Information Technology is a reliable industry with continued growth, competitive compensation and a variety of specializations. Even in the recession-ridden decade between 2008 and 2018, job growth in the Information Technology field is expected to grow by approximately 17 percent.
There are two primary certifications that are helpful in any information technology career. These certifications evaluate an applicant's skill and knowledge on foundational information technology subjects. By obtaining these certifications, an applicant shows potential employers that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill their job description. Many employers will make a contingent offer to an applicant based on them achieving these primary certifications. This is often the case in entry level IT help desk positions and computer and desktop support technician positions. These two primary certifications are the CompTIA A+ and the CompTIA Network+ and they are the key to a successful career change in to the IT industry.
The CompTIA A+ certification is comprised of two tests. The CompTIA A+ Essentials test measures the applicant's competency in computer technology, networking and security, while the CompTIA A+ Practical Application evaluates how well the applicant can apply that knowledge to troubleshoot and resolve certain scenarios. Each test has 100 questions and lasts 90 minutes. On a scale of 100 to 900, an applicant must score 675 on the Essentials test and 700 on the Practical Application to pass. CompTIA recommends but does not require that applicants have 500 hours of hands-on experience or an equivalent amount of training before attempting the exams. Typically a well- structured A+ and Network+ combination class will provide valuable hands-on training to the students, essentially giving them the opportunity to physically perform the tasks that they are learning about in the course content.
The CompTIA A+ certification is the first step toward a successful information technology career and will immediately make someone eligible for entry level repair and technician jobs. Typically, the A+ certification is obtained before the Network+ exam is attempted.
Specifically designed for network technicians, network administrators, or network installers, the CompTIA Network+ certification is also very beneficial to career changing and new information technology job seekers. The 90 minute Network+ examination includes 100 questions about networking equipment, installation, topology, management, configuration and security. The seven-layer open system interconnection (OSI) model is a major focal point of the test. A minimum score of 720 (out of 900) is required to pass.
By obtaining the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ certifications, information technology candidates prove they have the essential knowledge and skills required to be successful in the information technology industry. Since obtaining these certifications takes hard work and dedication, candidates who obtain them also demonstrate their commitment to success in the information technology field. The exams are known to be slightly tricky and carefully worded. With the level of study required and the degree of difficulty of the exams, they are known to be able to weed out people who may not have the desire to further their Information Technology skill set down the road.
The A+ and Network+ certifications are also gateway certifications to almost all other sub-industries within IT. Some of the more popular sub-industries within the IT industry include networking, systems administration and security. The A+ and Network+ certifications enable students to make a path in each of these directions by providing a solid and well-rounded foundation in IT concepts, terminology, and practical application. One will be equipped with the fundamental to knowledge to both do well in each category as well as know which direction may be of interest to them, as each field is distinct in job duties and day to day operations.
Finding an Entry Level IT Job After Achieving the A+ and Network+ Certifications
Finding your first entry-level IT job after your training and certification can be an enlightening and very challenging experience. Here is an important checklist to consider when attempting to land your first Computer / IT industry job.
- Explore your options. Begin by considering what type of computer job you would like. IT Jobs will vary and have special requirements, so you should assess the skills you have and then decide which job might be best for you. Check to see what’s hot in the current markets so that you are planning for the best possibilities.
- Prepare and revise your resume to reflect the skills you've acquired with computers from your certification training. Resumes should look extremely professional and be free of grammar/spelling errors.
- Utilize and post your resume on the current and most popular IT Job search engines and resources like DICE, ComputerJobs.com, Monster, TechJobs, etc.
- Find a staffing agency in your area. Many companies rely on them to find local employees. Submit your resume to your local staffing agency directly and tell them you want an entry-level position with computers.
- Network, Network, Network!!!! Hang out where the IT people hang! You can learn a lot about what people are doing in the field and also make great contacts for job opportunities.
The information technology field is constantly growing and evolving. Computers are a mainstay of our lives, which means that computer technicians and other information technology careers will always be in high demand. Aspiring information technology professionals can take their first step toward a successful career change by pursuing the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ certifications.
More Information on Starting a Career in Information Technology