If you’re looking for a career in IT technical support or field operations, one of the certifications to consider is CompTIA’s A+. Named by CIO magazine as one of 10 best entry-level certifications for launching an IT career, A+ is best for technicians and other support specialists who are starting out and want a vendor-neutral credential.
According to the staffing company Robert Half’s salary survey for 2019, A+ is one of the most valuable IT beginner certifications. PayScale shows the average salary for jobs listing A+ at $58,000, with the U.S. military as one of the top employers. Help desk support and field service technicians earn on the lower end of the scale (an average of $45,000 – $46,000) while some of the top earners who have A+ are desktop support analysts (earning an average of $60,000, according to CompTIA).
An Overview of Exam 220-1001
A+ is a two-part series that requires two separate exams: Core 1 (Exam 220-1001) and Core 2 (Exam 220-1002). CompTIA released new exams for the series effective January 15th, 2019. The previous versions, 220-901 and 220-902, were introduced in December 2015 and will be retired in July 2019.
The new exams include expanded content to reflect the growing role of IT specialists, including security, networking and device connectivity, and dramatically new approaches to operational procedures.
The 90-minute Core 1 exam has a maximum of 90 questions, including multiple-choice and performance-based. The questions cover the following five technical areas:
Mobile devices (14 percent of the exam)
Networking (20 percent)
Hardware (27 percent)
Virtualization and cloud computing (12 percent)
Network hardware and troubleshooting (27 percent)
While CompTIA doesn’t require a minimum level of experience for candidates, it recommends nine to 12 months of experience in the field or in the lab. You need a minimum score of 675 (on a 100-900 scale) to pass.
Candidates taking Exam 220-1001 should be able to demonstrate these core skills, among others:
Installing, configuring and maintaining PCs, mobile devices and software
Diagnosing, resolving and documenting common software and hardware problems
Providing customer support to end users and applying troubleshooting
Understand basic concepts such as desktop imaging, virtualization and networking
Overview of the 5 Exam Domains
The A+ exam focuses on the skills that you need to perform IT support jobs. Below is a general overview of each domain.
Mobile Devices Domain
You need knowledge of laptop hardware and features, the different types of mobile devices and how to configure them, and their various features such as email. Most of the questions are scenario-based.
Laptop hardware and components: Hard drive, memory, keyboard, CPU, optical drive, screen, battery