CompTIA A+ vs. CompTIA Network+: How To Choose?

Taylor Karl
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CompTIA A+ vs. CompTIA Network+: How To Choose? 1904 0

 

 

 

If you are analytical, a good problem solver, and eager to learn, a career in Information Technology could be right for you. Not only do you get to work with innovative and cutting-edge technology, but it's one of the fastest-growing job sectors. That means there's plenty of opportunity for professional development and specialization in your area of expertise. Many IT workers obtain professional certifications to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to employers. 

 

CompTIA, short for the Computing Technology Industry Association, is a leading association representing the international technology community. The resources, support, and certifications it offers IT professionals and organizations are widely respected throughout the industry and world. The CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA A+ certifications are two of its entry-level IT credentials that provide a strong foundation of technical knowledge. CompTIA Network+ covers networking fundamentals, and CompTIA A+ teaches the basic knowledge required for technical support and other IT operating roles.

 

While many people choose to get both, it costs time and money to take a preparation course and complete the certification exams. Deciding which one to take depends on your career goals and experience level. To help you understand how you should proceed, this article provides more detail on the two certifications, what the exam process is like, and how they compare. 

 

CompTIA Network+

For those aspiring to a career in networking, the CompTIA Network+ exam objectives delve deep into the intricacies of networking, covering topics such as network architecture, protocols, cabling, security, and more. The Official CompTIA® Network+ certification will teach you the core principles of installing, configuring, and troubleshooting network technologies. It's an essential first step to help you move your career in network administration forward.

 

Network+ is aimed at IT professionals with job roles specialized in networking. Those include network administrator, network technician, network installer, help desk technician, and IT cable installer. This CompTIA certification is also a stepping stone towards more advanced certificates. A typical student taking the CompTIA Network+ should have basic Windows® and Linux® user skills and a foundational understanding of computer and networking concepts. 

 

CompTIA Network+ is widely considered the first networking-specific certification IT professionals should earn if they want to specialize their career in network administration and support. You can achieve this certificate by completing the CompTIA Network+ exam, the details of which we get into below.  

 

Remember that a person's salary will vary based on their employer, experience, job title, and duties. Here are a few job positions held by those with the Network+ certification and their median salaries:

 

  • Network Administrator: average $66,882 annually
  • Network Support Specialists: average $53,530 annually 
  • Network Analyst: average $65,527 annually

 

Network+ Exam Details

The CompTIA Network+ exam is 90 minutes long and has, at most, 90 questions. These include a combination of multiple-choice questions, drag-and-drop activities and performance-based items. Questions cover the following topics:  

 

  • OSI and TCP/IP Models.
  • Properties of network traffic.
  • Installing and configuring switched networks.
  • Configuring IP networks.
  • Installing and configuring routed networks.
  • Configuring and monitoring ports and protocols.
  • Explaining application and storage issues.
  • Monitoring and troubleshooting networks.
  • Explaining attacks and mitigations.
  • Installing and configuring security devices.
  • Explaining authentication and access controls.
  • Deploying and troubleshooting cabling solutions.
  • Implementing and troubleshooting wireless technologies.
  • Compare and contrast WAN technologies.
  • Using remote access methods.
  • Identifying site policies and best practices.

 

To pass this exam, you must earn a passing score of at least 720. You don't need on-the-job experience or have acquired any other CompTIA certifications before taking Network+. However, CompTIA does recommend completing at least 9 to 12 months of networking experience or a training course before attempting the exam.

 

CompTIA A+

CompTIA A+ is an entry-level certification that covers the basics of computers and is recommended for those entirely new to digital technology. It is generally considered the industry standard for those who wish to launch their career in IT. CompTIA A+ certified professionals are proven problem solvers capable of supporting the core technologies essential for business IT operations, including security, cloud, data management and more. 

 

This course is designed for individuals who have basic computer user skills and are interested in obtaining a job as an entry-level IT technician. It is trusted by employers around the world to identify the go-to person in end-point management and technical support roles. CompTIA A+ is regularly re-invented by IT experts to ensure it teaches the current, in-demand core skills and abilities for the workplace.

