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CompTIA A+ Certification Guide: Cost, Exams, & Study Tips

CompTIA A+ Certification Guide Cost, Exams, & Study Tips

The CompTIA A+ certification is an entry-level program for IT technicians. It covers PC and laptop hardware, software installation, and computer and mobile operating system configurations. The A+ tests the candidate’s understanding of basic networking, troubleshooting, and security skills.

This guide is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the CompTIA A+ certification:

  • What is it?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What exams do you need to take?
  • How do you prepare for the certification?
  • Benefits of having CompTIA A+ certification and more

We will also share some top-notch study tips to help you pass. Whether you are just starting out in IT or looking to boost your career, the CompTIA A+ is a great first step. It’s all about giving you the foundation you need in IT, so you are ready for all sorts of tech jobs. And the best part? We’re here to make the journey easier for you. So, let’s get in and get you on the path to becoming CompTIA A+ certified!

What is CompTIA A+?

A+ is a performance-based certification designed to demonstrate the ability to CompTIA connect users to the data they need for their jobs using any device. This certification makes sure that individuals have the practical skills required to manage and support a variety of IT equipment and software. It’s recognized as a foundational credential for those starting in the IT field, highlighting a comprehensive understanding of IT infrastructure and user support. The A+ is one of the most popular entry-level IT certifications.

Many people think of CompTIA for their cybersecurity courses, especially the well-known Security+ certification. However, the A+ certification is a more fundamental starting point in the IT field. It doesn’t specifically focus on cybersecurity. The A+ certification is designed for individuals who are new to IT and looking to build their foundational knowledge in IT. It covers a broad range of topics necessary for entry-level IT roles, making it an ideal certification for beginners in the industry.

Achieving this certification validates a professional’s ability to manage and support IT infrastructure, making it an ideal starting point for a career in IT.

Related: Cisco and CompTIA certifications,& Differences Between Them

Prerequisites of CompTIA A+

So, now that you understand an overview of the A+ certification and CompTIA. Let’s discuss some of the exam details. Like many of CompTIA’s entry-level/beginner certifications, they don’t require you to have a specific number of years of experience. You can take this exam without any years of experience, pay for the certification exam, and take it. There are no official prerequisites to take the exam. However, they do have recommended prerequisites. You should have 12 months of IT experience, specifically in help desk roles, desktop support technicians, and other field technician roles. But it’s not required.

The CompTIA A+ Certification Exam

There is usually one exam for many certifications, but CompTIA A+ has two parts.

It is also important to note that you must pay separately for these two exams. The total cost of the two exams is more than the Security+ certification. If you are a beginner trying to get into IT or cybersecurity, then having the A+ certification split into two separate exams could be easier because they also cover different topics.

CompTIA A+ Exam Overview

You don’t need to learn everything for the exam in one go. You can study for one half and then study for the second half later. This way, you don’t have to memorize as much information. It’s also less stressful, depending on how you see it. For some people, two certification exams are stressful. For others, spending all their time studying for one certification at the end is also very stressful.

Note: CompTIA recommends dedicating 120 hours to preparing for the exam.

What Does the CompTIA A+ Exam Include?

The CompTIA A+ Exam covers the following topics:

  • Hardware: Identify, use, and connect hardware components and devices.
  • Networking: Explain types of networks and connections, including transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP), Wi-Fi, and small office/home office (SOHO).
  • Mobile Devices: Install and configure laptops and other mobile devices.
  • Network and Hardware Troubleshooting: Troubleshoot device and network issues.
  • Security: Identify and protect against security vulnerabilities for devices and their network connections.
  • Windows Operating System: Install and support Windows OS, including command line and client support.
  • Other OS Technologies: Understand Mac OS, Linux, and mobile OS.
  • Software Troubleshooting: Troubleshoot PC and mobile device issues, including application security support.
  • Operational Procedures: Follow best practices for safety, environmental impacts, communication, and professionalism.

The Cost of CompTIA A+ Certification

You must buy an exam voucher for each exam, and you must buy two. In total, it will cost you about $478 to take both exams and officially become CompTIA A+ certified. However, CompTIA also lists some discounts on its website based on different criteria that you may meet. So definitely check those out before you officially buy a voucher because you may be able to get some kind of discount.

What jobs can You get with CompTIA A+ certification?

The CompTIA A+ certification is widely recognized as the go-to certification for entry-level positions in IT. Some entry-level jobs here often require CompTIA A+ certification and their average US salary (according to October 2021 data from Glassdoor). Here are some of the roles that you can get after earning CompTIA A+ certification:

  • Help Desk Analyst: $44,436
  • IT Technician: $46,744
  • Help Desk Specialist: $44,586
  • Technical Support Specialist: $48,836
  • Desktop Support Administrator: $50,903
  • System Support Specialist: $54,997
  • Associate Network Engineer: $67,162

Remember that this number can vary depending on where you are—for example, IT jobs in big cities may pay more than in smaller towns to adjust for the cost of living. Factors like your education level and previous experience can also affect your salary.

Tips to get prepared – Study Process

The study process for the CompTIA A+ certification depends on your preferred learning method, such as video content or textbook reading. It is recommended to use both methods to diversify the study material and prepare for the complex questions. The CompTIA All-in-One A+ certification textbook can be purchased or rented on Amazon, along with CompTIA A+ practice exam guides, which can help you better than any other resources. These resources provide an idea of the types of questions to expect, which can be vague or tricky.

