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CompTIA Network+

The CompTIA Network+ is an information technology (IT) certification exam that confirms an individual possesses the skills in networking required to develop a career in IT infrastructure. CompTIA (The Computing Technology Industry Association) is the provider of vendor-neutral IT certification.

The exam takes 90 minutes to complete, is limited to no more than 90 questions, and is composed of multiple-choice, drag-and-drop and performance-based questions. Performance-based questions require test-takers to solve problems in simulated environments. A minimal score of 720/900 is needed to pass. The certification is valid for three years.

The exam does not need any prerequisites, but CompTIA does recommend having some prior experience in the networking field.

The CompTIA Network+ certification exam includes questions about these topics:

  • Networking concepts. Explain the purpose of various networking concepts and implement them correctly.
  • Infrastructure. Determine and explain the proper cabling, device and storage technologies.
  • Network operations. Use best practices to manage the network, determine policies and ensure business continuity.
  • Network security. Summarize physical security and common cyberattacks along with securing the wired and wireless network.
  • Network troubleshooting and tools. Explain the network troubleshooting procedures and proper tools to support connectivity and performance.

The CompTIA Network+ certification verifies individuals have the necessary knowledge and skills to troubleshoot, configure, and manage wireless and wired networks in global companies.

CompTIA Network+ also prepares candidates to support a network, regardless of the platform, unlike other certifications, which are vendor-specific.

Skills covered on the CompTIA Network+ exam

CompTIA Network+ ensures an IT professional has the ability to accomplish the following:

  • Design and implement functional networks.
  • Configure, manage and maintain critical network devices.
  • Use devices such as switches and routers to segment network traffic.
  • Create extensive networks.
  • Identify benefits and drawbacks of existing network configurations.
  • Implement network security, standards and protocols.
  • Troubleshoot network problems.
  • Support the establishment of virtualized networks.

How to prepare for the CompTIA Network+ exam

While individual preferences on how to prepare for a test may differ, the following points can help candidates get started and remain organized during the exam preparation process.

  • Understand what's expected. Spend some time reading about the CompTIA Network+ exam and what it takes to pass. The more details individuals know about the questions they'll be required to answer, the more able they'll be to determine what they know and what they need to learn.
  • Self-study guide. CompTIA offers a self-study guide to help individuals prepare to take the CompTIA Network+ exam by covering 100% of the objectives and content examples listed on the syllabus.
  • Download a set of practice questions. This will offer an idea of which questions will be on the test.
  • Classroom training. Individuals can also enroll in CompTIA Network+ certification training offered by some colleges and professional training centers. CompTIA also offers classroom training for organizations looking for dedicated instructor-led training for groups.
  • Instructor-led training. CompTIA offers in-classroom or live online instructor-led training for individuals and teams. CompTIA's network of authorized training partners also offers training.

Who should take the CompTIA Network+ exam?

People who intend to pursue careers in network security, computer networking, computer support, cybersecurity or systems administration should consider getting the CompTIA Network+ certification. However, individuals who don't plan to pursue careers in programming, web development or application development probably don't need the Network+ certification.

CompTIA has stated that current or aspiring IT professionals working in help desk support, computer repair or networking would benefit from earning the CompTIA Network+ certification.

What job roles need the CompTIA Network+ certification?

CompTIA Network+ prepares candidates for the following job roles:

  • Network administrator, who supports an organization's internal servers.
  • Network field technician, who is responsible for developing and maintaining the network in the field.
  • Junior network administrator, who sets up the company's computer networks, monitors and updates the networks, provides network security, and educates non-network workers on the proper way to use and maintain computers.
  • IT consultant, who handles anything from computer repairs to managing and maintaining large networks.
  • Network engineer, who designs and builds communication networks, including wide area networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs) and intranets.
  • Computer technician, who maintains computer equipment, provides support to employees who need technological assistance, performs maintenance to configure components and software, and installs routine updates to software.
  • Help desk technician, who provides users with remote phone or online tier 1 or tier 2 support, in addition to diagnosing and solving computer issues.
  • Systems engineer, who oversees the business, management and engineering aspects of a system or project, ensuring all the parts work together properly.
  • Network support specialist, who analyzes, troubleshoots and evaluates computer network problems.
  • Network analyst, who analyzes network requirements, sets up computer networks, and configures computer hardware and software for the best network communication.

CompTIA Network+ vs. CCNA

There are a few IT networking certifications on the market, including CompTIA Network+ and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).

CCNA is an associate-level networking certification provided by Cisco. To earn the CCNA certification, individuals have to pass an exam created by Cisco to demonstrate they know how to run an IT network.

The main differences between CompTIA Network+ vs. CCNA are:

  • CompTIA Network+ offers a vendor-neutral approach, covering networking technologies across all vendors and products, while Cisco's CCNA verification just focuses on networking for Cisco products.
  • CompTIA Network+ certification covers a few business skills to enable network professionals to keep the objectives of their organizations in mind. CCNA, however, only focuses on technical skills.
  • The CompTIA Network + exam takes 90 minutes, while the CCNA exam allows candidates 120 minutes to complete it.

The main similarities between CompTIA Network+ and CCNA are:

  • Although neither the CompTIA Network+ nor the CCNA certification asks for formal prerequisites, each recommends, but doesn't require, some experience in the networking field.
  • Both the CompTIA Network+ and the CCNA certification exams feature performance-based questions.
  • Each certification is valid for three years.
  • The costs of the exams are similar: $338 for the CompTIA Network+ exam and $300 for the CCNA exam.

For network professionals at the start of their careers, it's beneficial to list either the CompTIA Network+ certification or the CCNA certification on their resumes.

Which certification is best comes down to what an individual needs it to cover. Both will prepare people for the fundamentals of IT networking, including security and configurations, as well as a wide variety of IT-related skills and knowledge.

However, the CompTIA Network+ exam offers a more versatile approach to networking because it is vendor-neutral, while the CCNA exam just focuses on Cisco's products and technologies.

This was last updated in April 2021

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