5 IT Careers Where A+ Really Counts
CompTIA A+ is a great starting point for your IT career. The CompTIA certification not only teaches you the basics about hardware, it also validates your knowledge to managers looking to fill open positions. It'll certainly move you higher on the "interview" list.
But, what type of career opportunities will the certification open? Especially if you're new to the industry, you may not know exactly what those promising career paths are and how CompTIA A+ can get you there.
Here are five career pathways that A+ will fast-track for you, listed from least to most advanced.
1. Help Desk Technician / Help Desk Analyst
Average salary: $44,000 – $53,000 per year (source / source)
The entry-level help desk position is a starting point for many an IT Pro. Just as the help desk role is foundational for many IT careers, the A+ is foundational for the help desk role itself.
CompTIA's A+ certification shows that you have a general, comprehensive background in everything required for a help desk support role, from network administration to information security to troubleshooting of both software and hardware systems.
2. Systems / Network Administrator
Average salary: $68,300 – $75,900 (source / source)
Network administrators are core to maintaining a company's existing systems as well as innovating for cost savings and modernization.
NOTE: While some shops distinguish between sysadmins and network admins, we're combining the roles under one umbrella here. As we all know, the job description and actual duties are often quite different.
To be successful as a network admin, you'll need the broad base of skills validated by CompTIA A+ certification, including troubleshooting skills. Strong troubleshooting skills are a critical part of the role and an excellent starting point for your entire networking career.
3. Database Administrator
Average salary: $68,500 – $85,200 (source / source)
Database administrators play a pivotal role in their company's stability and operational success. DBAs also have a high potential for career and salary growth, so if you have your eye on this fast-moving IT career field, getting your A+ certification is a great place to start.
Successful database admins possess a balanced range of skills, beginning with a broad yet thorough understanding of networking, troubleshooting, and security across hardware and software in a business setting.
DBAs must possess communication and customer service skills in order to work across departments in the business. While it's not on the A+ exam, you might also want to brush up on your soft skills (according to Bruce Lee).
4. Server Technician / Administrator
Average salary: $65,500 – $76,400 (source / source)
There are many ways to make a career in server environments. Whether you're building or maintaining servers that run Microsoft, Linux, or UNIX operating systems, the CompTIA A+ certification covers the basic topics you'll need to know.
While there are some advanced certifications dedicated to server administration, such as Microsoft MCSA Windows Server 2012, the A+ is your starting point.
As with many roles on this list, accurate troubleshooting and solving for complex issues is at the heart of server administration. To succeed in today's server job market, you'll need a firm understanding of virtualization, desktop imaging, and deployment. All of these concepts are woven through the A+ certification curriculum.
5. IT Security Specialist
Average salary: $72,000
IT security roles are among the hottest in the market, and a CompTIA A+ certification can help you meet the requirements for some security specialist roles. In these positions, you'll need a thorough understanding of the areas that A+ covers, such as networking, operating system administration, as well as hardware and software installation and configuration. Emphasis on thorough.
Keith Barker recently said that learning (or brushing up on) the fundamentals is the single most important thing you can do to start your IT security career. For instance, can you list every step that happens when your click "send" on email? If not, then it's time to start learning.
Even if you have years of experience and never earned the A+, it might be a worthwhile investment for your future security career. Passing the A+ certification exams sends a strong message to employers that you're ready for the nuts and bolts associated career in IT security.
While no degree or certification is a guaranteed ticket to your next job, CompTIA's A+ puts your IT skills to the test, shows employers that you're ready to advance in the field, and prepares you for more advanced certifications.
CompTIA A+ is only the first step toward a successful IT career. Once you've earned your first cert, you'll be ready for your next steps. If you're wondering what's next, we've laid out career pathways for IT pros following the networking, security, DevOps, virtualization, and system administration routes.
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