When I first started out in IT, there were only a handful of certifications I heard of:
- Microsoft’s MCSA/MCSE
Working in a call center doing tech support, I met people that had one or the other, or even both their A+ and MCSE. Customers would tell me this as well, but when I would ask them to open up the run box on their OS or restart the modem/router, they had no idea what I was talking about. Anyway…
Being in the IT field off and on since 2005, I didn’t obtain my first certification until 2014, which so happened to be my CompTIA A+. Come to think of it, the first certification I sat for was the Cisco CCENT back in 2013, and I ended up failing miserably.
I guess before I answer this question, let me give a brief overview of the CompTIA A+ for those that are interested in IT but aren’t sure what I am talking about.
The CompTIA A+ Exam
The CompTIA A+ is an entry-level certification that is broken up into two exams:
- 220-901: This exam covers PC hardware and peripherals, mobile devices, networking and troubleshooting hardware and network connectivity issues.
- 220-902: This exam covers all things Operating Systems (OS), pertaining to Windows, iOS, Apple OS X and Linux. It also addresses security, the fundamentals of cloud computing and operational procedures.
For more information on this exam, check this out.
Who is this exam for?
I believe anyone wanting to get a general understanding of PC hardware and OS software should look into this. Once I passed this exam, I was able to build my very first fully-functioning PC, and better understand how things worked. If you are new to IT and looking to get a start in a help desk/technical support position, this would be a good step in the right direction.
On the flip side…
If you are already working in a help desk/tech support position and looking to move up, I say it wouldn’t hurt to read the A+ material or even watch a video series, such as Professor Messer’s YouTube channel. For you all already in the field but looking to move up from level 1 or 2, I would recommend taking a moment to figure out where do you want to move because you may want to go for an intermediate certification or something more vendor-specific (Cisco, Microsoft, Juniper, etc). Do you want to become Systems Administrator, a DBA? A Network Engineer? Management? DevOps? I too had these questions and found this Career Roadmap (and this one too) by CompTIA a great step in the right direction.
Will the A+ Aid in Getting Me a Job?
It could. In the subreddit r/itcareerquestions, I have seen users post that they got hired on for their first help desk/tech support gig after getting A+ certified. If you’re looking to get started, here are some job search sites and phrases I recommend using:
- Dice (very IT specific job search site)
- Glassdoor (not just for job searches, but view company reviews posted by current and former employees)
- Your local city and government websites
- Think of companies/industries local to your area. Go to their website and check out their career section
Keywords to Search
- Technical Support
- Computer Operator
- Desktop Support Analyst
- Desktop Support Technician
- Desktop Build Technician
Should you take the A+ exam?
For real though, the choice it’s up to you.
For me, studying for and sitting for the exam helped me to better understand my troubleshooting methodologies a lot better. When I passed the A+, I was working in a Data Center on third shift. After getting certified, my career status didn’t change. I was happy because I accomplished my goal and being able to better explain a technical issue, however, I still had the same title and pay.
If you are interested in being a part of the IT field and you have no experience, I say check out the CompTIA A+ objectives and roadmap linked above. If you already have some help desk experience and looking to level-up, I say check other certifications not just by CompTIA but Microsoft, Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto. Shoot, you may be interested in programming and DevOps and you may not require a certification!
All in all, no matter where you are with this, ask yourself “What do I want to be when I level up?” Making more money is great and all, but to me, being happy with my career and having more time with my family and friends means the world to me.
Hope this helps. Holla!