When CompTIA developed the A+ certification in 1993, it was revolutionary. Prior to this time, IT certifications were limited to particular manufacturers. The qualifications for these certifications had quite a bit in common, and yet people still had to be certified for Dell, Compaq and IBM individually. Then, in 1982, five vendors got together and created the Association of Better Computer Dealers in an effort to improve the IT industry for everyone. They later changed their name to the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, to reflect their changing position in the computer industry and the U.S. business scene. This company grew rapidly throughout the 1990s. Today, CompTIA is made up of distributors, manufacturers, resellers and training companies from all areas of IT, and it is considered one of the most important IT organizations in the world.

In 1993, CompTIA developed its first certification program. The company called it the A+ certification to suggest an overall competency with computers. This program was specifically designed to be a vendor-neutral certification, covering a wide range of skills, technologies and operating systems. The original A+ certification consisted of a single exam that was designed to measure the competency of novice IT technicians with at least 500 hours of experience. It was a rigorous exam, but it was the first one to cover the entire IT industry rather than a single vendor. It was a logical springboard into the IT industry and a stepping-stone to other certifications. As such, it quickly became the most popular IT certification in the business.

The A+ certification exam has undergone three major revisions since its inception. The first revision was in 2003, when CompTIA broke the exam into a hardware and a software section. This exam was more relevant to the technologies and operating systems of the time than the previous one, but it only had a pass rate of 3 to 10 percent. In 2006, the company revised the test again. They broke it into two separate tests and revamped it to include new IT developments and achieve a 20 percent pass rate. The first test, called the A+ Essentials, covered the basics. It encompassed eight different areas, including computer components, operating systems, networks and security. The second test was an elective test, and candidates could choose from three different tests based on their desired specialization. These elective tests were the IT Technician test, the Remote Support Technician test and the Depot Technician test. All four of these tests were mostly theory; they included very little practical application.

After three years, it became apparent that the A+ certification test was again becoming obsolete. Employers wanted IT professionals who could supply support across a wide range of areas, and they wanted people who could apply computer theory to real-life situations rather than simply name the parts of a laptop or a PC. As a result, CompTIA created an entirely new certification test in 2009. They got rid of the three elective tests and replaced them with the Practical Application test, and they revised the A+ Essentials test to include new technologies such as Windows Vista, Core 2 Duo and the latest hard drives and types of memory. In addition, they switched the focus of both tests to real-world application rather than theory. This version of the A+ certification test is still considered relevant today.

Another milestone in the CompTIA A+ certification came in 2007. In April of that year, the exam received accreditation from the American National Standards Institute. This gave the certification more prestige, but it also caused some problems. Before the accreditation, all A+ certifications were lifetime certifications. However, in January of 2010, the American National Standards Institute changed their policy so that their certifications expired after three years. As a result, CompTIA downgraded all their lifetime certifications, requiring certified members to re-take the exam every three years or pay an annual fee. People who had previously received certification felt that this was unfair and a violation of the contract they had signed. A month later, CompTIA decided to allow all previous certificate holders to retain their lifetime certification. However, any A+ certification issued after December 31, 2010 would be subject to expiration after three years.

Today, an A+ certification is as relevant in the IT industry as it was when it was developed. It provides a way to enter the IT profession and is often required for IT careers such as help desk technician, IT administrator and computer repair. Many employers look for this certification when hiring entry-level technicians, and some manufacturers require it as a prerequisite to their training programs. Technicians who hold the A+ certificate generally make 5 to 15 percent more than those without it. In addition, many popular certification programs such as Microsoft's MCSE and MCSA acknowledge the A+ certification and allow it to be used as credit towards their certifications. The A+ Certification has become the preferred way to break into the prestigious field of IT.

Author's Bio: 

In the year 1982, a team of five vendors got together and created the Association of Better Computer Dealers in an effort to improve the IT industry for everyone and provide quality A+ certification courses to the aspirants. Later it become famous with the name Computing Technology Industry Association, which today is one of the most important IT organizations in the world.