Am I doing the right thing going for the A+?

Micky73Micky73 Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
I'm a newbie making a career change. No formal work experience in IT. Everyone says to take the A+ because that's the entry-level cert.

So I start studying and I'm totally overwhelmed. Mostly by the rote memorization stuff and the amount of material to cover. (I know there are only 90 questions on each test but I feel like I never know what will pop up, and yes, I have the exam objectives and am using them as a reference).

My original plan was to pass the A+, then get volunteer work to pad my resume, then hopefully get a job. I've got people telling me this is a good plan, and I also have people telling me it's really competitive out there and not to waste my money on the cert and the class I'm planning on taking to help me with the cert.

I want to take a class so I can get my hands dirty and be in a lab. If I'm going to do this, I want to make sure I really know my stuff. Found one at the community college for $400.

I'm currently using Exam Cram, Prof Messer videos, and Prof Messer's study guide to study.

Should I keep at this? Should I take the class and keep pushing for the cert? Am I on the right path or is there a better way in for me?

(Oh, also, I can't go back to school to get a degree--already have a BA and MA in a different field and still paying off my MA)

If my location helps, I'm in L.A.

Oh yeah, I've talked to many people who keep telling me the future is in the cloud and to focus on that instead of the A+.

Yep, head spinning.

Thanks in advance for your advice.


  • 10Linefigure10Linefigure CCNP R&S, Security+ USAMember Posts: 368 ■■■□□□□□□□
    You may not need to spend the money or deal with the time constraints that come with a formal class for A+. I used the Sybex A+ book, it came with a helpful CD. There are also test questions and the TE forums are full of help. The future may be in the cloud or anywhere else, but its good foundational knowledge for anyone to have.
    CCNP R&S, Security+
    B.S. Geography - Business Minor
    MicroMasters - CyberSecurity
    Professional Certificate - IT Project Management
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod
    What do YOU enjoy working on? start with this question and go from there.

    Not everyone needs an A+. Many get it, "just in case", but I have worked with numerous folks who skipped it entirely.

    Start with, what do you see yourself doing and what interests you most about IT (as it appears you have an interest in IT at this point).
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • epcgepcg Member Posts: 65 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I could never hire someone who doesn't know the basics of hardware, software, troubleshooting, and very basics of networking. Cause at first you have to take the bench/help desk job. But if its to much for you to get on your own go then take a couple college classes. Sounds like a hardware, software, basic networking, and pc troubleshooting/intern class is what you need. After all that go in what direction you want to.

    The A+ isn't the hardest exam but covers a lot of info and for someone with no IT background it can be a mountain to climb.
  • majestic_pecanmajestic_pecan Member Posts: 38 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I am/was in the same boat as you (no IT background, already have an MA which I am still paying off so it's not feasible to go back to school). The rote memorization was definitely the hardest part of getting the cert, IMO, since after reading and reviewing the material it's (mostly) common sense. I know it may not seem that way when you are starting out, but keep at it and you will know how the troubleshoot a "No boot device found" in no time.
    As far as whether it's worthwhile, I can't speak for others of course, but I decided that if this is going to be my career, I will need to obtain certifications which prove my skills eventually. Why not start with A+? Those who are already in the profession may not need it, but for those of us who are still seeking entry-level positions it can be helpful. Even if you decide to focus on something else later, it's great to build foundation skills now. Just my opinion.
    2016 GOALS:
    New job...
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod

    I agree to a point with your comment.

    Hence, why inquiring to the OP what his/her goals are in IT. If hardware is not an area of interest, skip the A+ and move forward with NET+ and Cisco track. If programming is the dream, then likely no on the A+ and probably no on the Net+.

    A+ is an easy (and difficult) first step for most, but if there is no desire to work with desktops and hardware, he/she should not invest excessive time on this topic area. Indeed, it is a good one to know, but not a necessity, even for folks who are new into IT.

    Goal setting first. ;)
    (Including identifying interested areas of IT)


    Does the college class include the a+ exams? Or will you need to pay for those separately? If the exams are included, it probably won't hurt to boost your confidence by taking a class. Stay clear of boot camps, but a college class (even for non-credit) could be a good investment.

    Meyers book is where things are at for A+, but the SYbex text is also good. If you are doing this because you love working with computers, then learning the material will not be difficult. If you are chasing the dream that there are big dollars in IT, this process will be a chore, and I think you will burn out before seeing it through to the level of the dream.

    What has caught your attention about IT? Why do you now think this is the way to go in life? Sure it is competitive, but any career is competitive...try winning a bid for paint, roofing, landscaping, electrical, takes time and lots of hard work to build trust and references (proof) to have a quality portfolio to interest a company into selecting you over another candidate...what makes YOU the right person to hire?

    you will get there, take it in chunks though, eh? How does one eat an elephant? ;)
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • dbzrfldbzrfl Member Posts: 40 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Well you will need the A+ in IT, to get a job and it is always a good idea to know what your doing.
    I can tell you there is a huge difference between someone with a A+ and someone who doesn't have their A+. I am working on my S+ and I am using Test-out and Comptia Cert Master. The new exams are not just multiple choice but a mixture questions and simulations.

    OK your not going to get much hands on in class, either that's wasting your money unless its part of a degree program. I manage 3 complexes and 200 plus computers and 15 servers, I put it to you like this, since I have been working here, two times have I ever had to do hardware repairs or any of my other IT staff for that mater. Because of hardware warranties every workstation we buy Dell covers for 5 years.

