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Mar- 2005 -
A+ certification is a vendor neutral certification that
certifies the competency of service professionals in the computer
industry. It is for anyone who wants an internationally recognized
credential that validates competency in computer service and technical
Why is A+ the most
popular and widely recognized certification for PC Repairs and
A+ is one of the most popular certifications in the IT industry and is CompTIA’s top certification. What makes A+ Certification different from other credentials is the strong support it has received from the computer industry.
Achievement of A+ Certification shows that a person has the
knowledge, skill and customer service skills necessary to successfully
support PC equipment and users.
Technical support, the focus of A+ certification, is the
busiest area in the IT industry.
Technical Requirements of A+
A+ demonstrates basic competence in
supporting microcomputers. To be certified in the 2003 version, you must pass two modules: the
A+ Core Hardware exam and the A+ Operating Systems Technologies (OST)
Both exams require hands-on expertise as they test your ability with PC Hardware, Operating systems and basic networking. In
addition it treats best practices in issues relating to maintenance and
safety. The exams are extremely practical in nature.
The Core Hardware examination measures basic knowledge of
installing, configuring, upgrading, troubleshooting, and repairing
System Technologies exam measures basic knowledge of
Command Line Prompt, Operating Systems for installing, configuring,
upgrading, troubleshooting and repairing microcomputer systems.
In August 2009, CompTIA unveiled updated A+ exams to provide technical support professionals with a more comprehensive skill set. The 2009 A+ exam versions - 220-701 and 220-702 - are designed to equip tech support with changes in vendor independent expertise demanded by industry and society. The latest version of CompTIA A+ is CompTIA A+ 2009 Edition.
The 2009 A+ qualification consists of two tests: CompTIA A+ Essentials 220-701 and CompTIA A+ Practical Applications 220-702. These are already globally available and both exams must be passed to obtain A+ certification. A CompTIA A+ bridge exam BR0-003 has also been created.
Significant changes and additions noted to the latest 2009 versions of the A+ exams include the following:
CompTIA introduced a new A+ structure in September, 2006. Instead of the 2003 structure of Core Hardware and Operating Systems exams, CompTIA has introduced a two-exam format, which requires candidates to pass the CompTIA A+ Essentials (220-601) that covers both hardware and software, plus choose one of several elective exams that focus on different areas of support. The electives are 220-602 for IT Technician, 220-603 for remote support technicians and 220-604 for depot technicians.
With the introduction of these exams, candidates can focus on specific areas of computer service and support. In addition the updates place more emphasis on soft skills, security and current technologies.
Please note that a ll English versions of the CompTIA A+
600 Series will no longer be available after March 5, 2010.
Please note that a
ll English versions of the CompTIA A+ 600 Series will no longer be available after March 5, 2010.Click here for More on the A+ 2006 Version.
Target Audience / Requirements for A+ Certification
A+ is possibly the most popular entry-level certification. It is usually seen as being for people with a bit of experience (6 months or less) in computer service. However, for the purpose of this discourse, let us attempt to classify the target audience for A+. The focus here, is not the certification itself but what it represents. Our interest is on the acquisition and use of skills and knowledge for practical benefit. It is necessary to look beyond the certificate or certification. Certification validates what you have, not what you don’t have. And certification is about value not just a trophy or ceremonial scalp – how does it give value? How does it help you make a difference? How do you use it to serve and contribute? It will help to look at the target audience from this perspective.
Computer users – intense, enthusiasts
Are you a user or PC enthusiast that needs to have a better
appreciation of how computers work? Are you someone who needs to know
how to install your own software, assemble your systems or troubleshoot
your faulty PCs? Some are lucky when they adopt the “trial and
error” method, but most get their fingers burnt.
You need to be equipped with standard skills and knowledge. You
need to ensure that your installation and troubleshooting is done
securely, skillfully and cost-effectively.
