What does value mean to you? For most, value means that you get more out than what you put in. Getting a good deal on a house or buying a car at below the market price is often equated with value. Sometimes, value is measured by return on investment, or ROI. Other times, value takes on a more elusive quality. For example, an unpaid internship doesn’t reward you with money but instead provides you with experience – which in itself is often invaluable.
What about the CompTIA A+ certification? Is it valuable? Is CompTIA A+ worth the time and money you put into studying and taking the exam? Keep reading to find out.
Is CompTIA A+ Worth It in 2023?
Making a decision to get an IT certification is a big one. It’s important to identify what you want to learn and your ultimate career goals. You may ask yourself: How useful is CompTIA A+?
Well, if you’re looking to break into the information technology (IT) industry, it’s worth it – here’s why. You can’t build a house without a foundation, and CompTIA A+ is the industry standard entry-level certification that proves you have the foundational knowledge to begin a career in IT. And a career in IT is still the way to go in 2023.
Case in point, while other industries were making budget cuts during the pandemic, many high-demand IT pros proved they had the skills needed to make themselves indispensable. And now, according to the 2022 Dice Tech Salary Report, the average tech salary increased by 6.9% from 2021 to 2022 – with average tech salaries breaking the six figure mark for the first time in the 17 years the report has been conducted. And while 2023 kicked off with some big-name tech layoffs, the perception is worse than reality.
In fact, a USA Today article stated that "while the layoffs are alarming, they represent a relatively small share of tech companies' workforces in 2022. And even with the layoffs, all five big-tech companies have bigger workforces now than before the pandemic."
Those looking for their first job in IT likely have aspirations to move up the ladder and eventually specialize in something they are passionate about, like cybersecurity, cloud computing or software development. But everybody has to start somewhere, and the first step to launching that career is landing an entry-level position. That’s where CompTIA A+ becomes valuable.
Is CompTIA A+ Enough To Get a Job?
Even if the value is there, people still ask if CompTIA A+ is enough to get a job. It can be, but it depends on what kind of experience you have as well. Did you know that CompTIA A+ appears in more tech support job listings than any other IT credential? Simply having CompTIA A+ on your resume can place you above non-certification holders in line for an interview. And when you’re trying to win your first IT job, that’s a big deal.
But there are other things to consider. For example, employers are going to want to know how many years of experience you have. Having the intel is one piece of the puzzle, showing that you’re able to act on that knowledge is the other.
There are a few ways to get that all-important hands-on experience. You can offer your technical expertise to friends and family, ask to take on some tech support duties at your current job (even if that’s not your primary responsibility) or you can simply ask the IT department if they need help with anything. The IT community is known for sharing information and collaborating on projects. When the IT professionals at your company learn about your career goals, they’ll be more inclined to teach you when they’re able.
One of the reasons the CompTIA A+ exam is trusted for launching IT careers is because it validates your foundational knowledge via performance-based questions. This means that as you prepare for your exam, you are thrown into simulated real-life scenarios that you will encounter on the job. In order to earn CompTIA A+, you have to actually perform tasks during your certification exam versus just answering questions to gauge your knowledge. Employers who look for (or require) CompTIA A+, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dell, HP, Intel, Nissan and Ricoh, understand this value.
What Experience Is Required To Sit for the CompTIA A+ Exams?
While there aren’t any official prerequisites to sit for the CompTIA A+ exams, we do recommend that candidates have 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in a help desk support technician, desktop support technician, field service technician job role or equivalent knowledge. Having this type of experience under your belt will set you up for exam success.
How Much Does the CompTIA A+ Certification Cost?
Understanding how earning your CompTIA A+ certification will impact your career is just the first step. Aspiring IT pros also want to know how much the CompTIA A+ certification costs, and how much money you can make with a CompTIA certification. Let’s break that down.
The CompTIA A+ core series requires candidates to pass two exams: Core 1 (220-1101) and Core 2 (220-1102). Core 1 covers five disciplines for IT pros to effectively perform job roles tasked with endpoint and end-user related skills, including:
- Mobile devices
- Virtualization and cloud computing
- Hardware network troubleshooting
The Core 2 exam covers four different areas that IT professionals will be tested on to demonstrate their knowledge and mastery, including:
- Operating systems
Each exam requires you to purchase a certification voucher, and the U.S. retail price for each voucher is $246. Of course, there are many ways to save money with these voucher discount options.
It’s important to remember that earning CompTIA A+ is an investment in yourself. It’s one that will pay you back many times over as you advance your IT career. Most CompTIA A+ certification holders move on to a job in IT support, like a help desk technician.
Help desk technicians solve technical issues and work with people. According to the Dice report, help desk technicians earn $52,259 on average per year. As you gain more experience, you’ll have the ability to move up to a Tier II or Tier III specialist. As you hone these skills, you’ll make more money.
The Dice report lists CompTIA A+ as one of the highest-paying IT certifications in the United States – with A+ holders earning $78,629. Keep in mind that this salary represents IT pros at all levels – both those who are just starting out and those who earned CompTIA A+ years ago and have advanced their careers.
