Is CompTIA A+ Worth It in 2023?
Making a decision to get an IT certification is a big one. It’s important to identify what you want to learn and your ultimate career goals. You may ask yourself: How useful is CompTIA A+?
Well, if you’re looking to break into the information technology (IT) industry, it’s worth it – here’s why. You can’t build a house without a foundation, and CompTIA A+ is the industry standard entry-level certification that proves you have the foundational knowledge to begin a career in IT. And a career in IT is still the way to go in 2023.
Case in point, while other industries were making budget cuts during the pandemic, many high-demand IT pros proved they had the skills needed to make themselves indispensable. And now, according to the 2022 Dice Tech Salary Report, the average tech salary increased by 6.9% from 2021 to 2022 – with average tech salaries breaking the six figure mark for the first time in the 17 years the report has been conducted. And while 2023 kicked off with some big-name tech layoffs, the perception is worse than reality.
In fact, a USA Today article stated that “while the layoffs are alarming, they represent a relatively small share of tech companies’ workforces in 2022. And even with the layoffs, all five big-tech companies have bigger workforces now than before the pandemic.”
Those looking for their first job in IT likely have aspirations to move up the ladder and eventually specialize in something they are passionate about, like cybersecurity, cloud computing or software development. But everybody has to start somewhere, and the first step to launching that career is landing an entry-level position. That’s where CompTIA A+ becomes valuable.
Is CompTIA A+ Enough To Get a Job?
Even if the value is there, people still ask if CompTIA A+ is enough to get a job. It can be, but it depends on what kind of experience you have as well. Did you know that CompTIA A+ appears in more tech support job listings than any other IT credential? Simply having CompTIA A+ on your resume can place you above non-certification holders in line for an interview. And when you’re trying to win your first IT job, that’s a big deal.
But there are other things to consider. For example, employers are going to want to know how many years of experience you have. Having the intel is one piece of the puzzle, showing that you’re able to act on that knowledge is the other.
There are a few ways to get that all-important hands-on experience. You can offer your technical expertise to friends and family, ask to take on some tech support duties at your current job (even if that’s not your primary responsibility) or you can simply ask the IT department if they need help with anything. The IT community is known for sharing information and collaborating on projects. When the IT professionals at your company learn about your career goals, they’ll be more inclined to teach you when they’re able.
One of the reasons the CompTIA A+ exam is trusted for launching IT careers is because it validates your foundational knowledge via performance-based questions. This means that as you prepare for your exam, you are thrown into simulated real-life scenarios that you will encounter on the job. In order to earn CompTIA A+, you have to actually perform tasks during your certification exam versus just answering questions to gauge your knowledge. Employers who look for (or require) CompTIA A+, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dell, HP, Intel, Nissan and Ricoh, understand this value.
What Experience Is Required To Sit for the CompTIA A+ Exams?
While there aren’t any official prerequisites to sit for the CompTIA A+ exams, we do recommend that candidates have 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in a help desk support technician, desktop support technician, field service technician job role or equivalent knowledge. Having this type of experience under your belt will set you up for exam success.
How Much Does the CompTIA A+ Certification Cost?
Understanding how earning your CompTIA A+ certification will impact your career is just the first step. Aspiring IT pros also want to know how much the CompTIA A+ certification costs, and how much money you can make with a CompTIA certification. Let’s break that down.
The CompTIA A+ core series requires candidates to pass two exams: Core 1 (220-1101) and Core 2 (220-1102). Core 1 covers five disciplines for IT pros to effectively perform job roles tasked with endpoint and end-user related skills, including:
- Mobile devices
- Virtualization and cloud computing
- Hardware network troubleshooting
The Core 2 exam covers four different areas that IT professionals will be tested on to demonstrate their knowledge and mastery, including:
- Operating systems
Each exam requires you to purchase a certification voucher, and the U.S. retail price for each voucher is $246. Of course, there are many ways to save money with these voucher discount options.
It’s important to remember that earning CompTIA A+ is an investment in yourself. It’s one that will pay you back many times over as you advance your IT career. Most CompTIA A+ certification holders move on to a job in IT support, like a help desk technician.
Help desk technicians solve technical issues and work with people. According to the Dice report, help desk technicians earn $52,259 on average per year. As you gain more experience, you’ll have the ability to move up to a Tier II or Tier III specialist. As you hone these skills, you’ll make more money.
The Dice report lists CompTIA A+ as one of the highest-paying IT certifications in the United States – with A+ holders earning $78,629. Keep in mind that this salary represents IT pros at all levels – both those who are just starting out and those who earned CompTIA A+ years ago and have advanced their careers.
There are so many different IT support job titles, it’s hard to keep them straight. Luckily, the CompTIA research team compiled the top 16 IT support job roles for you – and you can see how much each one makes on average. You can also see the best IT certifications for beginners to help you get these jobs in 2023.
Is the CompTIA A+ Exam Hard?
This is a subjective question. If you come from virtually zero IT experience, then yes, you may find preparing for the CompTIA A+ exam harder than some. But that’s the great thing about CompTIA exam preparation: You pick your starting point and you pick your learning style.
The CompTIA A+ core series validates that certification-holders are able to troubleshoot across all operating systems including Windows 10, Windows 11, macOS, Chrome OS, Android and Linux OS. Because CompTIA A+-certified technicians often have to configure advanced consumer networks and set up small office environments, IT infrastructure concepts are covered as well, including the basics of IP addressing, network configurations and networking tools.
You’ll be tested on these concepts (and more) via a combination of multiple-choice questions (single and multiple response), drag and drops and performance-based questions.
CompTIA offers everything from traditional instructor-led training to self-study options, and you can take your exam in person at an authorized testing center or online from the comfort of your home. We’ve even put together this study worksheet to help you plan out how you can prepare for your exam and how much time you will need.
When it comes to what you put in versus what you get out, the CompTIA A+ certification is most definitely worth it – just ask the people who hold the almost 1.2 million CompTIA A+ certifications issued to date.
Is CompTIA A+ Right for Me?
If your goal is to start a new career in the IT industry – CompTIA A+ may be for you. There are many other popular certifications available, and the best choice for you is the one that will get you where you want to be.
The following entry-level job roles align with CompTIA A+:
- IT support specialist
- Help desk technician
- Field service technician
- Tier I support specialist
- Desktop support specialist
- Associate network engineer
- Systems support technician
- Junior systems administrator
If your future job is on this list, then yes, CompTIA A+ is right for you.
Article by Emily Matzelle pulled from CompTIA website