If you are an IT professional, or are planning for an IT career, chances are that you must have acquired a certification, or may be preparing for one. Ever since the IT revolution began, there has been a proliferation of computer education institutions the world over, and these institutions churn out millions of so-called IT professionals every year.
However, lately the industry has felt the dire need for standardization of the whole process of computer education. Computer organizations all over the world have realized that they need to bring about some order into the sphere of IT training. As a result, some major IT firms such as Sun, Norton and Microsoft have devised certification exams. Microsoft is one classic example for this. Microsoft is credited with having established various different certification systems such as MCSE, MCP and MCT. Each of those certifications is for a specific area of IT expertise. For instance, MCSE is for systems analysts and MCP is for programmers. Certifications such as these help establish the knowledge credentials of an IT professionals. Among others, it serves two major functions:
- It helps an individual gauge his/her own level of knowledge and expertise
- It helps potential employers in finding the right candidates for the various IT positions
On the same lines, CompTIA, an industry organization, has established a highly successful and popular certification known as the A+ certification. A+ certification, offered by CompTIA, is a vendor-neutral certification that focuses on computer troubleshooting skills of the candidate. It is basically meant for individuals who intend to make a career as a service technician. It is, however, not very relevant for other professionals such as programmers or systems analysts.
With the help of A+ certification, an individual becomes a highly sought-after employee for the large number of technical support companies across the world. In fact, A+ certified professionals are often hired by computer manufacturing companies also for providing installation and after-sales support to their customers. Besides, on successful completion of the A+ exam, one also has the option to establish one’s own setup offering computer-troubleshooting solutions, and with A+ certification, it becomes easy to establish a sense of trust over the customers.
The A+ certification is designed to test some specific skills required in a service technician, that include:
- Installing of computers
- Installing of operating systems
- Diagnosis of malfunctions
- Preventive maintenance
- Basic networking
The A+ exam can be given through Pearson VUE and Prometric testing centers all over the world. This is an online exam that includes two modules, one on hardware concepts and the other on operating systems. Before appearing for the A+ exam, it is required that the candidate has 500 hours of hand-on experience as a service technician. This is important because the focus of the exam is practice, not theory.
It is estimated that 800,000 people across the world are A+ certified. Major IT companies such as IBM have made it mandatory for their service technicians to obtain the A+ certification. Besides, in a number of IT companies, A+ certification is a pre-requisite to apply for any opening that involves computer troubleshooting.
Although there are a number of programs, being offered by various computer institutes, for the preparation of A+ exam, it is broadly felt within the industry that no such program is essential. The A+ examination questions are practical in nature and are based on the multiple-choice format. An individual who has completed the statutory 500 hours of industry exposure would be in a comfortable position to answer those questions. Moreover, there are a number of books available that help a candidate to crack the exam.
It is broadly felt among the technicians who have already cleared the A+ certification, that besides the industry recognition, it provides the much needed sense of prestige as well. Employees that are A+ certified are even given preference in promotions.
It appears that the concept of computer certifications such as A+ is here to stay. Certifications make it possible for IT professionals to validate their skills and knowledge, and it provides potential employers a wonderful mechanism to select the right resource. Certifications have indeed proved a boon for the IT industry.