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I would say the A+ certification would be a good one. I'm not diminishing the "goodness" of this cert in any way by my saying you can get this cert from scratch. Instead, what I mean is that this cert forces you to get involved with core IT concepts: hardware, software, networking, and soft skills. The book I used advanced my knowledge. Yes, one can study the book, soak up the knowledge and pass the exam, but if one truly immerses himself in the book and couples that with hands on training (there were excellent lab setups in my book) then he will gain excellent foundational knowledge and hands-on skills. One truly just needs a good A+ book (Meyers'), lab manual, a few pcs and a 5 port switch to learn this stuff from scratch.