    I would advise A+ N+ S+ as a starting point getting these certs will help you. But, the A+ will not get you paid, degrees and experience with certifications Will get you paid.
  • DonM34DonM34 Member Posts: 139
    Ask yourself this question, what area of IT do you want to concentrate in!! If your looking to be in a Support role in a IT Team A+ and Network + is the way to go. If your looking to get into Network Administration, put your efforts towards CCNA or MCSE. The A+ exam is geared to give you knowledge on how to repair, troubleshoot and gives you a basic understanding of Networking. My goal is Network Administration so the route I'm taking is CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ in addition MCSA and Cisco Certification. Always remember if your entering the field with very little knowledge and experience. The one think that will get you in the door of a company is the amount of certifications and education you posses.
    2014 Goal [ ] CCENT [ ] MCTS (Active Directory) [ ] CompTIA Security+
  • Micky73Micky73 Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
    The college class is only a prep class for the A+, it offers no college credit and it does not include the fees to take the exams. I really am struggling with the rote stuff, I didn't know if taking a class would help me pass this exam. Right now it feels like a huge mountain to climb. Everest.

    Even if I didn't take the exam, I still want to know the relevant material and the basics of troubleshooting. I agree that's a necessity. But, is studying for months for a cert I won't need and paying the $$ to get it a necessity?

    Why will I need the A+ in IT? Does everyone in IT have the A+? Does everyone who has the A+ find a job? I look through job postings in my area and never see the A+ anywhere. I see experience needed.

    I am not interested in hardware (aside from what I said above). I enjoy software more.

    I'm coming out of a 16 year career that I was forced into. I always wanted to be in IT and tried to go for a degree in it when I was in college, but was discouraged from doing so by faculty because I'm female. Now that I have the chance to make the change, I want to go back and do what I wanted to do initially.

    No, I'm not in it for quick money.

    I've taken some programming classes online and enjoyed them so much, but, I hear you most definitely need a degree to go into that area, and I worry that if I was coding all day, I would get bored.

    I just read the beginning of the networking chapter in exam cram, and that was the first time I perked up in a while. Found it enjoyable, haven't felt that way in a while with the other material. Haven't gotten to the meat and bones of it yet, though.

    If money grew on trees, I'd get a bunch of certs. But it doesn't. I need to try and pick the right path here. If indeed it is A+, then so be it. But I am not enjoying most of the material. Once they get past the necessary basics and start asking me to memorize things like exact measurements of form factors and ATX pin specs, I start to panic.

    Is my only way in through help desk?

    @dom, you said the only way in is the amount of experience and certs one possesses. Other people tell me no experience plus a bunch of certs will get me nowhere. It's hard to get experience without certs. I'm seeing a lot of differing in opinions here...

    I'm starting to feel really defeated...
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod
    No, not everyone needs an A+.

    If hardware is not your thing, keep the books to reference and follow your passion. As far as telling the difence between those with and without an a+, I can certainly tell the ones who cheated vs the ones who cared to master the material. There is nothing wrong with saying you are familiar without the hardware, but it is not your thing....and being successful in other areas!

    For the naysayers, I know a young kid, maybe about 35 now, he started in IT around 28 years old, brilliant mind! To this day he does not have an A+ and there is no reason he should! yet he can fix hardware issues on servers and workstations as a problem arises, but his day-to-day job is troubleshooting network issues, security of servers and their ilk and monitoring several locations...all software related.

    If hardware is not your desire, figure out what you want to do and go do it! There are plenty of folks already talented in hardware (and too many who should never touch it).

    Start with the windows server or Cisco tracks...maybe the NET+ to start, then go into NOS specific certs.

    If you want the A+, by all means get it! but it is two exams! and a bit out of pocket when that will not prohibit you from landing a job. Just need to be ready to explain your goals to your employer if they say they require it...find out if they are paying for it, or if you truly need it because you have say an MSCA or something...
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • Micky73Micky73 Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
    @Plantwiz, can I even pass the Net+ without doing the A+? Everyone keeps saying the A+ is the easiest and if you can't pass that, you can't pass anything. Any truth to that? Can you give me some more info/advice on the Cisco tracks and NOS specific certs? You think starting with the Net+ is the way to go?
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod
    Easy is relative.

    A+ has the lowest passing score required.

    There are no prerequisites for the COMPTIA exam, except they recommend experience...but that is not a requirement, it is a recommendation because the exams are designed to highlight ones knowledge. Plenty of people collect certs without any hands-on knowledge. And I am pretty certain I fall in the minority of people who think collecting paper for the sake of saying once is proficient is pointless. Plenty of people have certs for topics they never have worked in, nor ever will...then again, the same can be said about college degrees...

    If you want to take th NET+, go for it!
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • Micky73Micky73 Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you for the support!
  • DonM34DonM34 Member Posts: 139
    You mention that your interest falls in the area of software. Are you looking into the area of Programming?
    2014 Goal [ ] CCENT [ ] MCTS (Active Directory) [ ] CompTIA Security+
  • Micky73Micky73 Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
    @DonM34, I'm trying to. Everyone seems to say I need a degree for that, non-negotiable. Any truth to that? I don't know what kinds of certs to even look at in the software field. I could use some input there. Any advice?
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