Understanding the structure of the questions is crucial for passing the exam. If you are unfamiliar with the exam structure, you may pay extra fees if you don’t pass the first attempt. Typically, buying a CompTIA A+ practice exam guide with practice questions will be a lot cheaper than paying that exam fee all over again. So you’d want to be as prepared as possible and spend $20 or $30 on a practice exam guide rather than potentially dishing out another $20.

CompTIA offers official resources for the CompTIA A+, but these can be expensive for beginners, especially those without IT experience. Consider lower-cost options or free options like Professor Messer’s course to save money. Many resources are available for exam preparation, and it is not mandatory to use official resources for the certifications.

Study Schedule

The next step is to determine your study schedule and exam date. As the exam is split, it’s important to be realistic with your estimates. For example, a beginner might study for three to four months before taking the exam, with some days off and others being full-time. It’s important to schedule at least two to three hours of study per day, especially if you work full-time, are a student, are part-time, or have family obligations.

To keep the right study pace, remember to think about your work, family, and other responsibilities that might get in the way. For a complete beginner, two to three months is a good amount of time to study from beginning to end for the CompTIA A+ certification.

The exam is intended for a beginner IT certification so it won’t be as in-depth as more advanced certifications in IT or cybersecurity. You can either study all the material and take the exams back-to-back or study the material and then take the second exam. It’s up to you how you decide to split the time.

Regarding personal preference, some people prefer to study all at once if the material is relevant. However, make sure your study plan and your schedule work for you. You can start with 30 minutes to 1 hour a day and gradually increase it to two to three hours, especially towards exam dates. It is likely the most realistic approach.

Solving Practice Questions

In the last week before an exam, it is very helpful to spend time on practice questions. Practice questions show you what the exam might be like and help you see which parts you need to work on or topics that require hard work to memorize. They also help identify topics that need a review or extra practice before the real exam. This is important if you’re studying for any certification exam, as it helps identify areas that require hard work or that may require further study. Therefore, practice exams are a valuable tool for preparing for the exam.

A+ or Security+?

Comparison of A+ and Security+

If you have a tech background and are considering taking the A+ as a precursor to the Security+, it may be more beneficial to start with the Security+. This is because you already have foundational knowledge in cybersecurity and can start studying for Security+ later. However, it is not necessary to take the A+ to have it under your belt. It takes about three to four months to study for the Security+. It is better to take Security+ if you are interested in cybersecurity and want to enter an entry-level security role. The choice is a personal decision.

Related: What Is Comptia Security+ Certification and Its Benefits

Benefits of Completing the CompTIA A+ Certification Course

Completing the 591lab CompTIA A+ online course will prepare you to get your foot in the door of any IT position and has many other benefits – especially when you earn your A+ certification. Some of these benefits include:

  • Extensive and vendor-neutral knowledge: IT professionals who are A+ certified will have technology expertise in many IT environments. Their ability ranges from conventional machines to mobile devices and operating systems commonly used for both.
  • Trusted by Employers: The most beneficial aspect of the CompTIA A+ certification is its employability. Employers of all types need IT professionals within their companies. Also, they trust A+ certified professionals to maintain the operations of their computer systems.
  • Global recognition: A+ certification is an internationally recognized standard endorsed by the US Department of Defense.
  • Basic Skills Validation: A+ certified professionals master troubleshooting, security, and networking skills that prepare them for many IT careers.

Final Thoughts on CompTIA A+ Certification

There you have it. We’ve covered the whole CompTIA A+ journey, from what CompTIA A+ is all about to the prerequisites you need, the exam details, and even how much it’ll cost. We also looked at the jobs you could get once you’re certified. We also shared some tips on preparing for the exams and planning your study time.

Now that you know what this certification is all about, it’s time to start working towards getting your CompTIA A+ certification. Remember, every big goal begins with the decision to try. So, prepare your study plan, dive into the learning materials, and take that first step. The IT world is full of opportunities, and getting this certification is a great way to make your mark. Good luck!

FAQs

Is CompTIA A+ still worth IT?

Absolutely, CompTIA A+ remains a valuable certification for anyone starting out in IT. It covers essential IT skills and knowledge, making it a great entry point into the tech industry. Employers widely recognize it, often considering it a prerequisite for many entry-level IT jobs. By earning the A+ certification, you’re demonstrating your commitment to your IT career and laying a solid foundation for future growth.

Is CompTIA A+ a hard exam?

The difficulty of the CompTIA A+ exam largely depends on your prior experience and familiarity with IT concepts. For those new to the field, the wide range of topics may present a significant challenge. However, candidates can successfully navigate the exam’s challenges with diligent study and proper preparation, including hands-on practice and review of all exam objectives.

What is the hardest part of an A+ exam?

Many candidates find the Performance-Based Questions (PBQs) the most challenging aspect of the A+ exam. These questions require you to apply your knowledge in simulated environments, solving problems and performing tasks that mirror real-world IT scenarios. Unlike traditional multiple-choice questions, PBQs test your practical skills and ability to apply concepts in practical situations.

Is CompTIA A+ good for beginners?

Yes, CompTIA A+ is an excellent choice for beginners in the IT field. It’s designed to introduce fundamental IT principles and practices, from hardware and software troubleshooting to security and networking. This certification is an ideal starting point for building a career in IT, providing the foundational knowledge needed for more advanced certifications and roles in the industry.

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