If you’re considering pursuing a career in IT, you may have come across the certifications Network+ and A+. These certifications are recognized worldwide and are widely respected in the IT industry. Many IT professionals start with A+ certification before moving on to Network+. However, some argue that it’s better to get Network+ certification before A+. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between the two certifications, the benefits of each, and the career opportunities they can provide. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of which certification you should get first.
What is Network+ Certification?
Network+ is a certification program that measures competency in networking concepts, hardware, and protocols. This certification focuses on the skills required to design, implement, configure, and troubleshoot networks. The certification also includes advanced topics such as cybersecurity, network resilience, and cloud computing. Network+ certification is sought after by IT professionals who are responsible for the administration and maintenance of computer networks, including network analysts, network administrators, and network engineers.
Obtaining Network+ certification requires passing a comprehensive exam that covers a wide range of networking topics. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and performance-based simulations that test the candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios. The certification is recognized globally and is often a requirement for many IT job positions. Additionally, Network+ certification holders are eligible for higher salaries and career advancement opportunities within the field of networking.
What is A+ Certification?
A+ is a certification program that measures competency in computer hardware and software. This certification focuses on the skills required to install, configure, and troubleshoot hardware and software on personal computers. The certification also includes advanced topics such as mobile devices, printers, and networking concepts. A+ certification is sought after by IT professionals who are responsible for the maintenance and repair of personal computers, including help desk technicians, desktop support technicians, and IT support specialists.
One of the benefits of obtaining A+ certification is that it is recognized globally. This means that IT professionals who hold this certification can work in various countries around the world. Additionally, A+ certification is vendor-neutral, which means that it is not tied to any specific hardware or software manufacturer. This allows IT professionals to work with a wide range of technologies and products.
To obtain A+ certification, candidates must pass two exams: the Core 1 exam and the Core 2 exam. The Core 1 exam covers topics such as mobile devices, networking technology, hardware, and virtualization and cloud computing. The Core 2 exam covers topics such as operating systems, security, software troubleshooting, and operational procedures. Once a candidate passes both exams, they will be awarded A+ certification, which is valid for three years.
Difference between Network+ and A+ Certification
The main difference between Network+ and A+ certification is the focus of each certification. Network+ certification focuses on networking concepts, protocols, and security, while A+ certification focuses on computer hardware and software. Another difference is the level of difficulty. Network+ certification is considered more advanced and challenging than A+ certification. Network+ certification is also often seen as a prerequisite for more advanced certifications, like Security+ and CCNA.
However, both certifications are valuable in the IT industry and can lead to various job opportunities. A+ certification is ideal for those who want to work in technical support or help desk roles, while Network+ certification is suitable for those who want to work in network administration or security.
Moreover, the cost of each certification also differs. A+ certification is relatively cheaper than Network+ certification. The cost of A+ certification ranges from $200 to $400, while Network+ certification costs around $300 to $400. However, the cost may vary depending on the country and the testing center.
Which Certification is More Important: Network+ or A+?
The answer to this question depends on your career aspirations. If you want to pursue a career in networking, or you plan to work in a company that has an extensive network infrastructure, then Network+ certification is more important. If you want to pursue a career in personal computer support, then A+ certification is more important. Both certifications are widely recognized in the IT industry, and both have the potential to unlock many career opportunities.
It’s worth noting that while Network+ and A+ certifications are valuable on their own, they can also complement each other. For example, if you have both certifications, you may be able to troubleshoot both network and personal computer issues, making you a more versatile and valuable employee. Additionally, some employers may require or prefer candidates who have both certifications, especially for roles that involve both networking and personal computer support.
Benefits of Getting Network+ Certification First
If you’re interested in networking, it’s better to get Network+ certification first. This certification will give you a deeper understanding of protocols, security, and other advanced networking concepts. A+ certification provides foundational knowledge, but Network+ certification gives you a more in-depth understanding of how computer networks work.
Additionally, having Network+ certification can make you a more competitive candidate in the job market. Many employers require or prefer candidates with this certification, as it demonstrates a higher level of expertise in networking. Furthermore, Network+ certification can lead to higher salaries and better job opportunities, as it is recognized as a valuable credential in the industry.
Benefits of Getting A+ Certification First
If personal computer support is what interests you, go for A+ certification first. This certification provides a solid foundation in computer hardware and software, which will be invaluable in your career. A+ certification will also give you a better understanding of how to troubleshoot and repair personal computers.
In addition to the technical knowledge gained through A+ certification, it is also a highly recognized and respected certification in the IT industry. Employers often prioritize candidates with A+ certification when hiring for entry-level IT positions. Additionally, A+ certification can serve as a stepping stone to more advanced certifications, such as Network+ and Security+, which can lead to higher paying job opportunities.
