CompTIA A+ Training for Career Changers

By now, everyone has heard about the “Great Resignation.” Increasingly, it is also being called the “Great Reshuffle.” It is not as though all those workers exiting their jobs left work altogether. Instead, they have been looking for new positions that provide better opportunities.

According to Pew Research, around half of those who have recently switched jobs have also switched fields. In other words, for many, this has been a time of career change. For those who are making the switch, IT is an attractive option. 

A great way to get started in IT is by acquiring a certification. The CompTIA A+ is one of the most popular. To pass the certification exam, however, takes preparation. What is the best way to approach CompTIA A+ training for someone changing careers?


An overview of the CompTIA A+ certification

Before diving into a discussion of training, it’s a good idea to start with an overview of what the CompTIA A+ certification is and how it works. If this is already familiar to you, feel free to jump to the next section.

Certifications are awarded after someone passes a test to assess their abilities in a specific area. They’re a useful way for employers to know that a candidate for a job has the skills and knowledge required. 

They have become particularly important in the IT industry since it is a field where things change quickly and where highly specialized kinds of knowledge are needed. A recent survey found that a strong majority of hiring managers for tech firms were more likely to hire a candidate who held a certification. 


The CompTIA A+ Certification

The CompTIA A+ certification has become an industry standard. It is designed to test for knowledge and abilities in all of the areas that are foundational for a career in information technology, including:

  • Hardware: types of computer hardware and devices, including how to set up and configure them

  • Operating systems: configuration and support for Windows, Mac, Chrome, Android, and Linux

  • Security: knowledge of vulnerabilities and best practices for devices and connections

  • Networking: types of networks, hardware, and configuration

  • Cloud computing: understanding systems and helping clients adopt cloud solutions

  • Troubleshooting: ability to diagnose and fix problems with hardware, software, and networking

It is a key qualification that can help you get hired for an entry-level job in IT.


The Exam

To receive the A+ certification, you’ll need to pass the exam. It consists of two parts and includes both questions that test to see what information you know as well as performance-based questions that assess what you are able to do. (We’ll have more to say about this second kind of question below; it is important to keep in mind when thinking about training.)

The exam is timed and you’ll have 90 minutes for each part. It is offered online or at testing centers.


CompTIA A+ Training

Now we come to the key question: what is the best way to prepare for the CompTIA A+ certification to make sure you successfully pass it?

Here is where it is important to keep in mind the kind of exam this is. As noted above, it isn’t just testing to see whether you know information. It is also designed to see whether you know how to put your knowledge into practice by performing tasks like troubleshooting networking issues. 

That’s why the word training is especially appropriate. We tend to use this word to indicate a process that helps a person learn how to do something (as opposed to simply learning information). Training can (and usually does) involve acquiring knowledge. But it especially concerns acquiring skills. To succeed on the CompTIA A+ exam, that’s the sort of preparation you’ll want to have.


Types of training available

How can you find the training that will give you the information and the abilities that you will need for the exam? There are four basic options. 

Experience: We learn skills by practicing them. One way to prepare for the CompTIA A+ is to acquire plenty of real-world experience in the areas the exam covers. 

Self-paced instruction: You can find resources (like ebooks or video courses) that present the information you’ll need to know for the exam. These types of materials allow you to go at your own pace to master the material.

Highly-focused live instruction: This is like a traditional classroom experience, though often offered online. The live format often allows for opportunities to ask questions and interact with the instructor. What we mean by “highly focused” is that the course covers just what is needed to pass the exam.

Comprehensive program: Here we have in mind programs that, like the one above, offer live instruction and opportunities for interaction (often with fellow students as well). They also provide added value in addition to exam prep. This could include things like soft skills training and career mentoring. 

Which option is right for you? That will depend upon your particular circumstances, what kind of learner you are, and your goals (and probably other factors as well). The following section will give you a few things to keep in mind as you consider the possibilities.


Training for career changers: What to look for

If you are changing careers to IT, then passing the CompTIA A+ exam is just one part of the equation. There are really three things that will be especially helpful for you to have. A training option that provides all three of them is ideal. 

What are the three?

  1. A solid foundation: Simply put, you want to know your stuff. After all, you’re not looking just to pass an exam but to be able to do the job when you land your first position. So you’ll want training that gives you the knowledge and, crucially, actual experience.

  1. Confidence: This is related to the first point. As you take the exam and enter the job market, you will want to be assured that you are properly prepared. As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why you’ll want a training program you can trust is giving you everything you need for success.

  1. Job market help: Being qualified for a job is one thing; actually getting hired is another. In some ways, it can be the hardest part of the process. Having to figure it all out on your own is daunting and can result in a lot of discouragement and wasted time. Look for a program that will support you in the process of finding your first job.


CompTIA A+ Training with CompTIA Tech Career Academy

If you consider the four basic types of training available —  experience, self-paced instruction, highly-focused live instruction, and a comprehensive program — you can see that only the last of these will provide a solid foundation in skills and knowledge, the confidence that you are adequately prepared, and support in finding a job.

CompTIA Tech Career Academy has provided this kind of robust training and career support for hundreds of students. Many of our graduates were also switching careers to IT and have gone on to find success in their new field.   

We invite you to find out more about the online program we offer and see how it compares to the other training options out there. 

However you choose to prepare, we’re glad you’re considering a new career in IT. Getting your CompTIA A+ certification is a smart way to position yourself for success.