By Scott Ford, M.Ed.
Are you thinking of adding the CompTIA Network+ certification to your professional toolbox? If you are new to CompTIA certification or maybe have the CompTIA A+, you probably have some questions. Fortunately, we have answers for the most commonly asked questions around earning your CompTia Network+ certification.
What is CompTIA Network+ certification?
CompTIA Network+ is a vendor-neutral network certification for IT professionals. According to CompTIA, the exam “validates the essential knowledge and skills needed to confidently design, configure, manage and troubleshoot any wired and wireless networks.” So, what does vendor-neutral mean? It means that the certification is designed to represent networking technology in general and not just one specific manufacturer. This is different than say Cisco certification which is based on Cisco products, or a Microsoft certification that is based on Microsoft products.
The Network+, or Net+ as it is commonly known as, is an entry-level certification for IT professionals in the networking. It is designed to indicate approximately nine months of networking professional experience.
Why should I get CompTIA Network+ certified?
The CompTIA Network+ certification exam is not easy, you need to have real experience in order pass. That’s what makes it so worthwhile for IT professionals looking to validate their skill set. There are some very tangible rewards to passing the exam and becoming a Net+ professional, including increased salary, eligibility for promotion, and expanded career opportunities. In fact, estimates from industry sources put the average salary of a Net+ certified IT professional around $74,000.
What exams must I take to become CompTIA Network+ certified?
If you are pursuing Net+ certification after completing your A+ certification, I have some great news for you. Unlike the A+ certification, you only need to pass one exam, the CompTIA Network+ N10-006.
How much does it cost to take the CompTIA Network+ exam?
The price varies depending on what country you are in. Here in the U.S., the exam costs $302. If you live in another country, you can click here to find other pricing.
Do I need to take a class to prepare?
Hands-on experience doesn’t always align with IT certification exams. IT professionals with years of experience fail these entry-level exams and others with only classroom experience pass. A study guide book and a few online review questions may be all you need if you have worked in the networking field for a while, though a prep course can still be very helpful in mapping out what to expect in the exam.
If you aren’t already working in this field and don’t know your RD45 from your RD11 or know that it is an RJ and not an RD, then it is highly recommend to take a CompTIA Networking+ prep course. A prep course can guide you through the skills and knowledge you need to demonstrate, including providing specific activities that can build up your skill set.
Fortunately, you can enroll in a low cost prep course online so you can prepare for your certification exam at your convenience. If you want to save a lot of money on a prep course, check out the low-cost CompTIA Networking+ course available through StraighterLine. A highly respected and experienced online course provider, StraighterLine offers CompTIA certification training courses that cost $59 with a $99 monthly membership.
Where do I go to take the CompTIA exams?
Computer certification exams, like CompTIA and Microsoft, are done at testing centers. CompTIA is a Pearson|VUE exam and administered at Pearson|VUE testing centers.
To schedule an exam, use this link: https://certification.comptia.org/testing/schedule-exam
What is the CompTIA Network+ exam like?
The exam is computer-based with a time limit of 90 minutes with a maximum of 90 questions. You need a score of 720 on a scale of 100-900 in order to pass.
Let’s drill down. There will be questions that are multiple choice (single and multiple answers), drag-and-drop as well as performance-based. If you have never taken a computer-based exam, I highly suggest that you do some practice questions. CompTIA provides some examples on their site to try. Enrolling in a Network+ prep course can give you significant insight into the exam experience with practice tests that give you a real feel for what to expect.
Two final pieces of advice. Testing centers do not allow you to take anything into the testing environment. Bring two forms of ID and leave the rest of your stuff in a safe location. If you have a documented handicap, CompTIA does provide accommodations. You must set up these accommodations ahead of time. For more on test accommodations click here.
What if I don’t pass the first time?
Remember that these exams are not easy. Review materials that you were weak in and try again. Enroll in a prep course so you know where you need to focus your study efforts -- as well as have access to the study material and activities that you need to know.
CompTIA allows you to take a second attempt at any time after your first one. If you need to take the exam for a third time or more, you must wait at least fourteen calendar days from the date of your last attempt.
What equipment do I need to prepare for Network+ certified?
The absolute bare minimum to get ready for the exam:
- A computer running at least one of the follow operating systems: Windows (7 or newer), OS X, or Linux
- Software (most if not all of these you can find free versions of):
- Packet sniffer
- Port scanner
- Wi-Fi Analyzer
- A notebook, as in the paper type
- Access to practice questions
- The Internet
Nice to have.
- Access to the modern operating systems: Windows (7 or newer), OS X, and Linux
- Cable tester
- Punchdown tools
- Wireless router
- Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable
I would recommend that you do not go and spend lots of money upfront getting these items. Instead, purchase them if and only if you need them while preparing.
Interested in taking a certification prep course? Enroll in StraighterLine’s low-cost CompTIA Network A+ Certification prep course and prepare for your exam at an affordable cost!
About the Author: Scott Ford, M.Ed., is an award-winning senior instructional designer and President of Scott Ford Consulting. He has had the honor of developing training courses that have been used by the DEA, FBI, CIA, law enforcement officers, and oil and gas companies. Scott is CompTIA A+, Network+, MCP, MCDST, and MOS certified.