Career Opportunities with Network+ and A+ Certifications
Both Network+ and A+ certifications open up a lot of career opportunities in the IT industry. With Network+ certification, you can pursue careers as a network administrator, network specialist, or network engineer. The average salary for a network engineer is $79,000 per year. With A+ certification, you can pursue careers as a help desk technician, desktop support technician, or IT support specialist. The average salary for an IT support specialist is $49,500 per year.
Additionally, having both Network+ and A+ certifications can make you a highly sought-after candidate in the IT industry. Employers value individuals who have a diverse skill set and can handle a variety of tasks. With both certifications, you can pursue careers as a systems administrator, IT manager, or cybersecurity analyst. The average salary for a systems administrator is $68,000 per year, while the average salary for an IT manager is $88,000 per year. Cybersecurity analysts can earn an average salary of $96,000 per year.
Preparing for the Network+ Exam
To prepare for Network+ certification, you’ll need to have a deep understanding of networking concepts, hardware, and protocols. CompTIA offers training and certification resources, including study guides, online courses, and practice exams. You can also benefit from joining study groups and attending networking events.
It’s important to note that hands-on experience is also crucial for success on the Network+ exam. Consider setting up a home lab or volunteering for networking projects at your workplace to gain practical experience. Additionally, staying up-to-date with industry trends and advancements can give you an edge on the exam and in your career. Follow industry blogs and attend conferences to stay informed.
Preparing for the A+ Exam
To prepare for A+ certification, you’ll need to have a good understanding of computer hardware and software. CompTIA offers training and certification resources, including study guides, online courses, and practice exams. You can also benefit from joining study groups and attending computer hardware and software events.
It’s important to note that hands-on experience with computer hardware and software is also crucial for success on the A+ exam. Consider building your own computer or volunteering to help with computer repairs to gain practical experience. Additionally, staying up-to-date with the latest technology trends and advancements can give you an edge on the exam and in your career as a computer technician.
Difficulty Level of Network+ vs A+
Network+ certification is considered more challenging than A+ certification. This certification covers more advanced networking concepts, and the exam is more difficult. A+ certification provides foundational knowledge and is an excellent starting point for a career in IT.
However, it is important to note that the difficulty level of these certifications may vary depending on an individual’s prior knowledge and experience in the field of IT. For someone with a strong background in networking, Network+ may be easier to obtain than A+. On the other hand, someone with limited experience in IT may find A+ to be more challenging. It is important to assess your own skills and knowledge before deciding which certification to pursue.
Cost Comparison: Network+ vs A+
The cost of Network+ certification is $319, while the cost of A+ certification is $219. Both certifications require passing two exams.
However, it is important to note that the Network+ certification covers more advanced networking topics, such as network security and wireless networking, while the A+ certification focuses more on hardware and software troubleshooting. Therefore, the Network+ certification may be more valuable for those pursuing careers in network administration or cybersecurity.
Additionally, some employers may offer higher salaries or preferential hiring to those with Network+ certification, due to its more specialized focus. However, the A+ certification may be more beneficial for those seeking entry-level positions in IT support or help desk roles.
How Long Does it Take to Get Certified in Network+ or A+
The time it takes to get certified in Network+ or A+ depends on your dedication and the time you can devote to studying. Typically, it takes around six months to a year to prepare for the exams.
However, it’s important to note that some individuals may take longer or shorter depending on their prior knowledge and experience in the field. Additionally, taking a certification course or bootcamp can also expedite the process and provide a more structured approach to studying. Ultimately, the time it takes to get certified in Network+ or A+ will vary from person to person.
Do Employers Prefer One Certification Over the Other?
Employers value both certifications, and it depends on the specific job requirements. Some employers may prefer one certification over the other for particular jobs, but generally, both certifications are valued in the IT industry.
However, it is important to note that having additional certifications and experience can give you an edge over other candidates. Employers may also consider other factors such as your work experience, soft skills, and overall fit for the company culture when making hiring decisions.
Conclusion: Which Certification Should You Get First?
If you’re interested in networking, go for Network+ certification first. This certification will give you a deeper understanding of protocols, security, and other advanced networking concepts. If personal computer support is what interests you, go for A+ certification first. This certification provides a solid foundation in computer hardware and software, which will be invaluable in your career. Both certifications offer a wide range of career opportunities and have the potential to unlock many career paths.
In summary, Network+ and A+ certifications are both widely recognized in the IT industry, and both offer excellent career opportunities. Network+ certification is more advanced and challenging than A+ certification and focuses on networking concepts, protocols, and security. A+ certification provides foundational knowledge of computer hardware and software and is an excellent starting point for a career in IT. Both certifications are valued in the IT industry, and it depends on your career aspirations and interests which certification to pursue first.
It’s important to note that obtaining certifications is not the only way to advance your career in IT. Experience and on-the-job training can also be valuable in gaining knowledge and skills. However, certifications can provide a structured and recognized way to demonstrate your expertise to potential employers and clients.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that certifications require time, effort, and often a financial investment. Before pursuing a certification, consider your current workload and personal commitments to ensure that you have the time and resources to dedicate to studying and preparing for the exam.