CompTIA has established itself as a legitimate certification vendor. CompTIA can be used to build a solid IT foundation that cannot be questioned. Making CompTIA certs great Human Resources filters and breaking into IT is now very straightforward and achievable regardless of who you are. CompTIA makes keeping and renewing your certifications painless. One can watch videos, attend events, or get other certs; to get credits for renewing their current certs. CompTIA certs last three years; their lowest level cert is the IT Fundamentals. Being a millennial, I did not take this one, but if you feel like you need it go ahead and take it. Since the fundamentals cert is under the A+, one can assume that it will not be too complicated.
The A+ is famous for being the gatekeeper of entry-level helpdesk jobs. I am going to go over all the resources that I used and my thoughts on the certification. First things first, if this is your first certification do no panic or fear it; this is the easiest IT certification that you will ever take. I over studied for my A+. I recall memorizing two pages of numbers and then realizing that the test did not have a single number on it. In that respect, I could have taken that test two to three weeks ahead of when I took it.
I used four resources to prepare for the A+, Professor Messer, Mike Myers videos and book, along with the Exam Cram book. Both Exam Cram and Professor Messer have premade notes for you. Professor Messer’s Notes are only $10 each, so if you are not a reader, you can get his concise notes. The second half of the A+ does not cover everything that one will need to know for a helpdesk, so get good at using Google. The current version of the A+ includes Windows 8, which is very rare these days in production networks. You can pass the A+ with any pair of these videos and texts. If you are not comfortable with Windows 10 or MAC OS and your first job requires it prepare with a dummies book or YouTube.
CompTIA Network +:
The Network + covers the basics of IT networking. This certification is an excellent prerequisite for the Cisco CCNA, which establishes one as an associate level networking engineer. The Network + will get you an entry-level NOC (Network Operations Center) job, but I recommend getting it no matter what, this knowledge will prove useful in any IT job. To pass this, I used Mike Myer’s book, Udemy videos, and Professor Messer’s resources. If you study appropriately for this cert, there should be no issue passing.
CompTIA Security +:
Next on the CompTIA career pathway is the Security +. Many IT folks see the A+, Network +, and Security + as the foundations of IT. Having taken all three, I can say that the Security + is the most difficult. Luckily there is a cheat sheet for it, and that is Darrel Gibsons’s book. Darrel’s book with Mike Myers and Professor Messer will give you the peace of mind of being fully prepared. I passed mine on the first try, and I am not that sharp, so don’t stress out about it.
CompTIA Linux +:
CompTIA recommends that the Linux + be taken next, this depends on your career path. If you want to be a server administrator, then this is perfect low hanging fruit. I was going down the networking path, so it was not logical for me to take this cert. Quick FYI, if you want to get a security clearance you are practically guaranteed a job. Based on friend’s recommendations getting this cert with your Red Hat RHCSA, and a clearance will get you a comfortable position faster than you can blink.
CompTIA Server+ & Cloud +:
The Server + was the equivalent of the A+ for servers. I would only recommend getting this certification if you work or are planning to work in a data center, or continually installing hardware. The Cloud + is recommended by CompTIA next, on the other hand, I would only recommend getting this cert if you plan on being a cloud engineer or administrator. The resources for the Cloud + were not very useful. I would suggest Googling all the objectives. Amazon Web Services is heavily deployed due to its ease of use and low cost if you are curious about cloud careers.
CompTIA Project +:
A random certification that I did take was the Project +. This cert is perfect for anyone in a management or leadership position. Having acute OCD, I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for this certification. I got a Sybex book for this and a Udemy course, but all you need is Joseph Phillips course on Udemy. Joseph does a fantastic job of explaining everything in detail and even provides one with practice questions. If you choose to be a project manager this cert is the perfect pre-requisite to the PMP (Project Management Professional), which requires x hours of experience before being applicable to take it.
CompTIA CySA + & Pen Test+:
My most recent certification is the CySA+; this cert covers the basics of a security analysts position. In security, there are what’s called blue teams and red teams. The blue team is the defensive/risk mitigation team, that is what the CySA+ covers. The red team is the offensive team they are the ones that try to hack into the network, the cert for this is the Pen Test +. The Pen Test + is not available at the moment; I plan to take it in a few months when it becomes available. Having worked for six months as an entry-level security analyst, the CSA+ was right on point regarding job relevant content. I used two books to prepare for this and two separate Udemy courses. The two books were the McGraw-Hill and the Sybex books; then the Udemy courses were Jason Dion’s course and the Total Seminar’s course.
The highest cert that CompTIA offers is the CASP; this is similar to the CISSP (The zenith security cert #100ksalary). It is a good cert to get if you want to prove your security chops. The CASP is also required for many government jobs if that interests you. It covers organizational security, because of that, I do not plan on getting this cert until I am further into my career. Since the CASP is the highest available cert, all your other certs will fall under it.
My coworkers always ask me, why do I have so many CompTIA certifications? Well, it is because all of one’s certs fall under their highest-level certification. Using myself as an example my highest cert at the time of this post is the CySA+; therefore, I only have to maintain that cert to keep all my other ones. I still need to take the Pen Test + and CASP. Let’s say that my CySA+ expires in 2022, I can take the Pentest +, and all my certs will be valid for another three years. Then in another three years, I can take the CASP to renew again. After that one, I would have to attend events or watch online videos to get credits towards the renewal, but only for that highest-level cert.
I know what are thinking and no I am not a masochist. My reasoning for doing this is to keep a populated resume, as a backup for future job security. If you are new to IT and are following my recommendations about the foundational certs, you can use this to stand out from the crowd and guarantee that you are always applicable for new positions. Heads up, I do not work at CompTIA so I cannot say that this will not change in the future. I hope that this post has helped you understand CompTIA and your IT career path.