CompTIA Courting Entry-Level IT Workers Harder than Ever
CompTIA has recently fired up the beta test process for its upcoming overhaul of the fresh-faced IT Fundamentals certification. If you visit that credential's home page, in fact, you'll be asked (by an adorable robot, no less) to take a self-assessment to help you decide if IT is a good potential career fit.
Just for grins, I took the assessment myself. As one might expect, given that I've been working in and around the field for more than 30 years now, I am indeed well-suited to work in IT. Either that, or I'm good at anticipating what kinds of answers the survey was looking for (which wouldn't be hard for anyone to guess, though I did answer as honestly as I could).
The IT Fundamentals is now about as entry-level as CompTIA certifications come. In fact, it's positioned as a precursor to the "Big Three" entry-level CompTIA certs: A+, Network+ and Security+. The beta's been open since Feb. 21 but remains available through Pearson VUE for a mere $30.00.
It consists of 75 multiple-choice questions, delivered over a 60-minute testing window. The exam covers basic skills and knowledge related to computing, software development, IT infrastructure, and database usage. When the exam goes final, the price goes up to $119, so it's a real bargain right now.
I may take it myself, just for more grins. Besides, who can resist cute robots, right? I see this as part of a well-designed and admirably-intentioned effort from CompTIA to help address the looming skills gap and personnel shortages in IT. It's also something you're definitely going to want to share with high school kids and college-age individuals.
IT Fundamentals (and its companion career assessment) is a great way for them to tell if they've got the interest (as well as the basic skills and knowledge) to take at least an exploratory foray down the IT career path. It's more than just fluff, too: Here's a paragraph from the CompTIA press release on the availability of the beta exam:
Test takers must demonstrate their knowledge and ability to explain and use programming concepts; understand the purpose of databases and how to interface with databases; install software; establish basic network connectivity; identify and prevent basic security risks; and explain troubleshooting theory and the preventative maintenance of devices.
This looks like a good move on CompTIA's part. I wonder how the marketplace in general, and the age cohort most likely to be thinking about "What do I want to do for a living" (typically those between the ages of 16 and 23), will react to this offering.
It should be fascinating to watch how much uptake this new credential generates, and how it does in permeating the collective consciousness of employers and those who might actually benefit from the credential. I guess we'll just have to wait and see, as far as those things go. Stay tuned.