[Posted 26 September 2013 by Kathy Yale]
As the title suggests the Network+ certificate deals with establishing and administering various types of computer networks. The certification test is maintained by CompTIA. This is a non-profit organization, established in 1982, that represents multiple computer-related businesses. The name is a partial acronym for Computing Technology Industry Association. Because of the different companies involved, the Network+ test, like others they provide, is not focused on the hardware or software of any particular business.
The Network+, along with the A+ and Security+ certificates, is viewed as one of the most respectable certificates for advancing a person’s career in information technology. These three certificates have received accrediting by ANSI. CompTIA also provides other certifications for separate specialties of the industry. The Network+ certificate, like all the others, has some unavoidable overlap in subject matter with these other tests. For example, the A+ certificate requires basic knowledge of networking as it relates to desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. However, the Network+ test also deals with security that pertains to network administration.
How Network+ is Different
All CompTIA tests, including the Network+ test, have the same basic structure as there is a combination of written and hands-on questions. However, the Network+ test is designed to gauge an individual’s knowledge of networking skills like assembling, overseeing, and correcting problems in either a local area or wide area network. These topics are more extensive than the network-related questions in the A+ test. In fact, while there is no required prerequisite for the Network+ test, the A+ certificate is recommended. The A+ certificate just touches on the very basics of networking. This would include linking a desktop computer to the internet or tying the desktop together with peripheral equipment.
The actual physical layout and operation of networks is the prime focus of the Network+ certificate. There are two basic categories: the local area network often referred to as a LAN, which is limited to a home, business, or facility, and the wide area network, or WAN, which covers more space and can span nations or continents. Someone pursuing this document would need to understand how to set-up any of the primary configurations for LANs. These would include the ring, bus, star, and tree pattern, among others.
In addition, the candidate would need to know the various means of linking the components together, such as ethernet, fiber optics, or wireless transmissions. They also need to be able to determine which of these arrangements is best for a particular situation. This goes beyond the basics covered by the A+ test. The test also covers knowledge of establishing WANs and connecting them, along with LANs, to the existing internet. Network administrator, network technician, and network troubleshooter are some of the job titles of careers this document prepares test-takers for.
Other topics covered by the Network+ test include network security, servers, storage, and network operating systems. These areas overlap with other certificates. The Security+ test deals specifically with protecting a network from hackers and other threats. There is a Server+ and Storage+ certificate that handles the details of each of these components. There is also a Linux+ certificate that covers this open-source operating system commonly used on servers. Since information technology involves all these fields, it’s useful for someone wanting to move up to obtain multiple certificates related to the specialty they’re interested in. One of the most essential of these certificates is the Network+.