I passed the 2 required exams for CompTIA A+ today. These are entry level exams, and if you have some computer experience, they are not too challenging. The reason I took these, and maybe why you should as well, is that it is one of the required certifications for Federal Information Assurance employees, as recently required by DoDD 8570. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a Federal employee (or contractor) someday…
Read more on what they were like and why you should take them…
Typically, CompTIA A+ is considered an entry level certification. The reg says: “The certification requirements of this Manual apply to DoD civilian employees, military personnel, [Local Nationals], and support contractors performing [Information Assurance] functions…” When I used to work as a civilian Federal employee (GS-2210-13) at the United States Property and Fiscal Office for California, even though I was assigned as a system administrator, I was considered to have IA duties, and was therefore required to be certified as specified in this regulation. Although I’m happy in my current role at Cal Poly, I like to keep my options open, and I might be a Federal employee (or contractor) again someday. (If nothing else I’d like to contribute to the Thrift Savings Program again. TSP rocks!)
As far as getting ready to take these, they were straightforward to prepare for. One gotcha is to make sure that you get test prep materials for the latest version of these, the “2009 Objectives”. There are still a lot of preparation materials out there for the old “2006 Objectives” which are deprecated now.
I used David L. Prowse’s “CompTIA A+ Exam Cram, Fourth Edition”, ISBN-13: 978-0789747921. This was a good refresher on basic computer maintenance skills. If you’ve been doing computers for a while like I have, it’s a fast read. I went through the whole book in a weekend.
Each exam is 100 questions, and you get 90 minutes for each. The actual questions are very much like the book, and very much like the practice exams. There was perhaps a couple of questions I need to think about, but in general I blasted through each exam as fast as I could click the answers. Even with completely reviewing my work at least once, I completed each test in less than 30 minutes.
Next up: CompTIA Security+. I expect this to be a bit harder.