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CompTIA A+ Certification Still the Standard for IT Techs after 20 Years

April 8, 2013 No Comments

On March 19, 1993, Patrick Farley, a training systems developer for Compaq’s server tech support, was the first person to complete the CompTIA A+ certification, which provides foundational knowledge needed for IT professionals to launch careers in IT service and support.  Farley, who now works at IBM Systems and Technology Group, credits the certification with giving him the skills advantage he needed to get started in the tech industry. It’s been 20 years since Farley earned the first CompTIA A+ certification; today, almost 1,000,000 more professionals in 124 countries worldwide have been certified—CompTIA delivered 115,919 tests in 2012 alone.

Given a worldwide IT skills gap and the reality that technology is beginning to permeate a wider range of job descriptions across industries, the number of certification offerings and the need for IT specialization is expected to increase.  Employers look for certifications like CompTIA A+ when hiring IT staff, realizing that certified employees have a shorter learning curve with new and complex technologies, are more productive and have better problem-solving skills within the workplace. Over the years, the CompTIA A+ certification has been approved by a number of global corporations including Lenovo, which requires it for authorized service technicians, and Dell, which offers incentives to its support personnel who become certified.

According to a 2011 CompTIA study, the importance of certification rings true especially today, given that 64 percent of IT hiring managers rated certifications as having extremely high or high value in validating the skills and expertise of job candidates.  Furthermore, eight in ten HR professionals believe IT certifications will grow in usefulness and importance in 2013. But not all certifications are equal. The most valuable IT certifications for employers and employees alike are those that stand the test of time, especially in an industry where product lifecycles are often measured in months. To accommodate this demand, the CompTIA A+ Certification Advisory Committee updates exam objectives every three years to reflect evolving technology and industry needs.

The latest 2013 iteration of the A+ certification exam tests the skills needed to work with mobile devices (iOS and Android operating systems), virtualization and security. By contrast, the 1993 exam covered Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS, hard drives measured in megabytes, monochrome CRT displays, parallel printer ports, disk drives and dial-up modems.

The certification continues to be just as relevant to new trends and cutting-edge technology like as it was when it was launched in 1993 as a credential for the break-fix PC repairman. Staying current with technology, the exam moved from being PC-centric to incorporating learning objectives for PCs, tablets, smartphones, cloud computing and cyber security.  Plus, last year the exam incorporated performance-based questions which require exam candidates to perform a task or solve a problem within a simulated IT environment to demonstrate specific knowledge or skills. A continuing education program, introduced in 2011, also requires CompTIA A+ certification holders keep their skills sharp.

Through its evolution in skills testing, the certification has stayed true to its core. Even two decades after its first accreditation, CompTIA A+ remains the industry’s only vendor-neutral certification that validates potential IT technicians’ hardware, software, trouble-shooting and “soft” skills.

The demand and need for advanced, specialized IT skills will continue to grow and transform. As the number of available jobs in the IT space continues to expand worldwide, so will the need for aspiring IT professionals to get certified as they kick start their successful careers.

About Todd Thibodeaux

Todd Thibodeaux is the president and chief executive officer of CompTIA, the leading trade association representing the business interests of the global information technology (IT) industry. He is responsible for leading strategy, development and growth efforts for the association. Before joining CompTIA in 2008, Thibodeaux spent more than 17 years with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), where he served in a wide range of roles culminating as its senior vice president of industry relations. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and George Mason University.


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