Is the CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ Worth It?
Many people that want to get into IT don't necessarily want to get into a support role. If you want to start out as a help desk tech or any technical role that requires computer and operating system knowledge, then the CompTIA A+ is one of the most commonly chosen certs. If you wanted to learn the basic concepts of networking, then the CompTIA Network+ is the first choice for many. So where does the IT Fundamentals fit in? We will dive into what makes this cert tick, who would want to get it, and what types of job roles could find it useful.
What is IT Fundamentals+?
The IT Fundamentals+ certification is an introduction to key computing concepts such as IT infrastructure, software development and database utilization. You can think of this as a theoretical overview of how all of these systems interact with modern businesses. You will learn some practical skills to go along with this knowledge too. This includes how to install software, how to connect to a network and establish connectivity and how to identify and prevent basic security risks.
You will also learn basic troubleshooting theory and what preventative maintenance is, and when to perform it. This cert will help you to learn new things about IT if you have never worked in an IT role, and it can also help you to flesh out some key concepts that you might not have touched on in your current IT role. We will discuss who this is aimed at specifically a little later in the article.
What Does the IT Fundamentals+ Exam Test?
The exam objectives of this certification cover quite a few different domains, all relating to key concepts as they relate to IT fundamentals . The full document containing all of the exam objectives can be found here.
- 1.0. IT Concepts and Terminology: 17%
- 2.0. Infrastructure: 22%
- 3.0. Applications and Software: 18%
- 4.0. Software Development: 12%
- 5.0. Database Fundamentals: 11%
- 6.0. Security: 20%
1.0 IT Concepts and Terminology: This section teaches you the basics about notational systems such as binary and hexadecimal. You will learn how to differentiate between data types like char, strings, integers and Boolean. You will learn about the basics of computing and processing as well as what the value of data and information is. Other key concepts include data unit types like MegaByte, Gigabyte, Mbps etc. This section also teaches you to explain what the troubleshooting methodology is.
2.0 Infrastructure: This exam objective covers input output device types, how to setup and install basic peripherals for computers and laptops, and what each internal component of a computer is for. You will also learn about different internet connectivity types, storage types, computing devices such as mobile phones, tablets etc and basic network concepts. You will also learn how to securely setup a basic wireless network.
3.0 Applications and Software: Here you will outline what an Operating system is , what it does and what purpose it has. You will identify the different components of an operating system and explain the purpose and proper use of software. You will also learn the basics about application architecture and delivery models, web browsers, and general application concepts and issues.
4.0 Software Development: Here, you will compare and contrast the different programming language categories such as Interpreted, Compiled, Query and Assembly languages. You will learn how to use programming organizational techniques and how to interpret logic. This is comprised of organizational techniques and logic components. Lastly you will need to explain the purpose and use of programming concepts.
5.0 Database Fundamentals: This section wants you to explain database concepts and why you would use a database for a given purpose. It covers usage of a database, flat file vs database, records and storage. You will learn how to compare and contrast database structures and compare structured vs semi structured databases, the schema, tables, rows and records, fields and columsn as well as primary an foreign keys as well as constraints. Non relational topics are also covered here such as key and value databases and document databases. Lastly, you must summarize the methods that are used when interfacing with databases.
6.0 Security: Security touches on some of the Security+ fundamentals such as confidentiality, Integrity and availability. You must understand issues like snooping, eavesdropping, wiretapping, social engineering and dumpster diving. Attacks such as man-in-the-middle, replay, impersonation and unauthorized information alterations are looked at under the Integrity issues. Availability covers DoS (Denial of Service) attacks, power outages, hardware failures, destruction and much more.
How Much Does the IT Fundamentals+ Exam Cost?
The IT Fundamentals+ exam currently costs $126 according to the CompTIA website. The exam is a multiple-choice format and there are 75 questions. You have 60 minutes to complete the exam and there is no prior experience required. You will pass the exam with 650 points on a scale of 900.
What Experience Do You Need for the IT Fundamentals+?
The great thing about this cert is that there are no prerequisites for taking the exam, but that doesn't necessarily make it an entry level exam for non-IT people. You can either be new to the discipline entirely, or you could already be working in an IT role. Working in an IT job does not mean that you are working in all IT disciplines. This cert can certainly be an eye opener for even the most experienced IT worker.
Who Should Take the IT Fundamentals+?
If you consider yourself to be an advanced user that normally fixes your own IT issues before the tech gets to your desk, then this is the cert for you. It forms a bridge over which you can cross into a career in IT. From here, you can decide which path to take. If you are already in a relatively entry level position in IT, then this could be the cert that shows your employer that you have the resourcefulness and drive to move up the ladder towards a more technical role within your company. In some cases, this can help to serve as a motivation towards further certifications such as the CompTIA A+, N+ and Security+ certifications, which can ultimately open doors to you on your journey in IT.
IT Fundamentals+ for Power Users
In this scenario you might be a gamer or online creator that works with PCs outside of your day job because it is fun. If you run into an issue then you know that the solution is just a Google search or a YouTube video away. Are you the kind of person that manages to install updates before your system admin has advised you to? Are you able to install drivers for the new department printer before the tech can get to your office? Well then you might already have what it takes to get started in IT.
This cert can certainly help you to make up for any defecates in your technical knowledge as they relate to working in IT. Earning this cert is also a valuable interviewing tool that can teach you a lot about the basics that an HR Hiring manager might ask you, such as basic Wi-Fi connectivity, networking and operating systems. If you doubt yourself because you're not 'that kind of person' or maybe there is a lot that you don't know about computers, then this is precisely the cert for you. You wont be sorry.
IT Fundamentals+ for Help Desk Techs
If you already work in IT then this cert is something that can really help you to get ahead and work your way up to another department,if that is something that you want. You can think of this certification as a stepping stone towards understanding IT as a holistic service across the organization. With this detailed view you can start to connect the dots between departments. How does the security department interact with the dev teams? How does the flow of information rely on the infrastructure of the organization? Once your eyes are opened to the interconnected nature of these different systems and departments then you will understand IT in a whole different light.
Is the IT Fundamentals+ Worth It?
The IT Fundamentals+ is definitely worth pursuing. Regardless of your experience level in IT support, you will find value thanks to the broad knowledge concepts that this cert covers. If you don't already work in IT then this is the first cert that you should look at landing, period. It has a low enough barrier to entry that makes it accessible to almost anyone. If you are interested in IT then you will enjoy the different aspects of the systems, teams and methodologies that this cert tests.
Using the IT Fundamentals+ to Learn Skills
As a newcomer to the realm of IT you will find that the key concepts covered in this exam will teach you new skills to help jump start your career in IT. This exam is not aimed squarely at newcomers to IT. If you already work in IT, you will find a wealth of new knowledge that will elevate you skills to the next level in your career. The broad nature of the exam will take you into areas that you might not interact with on a daily basis, such as security, networking and databases. Passing this exam has the potential to open up new opportunities for you.
Using the IT Fundamentals+ to Validate Skills
If you already work in IT then you might scoff at the notion that a "Fundamentals" exam has any value to offer you. This is not correct at all in this case. This is because CompTIA has identified areas of competence that you might not be familiar with, even if you have been working in an IT role such as a Help desk tech or as an on-site support. If you use this certification as a motivation to study further then you will open up even more opportunities for yourself. The first part of expanding your horizons is understanding what you don't already know, and the IT Fundamentals may surprise you and show you areas of your knowledge where you could do with learning more about, and working towards specific certifications and experience.