[Posted 8 October 2013 by Kathy Yale]
An individual just starting out in the field of computing and computer technology is faced with a number of choices for professional certification. The CompTIA A+ certification is an excellent place to start and can help a talented computer professional break into any of the following occupations.
Computer Service Technician
The A+ certification is not geared toward any specific computer brand or manufacturer. Individuals who plan to service all types of computers will find the information acquired while pursuing A+ certification to be beneficial. Although not required throughout the industry, several major computer manufacturers, including Lenovo, Dell and Intel, require successful completion of the CompTIA A+ certification as a condition of working as a service technician on their products.
Field Service Technician
A field service technician is a type of computer service specialist who generally works in the homes of clients. Field service technicians perform installation and repair of Internet service lines, personal computers and other computer hardware and software. Field service technicians rely heavily upon the information included in the A+ certification and are employed by many different corporate entities, including cable, telephone and internet providers.
Information Technology Specialist
An information technology (IT) specialist is responsible for such tasks as the management of data stored on computers, installation of software and operation and repair of computer networks. Hospital systems and companies of all sizes hire IT specialists to manage databases and maintain complex systems of computers. A+ certification covers the basics needed by an IT specialist or system administrator.
Technical Support Specialist
Internet service providers, telephone service providers, cell phone and smartphone companies, cable providers and computer manufacturers all utilize technical support personnel to communicate with clients and troubleshoot problems. Troubleshooting and repairing computer problems is a topic heavily covered in the A+ certification. Working as a technical support specialist is one employment option that may offer a flexible work schedule. Large corporate entities need tech support experts on call 24 hours a day, while smaller companies may operate tech support lines only during normal business hours.
Governmental Agencies and Contractors
The U.S. Department of Defense recognizes A+ certification, as do many government contractors. Most government agencies utilize a range of technical support experts and computer service technicians to assist in the operation and maintenance of the computers used by each agency. While an A+ certification might not be required to get a job with a government agency, the knowledge attained with an A+ certification may help an individual perform better and advance more quickly than uncertified individuals.
Many A+ certified computer and IT specialists find success as entrepreneurs. Self-employment is an excellent choice for a parent with small children, a person whose spouse works an irregular schedule or for any individual who needs flexible work hours. Striking out on one’s own is also a great way to earn a second income.
Average salaries for computer professionals vary widely depending on experience, work setting and geographic location, but salaries are generally higher for individuals who have become certified in one or more areas of specialization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a median annual salary for 2010 of $46,260 for “Computer Support Specialists,” a very broad grouping into which many of the above careers are classified. The A+ certification is an ideal way to get a foot in the door in one of these exciting, high-paying careers.