This article is about the Network+ certification and it’s benefits and drawbacks. For information on the CompTIA Security+, see our article here. To see our list of recommended resources for the Network+, go here.
The Network+ certification is one of the most prominent introductory level certifications available, and one of the most popular that CompTIA offers. As with any certification, people often wonder if they should spend the money and time needed to earn it. Let’s evaluate if the CompTIA Network+ is worth this investment for you.
Should you get the CompTIA Network+? If you intend to pursue a career in computer networking or network security, computer support, systems administration or cybersecurity, you should consider getting the CompTIA Network+ certification. If you intend to pursue a career in programming, application development or web development, you probably do not need the Network+ certification.
Let’s take a look at the careers that benefit from the CompTIA Network+, what we should know about the test, and what we will learn by sitting for it.
CompTIA Network+ Exam Details
|Number of Questions||Up to 90|
|Question Type||Multiple Choice, drag and drop and PDQ|
|Test Length||90 Minutes|
|Scoring||Minimum 720 out of 900|
|Recommended Experience||A+ plus a minimum of 9 months of networking experience.|
|Suggested Prerequisite||CompTIA A+ and strong networking knowledge.|
Key skill areas of the CompTIA Network+
Who should consider the CompTIA Network+
CompTIA has specifically stated that current or aspiring IT professionals that are working in computer repair, helpdesk support, or networking would benefit from earning the Network+.
Should You Consider the Network+
Computer networks are everywhere, so it stands to reason that any technical position that has to interact with a network or it’s resources would benefit from networking knowledge. There are several job classifications that are required to work with or interact with an organization’s network.
The Network+ is probably a good certification to earn if you are, or are intending to go into the following job roles:
Information Systems Manager – Plan and oversee information technology projects for a business or organization or a department. Many of these projects will be network-based, so an understanding of networking and network protocols would be helpful for this position.
Computer Support Specialist – Provide tier one or tier two technology solutions for users, including software and hardware installation. With so much software, drivers and other resources being stored on the network or in the cloud, an understanding of networking would be beneficial here.
Help Desk Technician – Provide remote phone or online tier one or tier two technology help for users. These positions will probably not have the responsibility of working on the network, but having an understanding of networking would make people in this position more valuable, and more likely to be promoted.
Network Administrator/Systems Administrator – Provide administration of an organization’s systems and networks. Obviously the CompTIA Network+ would be beneficial to these positions, but this would not be the only certification that would be needed. People in these positions should consider other additional certifications, such as the Cisco CCNA.
Computer Network Architect – Plan and develop an organization’s network systems. Just as in the case of network administrators, these positions will benefit from the Network+ but will probably need more certifications as well.
Penetration Tester – Test the security of a system by attempting to simulate an approved attack or hack of an organization’s technology systems or assets. While there are several dedicated penetration testing certifications, they all require a good bit of knowledge of networking systems, since these are a part of what you’ll be testing. Because of this, the CompTIA Network+ wouldn’t be a bad idea for penetration testers as well.
Careers that don’t need the CompTIA Network+
While there are many cyber security-related positions that would benefit from having the Network+, there are many technical positions that probably don’t need it. Most of those have to do with software development of some kind. Let’s take a look at a few:
Computer Programmers – Develop and test computer code that creates applications or other software solutions. Many computer programmers are not tasked with networking responsibilities, so it is unlikely that they would benefit from the Network+ certification exam unless they were looking to move into management at some point and that position would be overseeing that area.
Web Developers – Develop and test code that creates web-based applications for the internet or internal intranet networks. Just like other programmers, dedicated web development professionals probably only need a limited knowledge of networking, if any. Their time would be better spent learning new web technologies.
What experience is required to sit for the CompTIA Network+?
The Network+ certification does not have any required prerequisites, meaning that anyone can sit for the Network+ at any time, without having to validate any kind of background. CompTIA, however, recommends that candidates have the A+ certification and at least 9 months of networking based experience.
We have found that having the CompTIA A+ is beneficial in that it means you would have seen a CompTIA style exam before sitting for the Network+, however, most Network+ candidates will perform well on the Network+ even if they have not earned the A+, provided that they prepare adequately.
The most important thing to ensure success on the CompTIA Network+ is to fully understand basic, general computer networking concepts such as subnetting, protocols, and the OSI model.
What is the cost of the CompTIA Network+?
The cost of the CompTIA Network+ is $319, however, students that have and enroll with a .edu email address often can get a discount, and there are discounts available through many training centers and training materials.
What is the DoD compliance of the Network+?
The CompTIA Network+ is a Department of Defense approved 8570 IAT level 1 certification.
How long does it take to prepare for the CompTIA Network+?
IT professionals already in the field that have networking experience can often study for approximately 60 days and be sufficiently prepared to pass the Network+, however, those without that background will need a good bit more time to prepare.
