CompTIA Certifications for IT Professionals. Part 1 of 7. CompTIA A + and a webinar entry on preparing for IS certification
1. Acquaintance with certification
My career as an IT specialist began while studying at the university in 2000 in the manufacture of computers in one of the largest system integrators in St. Petersburg. On the conveyor site where I worked, there was a stream assembly of personal computers, pre-installation of client operating systems, as well as tests of the assembled workstations for compliance with technical control requirements.
Under the cut, the story of how the requirements of the chief engineer to improve production encouraged me to become an information security specialist and record a webinar on preparations for CISSP, CISM, CISA, Security +
The chief production engineer wanted to increase productivity, and most importantly, the quality of the work of assemblers, so it was decided to conduct training on one of the sections of the conveyor in accordance with the only internationally recognized certification program for technicians known at that time - CompTIA A +.
This program involves an objective verification of a set of knowledge and skills using 2 exams and tests: the first - on the software component (Windows and Linux-like operating systems), the second - on the hardware (computer technology and peripherals) software of modern PCs.
The exam on operating systems at that time had the code 220-102, where the first number (220) denotes the certification operator CompTIA and does not change, and the second (102) is the version of the exam and changes every time a significant generational change of operating systems occurs. For example, in 2015, at the time of this writing, exam code 220-802 is relevant.
2. Methodology of preparation
Extensive work experience in the production allowed me to quickly prepare for testing practical skills: the installation, configuration, troubleshooting and typical troubleshooting procedures in the current versions of Windows (NT4.0 / 2000) and Linux-like operating systems were brought to automaticity. The knowledge and skills of using setup wizards, command line utilities, configuration files and screen forms were tested seriously enough to state: without real experience of their repeated use, it would be unlikely to correctly answer exam questions.
With the part of the exam where theoretical knowledge was tested, everything was not so smooth: I just started to study at a university, and at the exam I checked my understanding of the architecture of modern OS, the algorithm of the memory manager, features of the implementation of file systems and much more. Therefore, I had to intensively engage in self-study with the help of self-study manuals from the world's leading publishers of IT-related books: Wiley, Sybex, Syngress, Microsoft Press, etc. By the name of the certification status and phrases like the “study guide”, for example, “CompTIA A + exam study guide ”in search engines and thematic forums such as certification.ru, it was possible to find 2-3 books of different authors to familiarize themselves with different approaches to preparation.
One of the difficulties was that the vast majority of textbooks were in English and were not massively translated into Russian, so in parallel I had to study technical English. I also had to “train” myself in paid testing systems (Boson, TestOut, MeasureUp, etc.) with a pool of questions of the level corresponding to the exam, emulating what happens on a real exam. In search engines and topic forums like certcollection.org, you can always find these testing systems by exam codes.
Having achieved a consistently high percentage of correct answers (> 90%), one could hope for a successful exam with the first paid (about $ 150) attempt in a virtual testing system Virtual University Enterprise (www.vue.com).
As a result of 2-month training in my spare time (no one canceled my studies at a university or work in production), I was able to pass the exam on operating systems 220-102 the first time. Then, almost a week later, an exam was passed on the PC hardware - 220-101, about which it makes sense to tell in more detail.
The exam seriously tested the practical skills required for the efficient assembly and diagnostics of personal computer equipment, for example, it was proposed to identify the slots for installing processors from their photographs, to determine the appropriate slot for the described motherboard on the motherboard, to identify incorrect BIOS settings to solve the problem, etc. .
In addition, an understanding of the architecture of modern PCs, the implementation features of the processor, disk, network, and memory subsystems was required to withstand the pace set by the exam in 1.5-2 minutes per question. This understanding came after reading the books “Computer Architecture” and “Modern Operating Systems” by E. Tannenbaum and “UNIX Operating System” by A. Robachevsky.
The certification status A + obtained from the results of passing 2 exams was lifelong, but I understood that the practical skills in connection with the rapid development of IT technologies quickly become obsolete and for their objective assessment it is necessary to update and pass these exams every 2-3 years. At the moment (2015), the 8th version of A + is already relevant - the exams discussed in this article have received the codes 220-802 (OS) and 220-801 (equipment). Well, the status of A + ceased to be issued for life and now requires confirmation every 2-3 years.
4. Additions to the preparation methodology
The training methodology used by me these days can be supplemented by passing video courses (Computer-based training - CBT), which can be found in search engines by the names of their leading world ones, for example, Pluralsight (formerly CBT Nuggets), and national - CA Specialists, developers, as well as the names of certification statuses and exam codes. The mass distribution of virtualization technologies, which make it possible to create a full-fledged virtual stand in the form of a set of virtual machines with various operating systems for working out using relatively shareware software (Oracle Virtual Box, Microsoft Hyper-V, VMWare ESXi, etc.), also greatly facilitates preparation. practical skills for their installation, configuration, troubleshooting.
5. Prospects The
good news was the recognition of CompTIA A + status by most leading IT technology manufacturers (Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, etc.) and its inclusion in their training and certification programs as input requirements for participation in these programs or in as a replacement for part of my certification exams (which helped me a lot in the future when obtaining Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard engineering statuses).
Also, relatively recently, I found out that in many American universities in the undergraduate / graduate programs, as well as in the framework of additional professional education, CompTIA certifications are also counted, saving time and money for training. The reason for all this is the very essence of CompTIA, it is one of the largest non-profit organizations involved in the development and support of training and certification programs for IT professionals in accordance with the advanced open standards of professional education ISO / IEC 17024, as well as the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
6. Continuation of the story
Needless to say, the initiative of the chief production engineer led to an objective improvement in the performance indicators and the quality of the work of assemblers at the experimental site for computer production and motivated the participants in the experiment to continue to professionally develop in the field of information technology using the voiced technique. Subsequently, I moved to the automation division, where the organization’s network segment with dozens of end users was transferred to my area of responsibility, but this is the story for the next article, the topic of which is CompTIA - Network + certification.
I look forward to questions about CompTIA training and certification at PashkovK@muk.com.ua
Lead InfoSec, EMC trainer @ training.muk.ua/courses/security
Recording of the author's webinar - Preparation program for certifications CISSP, CISM, CISA, Security +
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