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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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F8 to enter the bios ???

by avid In reply to Spend your time learning ...

that is generally to enter safe mode or LKGC. Try the A+ course. It will teach the proper steps to enter the bios settings. ( just kidding !)

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Businesses don't know what they want

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

Now, granted I live in a relatively small city (pop: <60,000) and have not talked to any corporate-types, just the local small-business owners, but it's been my experience around here that these people really don't know what they want. For example, when I was trying to get a PC service/repair position at one such local business and announced that I'd just completed the A+ training course and was about to take the test, I was told that A+ was meaningless - "You can just go and memorize the answers, get your certification, and not really know anything." Not two months later, the same business began proudly advertising their "A+ certified service department" and now requires that applicants have A+, even for general sales. Their line when I went to talk to them another few months after that was that A+ was an essential measure of an applicant's knowledge of computer systems, and without it they are essentially useless.

It's now been another 2 years, and A+ is again regarded as useless and they don't care if you have it or not. Incidentally, they still proudly declare that their service department is A+ certified.

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Works for the customer

by beads In reply to Businesses don't know wha ...

If it works to bring in or satisfy the customer base thats fine. Its called... business.

I'll get certified in whatever course you want if you want to pay me enough to make it worthwhile.

Besides, small businesses have that problem in smaller venues. They like everyone else needs something to set themselves apart.

- beads

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Full of yourself.

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

I really don't understand where you are going with this idea you have of it going away. Take the average person with no computer experience. They could not go and take the A+ test and pass it. It is a certification and makes total sense to have when you are beginning that career path. I don't believe it was ever made so that the 10 vet should take.
Joel.

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A+ History?

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

I remember during an internship I had for Computer Networking I ran into this guy that was A+ certified looking for a job....at the time I was just getting my A+ and an associates degree to boot.....

It was scary seeing talented people looking for work or getting pushed out of jobs due to higher qualified help....

Cisco and Linux are good flavors to know on a network. I work with them constantly as does the networks running Fedora, Domino, ....and "old faithful" Windows 2000.

Good Article....

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A+ utility depends on the problem to be solved

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

A+ utility depends on the problem to be solved. Employers can be funny, fickle beasts. How many people found that once hired, the job they do matches the job description they read?

I work for a non-profit, mental health agency. When I started, I thought I was running a help desk and working on a database integration project. Five years on I am running a help desk, working on a database integration project - and am responsible for just about everything that runs on electricity and is not a household appliance. This includes a number of older machines of the P1, Celeron and Win 9x variety. So some knowledge of the old gear is helpful.

As for being a tech-oriented liberal arts major, I have a B.A. in English, a minor in theology, and a master's in libarianship. I worked 5 years as a librarian, 9 years in the library automation business and 5 more in behavioral health, I am pretty-well self-taught in all I do. That's both good and bad. I am a living expert in obsolete technology in library automation, which cuts zero-ice in a world that still wants A+ certification for entry level jobs.

I've decided to get an A+ ticket and work the CompTIA curriculum. Why? To satisify myself I can do it, to backfill any missing tidbits of knowledge I might need to do my job, and mostly to put the letters on my resume. After that its on to some type of medical informatics certification.

In the end, a certificate doesn't get you a job, YOU get you a job. The process of getting a cert can sharpen the say, as Covey says, and get you thinking critically, creatively and in a concentrated way, like all study does.

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The IT market has changed...

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

1. 5 years ago, companies had the money to send their tech to certification school. They also had a vertical organizational chart. They had line managers that had the time to train and mentor. It wasn't just the A+ or any certification they were investing in, it was a quality technician that they wanted to keep because IT was dealt with in-house. Along with the training, the tech got some awesome benefits.

2. Yes, the A+ certification says that the bearer of the certification can perform as a 6 month experienced technician. Does this mean you can turn over a couple hundred workstations and have him install Windows XP by the end of the week. Maybe, but if the tech doesn't have any experience in doing installation, especially multiple installations with different variables and utilities(answer files, sysprep), then it will be a struggle. The certificate is important for several reasons, some of them non-technical. I will post that in a separate reply.

