CompTIA Certifications for Networking Jobs

By Peter H. Gregory, Bill Hughes

The best-known organization for providing networking technology certifications is CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association), a nonprofit trade association. The original motivation for creating their certifications was to provide a minimal level of expertise among the workforce so that customers could have some degree of confidence that the holder of the certification is competent.

CompTIA started in 1982 and was then called the Association of Better Computer Dealers (ABCD). Keep in mind that Microsoft DOS was released in 1981. PCs were new technology, and computer dealers found that any schlub could hang up a shingle and claim to be qualified to repair the PCs that were just coming out on the market.

These so-called repair technicians were not suited to repair anything as intelligent as an 8086 computer. To prevent the industry from getting a bad reputation among customers, the dealers banded together to create standards. The ABCD consortium was the origin of CompTIA’s A+ certification for computer technicians.

The current A+ certification, which was updated in 2012, is comprised of two tests: CompTIA Essentials and CompTIA Practical Application.

The Essentials portion of the exam covers the basics of computer technology, networking, and security for hardware and operating systems. The Practical Application portion demonstrates the use of current operating systems.

CompTIA is probably best known for the A+ certification, but their other certifications are highly respected and valued. Some certifications are difficult to categorize, but this is how they are broken up here:

  • Network-related technology certifications

  • Non-network technology certifications

  • Technology skills certifications

  • Strata certifications

Network-related technology certifications

Three certifications are relevant in one way or another to networking:

  • CompTIA Network+: A well-respected, vendor-neutral certification for networking professionals. To earn this honor, expect to put in a lot of work for about nine months, with hands-on training.

  • CompTIA Security+: A big benefit for those working in networking. Be ready for another nine months of classroom and hands-on training to get this one.

  • CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP): Intended for people who have been working in security for more than five years or in IT for more than 10 years.

Non-network-technology certifications from CompTIA

Although the following certifications are not specifically network-centric, there are elements of networking and operating systems technology in them that would have value to an aspiring network engineer:

  • CompTIA Mobility+

  • CompTIA Mobile App Security+

  • CompTIA Server+

  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials

  • CompTIA Cloud+

  • CompTIA CTP+ (Convergence Technology Professional)

  • CompTIA Linux+ Powered by Linux Professional Institute

  • CompTIA Storage+ Powered by Storage Networking Industry Association

Technology skill certifications

Technology skill certifications may be useful for someone focused on or seeking a career in networking. Note that each of the following certifications involves a significant commitment of time and resources:

  • CompTIA CTT+: This certification is for technical trainers. Technical trainers, as the name implies, demonstrate skills for teaching technical audiences.

  • CompTIA Project+: Project management is an important skill, particularly in the IT environment. Project managers keep large-scale initiatives coordinated across a range of individuals, departments, and vendors. CompTIA provides a certification associated with learning these skills.

  • CompTIA PDI+: This certification is associated with printing and document imaging. Although the paperless office was first discussed in the 1960s, US Census data shows that the use of printing continues to grow. The implication is that businesses need more PDI+ers.

  • CompTIA CDIA+: Companies need advanced PDI+ers too. The certification above the CompTIA PDI+ certification is CompTIA CDIA+, which stands for Certified Document Imaging Architect.

  • CompTIA Social Media Security Professional: This professional certification helps companies against hackers who enter networks through social media.

  • CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician: Folks who work in the healthcare industry must comply with extra rules to ensure patient privacy and need to understand the industry’s terminology. A prospective employer would know that a person with this certification has been exposed to all the relevant rules.

Strata certificates

CompTIA offers not only certifications but also certificates for particular areas of study. Earning a certification is more involved than earning a certificate, and therefore better. (Unfortunately, the names are similar.)

CompTIA certificates are prefaced with the Strata to distinguish them from certifications. They include the following:

  • Strata IT Fundamentals: A more basic certification than A+.

  • Strata for Sales: Ensures that the certificate holder has enough knowledge to talk to customers about their technical needs.

  • Strata Green IT: This certificate teaches the many small changes that an IT organization can enact that will help the environment and minimally affect cost or performance.