Table of Contents
When I first began to study to make a career change into IT, it made sense (to me at least) to get a good foundation. At the time, every vendor offered intermediate to advanced-level certifications, and there were next-to-no options for beginners to learn networking, security, Linux, etc.
I eventually stumbled across some entry-level exams to help me both get certified and some much-needed knowledge about the core IT concepts we all need to know no matter what our career choices may be. The company offering these exams was called CompTIA.
The name CompTIA is now ubiquitous. I do see many posts asking if they are worth taking and in what order so in this post I wanted address those questions.
Who is CompTIA?
CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) was formed way back in 1982. It is a non-profit trade association that provides vendor-neutral certifications and other resources for the information technology (IT) industry. CompTIA’s certifications are widely recognized and are designed to validate the skills and knowledge of IT professionals in a variety of fields, including networking, security, cloud computing, and more. Over the years, CompTIA has become one of the leading providers of IT certifications and is dedicated to helping IT professionals advance their careers and meet the evolving demands of the industry.
There initial exam offerings were the A+ for PC assembly and small office support and the Network+ certification for network engineers but they now offer 14 exams from project management to advanced security practitioner. In fact, they are more popular now than ever due to growing recognition, DoD certification as well as filling a gap in the IT certification market. Add to this, the fact that they are constantly updating their exams to match the needs of modern IT systems they will no doubt last long into the future.
Are CompTIA Exams Worth Taking?
CompTIA exams can certainly be worth taking, depending on your career goals and the specific exam you’re considering. Here are some reasons why CompTIA exams might be worth taking:
- Industry recognition: CompTIA certifications are widely recognized and respected in the IT industry. They are designed to validate the skills and knowledge of IT professionals and demonstrate their expertise to potential employers.
- Career advancement: Having a CompTIA certification can help you advance your IT career by showing that you have the skills and knowledge needed to perform your job effectively. This can lead to better job opportunities and higher salaries.
- Vendor-neutrality: CompTIA certifications are vendor-neutral, which means they are not tied to any specific technology or product. This makes them more flexible and applicable to a wide range of IT roles and industries.
- Continuing education: Preparing for and taking a CompTIA exam can be a valuable learning experience, even if you don’t end up getting certified. The exams cover a wide range of IT topics, and preparing for them can help you stay current with industry trends and technologies.
Ultimately, whether CompTIA exams are worth taking depends on your individual goals and circumstances. It’s a good idea to research the specific exam you’re considering and determine whether it aligns with your career aspirations and professional development needs.
What’s the Best Order to Take the CompTIA Exams?
There is no ‘best order,’ of course because we all have different goals and weaknesses. But, one CompTIA exam tends to roll well another because of the knowledge learned and the fact that some of the syllabi is duplicated.
Note that the A+ can be considered optional. It really is aimed at helpdesk or desktop support, so you might want to skip it if that isn’t your goal. It is of limited use for network or security engineer roles.
You will often hear the phrase ‘trifecta completed’ on CompTIA forums. This means that the person posting has passed the A+, Network+, and Security+. In fact, that is the order I recommend you take the exams in if you plan to pass all three. I’ve posted another option of the Cloud+ certification, which you should seriously consider as well, especially if you plan to skip the A+.
Possessing three of the below certifications will give you a solid grounding in every important IT topic and allow you to then specialize if you want to go into security, cloud, network design, or other career or even stay a generalist.
So here is my recommended order to take the exams:
- CompTIA A+: This entry-level certification is a good starting point for IT professionals and covers a broad range of topics, including hardware, software, security, and operating systems.
- CompTIA Network+: After you’ve gained a foundational understanding of computer systems, the Network+ certification provides a deeper dive into network technologies and concepts.
- CompTIA Security+: Security is a critical aspect of IT, and the Security+ certification covers a range of security topics, including network security, compliance, and operational security.
- CompTIA Cloud+: The Cloud+ certification focuses on cloud computing and covers topics such as cloud models, virtualization, infrastructure, security, and resource management.
How to Prepare for the CompTIA Exams
There is no ‘best’ way because some of us learn best by doing, others learn by watching, and others by reading. Most of us have a primary way to learn and then a secondary, so we are best at reading a book and then doing some hands-on configurations.
There are several steps you can take to effectively prepare for a CompTIA exam:
- Review the exam objectives: Start by reviewing the exam objectives for the specific CompTIA exam you plan to take. This will give you a clear understanding of what you need to know to pass the exam and can help you prioritize your study efforts.
- Use official study materials: CompTIA provides official study materials, such as study guides and practice exams, that can be very helpful in preparing for the exams. These materials are specifically designed to cover the topics covered on the exams, so they are an excellent resource for preparing for the exam.
- Get hands-on experience: The best way to prepare for a CompTIA exam is to get hands-on experience with the technologies and concepts covered on the exam. This can be done by working in a related field, volunteering, or practicing in a home lab environment. Of course, this entire website is designed to give you that as well as prepare you for the Performance Based Questions (PBQs) you will face in the exam, which are the practical tests you must pass.
- Practice with online resources: There are many online resources available that can help you prepare for CompTIA exams, such as practice tests, flashcards, and study groups. Utilize these resources to help you identify areas where you need to improve and reinforce your knowledge. Every one of our courses comes with 200 exam-style practice questions.
- Take a course: Consider taking a CompTIA certification course either in person or online. These courses are designed to help you prepare for the exams and provide you with a structured study plan.
- Use a study schedule: Finally, create a study schedule and stick to it. It’s important to allow yourself enough time to thoroughly prepare for the exams and review the material several times.
Remember, the key to successfully passing a CompTIA exam is to consistently study and practice the material covered on the exam. By following these steps and using a variety of study resources, you can give yourself the best chance of passing the exam on your first attempt.