Every release of a new CompTIA A+ version opens the debate about the value of the certification. It’s one of those topics that splits industry professionals. Even in 2019.
Many people say that it is not worth the time and expense of achieving certification status. Others seem to think that it is an absolute necessity for anyone getting into the IT industry. The truth, like so many things, is probably somewhere closer to the middle.
Let’s take a closer look at the arguments for and against this entry-level certification — and discuss six reasons (in no particular order) why you should earn the new CompTIA A+ certification.
1. Earning the new CompTIA A+ certification helps you get past HR bots
Some naysayers might claim that the new A+ is only good for checking a box when you apply for jobs. But HR scanning software can be hard enough to beat. So, who wouldn’t want to have any kind of advantage?
Being CompTIA A+ certified definitely can help you land entry-level jobs. It is recognized as one of the very first certifications that prospective IT pros should obtain. It validates enough general knowledge and skills about computers and networking to be useful. It is not intended as a super certification that trumps experience, but it shows employers two things.
First, you are willing to learn and advance your career. Second, it shows that you have the ability to study and pass an exam. Like it or not, certifications are a part of the job.
Believe it or not, earning CompTIA A+ places you above non-certification holders. That’s nothing to take for granted if you are just starting out. Having the A+ can help you land entry-level IT jobs like desktop support or help desk tech.
The new CompTIA A+ is a good place to start. It provides the foundational knowledge for bigger and better roles further down the line. The A+ even has the DoD stamp of approval, if you’re thinking about working for the U.S. government.
2. The new CompTIA A+ certification proves you know IT fundamentals
A+ critics say the exam is only good as a basic IT competency check. But that seems like a good thing? While it’s true A+ certification won’t land you a senior role or coveted technical position, it definitely has its place in your certification toolbox.
If you’re coming into IT without experience, studying for exams help you learn the basics. The A+ exam might only be 90 questions, but you obviously don’t know which questions. It’s like the trick where the teacher or instructor allows a cheat sheet for an exam. By the time you’ve created the cheat sheet, you don’t need it.
For tinkerers, the A+ will be a little easier — and it will help validate your knowledge. If you’ve already been building PCs and installing operating systems, then you’d easily pass the 700-series exams from years ago. But the latest A+ exams released this month covers IT security, cloud concepts, and scripting that a hobbyist might not have touched yet.
It’s easier to get a job with a certification. Passing the new CompTIA A+ confirms you know your stuff in an industry-approved way. Hobbyist experience is great. You’ll certainly thrive in a support role, but that experience won’t hold the same authority on a resume compared to A+ certification. Certifications are a basic competency assurance for an employer. And that’s exactly what a person needs if they have no experience in IT.
3. Resolve common issues faster with A+ certification
In this day and age of service-level agreements, why get your hands dirty? You can simply call the vendor and have them resolve the issues. But wouldn’t it be quicker if you could just do it yourself?
Yes, it is true that most companies will send out their own service technicians to repair most hardware on site. But some manufacturers will ask you to perform the first line troubleshooting with them over the phone. They can help you point and click, but it’s easier if you can narrow it down in the correct terms. The A+ can help with that — the new exams cover a bevy of operating systems and demonstrate that you can be trusted with a screwdriver. After all, not everyone should be opening a computer, printer, or server.
An added bonus, when you save the day by resolving that printer issue, you’ll be the office hero. That doesn’t happen very often for IT pros.
4. Develop certification study habits with the new A+ certification
If you’re brand new to the IT certification process, you should take a long hard look at the new CompTIA A+ exam. By now, you’ve learned that the certification provides a strong foundation for an IT career. But if you want to earn the certification, you need to develop good study habits.
Certifications are a big part of a career in IT, which means you’ll need to learn how to study for them. If the A+ is your first exam, then you’re learning the CompTIA way of testing. You’ll be learning how to use the course objectives to build a study plan. You’ll even be learning how the exam day logistics, like what ID to bring and what it feels like to sit for a 90-minute exam.
Even though CompTIA A+ is relatively straightforward, it should not be taken lightly. There are the obvious monetary implications for not passing — the exams cost $219 for each attempt. You’re also building study habits — good or bad — that will inevitably carry over to other CompTIA certifications.
5. CompTIA A+ costs less than a computer science degree
We’ve debated certifications versus degrees because it’s an important, personal decision. Even our trainers are split on the topic. Depending on who you ask, degrees are great. They’re transferable, useful, and they never expire. So if you want a degree, go for it. That said, going that route will cost more and take longer than earning the new A+ certification.
The CompTIA A+ certification exams alone will cost $438. A computer science degree is going to cost quite a bit more. For a two-year CS associate program, the average cost per year is $20,784 USD. And let’s be honest, degrees aren’t for everyone.
The utility of either education lies in how you plan on using it. If you are pursuing a career in CPU design or complex mathematical computation, then a computer science degree is obviously going to be the better choice.
If you plan on working for a small IT firm that does break and fix repairs, then you land that job with a certification. You’ll be better served by earning A+ certification. The bottom line is thinking about where you plan on going with your career — and find the tools that will help you get there.
6. If you want to get hands-on, the CompTIA A+ is a good start
There’s a general notion that A+ is only good for a job repairing computers or working the help desk. (As though that were a bad thing.)
Not everyone aspires to the CCIE or an AWS Solutions Architect. And *gasp*, maybe you actually enjoy interacting with people. Let’s be honest, some IT jobs consist of long hours staring at screens and hanging out in server rooms. Not exactly the best fit if you’re a more social person.
Besides, you’ve got to start somewhere. The help desk is the first stop for many IT pros. And to land that first job, the A+ really helps. You can stay there, or specialize when you discover a passion.
Earning A+ certification can open a lot of doors for you. Whether it’s networking or IT security, the new A+ provides you with the foundational knowledge you need to be successful in all areas of IT. When you’re ready to narrow your focus and go-vendor specific, your A+ certification will come in handy.
There’s a lot of reasons to earn A+ certification, so don’t let naysayers deter you. Even if your aspirations are higher up the IT ladder, certifying in A+ isn’t going to hurt you. Earning certs shows a strong commitment to learning and keeping your skills current.