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What is A+ Certification?

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Mar- 2005 - A+ certification is a vendor neutral certification that certifies the competency of service professionals in the computer industry. It is for anyone who wants an internationally recognized credential that validates competency in computer service and technical support.

 

 

A+ Certification program is one of the largest certification worldwide. A+ Certification is developed and sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a global association of IT industry companies with the common goal of standardized qualifications for professionals working in the industry. Membership of CompTIA include most of the global software and hardware manufacturers such as Microsoft, IBM, Lotus, Dell, Compaq, etc. Most CompTIA literature, states that, "CompTIA is a global trade association representing the business interests of the information technology industry."

 

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Why is A+ the most popular and widely recognized certification for PC Repairs and maintenance?

A+ is one of the most popular certifications in the IT industry and is CompTIA's top certification. What makes A+ Certification different from other credentials is the strong support it has received from the computer industry.

 

  • A+ Certification is recognized and backed by all the leading manufacturers, vendors, service providers and professional bodies worldwide. It validates skills and knowledge in technical support covering competencies over products developed and used by these organizations.
  • A+ Certification is the only generic IT support qualification in the world!

·         Achievement of A+ Certification shows that a person has the knowledge, skill and customer service skills necessary to successfully support PC equipment and users.

·         Technical support, the focus of A+ certification, is the busiest area in the IT industry.

 

Technical Requirements of A+

A+ demonstrates basic competence in supporting microcomputers. To be certified in the 2003 version, you must pass two modules: the A+ Core Hardware exam and the A+ Operating Systems Technologies (OST) exam. Both exams require hands-on expertise as they test your ability with PC Hardware, Operating systems and basic networking. In addition it treats best practices in issues relating to maintenance and safety. The exams are extremely practical in nature.  

The Core Hardware examination measures basic knowledge of installing, configuring, upgrading, troubleshooting, and repairing microcomputer systems

The Operating System Technologies exam measures basic knowledge of Command Line Prompt, Operating Systems for installing, configuring, upgrading, troubleshooting and repairing microcomputer systems.

These essentials of A+ are based on standards defined by CompTIA's test specification.

 

2009 Version

In August 2009, CompTIA unveiled updated A+ exams to provide technical support professionals with a more comprehensive skill set. The 2009 A+ exam versions - 220-701  and 220-702 - are designed to equip tech support with changes in vendor independent expertise demanded by industry and society. The latest version of CompTIA A+ is CompTIA A+ 2009 Edition.

The 2009 A+ qualification consists of two tests: CompTIA A+ Essentials 220-701 and CompTIA A+ Practical Applications 220-702. These are already globally available and both exams must be passed to obtain A+ certification. A CompTIA A+ bridge exam BR0-003 has also been created.

Significant changes and additions noted to the latest 2009 versions of the A+ exams include the following:

  • The new objectives have incorporated Windows Vista
  • There is no more testing on "Old school" operating systems such as Windows 95, 98, Me, and NT. They have been removed from the objectives.
  • New developments such as Core 2 Duo, the latest multi-core processor technologies are now included.
  • Similarly newer hard drive and memory technologies are part of the update
  • Troubleshooting practice and procedures for A+ have been updated - the focus is on a more "hands-on" approach
  • Networking and security subject area volumes have been increased and higher difficulty levels

Click here for More on the A+ 2009 Version

 

2006 version

CompTIA introduced a new A+ structure in September, 2006. Instead of the 2003 structure of Core Hardware and Operating Systems exams, CompTIA has introduced a two-exam format, which requires candidates to pass the CompTIA A+ Essentials (220-601) that covers both hardware and software, plus choose one of several elective exams that focus on different areas of support. The electives are 220-602 for IT Technician, 220-603 for remote support technicians and 220-604 for depot technicians. 

With the introduction of these exams, candidates can focus on specific areas of computer service and support. In addition the updates place more emphasis on soft skills, security and current technologies. 
The change will not affect those already A+ certified, as the title is "good for life" and does not need to be updated. 

The combination of CompTIA A+ Essentials and CompTIA A+ 220-602 is the exam option that maps most closely to the CompTIA A+ 2003 version. Please note that a ll English versions of the CompTIA A+ 600 Series will no longer be available after March 5, 2010. Click here for More on the A+ 2006 Version.

