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A+ Certification an Endangered Species?

By The Admiral ·
Not so long ago (5 years) employers took strides to hire top quality talent that had an A+ certification, and was willing to train people in their processes and procedures. It did not matter that they had no experience or any other quality. Now the faces of business has changed to the point where you have to have more than the A+ certification, but the business sense as well, and now more than ever, companies want a liberal arts degree with a minor in technology in order to be hired, and the A+ no longer matters.

Why? Well, the A+ tells the employer that you have 6 months experience in performing services on PC?s, networking, and other aspects of software. However, many in the industry state that it does not make you a master of any of them. Many technicians believe that the A+ certifications are needed because they show proficiency in being able to repair systems and technology.

The tide is turning however, in that companies want a degree in computer science or moreover, a liberal arts degree with some technology rather than certifications due to problems with certified employees not knowing how to fix problems. One issue last year here of a MSCE who was also A+ certified complaining about the system being sluggish and crashing often until running the CD with the Motherboard drivers, is one example why companies have suspicions of certifications. Have employers properly and adequately gone through the process to justify their concerns or have they allowed their concerns to run wild?

CompTIA says that the A+ Certification is an internationally recognized validation of technical knowledge required of an entry level computer service technician. While CompTIA has done an outstanding job in keeping the A+ certification recent, corporate requirements are now demanding more in that they want someone who can do more than entry level work for the pay. While the intent of CompTIA?s examination process is to certify a body of knowledge, the corporate requirements have gone beyond entry-level to a new standard of hit the ground running with business process. Has the A+ Certification by its own design become obsolete?

Let me tell you what is happening in our particular area. We have come to a decision that while A+ certification is great for a person who is changing careers to attempt, that it would not be worth the in some cases up to $2,500 to send someone who has 10 years experience to in order to become certified in. Since A+ Certification is the entry-level, which in today?s corporate society is sub $10 per hour work, it is believed that the seasoned professional would be taking a step back rather than taking a step forward. So because of that, we encourage our professionals to take Cisco or Red Hat Linux certifications instead that will help the company later. We figured that there is $2,500 that is well spent, and $2,500 that is not, and the investment into furthering the employee rather than the liability in setting them back. Granted, we have databases of processes to fix the common problems, so we felt that sending the employees to A+ Certification would be re-inventing the wheel.

So with our company process, and that of the other companies that are following suit, how long will it be before the A+ certification becomes part of the wonderful world of obsolescence where the old IBM Micro channel and OS/2 went, as well as DOS and Windows 3.1? It seems that while companies like the idea of the employee having it, it is overshadowed by the need of an employee to have a stable education and experienced background. Your thoughts?

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Depends on application of cert

by gralfus In reply to A+ Certification an Endan ...

The A+ has value in other venues, such as computer forensics. When testifying in court, any certification related to the testimony helps build credibility. If I am speaking to a judge or jury about the guts of the computer and how it works, it does add a perceived level of expertise to have the certification (as well as others).

As far as companies, there are lots of out of work techs available, some of whom are competent and others who are not. A+ can still provide some evidence that the applicant is trying to show at least a baseline of competence and initiative, and is thus valuable. I have many years of experience building, repairing, and modifying PCs, so the A+ was simple for me. It did make a difference to my current employer, who used the cert as a hiring baseline. Without the cert, I probably wouldn't have made it past HR.

So, A+ and the other certs are not at all dead. They serve a purpose. Perhaps the industry is looking for an A++ cert or something that demonstrates hands on experience.

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not nowa days

by sakuhara In reply to Depends on application of ...

A+ has lost its luster. Most days contracts dont want us on the inside of boxes. many companies lease plans and purchased warrenties cover those repairs and see it a waste for me to spend an hour ($65) tearing into one when they are already covered. Most only see it that far and fail to realize the trouble shooting skills usually associated with an A+ cert than can save lost down time that often equals more than $65 an hour.

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maybe another few years

by Rasgriz In reply to Depends on application of ...

I believe the A+ Cert. to be an integral part of any technitian or IT job, even sales. The knowledge gainedby understanding the basic inner workings of a system in invaluable. However, and its a big HOWEVER, from my experience in South Africa the A+ counts for about as much as a umbrella is a hurricane. I completed my A+ while in my last year at school, intending to start working straight a way and do a part time MCSE course while working to finance it. After many a sent out CV and interview I was politely told that even though I had 2 years part time experience and my A+ the chances of me getting a job as even a junior technitian was negligible, and that the A+ certificate meant nothing. This was from the owner of one the biggest IT retailer chain in South Africa. The CompTIA course was a complete waste of my time and money, which could have been put to better use putting down a deposit on a "real certification". Then again I do live in South Afica:-)

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you actually took the course ?

by avid In reply to maybe another few years

i agree that if you must pay for the course it becomes a waste of time and money. however, if you just go and take the exams and get the certification and it does not cost you any money, then by all means, get the cert. we could all use another feather in our hat.

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Still good to have

by crazijoe In reply to A+ Certification an Endan ...

Since it is part of an elective for an MCSA cert, it's still good to have.
Something I did notice. I walked into a computer store, that I frequent alot, that also did repair work and field service work. They have about 8 employees. On the door to the store it had a sticker that said "Comptia Certified Center". I asked the owner about this and he said that all his employees had a Comptia cert of some sort or another. They had to be for him to keep his store Comptia Certified. He said it's kinda like going to an auto repair shop and they employ ASE certified mechanics.
So it must be still a good standing cert.

