Reader John Turningpin asked for more info on the CompTIA A+ IT qualification I passed recently, so I’ve put together a list of resources I used and more info on actually taking the test.
The CompTIA A+ is an entry-level qualification that proves you are able to repair, upgrade, diagnose, and torubleshoot Windows computers. It consists of 2 tests. The first is a basic computer repair and troubleshooting skills test. For your 2nd test, you can choose from different options: (1) A higher-level but still general “IT technician” test (2) A customer focussed test for helpdesk roles (3) A hardware focus for depot / no-customer contact roles. I had originally planned to take the hardware test since I hate dealing with customers, but from the advice I had gotten it seemed like the general technician test would be more useful in getting a job.
As a general indicator for if you think this qualification is for you, I’d take the quick 10 question practice test over at CompTIA site (quick form filling in required) – anything below 5, and this probably isn’t for you; 5-7 and you have a good chance of passing with a few months of good study; above 8 and you can probably just go ahead and take the test immediatly, or find out the exact topics you need work on and focus on those for a week maybe.
Experience: The best way to learn how to repair PCs is to get a hold of some hardware and play with it. Here’s an off the top of my head list of things you need to have experience of doing at least a couple of times:
- Change the video card out, and know the difference between PCI and AGP, and the newer PCI-e slots.
- Add 2 extra hard drives to your computer, and figure out how to partition them. I say 2 drives in order for you to understand the concept of primary and secondary drives on an IDE chain.
- Strip the processor and fan from the motherboard and then put it all back again.
- Format the drive and reinstall from scratch. If the idea of re-installing Windows XP doesn’t sound like a thoroughly riveting Sunday afternoon, this test maybe isn’t for you.
- Go to Sofmap and check out all the hardware – would it fit in your computer? Look at all the motherboards, figure out what kind of processor slots they are.
- Try connecting your computer to your TV. Most laptops and decent gfx cards support this just fine.
- Try setting up a home network manually. DO NOT just plug your computers into your broadband router – that’s cheating.
That’s all I can think of right now, but if you think of anything else, please add them in the comments.
Online learning: Going the legal route, ProProfs is a fantastic free resource with online practice tests, flashcard, tutorials on specific tough topics (like the laser printing process, which *will* be on your test) etc.
Videos: If you have money to burn or have no moral qualms about piracy, I thoroughly recommend the CBT Nuggets training course or VTC series. They cover everything in the exam rather comprehensively.
Taking the exam in Japan:
You’ll need to register at Pearson Vue first, then find a test centre near you using their locator. The process of actually booking a test is very easy using their online booking system, and just make sure you select the English version of the test (there is a dropbox that allows you to choose – it defaults to English). During the booking you will also need to select the test centre and an available time slot, so be sure to have chosen your test centre using the locator before you book. Simple!
Hope that was useful to you John, and anyone else interested in getting their first IT qualification.
Very useful, thanks. (And thanks for the shoutout!) Actually toyed with getting this cert back in the day but never went through with it. Learned how to build comps, troubleshoot, etc. on my own, but I'm sure there are plenty of gaps that full-blown cert study would address. Thanks for taking the time to type all this out.
Great post! I think I checked pretty much all the boxes as 'can do' that you mentioned. I wonder how hard it is in reality though? I may look into taking this test!
Any idea how much this test would cost to take? Have found a test centre down here in Okinawa but no online registration is available, unlike other areas in Japan.
Okinawa eh? Well, I can tell you for sure that you need to take two separate tests, and each one costs ~20,000 yen.
Also, I just tried to book online for somewhere in Okinawa and found one place called IT College in Naha city. If you use the Pearson Vue website (link in the article) to handle the booking it can all be arranged online and in English, and you just turn up on the day at the test centre and say you have an appointment – no need to contact the test centre as it will all be handled electronically. I must say how impressed I was with the ease of the whole thing, as I personally hate calling people up and speaking Japanese.
@Michael and John: why not get a practice test from uCertify (http://www.ucertify.com/certifications/CompTIA/a-plus-2006.html)? They guarantee you a pass or your money back if buy the full practice suite (~6000 yen), and it’s a great tool for gauging your ability before shelling out to take the real thing. At least download their trial and do a mini practice test!]
Good luck all!
By the way, if you do decide to use uCertify (as I’m seriously considering for prepation for the Network+ exam) use the code MICAND for a 10% discount!
I see it now! At work Firefox was blocking the menu on the right hand side of the Pearson page. So you say it would be 40,000 in total for the essentials plus extra one? That’s not bad, and I might considering I’ve an unprofessional but pretty long IT background and got 9 out of 10 in the practice test.
Any idea if it will help my chances here in Japan of getting employment?
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I think combined with JLPT 1/2 it would certainly get you into the IT industry here, at least an entry level position as a support engineer from which to work your way up. Without Japanese ability, you’d have to be able to demonstrate a really high level of technical skill in some kind of programming or database stuff.
I’ve had a couple of interviews this month with a major foreign IT solutions provider here after randomly sending them my CV, and they said that bilingual staff with IT skills are very much in demand and always will be. Fingers crossed I will have an awesome new job by next month, but I don’t want to give too much away until it’s definite!
Well good luck for you. Despite being here in Japan over 4 and a half years, I’m a little ashamed to say my Japanese is still rather Tarzan-like.
I did the CCNA at the end of last year. Haven’t gone hard core looking for jobs, but I didn’t get any responses to the emails I sent out.
On Yahoo auctions you can pick up routers and switches at reasonable prices if you go for the older models.
Although I didn’t get a job out of it, I’ve got my home network humming!
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Nice one! I think cold- emailing companies isn’t a great way to go about job hunting though – perhaps you should add your profile to some job sites like daijob.com and try applying online for a couple of positions there. How is your Japanese level? I’m pretty sure with JLPT2 and CCNA you could get a 400,000 yen+ /month entry level…
Thanks for the tip, hadnt thought about looking for routers on yahoo~
Thanks for the suggestion Jamie. I’ve been kind of half arsed in my search for a “proper job” because I’m not sure if that’s what I really want. I like having time to do my own thing as an ALT.
Japanese-wise after 6 years I could be fluent but in reality I’m not. I got JLPT 2 a few years ago but have literally done no studying for about a year.
Andrew Cowan’s latest blog post is…Send money from Japan
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I realize this is an old post. I’m with CompTIA, and we are looking at developing A+ training videos for Japan. We’re in search of a CompTIA-certified A+ instructor, who is a native Japanese speaker. I was wondering if you have come across any good instructors in Japan for CompTIA certifications? Thank you!