How Can the CompTIA A+ Certification Jump-Start Your IT Career?

How Can the CompTIA A+ Certification Jump-Start Your IT Career?

Today, we are living in a digital economy. Every business can see that technology has become a critical part of their current operations and their future success, and leadership is pushing for digital transformation. In order to remain competitive, companies know they must invest in IT. This includes everything from the computers that workers use every day, to the networks they communicate with the internet over, to data storage, to cloud computing, and more.

CompTIA A+ is the industry standard for launching IT careers into today’s digital world. Why? Because it’s performance-based, trusted by employers, regularly re-invented by IT experts, and offers a complete skills development solution.

Getting your CompTIA A+ certification will enable you to join this digital revolution and ensure a competitive salary and great job security. Read on to learn about why A+ is so powerful and what you’ll learn.

What Makes the A+ Certification Valuable?

CompTIA A+ vendor-neutral certification is the preferred qualifying credential for technical support and IT operational roles. A+ demonstrates comprehension of hardware, software, operating systems, system troubleshooting, technology repair, networking, mobility, security and operational procedures.

  • Directive 8140/8570: The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes CompTIA A+ certification for information assurance technicians under DoD Directive 8140/8570.
  • Mapped to NICE: CompTIA A+ maps to the Customer Service and Technical Support specialty area of the framework developed as part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE).
  • Highly In Demand: CompTIA A+ ranked 7th in U.S. job listings showing the certification is required or recommended for potential candidates. (Source: CompTIA IT Employment Snapshot, Q4 2017)

If you want to learn more about this certification, download CompTIA’s A+ Certification Guide.

Targeted Job Roles

The A+ certification is ideal for those looking to get started in the Information Technology industry. It was created to certify that readiness and skills for job roles such as Service Desk Analyst, Field Service Tech, Help Desk Tech, and IT Support Specialist.

Employers look for candidates with their A+ certification because it helps them know they’re making a great hiring decision. Being able to pass the exam is a form of 3rd party skills verification that gives hiring mangers confidence that this hire will be able to do the job and do it right. In fact, 96% of HR managers use IT certifications as screening or hiring criteria during recruitment!

What Does the A+ Certification Cover?

This in-depth certification covers the most important basics of the IT industry: security, infrastructure and hardware, networking, operations, operating systems, software and troubleshooting. For a more in-depth look at what you could learn, read through the exam objectives below.


Tech support teams face a growing challenge to accurately triage a flood of security issues.

  • Physical and logical security
  • Social engineering
  • Malware detection and removal
  • Device hardening
  • Biometric authentication
  • Privacy concerns, including GDPR and handling PII

Security Objectives

  • Summarize the importance of physical security measures.
  • Compare and contrast wireless security protocols and authentication methods.
  • Given a scenario, detect, remove, and prevent malware using appropriate tools and methods.
  • Given a scenario, implement security best practices to secure a workstation.

Infrastructure & Hardware

Connectivity is the lifeblood of productivity. Troubleshooting device connectivity issues are table stakes for IT support professionals.

  • Cloud and virtualization
  • IoT devices and protocols
  • Internet appliances, including endpoint management
  • Different network types, including wireless mesh networks

Mobile Devices Objectives

  • Given a scenario, install and configure laptop hardware and components.
  • Given a scenario, install components within the display of a laptop.
  • Given a scenario, connect and configure accessories and ports of other mobile devices.
  • Given a scenario, configure basic mobile device network connectivity and application support.

Networking Objectives

  • Compare and contrast TCP and UDP ports, protocols, and their purposes.
  • Compare and contrast common networking hardware devices. (Routers, switches, access points, firewalls, bubs, repeaters, etc)
  • Given a scenario, install and configure a basic wired/wireless SOHO network.
  • Compare and contrast wireless networking protocols.

Hardware Objectives

  • Explain basic cable types, features, and their purposes.
  • Given a scenario, select and configure appropriate components for a custom PC configuration to meet customer specifications or needs.
  • Given a scenario, install and configure motherboards, CPUs, and add-on cards.
  • Given a scenario, select, install and configure storage devices.

Troubleshooting Objectives

  • Given a scenario, use the best practice methodology to resolve problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot problems related to motherboards, RAM, CPUs, and power.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot common wired and wireless network problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot hard drives and RAID arrays.


As the systems that users connect with increase in both number and variety, the definition of competency for an entry level IT support pros has expanded.

