CompTIA A+ Certification


Computer Science; Information Technology


The CompTIA A+ certification is one of many certifications in the field of information technology (IT) granted by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). An IT professional may gain the certification after passing a pair of exams that test their knowledge of computer hardware, operating systems, troubleshooting, and other essential topics.



The CompTIA A+ certification is a professional certification in information technology (IT). IT is a broad field that deals with the use of computers and related devices. IT professionals known as computer technicians must know a variety of hardware, software, and other technological information. College degrees in IT or computer science and hands-on IT experience are typically important to employers. Some companies seek job candidates who have earned professional certifications. In the United States, the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), an IT trade association, is one of the chief providers of such certifications.


The CompTIA A+ certification is a popular credential among IT professionals. As of early 2016, it had been awarded to more than one million people globally, according to CompTIA. The certification shows that the holder is skilled in the key areas of IT. These areas include computer troubleshooting and repair, setup and installation, and maintenance. To earn the certification, a professional must prove their knowledge of a number of specific topics, including the use of operating systems, computer networking procedures, and computer security. In addition to desktop and laptop computers, the certification signals the holder's skill with mobile devices, such as smartphones, and peripherals, such as printers. The A+ certification and two other CompTIA certifications have been accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI oversees the granting of certifications for many professions.


To earn the CompTIA A+ certification, one must pass two exams. These exams are periodically updated to keep up with changes in technology. An updated set of exams, CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902, were introduced on December 15, 2015. Those exams replaced the 220-801 and 220-802 exams, which were set to be retired on June 30, 2016, for English-speaking test takers, and December 31 of that year for all others.

Each exam is ninety minutes long and has up to ninety questions. Some questions are multiple-choice, while others are performance based. Performance-based questions simulate real-world problems that the test taker must solve. Both tests are scored out of a possible 900 points. The test taker must score at least 675 points to pass the first exam and 700 to pass the second. Exams must be completed in person at a testing center approved by CompTIA.

Together, the two exams cover a wide range of topics generally considered essential basic knowledge for a computer technician. The first exam deals mostly with hardware, including computers, mobile devices, and peripherals. The exam also covers troubleshooting. The second exam focuses on operating systems, including Widows and Apple systems as well as open-source operating systems such as Linux. CompTIA does not require test takers to complete formal schooling before taking the exams, but it recommends that those seeking A+ certification have at least six months of practical experience with the covered topics. To aid IT professionals in preparing for the exams, CompTIA offers optional preparatory courses and self-guided training materials.


While the computer skills evaluated by the CompTIA A+ exams are not possessed solely by those professionals who are certified, the certification provides clear evidence of an IT professional's understanding of the field's core concepts and procedures. As such, some employers prefer to hire employees who have already attained that certification. However, other employers may prefer to hire computer technicians with formal education in computer science or IT or with significant hands-on experience. Likewise, some employers may not require job seekers to have obtained A+ certification or may pay for their computer technicians to take the exams once employed. Because of these varying requirements, individuals seeking work in IT should consider their options carefully before pursuing the CompTIA A+ or any other certification.

—Joy Crelin

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