 

Target Audience / Requirements for A+ Certification

A+ is possibly the most popular entry-level certification. It is usually seen as being for people with a bit of experience (6 months or less) in computer service. However, for the purpose of this discourse, let us attempt to classify the target audience for A+. The focus here, is not the certification itself but what it represents. Our interest is on the acquisition and use of skills and knowledge for practical benefit. It is necessary to look beyond the certificate or certification. Certification validates what you have, not what you don't have. And certification is about value not just a trophy or ceremonial scalp - how does it give value? How does it help you make a difference? How do you use it to serve and contribute? It will help to look at the target audience from this perspective.

§         Computer users - intense, enthusiasts

Are you a user or PC enthusiast that needs to have a better appreciation of how computers work? Are you someone who needs to know how to install your own software, assemble your systems or troubleshoot your faulty PCs? Some are lucky when they adopt the "trial and error" method, but most get their fingers burnt.  You need to be equipped with standard skills and knowledge. You need to ensure that your installation and troubleshooting is done securely, skillfully and cost-effectively.

§         Newcomers who want to develop a career in IT and tech support.

A+ certification is designed specifically for the tech support field.  But A+ serves other fields, as technical support is the best area for a beginner to gain a good working knowledge of the basics of the IT profession. Such basic fundamental IT knowledge and skills are useful in all areas. Hands-on experience gained especially in the area of problem solving is invaluable for starting an IT Career. PCs can be seen in every sphere of life now. What this means is that it is easier for a newcomer in tech support to get experience and get a foot in the door, as opportunities are virtually limitless. This is quite unlike a newcomer with skills in more complex applications that are not commonplace.

According CompTIA, "Trainers and educators want their students to start with A+ because it's the recognized career entry point."  A Senior Network Engineer had this to say,"I got a master's degree in networking and afterwards got my A+ and worked in PC support. People don't necessarily give you a job because of your degree. When they hire you they want you to be able to work from day one. My elder brother also has a master's degree - in Library Science - and asked me the best way to get into computers. I told him take CompTIA A+."

·         Technicians / Professionals in tech support that need a recognized validation of their skills and experience.

If you've been working in tech support for sometime and you've don't have the respect and recognition, you feel you deserve, you need to examine A+ to know if it is what you need. It is an external validation and measurement of your technical support skills and experience. Not only are you saying you are capable in Tech Support, but CompTIA, the world's largest IT trade association is confirming your level of competence.

In the IT industry many say that experience is king. Is it? Not always! As a professional on the field you might find that your experience, that is the work you do, limits your knowledge and exposure. A relevant certification program removes this limitation, by covering all standard areas in the particular field. In addition if you have garnered experience via the trial-and-error route, though your methods work, are they optimal? You got the job done but is your solution efficient? It works but is it cost-effective? Certification lifts the veil and removes this weakness. In this way the certification increases your knowledge, augments your level of proficiency and enhances your personal productivity. A+ gives you comprehensive knowledge and skills of all key areas you need to know in tech support.

§         IT Professionals outside tech support that need tech support skills and certification to advance their careers.

It is possible to be an experienced Programmer and yet be unable to diagnose a faulty hard disk drive. What if you find that as an IT professional say in programming or web design, you are heavily dependent on tech support to get your job done? Or are you a Network engineer that has problems troubleshooting simple PC problems? Java programmer what will you do when your system crashes and you are unable to reboot?  

What should you do when your ability to give value is threatened by a lack of tech support skills? How does it affect the perception of your competence? It may make sense for you to have standard skills and knowledge in tech support so that you can achieve results in an effective manner. A good grounding in tech support is always useful, irrespective of your area of specialization.

Technical Expectations: A+ Certified Professional

An A+ Certified Professional is usually expected to carry out the following tasks:

Installation and setup, Upgrading, Repairs, Troubleshooting, Maintenance of desktops, laptops, printers, and all other peripherals. Plus, you need to fully understand the network configurations and operating systems your users might be utilizing. And also the setup, training of users in the use of systems, as well as Software related tasks.

Software related responsibilities may include: installation of software packages, upgrade and update of software, troubleshoot application and system errors, advice users on software use, train users, writing of training/user manuals, overseeing PC usage and so on. 

