You’re considering entering the IT industry, and getting the CompTIA A+ certification can help you get your foot in the door. The question is, how much does the CompTIA A+ certification cost? How might you spend your time and money wisely for this popular entry-level certification?
Look no further—we’ve got you covered. This article will address the price of getting your A+, renewals, time commitment, costs of training materials, and the rewards as an IT professional after you’ve earned your A+. Moreover, we discuss possible next steps for you if you have eyes on other IT or cyber security certifications beyond A+.
When you’re ready, let’s dive in.
About CompTIA A+
CompTIA is short for “Computing Technology Industry Association,” and it conducts certification exams so that you can gain IT expertise to meet various industry standards.
A+ is a pair of entry-level IT certification exams CompTIA offers. To obtain the CompTIA A+ certification, an individual must pass two exams:
- Core 1 focuses on hardware, cloud computing, and networking technology, and
- Core 2 is about software, operating systems, and cyber security basics.
Here’s the detailed breakdown of the latest Core 1 and Core 2 domains:
On a scale of 100–900, the passing scores for Core 1 and Core 2 are 675 and 700, respectively. Each Core examination has at most 90 questions, and you must complete each exam in 90 minutes.
For details, refer to our introductory article “What is CompTIA A+?” and "Best CompTIA A+ Practice Questions to Prepare for the Exam."
The total cost of earning the CompTIA A+ certification is $492 USD for first-time test takers.
Once you’ve earned it, your A+ certification is good for three years. For each of these three years, you pay $25 USD to renew your A+ certification, totaling $75 USD.
As a newly minted A+ holder, you also conduct activities that earn you Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to stay relevant to tech trends. Your activities must meet the following requirements to qualify for CEUs:
- Timing: You must complete your activities during your three-year renewal cycle.
- Relevance: At least 50 percent of the activity content must relate to one or more exam objectives for the certification you’re renewing.
- Documentation: You’ll need to provide documentation for the following activities to receive CEUs:
- Earn Non-CompTIA IT industry certifications (this may incur additional costs);
- Complete training and higher education;
- Participate in IT industry activities;
- Publish a relevant article, white paper, blog post, or book;
- Gain related work experience.
- Higher CompTIA certifications, such as Network+ ($358 USD), automatically renew A+.
The total cost of getting and maintaining your A+ over the next three years is a minimum of $75 USD plus the cost of your renewal activities, or $358 USD if you go for Network+ during your three-year cycle (which lets you forgo the $75 fee entirely).
Although A+ has no hard-and-fast prerequisites, CompTIA recommends that A+ candidates have nine to 12 months of hands-on experience in technical roles in academia or industry, which helps reduce study time. Still, a solid preparation course can compensate for the recommended experience; see our suggestions in Training Costs.
From A+ study materials, you’ll gain technical knowledge of how hardware and software work. If you’re new to IT, you can get hands-on experience with various hardware components by joining a local hackerspace. Such participation will help you gain a practical understanding of how the nitty-gritty of the hardware works and aid you in questions on technical troubleshooting.
To prepare for both exams, if you’re familiar with IT, it may take as little as three to four weeks; otherwise, it may take you several months, up to a year, before you’re ready to take the exam.
Training costs encompass study materials and practice tests. We list A+ instructors who update their materials whenever CompTIA rolls out a revised version of their exams.
The latest CompTIA A+ certification exam codes are 220-1101 for Core 1 and 220-1102 for Core 2, and you must pass both to obtain the CompTIA A+ certification.
The links to the following titles we recommend apply to 220-1101 and 220-1102:
- The Official CompTIA A+ Core 1 Self-Paced Study Guide (Exam 220-1101) and (Exam 220-1102), by James Pengelly ($128 USD each; rather high-priced)
- CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, by Mike Meyers ($40-60 USD)
- CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide, by Quentin Docter and Jon Buhagiar ($30-40 USD)
- CompTIA A+ Exam Cram, by David Prowse ($30-50 USD)
See our article "The Best CompTIA A+ Books (Updated for Latest Exam)"
Some people may opt for in-person classroom training in A+ at local training centers, but since we generally lead busy lives and it isn’t easy to make time for extra commitments, a well-structured online self-paced training course has the following benefits:
- You can view and review your course materials whenever you have Internet access
- You’re not bound to traffic conditions
- While books cater primarily to visual learners, video courses also cater to auditory and kinaesthetic learners
- Online courses are much cheaper and sometimes only require a one-time payment
Here’s a selection of A+ training programs on our website:
Our VIP Membership includes all the courses above and is currently at a discount of $149 USD per year. Recall that without IT expertise, it’ll take up to a year to prepare for both A+ exams, so getting our VIP membership now gives you an edge in your A+ studies.
In summary, expect to spend $179-209 USD on the combined total of one A+ textbook of your choice and online A+ training programs such as ours.
Return on Investment
Immediately after getting your A+, your next step can be applying for an entry-level IT job or challenging yourself to a further certification in networking, which is a valuable stepping stone for those of you who want to enter cyber security. These two options aren’t mutually exclusive.
CompTIA A+ qualifies you for entry-level IT positions (average annual USD salary in parentheses), such as:
- Help Desk Technician ($33K – $62K)
- Desktop Support Technician ($36K – $59K)
- Technical Support Specialist ($44K – $75K)
- Field Service Technician ($40K – $65K)
- Computer Repair Technician ($40K – $64K)
For details, refer to our article on CompTIA A+ Jobs.
Nailing A+ has given you essential foundational hardware, software, and networking knowledge. You can now prepare for networking certifications such as Network+ and CCNA.
Let’s break down the total cost of A+:
- Taking both exams costs $492 USD (assuming you pass on your first attempt);
- Maintaining A+ over three years costs $75 USD;
- Renewal activities may incur additional costs: Network+ costs $358 USD but renews A+ completely;
- Study materials that you’ll use within a year typically cost $179-209 USD.
You might end up spending around $680 to attain your A+ and a total of $1,000 USD over a three-year period (including both exam and renewal costs), but the salaries of jobs you subsequently land are far greater. It’s all worth it in the end.
We hope this article on CompTIA A+ certification costs prepares you financially for this important entry-level certification. For more information on the CompTIA A+ exam, check out our CompTIA A+ cheat sheet and other A+ articles. Last but not least, if you plan to take the A+ exam soon, we wish you all success.