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A+ Certification: cost and difficulty?

On vacation this month I wandered into an unloved book outlet store and found a rack of those "cheat sheet" notebook page size plastic coated cards. A cheat sheet on C++ next to one about beer, etc.

Anyway, they had three different A+ certification refresher cards. I was curious and looked them over. Each one was a review of A+ certification software and hardware concepts. 

Now, I have no IT certifications, although I am a long term techie with a BSEE and do the usual "build and fry my own boxes from scratch" all the time.

The general level of dfficulty of all the cards was approximately the same as that which a baked potato or a head of lettuce could master.

So, sports fans - debates about career tracks being a different topic - what does A+ certification cost? What is the lowest entry level of such certification? Who (what testing centers that is) does the testing? And is it *feasible* (advisable that is) to simply buy a cram course or book and take the tests w/o much study?

As is the case with any established IT topic, everything in NGs and on the web I've yet found about A+ is highly self referential and uninformative.

Thanks in advance...

Certification Sycophant
Sunday, May 23, 2004

You forgot the most important question:
"Since I have a BSEE, does having an A+ cert really add anything to my resume"

I'm thinking "no"

Philo

Philo
Sunday, May 23, 2004

I've found that with more blue collar and uninformed small company owners, degrees mean little or are even a negative strike against one because they signify abstract intellectual achievement, which is resented in some quarters.

Certifications are more blue collar (think of the ASE certificates hanging in a garage) so IMO have more currency with the sub sub Fortune 1000 business client crowd.

That's my reasoning.

Anyway, as I said the career impact/relevance is not what I wanted to discuss - just the feasibility of winging the A+ tests.

Certification Sycophant
Sunday, May 23, 2004

"I've found that with more blue collar and uninformed small company owners, degrees mean little or are even a negative strike against one because they signify abstract intellectual achievement, which is resented in some quarters."

Who's the resentful one in this picture? However I think what you might see as "resentment" might simply be practicality: Your abstract intellectual achievements might be of little value (and indeed may be detrimental for the reason shown above) if someone is looking for someone to install video cards or diagnose why someone's porn directory got deleted.

"Certifications are more blue collar (think of the ASE certificates hanging in a garage) so IMO have more currency with the sub sub Fortune 1000 business client crowd."

Apologies if this sounds harsh, but if you have a BSEE and are thinking about getting an A+ certificate, then you have done something seriously wrong in your career path.

Dennis Forbes
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Dennis Forbes,

Fuck you.

Certification Sycophant
Monday, May 24, 2004

Interesting comeback, when ultimately my post was saying "you're above that".

Dennis Forbes
Monday, May 24, 2004

Dennis, the "you're above that" was completely lost by your essential assertion that I'm a loser of some sort for considering this track.

You don't know my background, what has happened in my career or personal life, or even what I intend to DO with an A+, which at this point is an intellectual flirtation anyway.

EE work, like CS work, has become a commodity. IE, outsourcing and offshoring at work plus a sustained economic malaise.  Anyone I know who works for a large company is miserable and losing ground. The A+ is a credential that may be understood by a lower tier of clients who have technology needs but no full time staff.

Believe me, I'm QUITE proud of a EE and my career accomplishments using same, but it doesn't open doors at age late 40's in quite the same way that it did when I was 23, full of cum,  naive and dirt cheap.

Certification Sycophant
Monday, May 24, 2004

Sheesh, Cert Psycho, you really are.

Dennis Atkins
Monday, May 24, 2004

What school did you say you got your EE at?

Dennis Atkins
Monday, May 24, 2004

Cert has a valid point. Development is a commoditified occupation, and this really kicks in after about 35, as many naively arrogant JOS'ers will discover over the coming years.

Staggering as it may seem, dumb certificates do sway hiring managers, regardless of real qualifications or expertise, in these days when they can pick and choose any yes-man they like.

I've seen this in practice, and I've seen the results, and I've seen managements rail at the project failures and poor software. Their failures just make them more insistent they need more certificates. Recruiters also bolster this approach. Certificates are the only thing recruiters can actually assess usefully.

Cert, if you're feeling depressed, you should probably move to a better career, like medical research.


Monday, May 24, 2004

Regardless of the validity of his points, I find his mental illness the most notable part of his posts, and probably the elements of his life needing the most attention, startig with his delusion that he has a BSEE from an accredited university.

Dennis Atkins
Monday, May 24, 2004

FWIW, I have an A+. The test was about as difficult as a TV Guide crossword and about as useful. YMMV.