 

There is a wide range of jobs for A+ certified IT workers that are crucial to employers, which is why they value this certification so highly. Here are a few job positions held by those with the A+ certification and their median salaries based on data from ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor and Indeed:

 

  • End User Computing Technicians average $107,319 a year
  • Field Service Technicians average $55,610 a year
  • Associate Network Engineers average $76,241 a year
  • System Support Specialists average $58,337 a year
  • Service Desk Analysts average $51,010 a year
  • Data Support Technicians average $48,911 a year
  • Help Desk Technicians average $52,452 a year
  • Desktop Support Administrators average $54,234 a year
  • Technical Support Specialists average $53,469 a year

 

CompTIA A+ Exam Details

Learners must take two exams to earn the A+ certification. The 220-1101 exam covers PC hardware, mobile device hardware, and troubleshooting hardware and networking connectivity issues. The 220-1102 exam focuses on installing and configuring various operating systems and topics like security and cloud computing.

  • Installing Motherboards and Connectors
  • Installing System Devices
  • Troubleshooting PC Hardware
  • Comparing Local Networking Hardware
  • Configuring Network Addressing and Internet Connections
  • Supporting Network Services
  • Summarizing Virtualization and Cloud Concepts
  • Supporting Mobile Devices
  • Supporting Print Devices
  • Configuring Windows
  • Managing Windows
  • Identifying OS Types and Features
  • Supporting Windows
  • Managing Windows Networking
  • Managing Linux and macOS
  • Configuring SOHO Network Security
  • Summarize Security Measures
  • Managing Security Settings
  • Supporting Mobile Software
  • Implementing Operational Procedures

 

Both exams are 90 minutes long and cost $246. To pass the 220-1001 exam, test takers need a minimum passing score of 675 out of 900. To pass the 220-1002 exam, test takers need a minimum passing score of 700 out of 900.

 

CompTIA does not require specific experience before taking the A+ exams, but having either nine to 12 months of relevant experience is helpful. If not, completing an A+ training course is the best way to ensure you pass these exams. 

 

Comparing CompTIA A+ vs. Network+

If you have no prior certifications and are entirely new to the field, it is recommended that you begin by obtaining CompTIA A+. There is a wealth of job opportunities for workers with A+ that can allow you to get your foot in the door on an IT team. From there, as you get exposure to the different roles in IT, you can choose to specialize and pursue other certifications, such as Network+. 

 

The CompTIA Network+ certification teaches invaluable skills in networking fundamentals, including: 

 

  • Troubleshooting
  • Security awareness
  • Familiarity with networking models (e.g., OSI and TCP/IP), 
  • IP addressing, 
  • Subnetting 

 

Finally, Network+ will provide you with the necessary knowledge to pursue more advanced and specialized IT certifications.

CompTIA A+ teaches you how to assist others and help solve their hardware and software problems. Either will give you the proper foundation and knowledge to go on to higher and more specialized certifications. If you have no background in IT at all, it is a good idea to begin with A+ and then move on to Network+. 

 

Many people need to analyze and compare the cost and ROI of these two certifications. While many choose to get both, it's important to consider your current financial and professional needs. The Network+ exam costs approximately $350, while the cost to complete both A+ exams runs around $500 in total. However, United Training offers 5-day classes for both certificates, each costing $2,475 and includes an exam voucher. Evaluating the return on investment in terms of career opportunities and salary increments

 

Conclusion

CompTIA Network+ is a specialized certification focusing on networking, including network architecture, security, troubleshooting, and network operations. As such, it is more suitable for those interested in network-related roles. CompTIA A+ is the entry point for anyone interested in working in IT. This certification covers a broader range of IT topics, including hardware, software, operating systems, mobile devices, and basic IT troubleshooting. A+ is the better option for individuals looking to enter the IT field, focusing on technical support and general IT skills.

 

Both certificates will help you further your career. Think about your career objectives, experience level, and learning preferences. As the industry continues to grow, there will be ample opportunities for IT workers with either Network+ or A+ status. 

 

 

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