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CompTIA Unveils New A+ Cert with Electives

After months of speculation, the Computing Technology Industry Association unveiled a new structure for its flagship A+ hardware technician certification.

After months of speculation, the Computing Technology Industry Association unveiled a new structure for its flagship A+ hardware technician certification.

The popular vendor-neutral, entry-level title will retain its two-exam format, but CompTIA is moving away from the current Core Hardware and Operating Systems exams.

Instead, candidates will be required to pass one "A+ Essentials" exam (#220-601) that covers both hardware and software, plus choose one of several elective exams that focus on different areas of support.

The electives will be:

Exam #
Exam Name
Example Job Roles
220-602
IT Technician
Enterprise Tech, PC Tech, Desktop Support, Student, Sales
220-603 Remote Support Remote Support Tech, Help Desk Tech, Call Center Tech
220-604 Depot Technician Depot Tech, Bench Tech

All of the above exams are scheduled to be release in "late Q3 2006," according to the company's Web site. And more electives may be coming, a company representative told CertCities.com. Candidates will be able to take the exams in any order, but CompTIA recommends taking the Essentials exam first.

Each of the elective exams' objectives focus on different technologies in varying levels depending on the job role, the organization said. For example, the Remote Technician exam puts special emphasis on laptops and portable devices (20 percent of the objectives), and the Depot Technician exam, for positions that typically have little customer interaction, leaves off the Communications and Professionalism objective found on the other exams (including Essentials).

According to CompTIA, the title's overall emphasis on security, soft skills as well as safety and environmental issues have also been increased.

"Employers want a foundation-level certification that covers both technology essentials and the specialized skills required in different computer services and support environments," commented CompTIA President and CEO John Venator in a released statement.

"The most significant and exciting aspect of this update is the flexibility it will offer," he continued. "More than ever before, individuals will have the power to take control of their career options...[and] employers will be able to select the exam elements that best suit their businesses' needs."

While the new exams are scheduled to debut this fall, the current exams (2003 objectives) will remain available until the end of the year in the U.S. (later for some non-English exams and specialty programs).

There is no public beta period planned for the exams. CompTIA would not comment on why or what other steps would be taken to ensure the psychometric accuracy of the exams. In the past, the organization has been known to seed unscored beta items onto the live versions of current exams instead of holding separate betas.

The organization also did not comment on what, if any, new question types might be present on the exams.

Those planning to take the current versions of the exams should proceed, the organization said. "Candidates now studying for, or considering, CompTIA A+ certification are encouraged to continue their preparation [for the 2003 exams], as there is ample time available to them to achieve the certification," said Neill Hopkins, vice president of skills development.

The change will not affect those already A+ certified, as the title is "good for life" and does not need to be updated. Those who do wish to update, however, may do so simply by passing one of the new elective exams, the organization said.

Those who want to earn more than one of the new A+ credentials can also do so by taking the elective exam; the Essentials exam does not need to be repeated.

A+ is CompTIA's flagship, vendor-neutral certification, with more than 700,000 granted worldwide, according to the organization. The entry-level title also serves as an optional or required elective for several other vendors' certification programs, including Microsoft's.

CertCities.com will bring you more information on the new A+ as it becomes available. Meanwhile, for more details and to download the objectives of the upcoming exams, go here.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the executive editor of the 1105 Redmond Media Group's Web sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com, RedDevNews.com and VisualStudioMagazine.com, among others.

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