In terms of expectations, lifelong learning is critical. You can't afford to go to sleep after meeting A+ certification standards. A+ of 1999 is not the same as A+ in 2007.  There is no full stop in learning. Continuous renewal is the key to growth. Be proactive - set new goals and strike the right balance between doing and learning in line with your goals.  

The focus of this piece has mainly been the technical aspect of A+ as a certification that validates tech support knowledge and skills. This is relevant for all target groups mentioned earlier.

Note however that if your career interest is in technical support, apart from certification, there are opportunities and challenges you will have to deal with. For example, customer relationship skills are key to career development in technical support.  Indeed the 2006 version recognized the soft skills need in service and support while the 2009 version deepened and broadened the scope of technical scope. Furthermore technical support like every career area of IT has its personality requirements. Are you interested in developing your career along this line? It makes sense for you to also have an insight into the associated challenges and prospects. With this you can take meaningful decisions within the context of your career plan.


All the best in your IT Career,


Jide Awe

Jide Awe is the Publisher of Jidaw.com

 

 

What Do you Have to Say? Post Your Comments about this article Here 

Comments

7 June 2009

Jidaw.com Editor says:

 

 

Thanks for the observation. The typo has been corrected.

 

7 June 2009

David Potter of Grand Rapids, Michigan says:

 

 

Great article however I thought you might like to know that there is a grammatical error in the 5th sentence in the last paragraph. It reads... "Are you are interested in developing your career along this line?" instead of "Are you interested in developing your career along this line?", there's an extra 'are' in there. Thought you would like to know. This site was very informative for me. Thank you.

 

23 January 2009

Jan of Durban, South Africa says:

 

 

Thank you for this article it has broadened my knowledge of this accreditation and made me question my motives for wanting it.
I now know what the certificate can do for me and the work that I would need to undertake to make it work in my career.

Thanks for the great read, I will post again when I get the certificate and advise all of how it has advanced my career.

 

20 January 2009

Tunde Mafe of Lagos, Nigeria says:

 

 

Like the article. but i want more on CCNA 802.

 

25 December, 2008

Cal Barnett of Northants, England says:

 

 

Thank you for a very much for your informative article. It has given me real clarity about how to proceed in towards a career in the IT industry.

 

30 September, 2008

OBIDIKE ANTHONY IFEANYI of Awka, Eastern part of Nigeria says:

 

 

I'm so delighted to have surfed your web page. This is because some confusion ground has been cleared for me over A+ exams and the prerequisites.

 

16 April, 2008

Danny of Woodbridge, Canada says:

 

 

I didn't know that there was a newer version of the 220-301 and 220-302, but thanks to you now i do...... Now i am in the right Course. Thank you. 

16 April, 2008

Odiaka Uchechukwuka Emmanuel in Port Harcourt, Nigeria says:

 

 

Starting point

Guys you have done well. Pls tell me what steps to take after A+,and i don't want to be just a PCs technician but an IT technician....
May God be with you all the time.

 

30 March, 2008

Sunday Samuel from Nigeria says:

 

 

It was quite satisfying that i got all the annwers i needed on A+ here; all the way from Nigeria. 

10 March 2008

Sam Awotwi from Alexandria, VA 22309, USA says:

 

 

The article is gives a clear explaination of the Course. However, I want to know the next advance course one has to undertake after comptia A+ certification? Thank you.

 

5 March 2008

John Iwuchukwu of Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria says:

 

 

I mean your stuff is ok, and is one among the door step and a pure guide for one to fully certified as a system Engineer and aslo gives you the mind and the confidence to move to the next level of IT, and also for you to be able to face most challanges of which you may encounter at Clients site as the maintence Tech. Thanks and I really appreciate your effort and i use this medium to encourage my able young tallented A+ Professionals to keep moving on the IT road map and also believe that with God all things are possible,

 

Thanks once more!

 

17 September 2007

Thamsanqa Tshabangu from Railways says:

 

 

No one couid have answered my question better. Thanks. 

19 August 2007

Anon from US says:

 

 

Good overview except for one thing. This cert is overrated and overpriced (there is a reason Comptia wants to have 2 exams here). I would take Net+ because that's where the $$ are. This cert is outdated (even with the recent update).

