CompTIA A+ Certification: An Overview [2022 update]
Among the certifications available for computer service technicians is the A+; this credential, sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a non-profit trade association that issues professional certifications for the information technology (IT) industry, certifies entry-level knowledge in PC hardware and software skills in tech support or computer servicing.
About the certification
First issued in 1993, the CompTIA A+ certification is one of the oldest and most widely recognized credentials in IT, with over a million people worldwide who have already earned it. It is also one of the requirements most frequently present in tech support job listings.
CompTIA A+ is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) since 2008 as meeting the ISO/IEC 17024 (Conformity assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons) standard and is approved by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to fulfill the requirements of Directive 8570.01-M (Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program).
A+ is a vendor-neutral certification designed to certify the competency of entry-level PC service professionals in installing, maintaining, customizing and operating personal computers. CompTIA is also the only industry-recognized credential with performance testing to prove pros can perform critical IT support tasks, from security to networking to virtualization and more, and remotely diagnose and correct common software, hardware or connectivity problems.
To receive CompTIA A+ certification, a candidate must pass both the recently-released (April 2022) CompTIA A+ Core 1 (220-1101) and Core 2 (220-1102) exams that, together, cover new content, emphasizing the technologies and skills IT pros need to support a hybrid workforce.
The updated exam objectives will verify that the successful candidate has the knowledge and skills required to:
- Install, configure, and maintain computer equipment, mobile devices and software for end users
- Service components based on customer requirements to resolve problems
- Understand networking basics and apply basic cybersecurity methods to mitigate security risks
- Properly and safely diagnose, resolve, and document common hardware and software issues
- Apply troubleshooting skills and provide customer support using appropriate communication skills
- Understand the basics of scripting, cloud technologies, virtualization, and multi-OS deployments in corporate environments
The A+ certification requires two exams for $239 (visit the CompTIA Store to make the purchase; save money with these voucher discount options) per exam, either online or in-person on the Pearson VUE website.
CompTIA A+ 220-1101
It covers PC hardware and peripherals, mobile devices, networking technology, virtualization and cloud computing. The focus is on troubleshooting and how to remotely diagnose and correct common hardware or connectivity problems. For more specifics, see the Core 1 exam objectives.
The five dedicated domains for A+ Core 1 (220-1101) are as follows:
- Mobile Devices (15%)
- Networking (20%)
- Hardware (25%)
- Virtualization and Cloud Computing (11%)
- Hardware and Network Troubleshooting (29%)
Duration and passing score
The passing score is 675 (on a scale of 100-900). Questions are a maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based to be completed in 90 minutes.
CompTIA A+ 220-1102
It covers installing and configuring operating systems; common methods for securing mobile and embedded devices; best practices for small office/home office (SOHO) wireless and wired networks; application installation and configuration concepts; software troubleshooting; standard operating procedures. For more specifics, see the Core 2 exam objectives.
The four dedicated domains for A+ Core 2 (220-1102) are as follows:
- Operating Systems (31%)
- Security (25%)
- Software Troubleshooting (22%)
- Operational Procedures (22%)
The passing score is 700 (on a scale of 100-900). Questions are a maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based to be completed in 90 minutes.
Getting A+ certified
So, are you ready to be certified? To be eligible for the CompTIA A+ certification, a candidate is recommended to have 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in the lab or field and then must pass two core exams: currently the 220-1101 and 220-1102 that should be available through the Summer of 2025.
A+ renewal and CEU’s
If instead, you are looking for ways to renew a previously earned certifications, there are a few options. The CompTIA CertMaster CE A+ course (launched March 17, 2022) is a self-paced e-learning course that automatically provides an efficient way to renew your A+ certification. To be eligible, a candidate must have an active A+ CE certification by passing exams from the 220-1001/1002 – series or earlier. The price is $129.
Otherwise, a professional can consider other Continuing Education (CE) activities. For instance, they can enroll in a college course or complete an American Council on Education (ACE) course; they will earn and receive 10 CEUs for each 3 to 4 credit-hour class. Otherwise, they can participate in a training course, a live webinar or a conference and earn 1 CEU for each hour they attend. Over three years, 20 CEUs are required.
Note: CompTIA A+ certification holders can also earn up to 8 CEU credits for being present at any Cyber Security Summits with a proof of attendance certificate.
To meet the CEUs requirement, “at least 50 percent of the activity content must relate to one or more exam objectives for the certification you’re renewing.” When ready to submit an activity for CEUs, professionals should use the assessment tool necessary for certification renewal. CE fees must be paid annually ($25) or at once ($75) before submitting the CEUs.
