There are many entry level IT certifications to choose from. The key to knowing which entry-level certification to pursue is taking stock of your own knowledge and skill set. If you have been working hands-on with Cisco routers and switches for 3 years, an entry level Cisco certification is not worth your time or money. If you just graduated from community college and want to enter the workforce in the PC repair business and have 6 months of hands-on experience, then the A+ exam is a perfect entry-level certification to pursue. The deciding factor in my experience has been 100% based on level of experience with the technology – and a desire to enter the career field based on that technology.
Some people do not like to be specialists and only focus their energy on one technology; that is a perfectly acceptable decision and there are many entry-level exams based on general information technology. For the purpose of this Cleared & Certified post, I would like to spotlight the CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ (ITF+) certification. CompTIA has generated some very respected certifications such as the Security+, Network+ and A+ tracks. Let’s take a deeper look at the ITF+ cert and see how it stacks up against the others.
Comptia ITF+ Certification Background
The ITF+ cert was created in October of 2014 as a means of testing one’s knowledge on basic IT terminology, concepts, basic hardware/software features and security. The certification is very surface-level and does not dive deeply into any one area. Within the ITF+ exam objectives there are 6 domains that are covered (plus percentage of exam):
- 1.0 IT Concepts and Terminology (17%)
- 2.0 Infrastructure (22%)
- 3.0 Applications and Software (18%)
- 4.0 Software Development (12%)
- 5.0 Database Fundamentals (11%)
- 6.0 Security (20%)
Within the coursework for this exam you will learn basic binary code, hexadecimal, and decimal notation, among other IT concepts. Units of measure in storage such as bits, bytes, KBs, MBs and GBs, and throughput units such as bps, Kbps and Mbps. Much of what is covered in each domain is very entry-level and not extremely technical. However, the material is covered in a way that is understandable to the beginner and not overly complicated. The name of the certification gives you an idea of the level of detail that is covered in the course material: very foundational.
CompTIA defines the ITF+ exam as follows:
“CompTIA ITF+ helps professionals to decide if a career in IT is right for them or to develop a broader understanding of IT.
- ITF+ is the only pre-career certification that helps students or career changers determine if they have a competency for information technology and if it is the right career path for them.
- ITF+ is the only single certification that covers all areas of IT foundations, creating a broader understanding of IT making it ideal for non-technical professionals.
- ITF+ establishes an IT education framework for students in middle school and high school.”
Training Available for ITF+ cert
There is training available for the ITF+ cert, however there is no prerequisite for training in order to take the exam. There are training options available for free on the web, and there are more formal classroom options as well. Additionally, you can also find many on-demand CBT-style training courses through different vendors.
ITF+ Exam Details
The ITF+ exam (FCO-U61) consists of 75 multiple choice questions which you will have 60 minutes to complete. No prior experience is necessary to take the exam and there is no training prerequisite. The minimum passing score is 650 on a scale of 900.
After passing this exam, the sky is the limit! There is nowhere to go but up from here. Being that it is a foundational cert, the ITF+ can catapult you in any direction you wish to pursue in IT. If you are interested in Security, then the next natural step would be Security+. If networking catches your interest, then Network+ is a good next step.
Is ITF+ For Me?
Chances are, if you are reading this post on this website, you are likely much further advanced than what this certification can offer you. For me, this is a hard “no.” Save your time and money and focus on something more advanced like Network+, Security+ or VCP. A red flag went up when in the description for this cert it reads, “ITF+ establishes an IT education framework for students in middle school and high school.” Kudos to you if you are in high school or middle school and reading a blog post on ClearanceJobs.com! Or maybe you’re a cleared professional looking to make a career shift. Otherwise, pass on this cert.