 

6 April 2007

Ayo from Lagos says:

 

 

Why don't you change your preparation method to enable you complete the certification in good time? Instructor-led training is usually the most effective exam prep method.

 

5 April 2007

Louie from New York says:

 

 

don't know what do do... I've been studying for the 220-201,exam about 6 mouths, but now I dont know if I should take the exam because it will take me another 6 months to study the 220-302.. Now what??? why bother..hummmm.

 

27 Mar 2007

Olumide Ajayi from Virginia, USA says:

 

 

I'm not new to the website author Mr. Awe, he is a great intellectual in the IT world. He did a pretty good job in the review of my book - "The Internet Simplified" in 2003. This article is great and commendable.

 

23 Mar 2007

Ugo from Lagos says:

 

 

Very good article, Answered my questions like you were reading my mind. Thank you.

 

31 Dec 2006

Ayo from Lagos says:

 

 

Jidaw offers A+ training. Get details from the training page.

 

31 Dec 2006

Jasper Tasie from Opic Estate, Agbara, Nigeria says:

 

 

The writeup in this article is well stated. But if I may ask.
1. where could somebody get this training
2. do you render any of this training and what are its requirements to get-on with?

 

CompTIA A+ Developments:

Click this link to learn about the new A+ structure

 

 

CompTIA has decided to extend the expiry deadline for the A+ 220-301 and
220-302 exams to 30 June 2007 in certain regions including Africa. Details can be found here:

http://www.jidaw.com/train/ccnaremote.html

 

CompTIA A+ Developments:

Click this link to learn about the new A+ structure

CompTIA has introduced a new A+ structure. The current exams (2003 objectives) will however remain available until the end of the year 2006. The change will not affect those already A+ certified, as the title is "good for life" and does not need to be updated. Those who do wish to update, however, may do so simply by passing one of the new elective exams,

Candidates still have till December 2006 to take the exams with the present structure and content

 

August 14, 2006

Xtabel from Lagos, Nigeria says:

I'm so impressed by this simple and self-explanatory article. You've done a wonderful job. It's so captivating it prompts me to read on. Must I take A+ before I start MCSE cert? CIAO

 

July 22, 2006

Ayo from Lagos, Nigeria says:

A+ and CCNA can be offered as remote courses.  Get information about CCNA Remote training here: http://www.jidaw.com/train/ccnaremote.html

 

July 21, 2006

Iwedinobi Ikechukwu N. from Enugu, Nigeria says:

I thank you for all your mails. Actually I  I subscribed for the newsletter a long time ago, But I haven't had the opportunity to come over to Lagos for training. I'm in Enugu now, please is it possible for one to get A+, Cisco CCNA certification training online?

 

 

July 11, 2006

Jay from Scottsdale, Arizona says:

I want to thank you for taking the time on this outline. The information on the site was very useful.

 

 

December 27, 2005

Vigneshkhanna  from India says:

Your website has boosted up my confidence. I like to write A+ exam, Please give me details about A+ examination centers in india.

 

December 1, 2005

 

Godpower Azuonwu  from South Africa says:

 

I have finally been certified after passing the A+ Core last week. I am from Rivers State, now resident in Johannesburg, South Africa. I would  like to be carried along in IT programmes/breakthroughs, especially geared towards broadening the IT awareness in Africa and Nigeria in particular. 
Please keep me posted in that regard.

 

November 12, 2005

 

Godpower Azuonwu  from South Africa says:

 

An informative and encouraging article. I came across it while researching online for A+ Core study guides. I took and passed the OS two days ago, Hoping to take the Core few days ahead. Thanks Uncle Jide.

 

July 7, 2005

 

Fares from Algeria says:

 

Sir, I thank tou for this good opportunity for me learn more and get great information on certification. I'm happy with what I got with your site

 

June 9, 2005

 

Emily Jones from Florida, USA. says:

 

GREAT WEBSITE!!! -I have a degree in Computer programming and work as a computer information support technician. I have thought about gaining an A+ certification. Your website has boosted up my confidence and made me less scared about the test! A BIG THANK YOU FROM Florida, USA. Best wishes in all you do. 

 

 

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