CompTIA A+ learning and training: Helpful resources
CompTIA offers training material and study resources. However, learners can also find a wealth of valuable options provided by other sources.
- CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide: Core 1 Exam 220-1101 and Core 2 Exam 220-1102
This book by Sybex offers essential test preparation material for the certification. The self-study resource provides full coverage of all A+ exam objectives and competencies covered on the test. Still, it also gives access to an online test bank, review questions, practice exams and electronic flashcards.
- CompTIA A+ Complete Deluxe Study Guide with Online Labs: Core 1 Exam 220-1101 and Core 2 Exam 220-1102, 5th Edition
This comprehensive all-in-one bundle written by authors Quentin Docter and Jon Buhagiar includes a comprehensive set of study aids with six months of access to 28 online A+ Core 2 Exam 220-1102 Practice Lab modules. The study guide + lab combo suits anyone looking for a training option that combines theory and practice opportunities.
- CompTIA A+ Complete Practice Tests: Core 1 Exam 220-1101 and Core 2 Exam 220-1102, 3rd Edition
Also from Sybex, this book written by Audrey O’Shea and Jeff T. Parker offers practical prep material, with domain-by-domain practice questions that cover all of the A+ objectives tested on the Core 1 and Core 2 exams. These rigorous and realistic practice questions can also get you ready for the role of aspiring and practicing computer technician.
There are, of course, also several other training options for professionals who would rather participate in on-site classes, boot camps or online learning. CompTIA’s Delivery Partner Program offers quality training and certification learning resources from Authorized Training Providers.
Is the A+ certification worth the effort?
Certifications are skills-focused and demonstrate to employers that IT pros know what they are doing. In particular, the A+ credential is recognized worldwide. It can serve as a launching pad to a satisfying career in IT for relatively new practitioners looking to stand out from the crowd. Employers, in fact, often look for (or require) this credential for technical support roles.
A+, for example, is required for Dell, Intel and HP service technicians to enhance their ability. Also, companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Novell, CompuCom and Ricoh recognize the CompTIA A+ certification. The credential is recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) under Information Assurance Technical (IAT) Level 1.
Who should earn the A+ cert?
Those who earn the A+ cert will be better prepared to perform installation, configuration, diagnosing, preventive maintenance and basic networking. They are also involved in correcting common software, hardware, or connectivity-related problems.
Popular job roles include:
- Help desk tech
- Field service technician
- Associate network engineer
- System support tech
- Junior systems administrator
- Desktop support specialist
CompTIA A+: Career and salary
The CompTIA A+ certification can kickstart an IT career. So, if your interest lies in tech support and help desk, this credential can get you there. Your pay will be based on various factors: education, skills, experience, location, duties and responsibilities. As a reference, the average salary for a CompTIA A+ Service Technician is $65,00 a year, according to PayScale.
Also, according to a survey posted in 2021 by the Certification Magazine, A+ holders reported earning an average salary of $96,010 in the U.S. and the equivalent of $70,310 in the rest of the world. Over 69 percent of CompTIA A+ holders in the United States stated to be satisfied with their salary. Respondents also reported using the skills learned or enhanced through certification at their job several times a day (45.4 percent), several times a week (30.5 percent) and several times a month (11 percent).
How CompTIA’s A+ credential can help your career
CompTIA’s A+ credential is a good choice for many IT entry-level jobs: field service technician or help desk technician, to name a few. So, if working with technology sounds interesting and you want a computer support role, then this vendor-neutral designation might be the right choice to help you get your foot in the door in your preferred company.
For more on the CompTIA A+ certification, view our CompTIA A+ certification hub.
- A+, CompTIA
- A+ Core 1 exam objectives, CompTIA
- A+ Core 2 exam objectives, CompTIA
- A+ Core 1 & Core 2 Exam Objectives Comparison, CompTIA
- A+: From PC Repair to Problem Solving in 26 Years, CompTIA
- Why Should I Get CompTIA A+ Certified?, CompTIA
- CompTIA A+ Certification Training, CompTIA
- Is CompTIA A+ Certification Worth It?, CompTIA
- The New CompTIA A+ Meets IT Workforce Needs, CompTIA
- 5 Things You Didn’t Know About CompTIA A+, CompTIA
- How Much Can I Make with a CompTIA A+ Certification?, CompTIA
- Average Salary for Certification: CompTIA A+ Service Technician, PayScale
- Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on CompTIA A+, Certification Magazine