OK, so everybody knows about the Big Three certs from CompTIA: A+, Network+, and Security+. A+ and Network+ are more or less checkbox items for aspiring entry-level IT, help desk, and tech support workers. Security+ is fast becoming a stepping stone to other, more senior, well-recognized and -rewarded information security certs as well (see our SearchSecurity.com guide to information security certifications for more information on this topic).
All this said, CompTIA offers a total of 13 certifications. What about the other 10? Here’s a list with information and commentary to help introduce them to those who haven’t come across them before, and to refamiliarize those who may have heard of them before:
CompTIA CDIA+ Certification: The CDIA+ was CompTIA’s first-ever certification and has been around for more than 10 years. It target a very specific niche market for digitizing, storing, and managing documents in digital form rather than paper form. It’s intended to demonstrate expertise in technologies and best practices involved in planning, designing, and specifying document imaging and management systems. Here again, this remains a narrowly-focused and relatively small market segment.
CompTIA Convergence+ Certification: Responding to industry requests for more skills and knowledge about communications technologies, which are said to reside where data communications, telephony and telecommunications, and video and broadcast multimedia technologies combine into a single IP-based delivery system, Convergence+ seeks to demonstrates basic skills and knowledge across all these areas. CompTIA faces stiff competition from the Telecommunications Industry Association’s (TIA’s) Convergence Technologies Professional (CTP) and Certified in Convergent Network Technologies (CCNT) certifications here, and has not been as widely adopted or recognized in the marketplace, either.
CompTIA CTT+ Certification: The Certified Technical Trainer, or CTT credential, predates its acquisition by CompTIA. It’s a vendor-neutral classroom training cert that is accepted as evidence of sufficient training skills in many vendor-specific training programs in lieu of their own in-house credentials (where available). Obtaining a CTT+ certification requires candidates to demonstrate their preparation, presentation, communication, and facilitation skills, and to submit a videotape for evaluation of classroom skills and behavior. It’s probably the best-known, most valuable, and most widely sought-after of all the “other” CompTIA certs.
CompTIA DHTI+ Certification: DHTI stands for Digital Home Technologies Integator, and covers a grab-bag of digital home technologies including alarm systems, control systems, entertainment systems, communications, networking, and more. The successor to the short-lived Home Technologies Integrator (HTI+) certification, the DHTI+ continues to face issues with breadth and depth of coverage in a collection of technology areas that are changing so rapidly as to defy codification and currency in coverage. Nevertheless, the DHTI+ certification seeks to demonstrate competence in configuring, integrating, maintaining, troubleshooting, and comprehending basic design concepts for electronic and digital home systems. Here again, this is a narrowly focused niche for high-end equipment vendors, installation companies, home builders, and so forth, that has yet to gain significant traction outside those organizations where hiring qualified technicians can be a real challenge.
CompTIA e-Biz+ Certification: E-business (or E-biz) is an area of technical activity that involves conducting business online. It’s kind of a combination of Web technology and e-commerce; e-Biz+ is no longer available worldside (it’s only available in Korean and Japanese languages). This is a credential whose time has largely come and gone.
CompTIA Linux+ Certification: Linux certifications are many, and their coverage is often scattered, where focus on actual distributions may be tightly focused or all over the place. Linux+ is vendor-neutral, and focuses on open source and Linux basics, including fundamentals of user administration, file permissions and access controls, and setup and software configuration, plus local storage and network management. Linux+ has not really been widely adopted and faces stiff competition from the longer-lived, multi-tiered, and more wide-ranging Linux Professional Institute credentials (LPIC levels 1 through 3), as well as well-recognized vendor Linux certs from Red Hat, Novell/Suse, and others.
CompTIA PDI+ Certification: The PDI+ certification takes printing and document imaging devices as its focus, and seeks to demonstrate knowledge and skills necessary for to support and operate high-end printing and document imaging devices. Topics covered include print and scan processes and components, basic electromechanical tools, and color theory, along with soft skills such as customer service and professionalism, safety, and environmental sensitivity. This is another niche cert that aims to supply printing and imaging service providers with qualified technical staff.
CompTIA Project+ Certification: Project+ might be described as a set of “training wheels” for the Project Management Institute’s (PMI’s) Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. That is the Project+ focuses on fundamental project management skills including the whole project life cycle starting with initiation and planning, all the way through execution, acceptance, support and closure. The PMP remains “the” certification for project management professionals, while Project+ is a stepping-stone to that goal at best.
CompTIA RFID+ Certification: RFID stands for Radio Freqency Identifier, a special kind of hardware device that announces itself to inquiring transponders and provides other data as well. The RFID+ seeks to demonstrate knowledge and skills in the areas of installation, maintenance, repair, and upkeep of hardware and software functionality of RFID products. This credential is designed with a very specific audience in mind, and is relevant for those seeking work with RFID technologies. But it’s still a fairly small niche.
CompTIA Server+ Certification: Server+ was designed as a higher-level credential, which makes sense given its focus ontechnical competencies surround network server issues and technologies. Coverage includes installation, configuration, upgrading, maintenance, and environment, plus troubleshooting and disaster recovery. Server+ is accepted in some vendor-specific programs, but at most it takes the place of a single exam in programs that require passing four or more exams to earn vendor certification.
As you look over these certs, it’s wise to consider where CompTIA gets its name and mission: at its heart it’s an industry association whose mandate is to identify areas of technical competency where industry needs workers and to design certifications based on job requirements to match. For some of these credentials, there’s a happy fit between what IT professionals want and need to learn and what industry is looking for. For others, exposure, interest, and experience in specific industry niches drives the certs, and must therefore drive professionals into seeking the related certs as well.