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Which A+ Certification Should You Pursue?

By  Apr 27, 2008

Topics: Certification, CompTIA

Nowadays IT certification vendors are attempting quite strenuously to market their credentials as granularly as possible. For instance, when I earned my CompTIA A+ computer repair technician certification in 1999, one either was A+ certified or one was not. Today one can become A+ certified in one of three sub disciplines. In this post we will try to sort out the confusion and I will make a recommendation to you.

While everyone who wants to become A+ certified must pass the A+ Essentials (220-601) exam, a candidate has some flexibility in terms of which of the three possible second exams he or she wants to take.

The A+ Certified IT Technician (Exam 220-602) validates competency for candidates who want to work in the following job roles:

  • Enterprise Technician
  • PC Technician
  • Desktop Support Technician
  • Field Technician
  • PC Support Specialist

The A+ Certified Remote Support Technician (Exam 220-603) validates competency for candidates who want to work in the following job roles:

  • Remote Support Technician
  • Help Desk Technician
  • Call Center Technican

Finally, The A+ Certified Depot Technician (Exam 220-604) validates competency for candidates who want to work in the following job roles:

  • Depot Technician
  • Bench Technician

While on one level I appreciate the current trend toward certifying on granular skill sets, the ol' Northern skeptic in me questions the motivation behind vendors' offering such a confusing array of otherwise similar credentials (a greater revenue stream potential, anyone?).

In my experience, I do not meet many A+ candidates who are interested in either the Remote Support Technician or the Depot Technician credentials. The consensus among those professionals with whom I associate tends to be that the IT Technician represents the broadest skill set of the three A+ titles. In other words, granular isn't necessarily preferable with regard to the A+.

Besides, the IT Technician track represents the vestigial remnant of the "old school" A+, with all of its attendant industry recognition and respect.

Therefore, I do not hold out much hope for the Remote Support Technician and Depot Technician certs in the long term. Formally, I recommend that candidates pursue the IT Technician certification track unless they have some extenuating circumstance for which it is more appropriate to pursue one of the other A+ tracks.

After all, how many IT certification candidates, when asked, would consider becoming a PC bench repair technician as being their end-point for their IT careers? (not that there is anything at all wrong with the bench tech role; I'm just sayin' is all.)

It seems to me that the title "IT Technician" has more industry "oomph" and overall  shelf-life. We must never forget that earning the A+ will set you back $326 USD; this is not "chump change."

What do you think?

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