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by wildcatsystems In reply to Still good to have

The problem with the certs, at least to me, is that now, just about anybody that wants to dole out the money to one of these 5 day bootcamp joints can get one. Every day I hear commercials from Foss Training, etc. about getting your MCSE in 6 months, and how much they pay. I attended a local Tech College, obtained an Associates Degree, and 4 certs along the way, but I've been working with computers since the mid 80s. It's amazing how many people go through these places that simply should not be there. From not having the aptitude for it, to just simply not showing up for class. I've talked with the instructors and mentioned the fact that they should have some sort of aptitude test, which they agree with, but it's all about the money, ($30,000 dollars for an associates degree).

My boss recently told me though that certs mean nothing to him. (This even though we are an authorized IBM, HP, Dell, Gateway Service Center) which requires A+ certs, and we are also a CompTIA Certified Service Center.

I have A+, Net+, Server+ and MCP, and plan on getting more. (MCSA, Linux+, Security+, etc.)

They mean something to me, as they still do to alot of people.

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Demand should never influence educational decisions

by The Savant In reply to A+ Certification an Endan ...

On this subject:

1. There will always be a need for people of quality with a quality education from college.

2. Certifications are not to be considered a replacement for college. This isn't just limited to the A+. For a consultant I like to see a technical degree with a history of capstones that hae been presented to a group or a MBA since I know that the person had to defend a thesis. He can present well. Sales aren't made with technical savvy.

IT folks have gotten into a bad paradigm over the last decade due to the sheer demand of jobs. That paradigm simply put was to take the fast path to a job by stocking up on certifications, there were so many jobs that people would hire you if you could breathe and speak english back in the 90s.

Now that we're in a more mature industry the time-honored college education now becomes very, very important. I wasn't a hiring manager in the 90s so I can't say that I have first hand experience with hiring non-college grads, but I can say that I got jobs I wasn't qualified to have due to the demand. Seeing this and knowing the market would eventually mature, I went back to school.

Good choice on my part. I wouldn't be employed otherwise.

As far as the A+ goes, it's important in some specific niches of the industry. More and more though it's being seen as something you can get after being employed or something to shore up your skill set to become polished while in a job.

As for the polished pro who has already done break/fix repair and is proven safe by experience it's not necessary. Save the cash. For the new helpdesk or field guy, spend the money because you can't count on someone bringing the tech skills to the table based on an interview.

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the opposite is also true

by avid In reply to Demand should never influ ...

i agree that certs are not a guarantee that an employee will do well in IT. But neither is a degree. I know many people with college degrees that that are dumb as a stump. same for the certs. As far as sales are considered, I did not attend college and my only certs are MCP and A+, but I have no problem convincing my clients during sales pitches. In fact, I find it to be so easy that I can't even call it a sales pitch. I make a suggestion, they ask " Do we really need this ? " I simply give them the pros and cons. Without exception, they follow my advice. These clients are board directors and IT managers for huge companies and banks. All of these people have a degree and know that I have never set foot in a college unless it was for consulting purposes. There are MANY quality people with quality education that have not gone to college. I personally chose the military. There other forms of quality education. As for A+, I agree, for the most part it is redundant and a waste of time and money. I did not spend a dime on my A+. My employer insisted on me getting the cert. He also wanted me to take the class. I told him " If I failed the cert, I will pay for it and take the class. " The test was simple and took me less time to pass than to drive to the location. I have used the cert, so it was not a complete waste of time. Did you know that you can't make IT calls to a Senate office if you do not have A+ even if you have a computer science degree?

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Certs are a dime a dozen

by stooobeee In reply to the opposite is also true

I also have the A+ and MCP. I took classes and did well. The professor told our class that with these kinds of certifications, employers would be knocking down doors to find us. But resume after resume, and interview after interview has proved him wrong. Certifications are the candy-coating on the cake. They prove you know how to take a test; they are not indicative of your ability in the trenches. Microsoft no longer just gives question-answer tests, but real live production scenerios. They want to know if you can solve problems, something you might find in a degreed environment.

The Computer Science degree says to an employer that someone was tenacious enough to go through the trials and tribulations of starting something difficult and finishing it to the end. An employer seeks out those who can be given a project and not give up until it is completed. He needs assurance that the employee is a finisher.

Obviously, some IT workers have no formal training. I am glad to see they have found experience in the workplace. But most employers are not as trusting today as they were years ago in a mom and pop environment. With larger, consolidated organizations that have urgent network and security needs, he cannot take the risk of hiring someone who simply explains that he knows the ropes. It must be proven before he arrives. Four years of hard work demands much more than a year holding an MCSE certification.

I am inclined to believe that as Microsoft steps up its test-taking philosophy, it will see the need to offer four-year, intensive degree training. I believe it will fund its own colleges specifically geared to training students for the much greater knowledge the IT work force demands.

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agreed but

by avid In reply to Certs are a dime a dozen

i agree. i personally know many "certified idiots". however, not to beat a dead horse, there are quality educations, besides college. any employer who hires only those with a degree and ignores others is not benifiting his company. i spent 8 years in the Navy and Marine Corps. while serving i developed excellent problem solving skill, deductive reasoning, dedication, and the ability to work under extreme pressure with limited resources in a hostile and isolated environment. while i agree with your statement " The Computer Science degree says to an employer that someone was tenacious enough to go through the trials and tribulations of starting something difficult and finishing it to the end. An employer seeks out those who can be given a project and not give up until it is completed. He needs assurance that the employee is a finisher. " i am simply saying there are other educations that are just as good as a college degree. employers should not discount those who chose to serve their country instead of going to college.

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