their list of application requirements.

Ultimately, CompTIA A+ certification makes IT candidates who are new to the field more competitive. It will likely prepare you for more positions, increase your chances of securing a job, and qualify you for a higher pay rate.

That said, if you have been in the field for several years or work in a specialized field, the CompTIA A+ may not make a massive difference to your job prospects. Instead, you’ll want to consider other CompTIA certifications that don’t have a broad, entry-level focus.

Who Should Strive for CompTIA A+ Certification?

CompTIA certification is a must for entry-level IT employees. More specifically, this certification is beneficial if you want to work in the following subfields:

  • help desk technician

  • tech support specialist

  • field service technician

  • endpoint management

  • customer-facing tech support

CompTIA A+ certification will not show that you have highly specialized skills. Instead, CompTIA A+ certification establishes that you will work well in any technical support role even if you do not have years of prior experience.

What Is the Format of the CompTIA A+ Exams?

Once you purchase your voucher and select your testing date and time, you will need to locate a nearby Pearson VUE test center, where the exams will be held. You will have 90 minutes to complete each exam, and you should arrive early to have plenty of time to locate your testing room and get settled in. Make sure to review any banned item lists before your exam date.

Each of the two CompTIA A+ exams consist of a maximum of 90 questions. These questions will require a combination of the following:

  • multiple-choice answers

  • drag-and-drop answers

  • performance-based items

Performance-based items offer a simulated environment in which you must solve an IT-related problem. To this end, the CompTIA A+ exams allow you to demonstrate your objective knowledge and technical skill.

CompTIA A+ Pros and Cons

Is the CompTIA A+ right for you? Let’s quickly review the pros and cons of completing these exams and receiving certification.

CompTIA A+ Pros

The CompTIA A+ benefits include the following:

  • comparatively low testing costs with scholarships available for some candidates

  • access to a wider variety of entry-level IT jobs

  • access to better-paying jobs

  • lack of vendor-specific skill areas so certified candidates aren’t pigeon-holed

The CompTIA A+ is a widely recognized certification that can help new or transitioning candidates access technical support jobs and build IT careers.

CompTIA A+ Cons

The CompTIA A+ cons include:

  • high costs for official CompTIA A+ study guide materials

  • limited benefits for IT workers with years of experience or a specialized focus

If you’re already well-established in IT, you may only reap a few benefits from getting CompTIA A+ certification. Instead, you will want to focus on other CompTIA certification exams or vendor-specific exams.

If you are interested in taking the CompTIA A+ exams but don’t want to pay a ton of money for study materials, you’re in luck. There are other high-quality study materials out there.

Preparing for the CompTIA A+ Exams

Finally, let’s talk about preparing for the CompTIA A+ exams and how to access study materials without paying a fortune. We’ll cover tips, tricks, and study materials to use when working toward a CompTIA A+ certification.

Create a Study Schedule the Right Way

The CompTIA A+ exams cover quite a bit of ground. You’ll want to start preparing months in advance rather than waiting until the last moment. Remember that cramming is not a worthwhile study habit, as you’ll only tap into your short-term memory rather than retain the relevant information.

Create a schedule that allows you to spend several hours each day focusing on one specific skill area. The goal is to master each skill area so you can tackle any question thrown your way during the exam.

Take Advantage of Free Online Study Materials

You’re in luck if you don’t want to pay for official study materials. Free online study materials like these CompTIA A+ study guides will do the trick. Review the material several times, taking handwritten notes for increased retention.

In addition to reviewing study guides, we encourage you to test your knowledge as you study. These CompTIA A+ flashcards make it fun and easy to determine what you’ve retained and what still requires review.

Take Practice Tests

When you’ve made your way through the CompTIA A+ study guides, it’s time to take a CompTIA A+ practice test. Practice exams will boost the results of your studying in multiple ways.

For starters, taking practice exams allows you to become familiar with the types of questions you’ll have to answer on exam day. Because these practice exams are modeled off the real thing, you’ll get a sense of the phrasing of questions and the logic of answers the CompTIA is looking for.

Chances are, you’ll excel in some skill areas while struggling with others. By learning your strengths and weaknesses, you can dedicate your time to the areas you still struggle with. Practice exams can also help you determine what to focus on in those final weeks of studying.

Is CompTIA A+ Certification Right for You? We Can Help

If you’re new to IT and want to show that you can handle any technical support role, it’s time to consider the CompTIA A+ certification. This certification, received after passing two exams, can broaden your job prospects, lead to higher pay, and prepare you for a life in IT.

To get started, take a look at our CompTIA A+ study materials. From study guides to practice exams, we’ve got you covered.

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