The CompTIA A+ is a great certification and a popular entry point into the IT industry. To jumpstart or transition into an IT career, such as a field service technician or desk support analyst, the A+ will equip you with the fundamental knowledge of what it takes to be a good IT professional.
In this article, we’ll give you an overview answering the question, “What is CompTIA A+?” By getting A+ certified, you demonstrate your skill and proficiency in IT support because the exam questions revolve around real-life scenarios in which you must think on your feet.
Without further ado, let’s discover what CompTIA A+ is.
What Is CompTIA A+?
Let’s talk about CompTIA and the focus of this in-demand certification.
Who Is CompTIA?
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is an internationally-recognized organization for certifying, educating, and connecting people in IT. It helps people to navigate tech careers and organizations to train and hire IT professionals.
CompTIA A+ is an entry-level IT certification focusing primarily on the latest core technologies, from cloud infrastructure and IoT device security to data management and command-line scripting with applications like automation.
The latest CompTIA A+ emphasizes software troubleshooting, network troubleshooting, and the remote diagnosis and resolution of network and hardware issues.
As A+ is vendor-neutral, A+ certified individuals can apply their expertise in various technical situations and across multiple platforms.
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 the conclusion.
The target audience of the A+ certification is people starting a career in IT. They signify you have the necessary competencies for an entry-level IT professional.
Why Should I Pursue CompTIA A+?
Being CompTIA A+ certified means you grasp the most up-to-date basic computer hardware and software knowledge and can troubleshoot computers, smartphones, and other IT devices in use today. Hence CompTIA says the A+ certification “is the industry standard for establishing a career in IT.”
Moreover, CompTIA A+ is a popular requirement for entry-level IT positions, such as technical support specialist, field service technician, help desk technician, service desk analyst, data support technician, or desktop support administrator.
Hence, A+ gives you an advantage over non-certification holders in job interviews, increasing the odds of landing your first IT position. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, it’s easier to follow your passions and specialize in cyber security and other IT fields.
A+ can open doors to better pay: the Dice 2022 report lists CompTIA A+ as the most popular IT certification among US technologists surveyed: “Of those tech professionals with a technical certification, CompTIA A+ topped the list with 22%.”
From the same report: “Highly specialized certifications can help job candidates prove their skill sets to hiring managers and recruiters. Certifications also provide additional leverage in negotiations for salary, benefits, and increased responsibility.” Hence, your A+ certification can make you eligible for remote work opportunities and promotions.
What Does CompTIA A+ Exam Cover?
CompTIA A+ comprises two certification 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:
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. 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. You can take the A+ exams at separate times.
The CompTIA A+ exams include two types of questions:
- Multiple-choice questions, which may admit single or multiple answers, and
- Performance-based questions (PBQs), including drag-and-drop items: They’re crucial for testing your ability to solve problems in a simulated environment, making CompTIA A+ such a valuable certification demonstrating one’s excellence in practical IT skills. Anywhere from one to 10 PBQs appear at the start of the A+ exam.
Managing your exam time is important. A+ exam questions carry different weights unknown to the candidate. Typically, PBQs have heavier weights than multiple-choice questions, and some multiple-choice questions are worth more than others.
How Do I Become CompTIA A+ Certified?
This examination is taken through Pearson VUE - either in the comfort of your home using Pearson VUE’s online testing service or in person at a testing center.
If taken from home, a proctor monitors you through a webcam and microphone. In the on-site exam, which is preferable for various reasons, a closed-circuit television with a proctor on site will watch you. A+ exams are closed-book.
When you register for the exam at Pearson VUE, you may pay by credit card or voucher. Select “voucher” and type in the voucher number you purchased. The listed price of this exam is $246 USD each (two exams required to pass).
Pearson VUE will provide you with available exam time slots. Feel free to reschedule your exam within 24 hours of your original time slot if you need more time; you won’t be charged anything for rescheduling.
Once you’ve passed your A+ exam, congratulations! However, the certification is only valid for three years. Your next step is to keep up with the changing trends in the IT industry to remain an in-demand IT expert. You have two ways to renew your certification:
- With multiple activities: Collect at least 20 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through CompTIA-approved activities, including gaining more advanced certifications, work experience, publishing, and participating in industry events. To renew A+, you should upload sufficient proof of participation to your certification account and pay a renewal fee.
- With a single activity: Some certifications will completely renew A+, including more advanced CompTIA certifications such as Network+ and Security+. You can also complete CompTIA’s online, self-paced continuing education course CertMaster CE; as of writing, this method only applies to A+, Network+, and Security+.
We hope this article on what CompTIA A+ is prepares you for this important entry-level certification. For more information on the CompTIA A+ exam, check out our CompTIA A+ cheat sheet and course offerings below. Last but not least, if you plan to take the A+ exam soon, we wish you all success.