Is the CompTIA Network+ Certification Worth It?
[This post was originally published on May 31st 2016 and last updated on February 28th 2019 .]
The CompTIA Network+ certification can help launch or contribute to a career in networking, cyber security, Linux administration, or related fields. Network+ is a foundational certification, but you shouldn’t necessarily downgrade its value due to that fact, especially if employers reference the certification in job postings.
This post asks these questions to determine if the Network+ certification is for you:
- Does your organization or employer require Network+?
- Who will pay for the training and certification exam?
- How does your experience and knowledge match up to the Network+ prerequisites?
- How does Network+ align with your career goals?
- What does Network+ cover in networking?
- How does Network+ differ from other networking certifications?
1. Does the employer require Network+?
In the private sector the certification is not a requirement, but particular employers may require you to have the certification or earn it within a set time period after being hired.
Also, hiring managers may need to checkoff certain skill, experience, and certification requirements when reviewing resumes. Not having the Network+ certification could disqualify you from a candidate pool. This is not meant to disparage those professionals with significant networking and overall IT experience that a hiring manager should recognize and bypass the certification requirement. Each job opening and employer varies.
In the public sector the government mandated D0DD 8570 requires CompTIA Network+ and similar certifications to work for specific agencies.
Certifications do demonstrate an understanding of the exam objectives stated by CompTIA exams. A person may put in enough study time and come to understand networking for the CompTIA Network+ exam, but this in no way guarantees that the person will become a successful network administrator or technician. Only time will tell.
2. Who pays for the training and certification exam?
When employers pay, there’s very little reason to say no.
Now assume you’re in between jobs or searching for a better job, and must pay for the certification yourself. Vincent Cesca, one of our bloggers, explained how he self-studied for the A+ certification and paid for it on his own. Why did he spend the money on the exam? He believed the studying experience and initiative he demonstrated to earn the certification was worth it.
He considered the money spent as a worthwhile investment in his future, especially when compared to the higher costs of college courses.
3. Does your experience and skills match the Network+ prerequisites?
Individuals may refer to the CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications as “entry-level” credentials only necessary for those with little to no experience in the information technology field and lacking basic networking knowledge. When searching for jobs you’ll notice the classification of “entry-level” varies on job descriptions, and according to human resource managers.
Entry-level applies to novice IT professionals with 0-3 years of working experience. We encounter students with different backgrounds, including entry-level to significantly experienced, at Phoenix TS who take Network+ training. The decision on whether to train or go right to testing after minimal studying, ultimately falls on the individual person or organization paying the person to certify.
Before jumping into training or testing for the certification, speak at length with your Training Manager, a Training Consultant, and reflect on the strength of your knowledge and experience as measured by the Network+ prerequisites and exam objectives outlined by CompTIA.
4. Does Network+ align with your career goals?
If you pursue Network+, A+, or Security+ at this point, I doubt you mapped out a complete career path for the next five to ten years.
Only if you foresee yourself pursuing a path as a Network Administrator, then you should consider skipping the A+ certification. However, as you’ll read in the next section, A+ and Network+ are connected in more ways than you realize.
5. What Does Network+ Cover in Networking?
Networking does not permit you to dismiss an understanding of hardware altogether. Critics may dismiss or step right over the A+ certification calling it a worthless certification for absolute beginners who know nothing.
One user in a certforums thread titled “CompTIA Network+ or A+ before CCNA” described the connection between Network+ software and A+ hardware understanding:
“Networking is about connecting physical devices together, more often than not, those devices are computers. The hardware, such as Network Interface Cards (NICs) in the computers is needed to enable networking to happen. Understanding how the NICs are implemented and how the various networking protocols are configured, the differences between USB and serial devices etc.. will help you get a rock solid foundation to build the rest of your networking knowledge on.”
For a full understanding of what Network+ addresses in networking, look at the Network+ exam objectives below:
- Networking Concepts
- Network Operations
- Network Security
- Network Troubleshooting and Tools
6. How does Network+ differ from CCNA or other Networking certifications?
CCNA and Network+ address different material and levels of experience. This blog post by Ashley Wheeler compares CCNA vs CompTIA Network+ certification.