What Is the CompTIA A+ Certification? A Certification to Start Your IT Career

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn what CompTIA A+ Certification is, how you can prepare to pass it, and what job opportunities the certification applies to

[Featured image] A CompTIA A+-certified IT worker sits in a server room and works on a black desktop computer.

The CompTIA A+ certification is an entry-level qualification in the information technology (IT) industry. Issued by the IT association CompTIA, the A+ certification is widely accepted as an industry standard certification often used to kickstart a career in IT.

Here's a quick look at the basics:

  • The CompTIA A+ is composed of two exams in the Core Series—220-1001 and 220-1002.

  • Each exam costs £146 in the UK as of April 2023, totaling £292 [1].

  • The exams will test your knowledge of operating systems, data, security, networking, hardware, and help desk services.

What jobs can I get with the CompTIA A+ certification?

The CompTIA A+ certification is widely recognised as the go-to certification for an entry-level position in IT. Here are a few entry-level jobs that often call for the CompTIA A+ certification and their average UK salaries, according to April 2023 data from Indeed:

  • Help desk analyst: £24,006 [2]

  • IT technician: £25,440 [3]

  • Help desk specialist: £27, 372 [4

  • Technical support specialist: £25,902 [5]

  • Desktop support analyst: £30,005 [6]

Keep in mind that this number might change depending on where you’re located—IT jobs in large cities, such as London, might pay more than those in smaller towns to adjust for the cost of living, for example. Other factors, like your education level and previous experience, can also influence your salary.

What’s on the CompTIA A+ exam?

The exam for the certification combines multiple-choice questions and performance-based questions. The exam broadly tests your knowledge of various IT basics, including hardware, software, networking, operating systems, and security. Expect questions to cover the following domains:

Domains for exam 220-1001

  • Mobile devices: Installing and configuring laptops and mobile devices

  • Networking: Types of networks and connections (TCP/IP, wifi, SOHO, etc.)

  • Hardware: Identifying, using, and connecting devices and hardware components

  • Virtualisation and cloud computing: Comparing cloud concepts and setting up client-side virtualisation

  • Hardware and network troubleshooting: Solving issues with devices and networks

Domains for exam 220-1002

  • Operating systems: Installing and configuring Windows OS and understanding Mac OS, Linux, and mobile OS

  • Security: Identifying and protecting against vulnerabilities in both devices and networks

  • Software troubleshooting: Resolving issues with applications on PC and mobile devices, including security support

  • Operational procedures: Best practices for safety, sustainability, communication, and professionalism

How to get a CompTIA A+ certification

There are several ways you can prepare for the CompTIA A+ exam: 

  • Online, instructor led-courses can prepare you for the exam. 

  • Classroom training through a CompTIA Authorised Partner.

  • Self-study—learning through online videos or books without an instructor—can also work. 

Whatever method you choose, CompTIA recommends dedicating 120 hours to prepare for the test and 12 months of hands-on experience

CompTIA A+ training courses

CompTIA offers several resources, including books, instructor-led online courses, and training programmes that allow you to progress at your own pace. For example, the CertMaster Learn + Labs for A+ is an online course that includes lessons, practice questions, and a practice exam. 

The Google IT Support Professional Certificate programme has five courses that cover the entry-level fields of IT, incorporates hands-on projects that simulate real-world scenarios.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the two.

Google IT Support Professional Certificate

  • What you need to know: A standalone certificate by itself, the Google IT Support Professional Certificate also prepares learners for the CompTIA A+ exam by covering more than 85 per cent of exam topics. 

  • Price: $49 (approx £39 as of May 2023) a month subscription, with a free trial week (subject to change). The exam is not included, but learners receive a 20 per cent discount on the exam.

  • Total time: 3-6 months

CompTIA CertMaster Learn for A+ Core

  • What you need to know: The CertMaster Learn includes two segments with 40 hours of content each, including lessons, practice questions, and a simulation exam. The programme includes achievement badges and a calendar to help keep you on track. 

  • Price. £201 per segment or £402 for series as of April 2023). The exam is not included but can be bundled with training at a discount.

  • Total time: 80 hours+

CompTIA A+ vs. CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+)

CompTIA offers two separate entry-level certifications, the CompTIA A+, and the CompTIA IT Fundamentals, or ITF+. They’re slightly different. The CompTIA A+ is billed as a certification that will test you on the knowledge needed to land an entry-level IT job. The ITF+, on the other hand, is designed for students and professionals who want to see if IT is the right career fit for them. The ITF+ exam is also used by non-IT professionals who want a broad introduction to the field.

Which should you choose?

If you’re still on the fence about whether you’d like a job in IT, getting the ITF+ can be a good way to test the waters. If you know you want to commit to IT work and are ready to gain job-ready skills, the A+ certification is probably a better path.


Leveraging your certification

If you’ve passed the exam, take some steps to ensure the certification is visible to key players. Add it to your CV and LinkedIn, and if you’re already in a related career, inform your employer. It may also be worth looking at other entry-level IT certifications—keeping an eye on other certifications may help you make decisions on what you’d like your future career to look like.

What's next after the CompTIA A+?

For many IT professionals, the CompTIA A+ is the first of many certifications earned over the course of their careers. Since the A+ certification is fairly general, you may choose to move into an IT specialisation, like networking, cybersecurity, or cloud computing. CompTIA offers more advanced certifications in these fields, as do many other reputable organisations. 

Ready to get started?

Take a look at the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. It'll prepare you for the CompTIA A+ exam—and the first week is free. Read on below for more details.

Article sources


CompTIA. “Exam Prices, https://www.comptia.org/testing/exam-vouchers/exam-prices#aplus.” Accessed April 25, 2023.

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