The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) developed the A+ certification program. A CompTIA A+ certification, shown in the figure, signifies that a candidate is a qualified PC hardware and software technician. CompTIA certifications are known throughout the IT community as one of the best ways to enter the IT field and build a solid career.
The latest version of CompTIA A+ is the CompTIA A+ 2012 Edition. Two exams are necessary for certification: CompTIA A+ 220-801 and CompTIA A+ 220-802.
The CompTIA A+ exams measure the necessary competencies for an entry-level IT professional with the equivalent knowledge of at least 12 months of hands-on experience in the lab or field. Successful candidates have the knowledge required to assemble components based on customer requirements. They are also able to install, configure, and maintain devices, PCs, and software. To qualify, they must understand the basics of networking and security. Candidates must be able to properly and safely diagnose, resolve, and document common hardware and software problems, provide appropriate customer support, and understand the basics of virtualization, desktop imaging, and deployment.
Prior to 2011, CompTIA certifications did not expire. Starting in 2011, technicians must renew the A+ certification within three years of becoming certified. Maintaining certification requires either passing the most current A+ exam or enrolling in the CompTIA Continuing Education (CE) program. The CE program allows participants to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) by becoming involved in approved activities that display an understanding of relevant industry knowledge. Twenty CEUs are required for A+ certification renewal, along with an annual CE fee of US$25.
Many higher-level certifications, such as Cisco CCNA, CompTIA Network+, and Microsoft MCSE, grant full CEU credits if they are earned or renewed after earning the A+ certification. Additional details about the CE program are located on the CompTIA website.