Career / Career Progression

Where to Start: CompTIA A+ or Network+?

by Raju Woodward
Where to Start: CompTIA A+ or Network+? picture: A
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Published on January 27, 2016

Earlier this week, we heard from trainers who cast their vote for either starting with CompTIA A+ or Network+, and covered "What's New with CompTIA A+" with Anthony Sequeira during his webinar.

Choosing which IT certification to pursue first can be daunting to someone who is beginning their IT journey.

Say, for example, you narrow your options down to CompTIA, which is an excellent starting point because CompTIA certifications are vendor neutral. Now we have one of the most hotly debated questions in IT circles: CompTIA A+ or Network+?

Depending on who you ask, the answer varies, and some opinions are stronger than others.

First, let's quickly break down what the two certifications cover.

CompTIA A+: Learners must take two exams to earn the A+ certification. The 220-1101 exam covers PC hardware, mobile device hardware, and troubleshooting hardware and networking connectivity issues. The 220-1102 exam focuses on installing and configuring various operating systems, and topics such as security and cloud computing.

CompTIA Network+: Only one exam is required to earn the Network+ certification, which validates a learner's ability to configure, manage, and troubleshoot wired and wireless networks, as well as their knowledge of other technologies such as unified communications and virtualization.

And now the fun part. Let's examine which cert you should get first:

Why you should earn your A+ certification:

  • If you have little or no experience using computers, you should go the A+ route. Can you imagine trying to learn about networking without having a basic understanding of computers? Here are a few more ways to get into IT without experience.

  • Being well-rounded and having a diverse skill set is always a positive, especially in IT.

  • Does the idea of assisting others and helping them resolve computer-related issues appeal to you? Then maybe pursuing a customer support or helpdesk position is for you! A+ certification provides the knowledge and skills you need to thrive in those roles. And you'll probably need some soft skills, too.

Why you should earn your Network+ certification:

  • Depending on your career goals, A+ might not fit well at all. If you already have strong knowledge of computers and a basic understanding of networking, you should go ahead and start with Network+.

  • Speaking of career paths, if your goal is to earn Cisco CCNP certification, start out with Network+.

  • While Network+ is an entry-level certification, it typically holds more value than A+ certification, when it comes to landing an IT role. You need to understand networking before you can move into other areas of focus such as security, virtualization, and the cloud!

For what it's worth, many of our trainers recommended earning both certifications because you can build off of both well and advance into other areas. They also encourage learners to go in sequence, starting with A+ and then Network+.

Ultimately, the correct answer depends on YOU, the learner. Also, note that the time it takes to learn CompTIA material can vary from person to person.

Where are you comfortable starting? What is it that you want to accomplish? Whichever path you choose, we'd love to help you along the way. Take advantage of our CompTIA A+ and Network+ training.


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