There are so many different IT support job titles, it’s hard to keep them straight. Luckily, the CompTIA research team compiled the top 16 IT support job roles for you – and you can see how much each one makes on average. You can also see the best IT certifications for beginners to help you get these jobs in 2023.
Is the CompTIA A+ Exam Hard?
This is a subjective question. If you come from virtually zero IT experience, then yes, you may find preparing for the CompTIA A+ exam harder than some. But that’s the great thing about CompTIA exam preparation: You pick your starting point and you pick your learning style.
The CompTIA A+ core series validates that certification-holders are able to troubleshoot across all operating systems including Windows 10, Windows 11, macOS, Chrome OS, Android and Linux OS. Because CompTIA A+-certified technicians often have to configure advanced consumer networks and set up small office environments, IT infrastructure concepts are covered as well, including the basics of IP addressing, network configurations and networking tools.
You’ll be tested on these concepts (and more) via a combination of multiple-choice questions (single and multiple response), drag and drops and performance-based questions.
CompTIA offers everything from traditional instructor-led training to self-study options, and you can take your exam in person at an authorized testing center or online from the comfort of your home. We’ve even put together this study worksheet to help you plan out how you can prepare for your exam and how much time you will need.
When it comes to what you put in versus what you get out, the CompTIA A+ certification is most definitely worth it – just ask the people who hold the almost 1.2 million CompTIA A+ certifications issued to date.
Is CompTIA A+ Right for Me?
If your goal is to start a new career in the IT industry – CompTIA A+ may be for you. There are many other popular certifications available, and the best choice for you is the one that will get you where you want to be.
The following entry-level job roles align with CompTIA A+:
- IT support specialist
- Help desk technician
- Field service technician
- Tier I support specialist
- Desktop support specialist
- Associate network engineer
- Systems support technician
- Junior systems administrator
If your future job is on this list, then yes, CompTIA A+ is right for you.
What About Cisco Certifications?
Cisco certifications like Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) are considered entry-level or associate-level certifications. CCNA is more closely associated with CompTIA Network+. However, whereas CompTIA certifications are vendor neutral – which means the skills covered can be applied to any vendor’s platform and equipment – Cisco certifications are vendor specific. They teach only the technical skills needed for Cisco solutions.
What About AWS Certifications?
Amazon Web Services (AWS) certifications validate cloud expertise for initiatives using AWS. More closely associated with CompTIA Cloud+, AWS Cloud Practitioner is a vendor-specific certification for those in roles such as cloud practitioner, cloud architect and cloud developer. It bears repeating that all CompTIA certifications are vendor neutral, which means the skills covered can be applied to any vendor’s platform and equipment.
What About Microsoft Certifications?
Microsoft certifications are categorized by fundamentals, job role and additional learning. Fundamental options in the Microsoft world include Azure Fundamentals, Microsoft 365 Fundamentals and Power Platform Fundamentals. Like the other certification options, these are vendor-specific credentials that validate the skills necessary to operate within the specified Microsoft platform.
How Long Will It Take To Prepare for the CompTIA A+ Exam?
Preparing for the CompTIA A+ certification exam requires focus and dedication, but how long it takes depends entirely on where you’re starting from. We recommend you start your CompTIA A+ journey by downloading the exam objectives. This gives you an opportunity to take inventory of your competency on each topic and determine where to focus your energy.
CompTIA offers a full suite of training solutions for CompTIA A+, including:
- CompTIA CertMaster Learn is a comprehensive, self-paced eLearning environment that uses videos, assessment and performance-based questions to prepare candidates for their certification exam.
- CompTIA CertMaster Labs helps learners gain hands-on experience configuring a wide range of technologies in a self-paced, pre-configured browser-based environment in order to prepare for practical aspects of the exams.
- CompTIA CertMaster Practice is an adaptive knowledge assessment tool that determines what a learner has already mastered and what they still need to learn to improve confidence and increase retention before the exam.
- Books/Official CompTIA Content has been designed from the ground up to help you learn and master the material before your exam. Self-paced CompTIA study guides are clearly written and structured and are flexible so you can study at any pace.
Utilizing a combination of any of these training solutions will help you learn the material, practice with the right type of questions and pass your exam.
How Long Is CompTIA A+ Good for?
CompTIA-certified professionals understand that the technology world evolves at a breakneck pace – and CompTIA certifications evolve with it. Your CompTIA A+ certification is good for three years from the day of your exam. The Continuing Education (CE) program allows you to extend your certification in three-year intervals through activities and training that relate to the content of your certification. Like A+ itself, CompTIA A+ CE also carries globally recognized ISO/ANSI accreditation status.
Once you’ve earned CompTIA A+, the possibilities are limitless! You may gain additional experience in the workplace or continue your certification journey with CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ – which is approved by the Department of Defense (DoD) to meet directive 8140/8570.01-M requirements. Whatever path you choose, continue to upskill and keep IT fresh.
Ready to get started? Download the exam objectives for free to see what’s on the CompTIA A+ exams.