(I also have an honours degree in theoretical physics. Only mentioning that for perspective sake.)

Anon
Monday, May 24, 2004

>> I have an A+. The test was about as difficult as a TV Guide crossword and about as useful.

Pretty much what I suspected. Thanks.

Certification Sycophant
Monday, May 24, 2004

If you've been wokring in the field then you will find it really easy, and probably not necessary. if you have never seen a computer in your life tnen you would probably need a few weeks of study. There was a free Candadian source of online lessons that suggested you spent six months studying for the A+, before going on to pick up the MCP's.

Frankly, unless you are in India or Eastern Europe or another area that imports loads of used PCs I would give it a miss. There is less and less work in hardware or basic software installation now. Instead of addon cards you find most things integrated into the motherboard, and in most companies cloned images with separate data stores are the response to all but the most basic of hardware problems.

if you want you could take a practise exam; it would be useful for finding out if you have any glaringly obvious gaps in your knowledge. The actual exam costs abotu $150; whether it's worht it or not is a different matter.

If it means that you read through Scott Muelller or Mark Minasi as preparation though, it will be well worth it.

Stephen Jones
Monday, May 24, 2004

Stephen: yah, everything you state is pretty much what I perceive or suspected. I see A+ certifications as the headlining advertised feature listed by low end local white box builders and by "computer support" companies that employ the usual hoard of pimply superannuated teenagers for generic PC and network support.

Believe me, I am not looking at this as a make or break issue nor as a career booster. It just caught my eye as a certification that is common, readily accepted, apparently drop dead easy, and not too expensive to get.

I see it as rounding out my practical experience for marketing purposes. Nothing more. For the "corporate market" (regular IT organization gigs) I would deliberately not mention it because it *would* associate me with the pimply young unwashed ones...

Certification Sycophant
Monday, May 24, 2004

This got me curious about the A+ cert, so I hunted down several A+ practice exams on-line.  My lowest score was 75%.

I mention this because I've never been that interested in the hardware side of IT - just software.  My point is that a lot of standardized tests are easy to guess your way through.  If you're interested in taking the test, you might just try winging it for the fun of it.

yet another anon
Monday, May 24, 2004

I'm not too interested in the hardware side either. However, the A+ apparently has an OS section with "esoteric" questions about recovery from common problems in Windows 9x, etc.

I look at it this way: the A+ would give some clients a warm fuzzy about whom they are allowing to touch their PCs. Even if my actual line of business would be development of customized applications.

Certification Sycophant
Monday, May 24, 2004

>>an OS section with "esoteric" questions about recovery from common problems in Windows 9x, etc.

Yeah, I ran into a bunch of those on the practice quizzes.  The questions often went something like this:

Q: What happens when such-and-such condition occurs?

(a) Take some arcane action.
(b) The system prompts you to do such-and-such.
(c) Take some arcane action.
(d) Take some arcane action.

Picking (b), I always got them right.  Now if it had been a Linux test, I would have chosen (a), (c), or (d). :-)

yet another anon
Monday, May 24, 2004

Heh. Actually, I think the A+ is kind of  a stupid certification if the client thinks that the cert "carrier" is qualified to repair PC problems based upon the certification alone. When I looked over the cheat sheet card in the store I was thinking "Gawd, this is brain dead". Only things like standard IRQs, ports, interrupts, and other stuff that is hardly even dealt with these days w/o a reference manual *might* require cramming.

While the cert may be a baseline of "can fog a mirror" level brain activity,  I don't see how the sort of intuition and judgement that is normally required to make something work in a reasonable time frame (and at reasonable cost) can possibly be tested.

Certification Sycophant
Monday, May 24, 2004


I just got A+ Certified and I concur that it is easy, but if you're looking to do computer work and don't have degrees, it is a baseline certification. This one and Network+. Both are fairly easy if you've spent a few years working with computers.

CompTIA has a whole host of certifications on their site. Your degree probably outweighs a few of them, but some can be used as electives for higher up certifications. For example, when you have both A+ and Network+ certifications, combined they can be substituted for the elective exam of Microsoft's MCSA certification. Therefore requiring you to take only 3 tests as opposed to 4.

Mike
Friday, June 18, 2004

As an aspiring IT support person, I have been looking into A+ Certification for "baseline improvement".  This would mean as a man with a family at home and a full time job, would have little time, if any, to attend night school or a university to better the career.  Just food for thought.  However, there is still concern that technology will eventually outpace the techie, just like component work went down the tubes when semiconductors became leadless, rice sized smc's.

Chunky
Monday, June 21, 2004

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