Why a Network Engineer Must Get A+ Certified Before Getting N+




While the N+ certification is the stepping stone to building a career as a network engineer, there are many who opt for the A+ certification before going for N+. This article explores why this is such a common approach, and what benefits are there to such a step?

Getting an A+ certification before an N+ certification is advisable, especially for those with little experience working with computers. When you take the N+ certification, you are learning to become a network engineer, whose responsibility is to enable users to have ready access to data from the system. But to do this, some basic knowledge of computer systems is essential.

The A+ certification offers a strong foundation in critical aspects of computer hardware and software, before moving on to the more complex N+ certification. Skipping this stage could prove to be costly when you encounter difficulty in grasping the technical concepts of networking in the N+ course. It always helps to get your basics right before taking on more challenging courses.

The A+ certification helps to prepare you for the N+ certification by not only teaching you about hardware and software issues but also by training you in the techniques of solving computer-related problems. For example, a key requirement of the A+ certification is to learn troubleshooting and problem-solving techniques. These methods offer an understanding of the types of issues that you might encounter as a network engineer, as well as a methodical way of approaching, understanding and solving these problems.

Here are some of the ways in which an A+ certification can help you sail through the N+ certification smoothly:

  • Teaching you how to identify the hardware requirements for a given problem and the correct ways of connecting them to other devices and tools
  • Installing the MS Windows operating system and offering users support while working in the command line and graphic user interface
  • Troubleshooting a variety of commonly occurring problems in desktop and mobile computers, as well as addressing problems in different application software
  • Working with the most common forms of networks and configuring some simple types of network architectures
  • Identifying and solving problems in the working of various devices and network components
  • Providing security to users by identifying system vulnerabilities and applying security protocols to prevent data loss or intrusion.
  • Helping users configure mobile computing devices to the main network of the company through network engineering
  • Identify and implement the best practices in environmental projection, professional ethics, and safety in the use of IT resources of the company.

Once you have acquired the above knowledge, you will find it easier to take on the more challenging topics that are included in the N+ certification. These are:

  • Learning the basics of networking and expressing an understanding of the different networking concepts and their application in a practical workplace environment
  • Identifying and planning the infrastructure requirements to set up a new network, including the required devices, cables, and storage methods.
  • Helping the organization develop a policy document and usage guidelines to ensure that the network is used and maintained for smooth operations of the business
  • Ensuring that adequate security measures are in place to avoid any kind of intrusion, hacking, phishing or data theft in the organization
  • Help the staff by troubleshooting commonly occurring issues in the network while providing round the clock connectivity to them with minimal downtime

There is no mandatory condition on taking the A+ certification before N+. A lot of people take the N+ certification directly and clear the exams successfully. However, the case for each person is different, and you need to understand whether you are up to the task. Network engineering requires a detailed understanding of networks as well as hardware and software.

You need to be able to configure different types of networks like LANs, WANs, as well as company intranets. You should also be prepared to work in different environments because the size of the IT department and the resources available to you will differ realty according to the size of your company. In addition to technical know-how, the most critical skill for network engineers is the ability to identify problems and come up with efficient solutions.

Another possible benefit of taking the A+ certification first is that it will give you an insight into working with simple and small-scale networks. On completing this course, you can get some work experience in a company with a small IT department, which will give you exposure to real-world IT issues. You will learn how to manage with limited resources in a small set-up. This experience will be very valuable when you take the N+ certification. The concepts will come to you more clearly as you will be able to apply them to your own experience.

As the above comparison shows, the A+ certification offers a more diverse set of skills which will continue to help you in the long term. Remember that career progress depends on having a generalist approach to your profession as opposed to a specialist approach. However, you need to keep in mind that at the end of the day, the N+ is more valued by the IT community than the A+ certification. The N+ certification gets you better jobs, even though both are entry-level certifications. Once you have the N+ certification in hand, you can branch out in other related fields like cloud management and security.

A Final Word

As can be seen above, the N+ certification is more complex and assumes that you have an understanding of some basic hardware, software, networking, and user management issues. If you do have this knowledge then you can go ahead and enroll in the N+ certification directly.

A lot of people acquire this knowledge from personal use of computers or prior work experience. Taking the A+ certification is not a mandatory prerequisite. However, if you believe you do not have the kind of experience, then it is recommended that you complete the A+ certification first for a better career path.

About The Author
Associate Instructor

Muhammad Shoaib

Muhammad Shoaib is a computer science graduate with 11+ years of diversified professional working experience on multiple technologies including CISCO, Juniper, Maipu, Microsoft, Office 365, Amazon AWS and PowerShell. Being a Network consultant and Project Manager I have driven various successful projects.

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