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The Basics on Pursuing and Pbtaining A+ Certification

The A plus certification qualifies the holder to build, install, configure, operate, maintain and repair microcomputers. Most entry level computer technicians, networking specialists, computer administrators, computer security administrators, and computer support jobs require an A+ certification in lieu of an Associates of Science degree in computer technology or related study. Holders of an A+ certification are also certified to possess the skills and knowledge necessary to handle computers safely, with emphasis on the handling of electronic components and electricity in general.

The A+ certificate is issued by the Computing Technology Industry Association (COMPTIA), formerly,  the Association of Better Computer Dealers (ABCD). Initiated by several major microcomputer dealers in 1984, it has evolved into the industry trusted certifier of IT professionals, including entry level computer technicians. Expanding on the basic A+ certification, COMPTIA is now also offering certificates in Networking, Security, Servers, Linux and RFID. Further information on COMPTIA may be found at the COMPTIA website.

The A+ certification concentrates on the technical, or hardware, side of computer technology, not on the software side, which is the work of computer programmers. Both the computer technician and the software programmer have a general understanding of operating systems, with the technician's expertise mainly concerned with installing, configuring, upgrading, and troubleshooting operating systems. The computer technician will more often use computer programs for diagnostics, while the software specialist is concerned with writing programs.

An A plus certification asserts the holder is competent to work on the hardware that comprises the personal  or microcomputer, at least to the component level. This means the A+ certification holder will have practical knowledge of computer architecture and organization, including practical knowledge of commonly used computer peripherals, such as printers, displays, modems, and other IO devices.

Studying for the A+ certificate generally takes about 500 hours. Topics studied include PC components, which covers CPUs, motherboards, RAM, ROM, cache, buses, PCI, expansion slots, connectors, EIDE, SCSJ, SATA-USB storage devices, case form factors, power supplies, keyboards, the mouse, monitors and other peripheral devices. Students are expected to be able to both assemble and disassemble personal computers, add and remove expansion cards, troubleshoot component failures, install and remove components, and clean and maintain computers. Students are also expected to know what environmental factors must be considered and addressed when installing a computer.

An A+ certification assures that the holder has a general knowledge of operating systems, plus specific operating knowledge of one or more operating systems, such as Windows or Linux. They must know how to install an operating system, how to configure the OS, set up users, groups and securities, how to install programs, how to boot a system and recover one, how to backup and restore data and programs, how to add and remove peripherals, such as a printer or modem, and how to control the computer at the system level. This knowledge is applied to such functions as operator, hardware support and hardware installation.

A+ certification also assures that the holder has a working knowledge of networking at the hardware level. The A+ certified technician will possess knowledge of network type, topologies, LAN, wireless networks, switches, routers, and network protocols.

A+ certification can be obtained by taking the A+ Certificate tests through COMPTIA. Several companies now offer training courses that will prepare the prospective technician to obtain the A+ certificate and these may be easily found on the Internet.

If, for some reason, you cannot attend a technical school, a junior college or a college offering the same training, you may still enter the computer industry as a technician by home study and taking the A+ certificate test through COMPTIA.