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CompTIA A+

Best Computer Hardware Certifications 2018
By , Mary Kyle

The CompTIA A+ certification is the granddaddy and best-known of all hardware credentials. For anyone serious about working with PCs, laptops, mobile devices, printers or operating systems, the A+ should at least be on their radar if not in their game plan.

Since the first A+ credential was awarded in March 1993, the program continues to draw lots of active interest and participation. With more than 1,000,000 IT professionals possessing the A+ credential, it is something of a checkbox item for PC technicians and support professionals. It also appears in a great many job postings or advertisements.

A+ is also ISO 17024 compliant and accredited by ANSI. The credential must be renewed every three years in keeping with those organizations' requirements for continuing education or regular examinations to maintain certification currency. Some 20 continuing education/units (CEUs) are required for renewal.

Earning an A+ from CompTIA involves passing two exams: exam 220-901 and exam 220-902. Exam 220-901 focuses on hardware, networking, mobile devices, connectivity and troubleshooting. Exam 220-902 draws upon knowledge of installing and configuring common operating systems (Windows, Linux, OS X, Android and iOS), as well as issues related to cloud computing, security and operational procedures. Candidates will find a variety of question formats, including standard multiple-choice, drop-and-drag and performance-based questions.

Candidates who earn the A+ often find themselves in job roles that include technical support specialist, field service technician, IT support technician, IT support administrator or IT support specialist. The A+ is recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense (as part of DoD Directive 8140/8570.01-M), and technology companies such as Canon, Dell, HP, Intel and the U.S. Department of Defense make A+ certification mandatory for their own service technicians. Other certification programs, such as Cisco, incorporate A+ training into their training programs.

The A+ certification encompasses broad coverage of PC hardware and software, networking and security in its overall technical scope.

A+ Facts & Figures

Certification Name CompTIA A+
Prerequisites & Required Courses9 to 12 months of experience recommended
Number of Exams Two exams (maximum of 90 questions, 90 minutes): 220-901 and 220-902 (CompTIA Academy Partners use the same numbers)
Cost per Exam $205 per exam. Exams administered by Pearson VUE. Exam vouchers available at CompTIA
Self-Study MaterialsCompTIA offers several self-study materials, including exam objectives, sample questions, study guides (nominal fee of $60), as well as classroom and e-learning training opportunities. Credential seekers may also want to check out the CertMaster online learning tool. Links to CompTIA training materials may be found on the certification web page.

Recommended books: CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Exam Cram, 1st Edition, by David L. Prowse, published Jan. 30, 2016, Pearson IT Certifications, Exam Cram Series, ISBN-10: 0789756315, ISBN-13: 978-0789756312

CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, 9th Edition (Exams 220-901 and 220-902) by Michael Meyers, published Jan. 4, 2016, McGraw-Hill Education, ISBN-10: 1125958951X, ISBN-13: 978-1259589515