3. I agree that today's IT market is a degree based market; the degree says to the employeer that you are accomplished, and that you can follow through on your goals in a timely manner. Most of the C-level people in IT have degrees from Accounting to Sociology. While it is true that companies do want a more seasoned employee, it is not true to say that everyone who gets a certification doesn't know what they are doing. Some people in the industry have never had a formal education and have only acheived the A+. Those are the exception to the rule, and they probably would not be hired by a mid or enterprise level company without recommendation from someone within the company. Yes, the "who you know" political game is played very well in IT. Which is why there are some of those with the MCSE and A+ that you had mentioned in your post. Another issue at play in today's market is the distribution of the resumes: first, they go to HR where there are screening requirements that have to be met. Then they get to the nth level manager where some more screening is done before it arrives at the hiring manager or C-level executive. If A+ is required but not there, the resume is circular filed.

4. A+ certification is an ENTRY LEVEL certification. By comparing it to the actual requirements of a particular job listing is irrelevant. A+ is a screening requirment; most people who take and pass the A+ probably have the skills of a six month tech, but some will require more hands on first before they become confident in their skill base. Therefore, companies that want to shrink the pool of applicants down will require the A+ in addition to the other requirements. This is due to the massive layoffs from 2003 and 2004 plus the satuation of the MCSE certification. As a personal rule, I don't see my career without at least four certifications: A+ Net+ Security+ Project+; Cisco and Microsoft would be the next certification path, and if I am still living by the end of those certs, a Linux certification would be in order. Its true that an IT profession becomes a terminal student, but it is necessary in our field to differentiate ourselves from the script kiddies and high school techs.

5. If someone pays 2500 for an A+ course, they are not paying attention to the market. We are in the age of custom builds, and the prices for the components are relatively inexpensive. Find a desk with a grounding mat and wrist strap, a Mike Meyers All-In-One A+ certification book, and a good PC tech tool kit. Schedule some time based on the number of hours for each objective - Mike Meyers has a chart in his book to help figure the amount of hours needed. After doing a thorough study session, schedule the test with a voucher from Mike Meyer's website and take the test. Some vendors like Get Certified for Less and Go Certify have guarantees that if you fail the test twice, they will refund your money. So 2500 for an A+ test is an unwarranted argument.

Also, the so-called sub $10 an hour is based on geography and market. Here in the Pacific Northwest, you can get $15 to $20 on an A+ certification alone.

The seasoned professional is probably past the A+, however, it would be a good idea for that person to self-study and take the test. It is becoming a market requirement for most positions; some employers will look beyond that requirment if the candidate shows potential in other areas.

6. A+ will never be obsolete. CompTIA will be offering fresh new content for the certification every year. What might change is the name of the certification and how the tests are delivered. They left the adaptive format from the previous versions of the test and returned to the traditional format. However, some of the questions and scenarios are base on real-world incidents with most of the questions coming from common knowlege.

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A+ "going away" ??

by setantapc In reply to The IT market has changed ...

One thing nobody has really touched on is the fact that some vendors suddenly required techs to be A+ certified, probably so any "screwdriver wielding chimp" wasn't opening boxes, voiding warranties and doing more harm than good.

Some vendors even came out with their own certs and arguably people without these certs weren't to be servicing their PC's.

Again the A+ like the other CompTia certs are probably not meant to be standalone certs, but to compliment certs and define some sort of career logic tree.

I have the A+ because the Shop I worked for started to require techs to have it. Unfortunatly they laid me off before I could get both parts. Now I have a "Network Support Diploma" and the A+ and I have been able to get a few entry level positions, but it's time to evolve and get a new cert.

I personally do not see the A+ going away as it's a good complement to the stable of CompTia certs.

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I disagree with The Admiral

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

The A+ Certification is not the same that is was back in 90's now it covers all the new hardware technologies, and the new and most popular operating systems in the market right now. And another thing believe or not there are a lot of users that still need A+ Techs because we know the basic, that others don't. And I help out a lot of IT Pros because of that the basic, everybody what to be a MCSA, MCP, or MCSE, but first you have to start from the bottom of the ladder to climb up.

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what happen to good old experience

A degree is good, certs are good, but experience is the best. mix them all and youve got a winner.

neither degree nor certs actually teach you real world problems. they teach you the basics or baseline understanding of the products you wish to support. but without the basic understanding of those products i believe its difficult to properly understand the issue. the tech world changes on a hourly basis. experience is what will keep you in the now.

if you have the time and money for a degree by all means get one. if you have the time and money for certs, get those too.

A+ is still a good cert to have. i think everyone should have one. it would make my job alot easier :)

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