  • Scripting, Python, Bash, Javascript
  • Working with log files
  • Knowledgebase best practices
  • Change management
  • Basic disaster prevention and recovery
  • Using remote access

Operational Procedures Objectives

  • Compare and contrast best practices associated with types of documentation.
  • Given a scenario, implement basic change management best practices.
  • Given a scenario, implement basic disaster prevention and recovery methods.
  • Explain the processes for addressing prohibited content/activity, and privacy, licensing, and policy concepts.


Hardware knowledge underpins tech support competency, but the day-to-day requires software expertise.

  • Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, Mac OS
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Hypervisors
  • iCloud, Exchange, Google Inbox
  • Active Directory

Operating Systems Objectives

  • Compare and contrast common operating system types and their purposes.
  • Summarize general OS installation considerations and upgrade methods.
  • Given a scenario, use appropriate Microsoft command line tools.
  • Given a scenario, configure Microsoft Windows networking on client/desktop.

Software Troubleshooting Objectives

  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot Microsoft Windows OS problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot and resolve PC security issues.
  • Given a scenario, use best practice procedures for malware removal.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot mobile OS and application issues.

Are you interested in IT training?

Does the idea of installing and configuring motherboards make you grin? Do you want to learn the ins-and-outs of running virtual machines? A career in IT could be the perfect choice for you. If you enjoy working with your hands, fixing broken things, and understanding the latest technology, consider giving IT a chance.

LeaderQuest can help you get the training you need to get hired in IT. Our training courses take 5-10 days to complete and are taught by instructors with years of industry experience. We include hands-on labs in every course so that you’ll have the skills you need to excel. Finally, we offer one-on-one career services to help you with your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, interview skills and more. We’ll even connect you with local IT employers that are looking to hire.

So what’s stopping you? Your IT career is waiting for you!

Build a PC Part 2 – the Central Processing Unit

Build a PC Part 2 – the Central Processing Unit

By Michael Rushing, Technical Instructor

In my earlier article, “How to Build Your Own PC Part 1,” we covered selecting a computer case and motherboard. In part two, I will be covering what you need to know about choosing the Central Processing Unit for your new PC!

The Central Processing Unit

The CPU, or the central processing unit, processes hundreds of thousands of commands per minute and is the brain of your computer. When you build a PC, plan on the CPU to be your biggest expense. There are a few things you need to understand before you simply reach for the fastest one your budget will allow. There are two vendors to choose from, AMD and Intel. Each offers several ranges of processors. There are pros and cons with each brand. Intel’s chips tend to process faster than comparable AMD chips. However, AMD’s chips are available at a lower price and typically run much cooler.

So, how do you decide the best processor for your new computer?

It all depends on what you are looking for in a computer and how much you are willing to spend. AMD chips are not bad. In fact, they are perfect for saving a bit on the CPU to give you more to spend on other hardware components. Both vendors offer several ranges of processors, with varying numbers of cores and clock speed ratings. If your building a gaming machine that will have multiple Graphical Processor Units (which will heat up the inside of the computer) I’d go for an AMD CPU to cut down on the heat generation you will be dealing with. For any other type of machine, I’d go with an Intel CPU.

Build a PC with Intel or AMD

Do NOT fall into the trap of believing that a faster clock speed will automatically translate into a better performing computer! That simply isn’t always the case. A dual-core chip clocked the same as a quad-core chip will generally give a lower level of performance. Simply basing your decision on a CPU based on the number of cores isn’t very smart. Performance hits a plateau in CPUs where the benefits of the additional cores simply stop improving performance. There simply is not enough software out there that can make use of more than 1 core to spend excessively on a high-core count CPU. There are always exceptions to the rule. Google Chrome, for example, was written to make use of multiple cores. You may run across other proprietary applications out there that were developed to do so as well. And then you have the new dual core Pentium which processes faster than they old quad-core CPUs.

There is a simple trick in selecting a CPU, all current versions have what’s called a L3 cache. This is used to store data the processor needs to access at a moment’s notice. Lower-end CPUs usually max out at 4MB, while mid-tier and higher-end models have anywhere from 6MB to 15MB of L3 cache. Processors with 6MB or 8MB of cache should be more than sufficient for today’s games, which are typically used to judge a CPU by.

To future-proof the hardware of a computer, I usually go for the newest CPU model, or close to it. Remember, faster speeds and more cores translate to more money, more heat, and more electricity. A high-end quad-core processor is more than enough for the latest PC games.

Check back soon for the third installment where I will cover graphic card choices!

Have a contribution or recommendation? Leave your comment below!


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