Is the CompTIA Network+ hard?
One of the most common questions regarding the Network+ is if the exam is hard.
So, is the CompTIA Network+ hard? Most beginning IT professionals with minimal certification or hands-on experience will find the Network+ challenging, however, seasoned networking professionals will not find the Network+ to be as challenging as other certifications they may have earned.
The CompTIA Network+ exam is actually quite difficult and requires a great deal of study, especially for those not in the field. For this exam, it is especially important to read all questions thoroughly and completely, and perhaps reread them as well. There have been many examples of people that have failed this exam because they didn’t realize there were multiple parts to a question, or a question was worded in a way that was somewhat unclear when reading only once. Dedicate yourself to carefully reading each question in its entirety and understanding what it is asking.
What is the CompTIA Network+ exam like?
You will not be allowed to bring anything into the exam with you, but you will be given a whiteboard or paper and a marker or pen to write with. You should immediately use this to write down important facts that you’ll need to know, such as the subnet masks of various subnets.
The good news is that you will know your results as soon as you complete the exam. You will know your score and your pass/fail status, but you will not know what specific questions you answered correctly.
You may get as many as 90 questions on the exam, and you’ll have 90 minutes to complete them. The minimum passing score is a 720 out of 900, so when you are preparing for the exam, you should be easily scoring 85% or better on each and every practice exam you take.
What certifications are comparable to the CompTIA Network+?
The most commonly compared certification to the Network+ is the CCNA or Cisco Certified Network Associate from Cisco. The Security+ certification, also from CompTIA, is focused on network security concepts, however it has a substantial overlap of exam objective content with the Network+.
How well known is the CompTIA Network+?
Network+ has been around for quite a few years and is very well known in the IT industry. Nearly every hiring manager and HR professional will be familiar with the Network+, and most will have experience with interviewing, and perhaps hiring, a person with the Network+ certification.
How long is the CompTIA Network+ good for?
The Network+ is good for three years from the date of earning the certification and can be renewed with CEU credit, or by recertifying with a higher-level certification, such as the Security+.
What does the Network+ say about the future of networking?
On the Network+ exam, CompTIA has been “expanding coverage” in the areas of security, cloud computing, virtualization, and network resiliency on the last several iterations of the exam. So, what do these changes say about CompTIA’s view of the future of networking, and how can you best prepare?
Tip #1: Network+ administration and security are now one and the same.
In the old days of networking, security wasn’t the obsession it is today, and network administrators and network security analysts were more often than not separated positions. Back then, fewer networks were online, fewer people were online, and fewer hackers were online. Today, with so many assets connected to the internet, the value to hackers has increased exponentially, and therefore so have the attacks. We are no longer in a situation where professionals related to network support have the option of being uninvolved in or unaware of the security of that network. For CompTIA to dedicate a substantial portion of the Network+ exam to security speaks volumes about the future of networking and the role that security will play.
Prediction: Over the next decade, security will be the prominent factor that will make or break the careers of those that enter into network administration and support.
Tip #2: The future is in the cloud.
With the rise of cloud computing, software defined networking and virtualization, networking professionals need to be prepared for more and more services on the network to migrate to the cloud, and for the network itself to make the migration as well. I have heard a few networking pros share concerns that this trend may mean an eventual diminishing in the roles of IT professionals, since there will be less assets to locally support, but that may not be a major factor in the long term.
Prediction: Technical positions will evolve into quasi-advisory roles, where we will be called to advise business decision-makers on how technology can be leveraged to benefit the bottom line of an organization. Technology will be increasingly viewed as a profit center instead of a cost.
Tip #3: Network support will be more project-based.
With the push into the cloud and my prediction of advisory roles becoming more prominent in our future, more projects (and project management) are also on the way. It is just too easy now to spin up a cloud-based server for a dedicated project and tear it down six days or six months from now with little cost in time or upfront financial investment. And with Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) in full swing and growing in the cloud, IT professionals that are not even in management will be prime targets for project management assignments.
Prediction: Project management experience or credentials (like the PMP or CAPM from Project Management Institute) will be increasingly required for senior-level IT positions and will send salaries for those with these qualifications upward.
|Use the Network+ as a way to renew your already earned A+ certification.|
|If you are extremely interested in earning the Network+, and especially if you have experience in IT, you probably don’t need to focus on earning the A+ first.|
|The Network+ now has a great deal of security-based exam objectives, so don’t neglect security concepts in your preparation.|
Where do I take the certification exams? CompTIA’s exams are offered through Pearson Vue, which has authorized testing centers just about everywhere. Check out pearsonvue.com to do a testing center search for your area.
How much do the CompTIA certification exams cost? Most are about $300 or so, but they do provide educational discounts if you have a .edu email address or are a student. Check out specific rates for each exam at comptia.org.
You can see our recommended resources for the Network+ here.