Network+ certification: overview and career path [2022 update]
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the network and computer systems administrators’ sector will grow 5% from 2020 to 2030 in the United States. However, despite the demand for IT professionals, it’s not guaranteed that you will find a job. Even if you’re not competing against a large pool of applicants, it’s important to prove that you’re qualified for the role to a potential employer. Professional IT certifications are a good way to show you have technical skills, and hiring managers often see them as performance indicators. Earning certifications can help prove your knowledge to a potential employer, advance your career, and stay competitive.
CompTIA’s Network+ certification is a good way to demonstrate that you have the foundation required for an entry- to mid-level job if you’re interested in the network infrastructure field. This core-level credential includes network management, troubleshooting and configuration and covers the knowledge professionals need to maintain an organization’s network and keep it safe and secure.
The Network+ certification is geared towards network support specialists, network administrators, and help desk technicians. Still, it also covers the knowledge needed in many other IT areas, cybersecurity mastery and skills necessary to manage mobile and smart devices and cloud computing.
What is the Network+ certification?
CompTIA Network+ builds a foundation for a flourishing career in networking, no matter what path you take. CompTIA reviews all its exams regularly to reflect the most current industry practices. The most current Network+ exam, N10-008, launched on Sept. 15, 2021, will be effective for three years, validates the skills required to implement wired and wireless network solutions, troubleshoot network connectivity issues, identify and mitigate vulnerabilities and harden networks against threats.
The certification covers five domains:
1. Networking Fundamentals (24%)
Explain basic networking concepts, including network services, physical connections, topologies and architecture, and cloud connectivity.
2. Networking Implementations (19%)
Explain routing technologies and networking devices, deploy ethernet solutions and configure wireless technologies.
3. Network Operations (16%)
Monitor and optimize networks to ensure business continuity.
4. Network Security (19%)
Explain security concepts and network attacks to harden networks against threats.
5. Network Troubleshooting (22%)
Troubleshoot common cable, connectivity, and software issues related to networking.
Exploring the Network+ domains will help you identify areas that require more attention and strategically allocate study time.
Who should earn the Network+ credential?
CompTIA considers the Network+ as the next step after its A+ certification, another in its series of four core certs. While A+ covers the basics of networking, Network+ takes a closer look at aspects such as:
- IP addressing and connecting networks
- Wireless standards and technologies
- Network availability
- Securing and hardening networks
This certification demonstrates that you have a basic understanding of enterprise technologies, making it ideal for anyone in the early stages of their network career. Some of the job roles that will benefit from Network+ the most include:
- Computer technician
- Help desk technician
- Network support specialist
- Network administrator
- Network analyst
- Systems engineer
- Systems administrator or analyst
The certification can serve as a stepping stone for career advancement and provide a solid understanding of networking for other IT roles. Some of the other paths that the Network+ certification could fit include:
- Security specialist
- Web and network systems developer
- Information systems consultant
A review of different salary sites shows that the average Network+ salary earned by IT professionals who have this credential is around $72,000/ year, with job titles that include systems administrator, IT manager and network engineer.
Requirements for obtaining the certification
Candidates must adhere to the testing policies and code of ethics, as listed on the CompTIA website; it is important to always check for the latest version as they may be amended from time to time. Failing to adhere to contractual obligations of any CompTIA or Test Delivery Partner’s policy, procedure, rule, or instruction may be cause for banning from participation in the certification program.
To take the Network+ exam, you do not need any previous IT experience. However, CompTIA recommends at least nine to 12 months of experience in the networking field. The A+ certification is also recommended but not required.
When you’re ready to take your exam, purchase your Network+ voucher ($348) from the CompTIA Store, then sign in to your CompTIA account to schedule in your preferred format, date and time. You can contact the PearsonVUE location at which you are taking your exam via telephone, live chat, or an online form available in your account. CompTIA tests are available at Pearson VUE test centers in-person or through online testing, powered by Pearson OnVUE, with remote proctoring.