Newcomers who want to develop a career in IT and tech
A+ certification is designed specifically for the tech
support field. But A+
serves other fields, as technical
support is the best area for a beginner to gain a good working knowledge
of the basics of the IT profession. Such basic fundamental IT knowledge and skills are useful in all
areas. Hands-on experience gained especially in the area of problem
solving is invaluable for starting an IT Career. PCs can be seen in
every sphere of life now. What this means is that it is easier for a
newcomer in tech support to get experience and get a foot in the door,
as opportunities are virtually limitless. This is quite unlike a
newcomer with skills in more complex applications that are not
According CompTIA, "Trainers and educators want their students to start
with A+ because it's the recognized career entry point."
A Senior Network
Engineer had this to say, "I got a master's degree
in networking and afterwards got my A+ and worked in PC support. People
don't necessarily give you a job because of your degree. When they hire
you they want you to be able to work from day one. My elder brother also
has a master's degree - in Library Science - and asked me the best way
to get into computers. I told him take CompTIA A+."
Technicians / Professionals in tech support that need
a recognized validation of their skills and experience.
If you’ve been working in tech support for sometime and
you’ve don’t have the respect and recognition, you feel you deserve,
you need to examine A+ to know if it is what you need. It is an external
validation and measurement of your technical support skills and
experience. Not only are you saying you are capable in Tech Support, but
CompTIA, the world’s largest IT trade association is confirming your
level of competence.
In the IT industry many say that experience is king. Is it?
Not always! As a professional on the field you might find that your
experience, that is the work you do, limits your knowledge and exposure.
A relevant certification program removes this limitation, by covering
all standard areas in the particular field. In addition if you have
garnered experience via the trial-and-error route, though your methods
work, are they optimal? You got the job done but is your solution
efficient? It works but is it cost-effective? Certification lifts the
veil and removes this weakness. In this way the certification increases
your knowledge, augments your level of proficiency and enhances your
personal productivity. A+ gives you comprehensive knowledge and skills
of all key areas you need to know in tech support.
IT Professionals outside tech support that need tech
support skills and certification to advance their careers.
It is possible to be an experienced Programmer and yet be unable to diagnose a faulty hard disk drive. What if you find that as an IT professional say in programming or web design, you are heavily dependent on tech support to get your job done? Or are you a Network engineer that has problems troubleshooting simple PC problems? Java programmer what will you do when your system crashes and you are unable to reboot?
What should you do when your ability to give value is threatened by a lack of tech support skills? How does it affect the perception of your competence? It may make sense for you to have standard skills and knowledge in tech support so that you can achieve results in an effective manner. A good grounding in tech support is always useful, irrespective of your area of specialization.
Technical Expectations: A+ Certified Professional
An A+ Certified Professional is
usually expected to carry out the following tasks:
Installation and setup, Upgrading, Repairs, Troubleshooting,
Maintenance of desktops, laptops, printers, and all other peripherals.
Plus, you need to fully understand the network configurations and
operating systems your users might be utilizing. And also the setup,
training of users in the use of systems, as well as Software related
Software related responsibilities
may include: installation of software packages, upgrade and update of
software, troubleshoot application and system errors, advice users on
software use, train users, writing of training/user manuals, overseeing
PC usage and so on.
of expectations, lifelong learning is critical. You can’t afford to go
to sleep after meeting A+ certification standards. A+ of 1999 is not the
same as A+ in 2007. There
is no full stop in learning. Continuous renewal is the key to growth. Be
proactive - set new goals and strike the right balance between doing and
learning in line with your goals.
The focus of this piece has mainly been the technical
aspect of A+ as a certification that validates tech support knowledge
and skills. This is relevant for all target groups mentioned earlier.
Note however that if your career interest is in
technical support, apart from certification, there are opportunities and
challenges you will have to deal with. For example, customer
relationship skills are key to career development in technical support.
Indeed the 2006 version recognized the soft skills need in service
and support while the 2009 version deepened and broadened the scope of
technical scope. Furthermore technical support like every career area of IT has
its personality requirements. Are you interested in developing your
career along this line? It makes sense for you to also have an insight
into the associated challenges and prospects. With this you can take
meaningful decisions within the context of your career plan.
Jide Awe is the Publisher of Jidaw.com
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