CompTIA establishes new baseline for computer literacy with IT Fundamentals exam
Chances are CompTIA's latest certification isn't right for you. If you know someone, however, who can't check their e-mail without contracting a virus, who calls you every time they buy a new computer, who's ever made an IT guy swear, or who simply needs this new job or promotion and is looking for a competitive edge, then you might want to keep reading.
Announced by CompTIA in October, the IT Fundamentals Certification is primarily designed to test individuals for a basic understanding of computer technology. Mastering this cert doesn't require the in-depth understanding of a seasoned IT professional. In other words, this is the certification every hiring manager doesn't know they're looking for, but they'll know it when they see it. There's a reason almost every non-IT job ad includes a line or two insisting on some kind of computer literacy ("Experience with Microsoft Word required!"). Employers want to avoid the sort of computer naivet� that leads to decreased productivity, higher costs, and general inefficiency.
According to the IT Fundamentals web page, holding this credential verifies basic literacy in five areas: identifying and explaining computer components, setting up a workstation (including software installations), establishing network connectivity, identifying compatibility issues and security risks (and preventing them), and managing the safety and preventative maintenance of computers. Holders of the cert aren't going to get called in to manage systems, but a prospective employer will recognize the number of dodged headaches this certification represents.
Anybody can insist that they know their way around a computer, but not everybody can point to the line on their resume that proves it. This is important in careers that rely heavily on computers, which is an ever-expanding category. CompTIA's press release specifically mentions "sales associates, sales engineers, account managers, business development managers, product and marketing specialists and entry level customer support personnel." Applicants to these types of jobs rarely realize the edge that a basic IT certification might give them.
This is not to say that the IT Fundamentals Certification is inapplicable for those embarking on an IT career. It's probably a little behind the curve for anybody already working in IT, but IT Fundamentals is probably a useful stepping stone to the CompTIA A+ certification and other foundational credentials. Obtaining the IT Fundamentals cert demonstrates a direction and intention, as well as filling gaps in knowledge that a hobbyist or casual computer user might have.
The CompTIA IT Fundamentals Certification has no prerequisites, though those interested in obtaining the certification may benefit from a low-level interface with CompTIA's CertMaster adaptive learning tool. The IT Fundamentals exam, FC0-U51, consists of 75 multiple-choice questions and has a 60-minute time limit and a minimum required score of 650. IT Fundamentals is being phased in to replace CompTIA's Strata IT Fundamentals credential (exam FC0-U41), which is scheduled to be retired on Aug. 30, 2015. The new certification is offered worldwide but the only version available currently is the English-language exam. All scheduling and payment can be taken care of on CompTIA's website.