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itsjustme 08-27-2005 09:29 AM

A+ Certification
You can't search here on the string "A+". So, I created this thread.

I'm just curious if anybody has been keeping up with A+ certification stuff and if there's much discussion about it recently.

I have an old Michael Meyers A+ book, but it's dated back in 2002.

I'll be looking at the CompTIA site for info as well, but I'm curious about anybody here that's involved with it.

I have an offer from KRS, Kwajalein Range Services, to do desktop support on Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands, so I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt to go ahead and get the certification. However, from what I know about the systems down there, they mostly use newer Dell systems (about 1200 of them in configurations from servers to cash registers!) with Windows XP. So, it seems to me that an A+ Certification will be like getting a History Teaching Certificate, because I assume the A+ still covers DOS commands, drive geometry stuff, RLL, MFM, etc. Although I do understand the need to know some of that if you call yourself an A+ certified tech, whether you use it or not. And I also realize that there are other aspects of the certification that are still viable.

Any comments?


(I know of one guy that has Red Hat down there. Maybe I can start up a KLUGE, Kwajalein Linux Users Group Ecosystem.) :D

Chromezero 08-27-2005 10:12 AM

I've been studying for my A+ certification. I Plan to take my first test in 2 weeks. From what I've seen, alot of companies(in the US) prefer/require an A+ certification for any of their tech support positions. It's an easy certification to get, fairly inexpensive, and has no expiration. I see no reason to not go ahead and get it if you have the means.

The certifcation is actually two portions; hardware and operating systems. It covers hardware pretty in depth to include drive geomety and things like, "how many pins are on a SCSI cable?". The operating systems covered are Windows NT, 98, 2k, XP. I think there is some brief mention of Linux, Unix, and Mac but you won't need to study that much. It does cover some minor DOS commands and such but the focus is really on Windows; using windows, installing, troubleshooting, etc.

I'd recommend getting a newer book to study from though. The current tests include SATA interfaces, PCI-E interfaces, Win XP and some other things that probably aren't included in a 2002 study guide.

trickykid 08-27-2005 10:17 AM

With no offense to those that have their A+ or going for it currently, the way I view the A+ is like you having 6 months experience in the Computer Technical field. When the A+ was first introduced, those that were in this field or similiar that were hands on with repairing computers, etc, for at least 6 months automatically were certified from what I've read.

I had a buddy who literally knew nothing about computers but wanted to get into the field with a job, so he thought he'd get his to help better himself in getting a job. So he read the Cert Books and passed both tests in about 45 minutes, scoring around a 90% for both. I don't even think he ever opened up a computer to install anything either.

Personally if you have more than 6 months experience, your wasting your time and money. I only see it beneficial is if your trying to get a job for the first time, it at least proves you read something and have book knowledge of how to fix and repair computers, etc.

Chromezero 08-27-2005 10:31 AM

I'd say you're probably right trickykid. If you've been working in the field for any amount of time, it may not really be needed since you obviously have proof that you can/know how to work on computers. For those of us migrating into that career field, it's a good starting point I think. And it is one more thing you can put on your resume. Plus, it shows that you have the motivation to learn something new, whether you actually learned something new or not. Some employers may find this a desireable trait. Just my 2 cents.

Crito 08-27-2005 10:35 PM

Another thing about CompTIA certs is they can often be applied toward other vendor-specific certifications. Microsoft, for example, accepts A+, Network+ and Security+ in lieu of passing some of their own tests. You can even find a few colleges that'll give you credits for passing. Plus the U.S. military/government recognizes many of them. So there are a few other advantages.

itsjustme 08-28-2005 08:03 AM

Thanks for the replies so far. Although I don't need the certification to get the job, I figure it can't hurt to have it. I wouldn't just rush through it to pass the test. My aim would be to study the material and know as much of the info as possible. It's important to know that flux reversals have nothing to do with going back in time in a DeLorean. ;) I've taken a couple of A+ tests online and passed them both, at least 85%. And that was without actually studying.

Also, even if I study for it, if I don't take the official tests soon, I may not be able to take them after getting the job since the job site is out in the middle of the Pacific between Hawaii and Australia, about 4,000 miles from the main land. Although there are probably testing centers in Hawaii or New Zealand or Guam...

Crito 08-28-2005 08:51 AM

The 2003 A+ revision was fairly brutal, actually. So don't be surprised if 85% on old sample tests only translates to 65% on the real thing. I'd strongly suggest updating your study materials.

I checked Thomson Prometric's site BTW, and they do have testing centers in Hawaii and Guam.

phishtrader 08-29-2005 10:23 AM

It wouldn't kill you to pick up the A+ cert. It's not a tough one in terms of number of exams (two) or breadth of knowledge required to pass. Anyone with some professional experience in desktop/laptop support and some time to do a little studying should be able to pass.

A few words for detractors of certifications. Mostly they serve as a sort of short hand for HR departments and recruiters. The people that rely on certifications have little to no understanding of what an IT job entails, what skill set is relevant, or when a candidate is bullshitting or not.

Yes, certifications can be BS and be completely worthless when the holder went through some sort of cert-mill or "just read the books and took the test" and really has no understanding of the material. At the same time, it's just as easy for someone to put down all sorts of stuff on a resume that while it looks good on paper, the average HR recruiter isn't going to have a clue as to it's validity.

halo14 08-29-2005 02:33 PM


Originally posted by Crito
The 2003 A+ revision was fairly brutal, actually. So don't be surprised if 85% on old sample tests only translates to 65% on the real thing. I'd strongly suggest updating your study materials.

I checked Thomson Prometric's site BTW, and they do have testing centers in Hawaii and Guam.

That's a fact!!

I got my certification soon after the change.. (january of 2004) only because the course that prepped for A+ was part of the curriculum for my degree so I figured, "Why not?!" and took the tests.. I think the change was probably better because it changed to a static test rather than adaptive...

The paper is generally valued by employers, and will likely helpyou get into the field. However, make sure you actually know your stuff, or other people in the field and your collegues will surely poke fun at you if you are clueless about what you're doing.

I think it could be similarly applied to the old saying: "Anyone can be a father, but it takes a man to be a dad."

i.e. - Study up, learn the stuff, apply it to real-life, and get the paper that shows your expertise. Don't expect the paper to automatically 'give' you that expertise.

Good luck. :)

sundialsvcs 08-29-2005 03:17 PM

I find that certifications are of dubious value, but also that the study materials that are sold in the bookstore can be quite handy. These give you a pretty good idea of the subjects that the test covers, and that simply means that "several somebodies out there considered the following subjects to be particularly important." Then, go out and learn them for yourself.

A certification is basically a product, that is aimed at people who feel that they are not well-prepared or who don't really know how prepared they are. They're also aimed at people who are recently out of school and who are therefore still accustomed to "taking tests."

But the best way to get any job is still "to get some job," try to be inconspicuous, absorb information like a sponge, and then after six months or so try to move internally to the job you really want. In other words, "start in the mail room." And, do a really good job there in the mail-room, complaining to no one. "Those who can be trusted with little, can be trusted with much."

If you find that you are getting interviews and then being turned-down for them, it may well be that you are simply trying to run before you can walk.

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