What you need to know about CompTIA

CompTIA is the largest non-vendor issuer of IT certifications in the world, and the second largest overall after computing giant Microsoft. Each year, CompTIA certifies around 160,000 people and issues hundreds of Trustmarks to channel organizations. Part of CompTIA’s success is that before their existence getting certified as an IT professional was an unwieldy affair.compTIA-IG-1

The bad old days

Back in the 80s, IT certifications were issued by particular manufacturers and were only truly relevant to their systems. While there was some overlap between the certifications, IT workers still had to be certified separately for Dell, Compaq, IBM, Macintosh, and so on. This certification regime was pretty inefficient and costly, forcing IT pros to pay fees to multiple organizations.

CompTIA to the rescue

The Association of Better Computer Dealers (ABCD) was founded in 1982 with the goal of improving the IT industry for all involved. Their influence and importance grew throughout the 1980s and, as ABCD became more and more prominent in the industry, they eventually changed their name to the Computing Technology Industry Association, better known by their acronym CompTIA.

By 1990, CompTIA had worldwide reach and a massive membership. Then, in 1993, CompTIA did something IT professionals had been dreaming about for years. With one fell swoop, they changed the entire IT certification industry by introducing their A+ certification. Unlike previous certifications, CompTIA’s A+ was vendor-neutral and comprehensive, covering a wide range of skills, technologies, and operating systems.

Keeping up with the times

For a quarter of a century, CompTIA has kept the A+ certification relevant by adapting to new developments in the IT industry and the changing needs of their members. The original A+ certification was a single exam designed to assess novice IT technicians with at least 500 hours of experience.

As the first certification to cover the whole IT industry, rather than a single vendor, the exam was rigorous. But despite being difficult,  A+ made so much sense as a springboard into the IT profession that it quickly becoming the most popular IT certification in the business. Since then, A+ has gone through three major revisions in 2003, 2006, and 2009.

The Evolution of A+

The first major revision came in 2003 when CompTIA divided the A+ exam into separate sections for hardware and software. This change brought the exam more up to date with changes that occurred in the decade since 1993, but it also made the exam much harder, resulting in a pass rate of less than 10 percent.

In 2006, CompTIA revised the certification again. They updated it to cover new IT developments and also divided the certification into two separate exams, A+ Essentials and an elective exam, either IT Technician test, Remote Support Technician test, or Depot Technician test. This brought the pass rate up to 20 percent.

The final (so far) and biggest overhaul of CompTIA’s A+ certification came in 2009. Previous iteration of A+ had been highly focused on theory with little to no practical application. It was becoming clear that employers wanted IT professionals with more grounding in real-life IT situations, so CompTIA completely overhauled their certification. They eliminated the three elective tests and replaced them with the Practical Application test. A+ Essentials was revised to focus on real-world application and include new technologies such as Windows Vista, Core 2 Duo and the latest hard drives and types of memory. This version of the A+ certification test is still highly regarded by employers today.

Beyond A+ Certification

While CompTIA’s A+ certification is a great way to get your foot in the door for general IT work, they also offer a range of more specialized certifications. If you have a very clear idea of where you want your blossoming IT career to head or have good base IT knowledge and now want to specialize, consider Network+ certification or CompTIA Cloud Essentials.

Despite the difficulty of predicting growth reliably in an area with such high potential for technological disruption, there is no doubt computer-based jobs will continue to grow, and grown a lot. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in IT will grow 22% by the year 2020.

Growth and development will come in large part from robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, cyber-security, machine learning, and a range of other computer-based industries that are expected to boom in the next decade.

Advantages of CompTIA Network+

One of the key advantages of any CompTIA certification will always be their universality. These certifications are vendor-neutral, so Network+ will prepare you to work with all kinds of computer networks, whether PC, Apple, or Linux based.

Network+ will demonstrate to employers that you possess the range of skills needed to build, manage, troubleshoot, and protect critical network systems of computers and other information technology.

Career options Network+ will open for you

also great for:

  • Network technicians
  • Network administrators
  • Training and teaching
  • Web service specialists
  • Network systems developers
  • Networking forensics specialists
  • Systems analysts

What’s Involved?

The CompTIA Network+ exam last 90 minutes and features a maximum of 90 questions. These questions are a mix of multiple choice, drag and drops, and performance-based question. As such, it’s highly recommended you undertake training before attempting the test.

Advantages of CompTIA Cloud Essentials

The use of cloud computing is increasing every day, as businesses and individuals turn to the cloud to store and access an increasing amount of important data.

As such, the Cloud Essentials certification is hugely valuable for any IT professional. Training in cloud technologies, uses, and security will only become more essential as time passes.

Career options Cloud Essentials will open for you

Cloud computing expertise is already highly regarded by employers in traditional IT industries. But there are also a range of more specifically cloud-related professions opening up.

A major source of such employment is cloud service providers themselves, such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, and so on. Another major – and growing – career path with Cloud Essentials ‘cloud architect’, who oversee and structure businesses’ cloud computing strategies.

What’s Involved?

Obtaining your Cloud Essentials certification will require passing a one-hour exam featuring 50 questions. The test is quite intensive, covering the value of cloud computing, cloud types, cloud adoption, impact and changes to IT service management, as well as risks and consequences of the cloud. It’s recommended you have six months’ work experience in a related field or undergo training beforehand.


For more information on how CCI Training Center can help you prepare for CompTIA certification exams, fill out the form on our Network and Computer Systems program page.