CompTIA adds wireless and security to certification

Networking professionals entering the market in Canada and around the world will be tested on wireless and security protocols under changes introduced Monday to a certification exam offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association.


said it had surveyed more than 2,500 people as part of the review process for its Network+ certification program. The results have been incorporated into changes to the exam’s objectives, which were last updated in 2001. According to CompTIA, more than 150,000 professionals globally have been certified under Network+ through testing facilities Thompson Prometric and Pearson VUE.

Stephen Johnson, a product manager for CompTIA in Chicago, said the trade association also worked with a wide variety of subject matter experts to identify the protocols around security, wireless and Gigabit Ethernet which were added to the exam.

“It’s protocols around wireless access, USB protocols for connectivity, new information around LDAP,” he said. “VPNs weren’t on the old exam . . . and remote desktop protocols for remote administration.”

Other protocols added to the exam included Wi-Fi Protected Areas (WPA), Johnson added. 

Students taking Network+ will be expected to demonstrate knowledge of the protocols as well as their function in a specific situation, Johnson said.

Network+ tests students on four domains of knowledge: media and technologies, protocols and standards, network implementation and network support. The revision includes changes to the weightings and presentation of objectives within the domains. Some skills have been moved from the support phase into the implementation phase, for example, because CompTIA wanted to recognized they might be needed earlier in a project. 

“It was more of a reshuffling, a re-prioritization of the objectives to better fit within the main areas,” Johnson said.

Canadian post-secondary schools including Ryerson University, offer prep courses to prepare for Network+ certification. Mary Nippak, program manager for Information Technology Studies at Ryerson, said interest in the course is starting to pick up since it began last year. She said the certification has credibility in the eyes of many graduates. 

“They do find value in it, in that it helps them get into the networking environment,” she said. “Knowing the layers, and knowing what network software is all about, it will get you into the software you’re interested in, whether they’re going go into Microsoft or Cisco.”

CompTIA does not require re-certification for Network+, but Johnson said some companies ask their network employees to remain current and take the exam again. Typically networking professionals move from Network+ to vendor-specific certifications from Microsoft, Cisco or Novell, he said. 

“There’s not a lot of need to go back and redo your basics once you have the higher-level certification,” he said. “We are finding that there are a lot of people who are employed as a network technician for several years. They’re not moving up to the next level, they’re working in their current job.”

CompTIA said the 72-question exam would continue to include conventional situational and identification multiple-choice questions. The exam usually takes about 90 minutes and the association recommends its A+ certification and nine months of networking experience before attempting it.

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