Earlier this week I was invited to address a group of Boy Scouts who were preparing to work on their Digital Technology merit badges. Not being a real techie, I spoke on the advantages of IT certifications, mentioning the potential salaries and some certs that are in demand. I figured I’d done my civic duty and was ready to leave the lectern when one really involved mom decided to do a deep-dive into my shallow pool of knowledge. Our conversation went like this:
Involved Mom: “What makes the CompTIA A+ certification worthwhile?”
Me: “A+ is a very popular foundational certification for the industry. You will learn how to build a PC and can get entry level jobs on help desks, and so forth.”
Involved Mom: “I’ve built a computer; it’s not that hard. How many prospective computer professionals start out with an A+?
Me: “More than one-million people have A+ certification.”
Involved Mom: “What particular fields of information technology can my son pursue with an A+?”
Me: (With a deer-in-the-headlights stare.) “Um ... uh ... yeah. More than 1 million people have A+ certification. So, uh, it can open entry to all kinds of rewarding domains.”
Involved Mom: “Like what ones?”
Me: (Deer-in-the-headlights, again) “Uh ... let me get your email and I’ll send you some links.”
Involved Mom: (Exasperated sigh) “Yeah. Sure.”
Fortunately, the scout master saved me from further embarrassment. He thanked me for my time, invited everyone to refreshments and the Involved Mom forgot to give me her email before I left.
Now, when I can’t get out of it, I do try to be a man of my word. I have every intention of gathering and sharing some information on A+ as a spring-board for an IT career. I did some research, and what I found out is that I’ve been ignorant of just how foundational a CompTIA A+ cert really is — it’s way more than just learning to build a PC.
I did a few Google searches of various IT careers and their suggested certification paths. This is what I noticed:
Networking: A+, Network+, and if you work in a Cisco or Juniper shop (80-90 percent of the market), a CCENT then CCNA and JNCIA-Junos.
Dev ops and cloud: A+, Network+, AWS, Docker and then Google Cloud.
Virtualization: A+, Network+, VMware, Citrix.
VoIP: A+, Network+, CCNA Collaboration and then CCNP VoIP.
Server-based operation systems: A+, Network+, Windows 10 install, Windows 10 Clients and then Linux.
Security (today’s hottest field): A+, Network+ Security+, and again, if you work for a Cisco shop, CCNA Security.
It seems like everybody recommends A+ certification as a great beginning point for all of these rewarding fields. So, what is it about A+ that makes it so foundational? A bit more research into contents of the CompTIA course opened my eyes to a lot of the useful information packed into the two exams that make up A+, 220-901 and 220-902.
220-901 is about a whole lot more than hardware. It also covers storage: SSD, RAID and Storage Virtualization. You will learn to work with TCP/IP, it’s used all the time to enable machines to communicate with one another. WiFi is almost everywhere we go these days and the 220-901 covers that as well, and because so many employees are bringing their personal devices to work, 220-901 covers mobile devices on the network.
220-902 is ordinarily thought of as being all about software. It’s much more than just Windows. It also covers Mac and Linux based operating systems, Virtualization, Cloud computing and security. It even covers the often over looked need for communication between IT professionals and ordinary folk who have less technical knowledge.
An A+ certification offers a great foundation for anyone planning an IT career. And the best way to earn your A+ is with TestOut PC Pro. PC Pro prepares students for the TestOut PC Pro and CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 certification exams. Students use multiple learning formats to learn how to install, manage, and secure computer hardware and master home and corporate OS environments.
PC Pro, it’s the way to go.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin's Google-fu is strong, and he will be very prepared to encounter the next detail-hungry Boy Scout mother.