The Computing Technology Industry Association has provided industry leading certifications for computer and IT professionals for a little over 30 years. Since 1982, CompTIA has helped shape the IT field by educating and certifying on a technology- and vender-neutral basis. By doing so, they ensure that their members are well versed in several areas of interest to the IT community. Their members are also generally considered to be the top of their field. CompTIA certification comes in many forms, including the three for which they are well-known: A+, Network+, and Security+.
A+ certifications are generally held by computer technicians. The certification was developed in 1993 and became accredited by the American National Standards Institute in 2007, along with Network+ and Security+. The current iteration of the exam requires the candidate to pass two exams: CompTIA A+ Essentials, and CompTIA A+ Practical Application. The Essentials exam requires the candidate to demonstrate a knowledge equivalent to 500 hours of experience. The exam covers areas such as computer repair, memory management, and troubleshooting methods. The Practical Application exam simply requires the candidate to demonstrate a working knowledge of operating systems and software. The A+ certification also demonstrates that a technician has excellent customer service and communication skills. This certification is also considered to be a starting point for many technicians and is recommended before receiving many other certifications.
The Network+ certification was developed in 1999 and measures the skills used by network technicians. Certification is achieved by passing a single exam. The exam covers many areas relevant to network technicians and administrators, including hardware and software proficiencies, managing and maintaining networks, and network types. Network+ certification is recommended or required by many companies, and is required before joining the Apple Consultants Network. The certification is also considered to be excellent preparation for other certifications, such as Cisco’s CCNA certification and Microsoft’s MCSA certification.
Developed in 2002, the Security+ certification is typically held by security engineers, systems administrators, and security specialists. Security+ certification is also considered an elective for use with several Microsoft certifications and is one of the four choices available to those pursuing IAT Level II certification with the Department of Defense. The exam covers several topics necessary for many security professionals, such as network security, cryptography, security threats and vulnerabilities, and identity management. Holders of Security+ certification are employed by companies such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and many other industry leaders around the world.
The other certifications offered by CompTIA cover a wide array of topics within the IT community. Many of them are focused on specific areas of expertise, such as the imaging-specific certifications of CDIA+ and PDI+. Most of the exams have a score requirement to pass and are on a scale of 100 to 900, though a few are simply pass/fail. CompTIA certifications are generally recognized internationally, and the most exams are often offered in many languages.
In 2010, CompTIA changed the status of the A+, Network+, and Security+ so they would expire after three years. Previous to 2010, the certifications were lifelong. This change generated controversy within the certified community and was viewed as a breach of contract. Subsequently, CompTIA reconsidered, stating that certifications obtained before 2010 were still considered lifelong. However, certifications obtained after 2010 still require reinstatement after three years.