Professionals who earn the Network+ certification, which is valid for three years from the day candidates pass the exam, will need to earn 30 CEUs during the three-year certification life cycle, or they will be required to retest to recertify.
How does the Network+ compare to other IT certs?
Like all of CompTIA’s certifications, Network+ is vendor-neutral, which means the fundamentals you will learn and demonstrate can be applied to a broad range of IT products and solutions.
Some comparable certifications include Cisco’s CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and Microsoft’s MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate)/Networking Fundamentals, which will be retired on June 30, 2022.
Like the Network+ cert, CCNA is based on the responsibilities of a network-related job, but CCNA is specific to Cisco products, while Network+ is applicable across all vendor products and solutions. MTA is not based on the job role and is considered an introduction to the vendor’s networking offerings.
Is the Network+ certification worth the effort?
If you’re trying to build your networking career and want a way to learn the basics, Network+ is for you. As there are not many other certificates in this entry-level niche, CompTIA’s certification is worth the time, money and effort for those who need a boost early in their career so that they can be more marketable and competitive.
While the Network+ doesn’t replace hands-on experience, it does give you a well-rounded understanding of networking principles and a look at some current issues facing networks, such as security, disaster recovery and business continuity. All this effort to verify your knowledge and validate your IT skills are what global employers are also looking for in their search for qualified workers.
Best way to train for the Network+: 4 steps
Many paid and free training options are available online to fit any needs or learning style. Here’s an overview of some Network+ exam training options:
1. Practice tests
You can get a set of free practice test questions for your CompTIA Network+ certification exam here. It will give you a good idea of what kind of questions you may see on the test.
CompTIA CertMaster Practice for Network+ (N10-008) is an online knowledge assessment and training companion tool to help you prepare for the exam. It allows you to assess your knowledge on a timed practice test complete with performance-based questions and personalized remediation and feedback.
Self-study is great for those who don’t want the more structured, in-person or online classroom experience and don’t need guided help to get up to speed. To prepare for the theory test, candidates can refer to the CompTIA Network+ N10-008 Certification Study Guide to learn and master the material covered in the exam. The text is great for individual learners looking to study at their own pace as it gives a good understanding of what is covered in all domains on which the exam is based. This in-depth guide teaches the fundamental principles of installing, configuring, and troubleshooting network technologies and hardening the network against threats and ensuring business continuity.
3. CompTIA online assessment and study
CertMaster Learn for Network+ (N10-008) is an interactive and self-paced layout that combines instructional lessons with assessments, videos, and content that simulates the actual test.
CompTIA CertMaster Labs for Network+ (N10-008) helps learners gain hands-on skills and better understand the subject matter to prepare for the exam with the learn-by-doing teaching method instead of simply reading.
4. Live training sessions
CompTIA training partners also offer live online Network+ training, covering all essential networking skills and preparing you to earn the credential. There are also on-demand training options to help you prepare for the certification.
The Network+ is a great certification for anyone looking to build their IT and cybersecurity skills. It provides a solid understanding of how networks work, which is foundational knowledge to be effective at a number of job roles you may want to pursue throughout your career.
- CompTIA Network+ vs. CCNA: Why IT Pros Should Earn CompTIA Network+ First, CompTIA
- CompTIA Network+ Certification Exam Objectives EXAM NUMBER: N10-008, CompTIA
- Is CompTIA Network+ Worth It? Benefits, Cost, Comparison, CompTIA
- The NEW CompTIA Network+: Your Questions Answered, CompTIA
- Infographic: CompTIA Network+ vs. the New CCNA, CompTIA
- How Do I Get My CompTIA Network+ Certification?, CompTIA
- Jobs You Can Get with CompTIA Network+, CompTIA
- Occupational and Employment Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Salary for Certification: CompTIA Network+, PayScale
- CompTIA Career Pathway, CompTIA
- CompTIA Network+, CompTIA