"The OEMs that took part in the exam development embraced it, and we set the stage for CompTIA Network+ and some of the other certifications that came right after." Ongoing Exam Evolution Twenty years after its introduction, CompTIA A+ remains the industry's only vendor-neutral certification that validates potential IT technicians' hardware, software, trouble-shooting and "soft" skills, says Carol Balkcom, CompTIA director of product management. The exam is currently delivered in 124 countries in multiple languages, with Japanese and German versions of the 800 series CompTIA A+ exams available soon.
In 2012, CompTIA's testing partners delivered nearly 116,000 CompTIA A+ exams worldwide, logging double-digit, year-over-year growth rates in the Middle East and Africa. In addition, the CompTIA A+ certification: Is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), generally recognized as the highest standard in personnel certification accreditation Conforms to the international standard ISO/IEC 17024 for developing and maintaining certifications Is a baseline certification in the U.S. Department of Defense 8570.01-M Directive for the military's Information Assurance Technical Level 1 personnel. "CompTIA A+ remains a certification that is used for corporation-specific training programs," says Balkcom, citing how companies on the CompTIA A+ Certification Advisory Committee use the certification to strengthen their IT organizations: ASI Systems Integration in New York City requires CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ as prerequisites for employment to reduce the time needed to train technicians from six months to less than 90 days. Ricoh sales representatives promote the benefits of Ricoh technicians' CompTIA certifications, including CompTIA A+, when selling company solutions. Lenovo requires CompTIA A+ certification of authorized service technicians. Dell offers incentives to its support personnel to become CompTIA A+ certified and requires the certification when hiring service technicians. Field Nation features thousands of individuals certified in CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ in its database of independent field service PC technicians.
The company reports that customers specifically ask for CompTIA A+
certified technicians, and that technicians can command higher pay when certified. The CompTIA A+ Certification Advisory Committee updates the exam's objectives every three years to reflect changing technology and industry needs.
A continuing education program, introduced in 2011, requires CompTIA A+ certification holders keep their skills sharp. Twenty years ago, when the exam debuted, computer technology featured Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS, hard drives measured in megabytes, x386 and 486 CPUs, monochrome CRT displays, parallel printer ports, 3 Â½-inch disk drives and dial-up 14.4kbps modems.
Now, the new 800 series CompTIA A+, introduced in 2012, includes objectives on mobile devices (iOS and Android operating systems), virtualization basics, and an increased emphasis on troubleshooting and security.
"Over time, as technology changed and new devices became part of the standard IT environment, the emphasis of the CompTIA A+ exam moved away from focus on standalone PC technology and computer repair," says Balkcom
"The 800 series exams address a broader IT service and support environment.
Given the worldwide IT skills gap, Balkcom
expects the use of CompTIA A+
to grow internationally. "Technology is becoming pervasive in everyday life around the globe in a way that didn't exist 10 years ago," she
"There's an extremely high demand for project management skills in healthcare management." In this business environment, the CompTIA Project+ certification has gained popularity and momentum in the last couple of years, as organization executives and group managers have realized that good project management fundamentals are important for all project team members, not just project managers. "CompTIA Project+, with no prerequisites, easily available study material and a relatively low price point, is a much easier way to build a project management culture in an organization than some other training and certification products in the market," says Carol Balkcom, CompTIA director of product management. Most important, project management skills get professionals noticedâ€"by current and future employers.
Updates to the CompTIA A+ exam, performance-based questions and target job roles will be a few of the topics discussed in a webinar on Oct. 30. "New Updates on CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ & CompTIA Security+ Exams," hosted by NetCom Learning, will be held from noon to 1 p.m. (CT) on Oct. 30. Registration is free. CompTIA Director of Product Management Carol Balkcom will provide an interactive look at performance-based questions, which will be added to the CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ exams in the coming months.
"The performance-based questions are a great way to show that not only can you critically analyze a problem during a test, but you can also actually do the work," adds Myers, chief technology officer and associate CIO for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. As a result of industry feedback and Subject Matter Expert input during the Job Task Analysis, CompTIA increased the recommended experience level for candidates taking the new 800 series CompTIA A+ exam to 12 monthsâ€"up from 500 hours or six months recommended for the 700 series CompTIA A+ exams. "That experience factor is extremely important," says Carol Balkcom, CompTIA director of product management.