"The CompTIA Network+ certification is designed to prove a networking technician's knowledge-level to employers. It is intended for networking persons with 9 months of experience in the field, but the certification exam can be taken by anyone. It is usually taken after the A+ exams."
To obtain the Network+ certification you must pass one exam. The current Network+ exam is called: N10-004. It is the 2009 edition. Here's a quick breakdown of the exam specifications:
The passing score of 720 is graded on a scale of 100-900. This equates to approximately 76% correct. This exam is generally considered to be more difficult than the A+ exams, with more scenario-oriented questions, and more troubleshooting-based questions.
The content of the exam is described by CompTIA in an objectives document. You can download the objectives (in .PDF format) by clicking the following link:
Or, by clicking here and filling out the form.
The Network+ objectives are broken down into 6 domains. Each domain covers a particular percentage of the exam as shown below:
It's important to study all of the domains, and all of the objectives within each domain. Exam questions can come from any of the objectives.
Network+ Exam costs and how to save money
The cost of the Net+ exam shown in the previous table is for exams taken in the United States. (For a list of global prices, see this link). This fee is not paid directly to CompTIA however. You must register for, and schedule the exam with either Sylvan Prometric or Pearson Vue. These organizations administer the exams at a testing facility near you, so they are the ones to be paid. You can register online or by phone. Be sure to have a credit card ready and your Social Security#. If you do not have a Social Security number and this is your first exam, the testing agency will assign you an examinee number. Be sure to take two forms of ID (one with photo, both signed) to the testing center on the day of your exam. For help on how to pass any exam, see my article at this link.
One sure way to save yourself money in the long run is to not rush the exam. Only take the exam when you are fully ready. How will you know? You should be passing your practice exams with scores of 85% or higher. If your study guide only has one practice exam, consider purchasing a second study guide, or additional practice exams. You should also be able to define any key word that is listed in your study guide and the acronyms listed in the objectives. You should also create some kind of cheat sheet (which I show how to create in my books) from which to do last minute study. By doing these things, you give yourself a much better chance of passing. remember, if you fail a certification exam, you will have to pay for it and take it all over again!
Frequently Asked Questions
I've been teaching Net+ courses for a long time and I often get questions from students and readers about the best ways to prepare for the exam. The following covers some of the most common questions and my answers and recommendations. Keep in mind that these are general recommendations that work for most people, but that some people will have special circumstances. If you have questions that are not covered here, or have questions about my books, feel free to contact me.
Q: Why get the CompTIA Network+ certification?
A: Employers look for the Network+ certification when preparing to hire LAN Support Specialists, Jr. Network Admins, and other similar positions. If you are in the computer networking job hunt, adding this to your resume is a wise choice. Some organizations, corporations, and military establishments require their computer networking professionals to certify to, and remain certified to, the Network+. The Network+ is also a great foundation for other certifications such as the Security+, and Microsoft and Cisco certifications.
Q: What kind of experience and pre-requisites should I have before attempting the CompTIA Network+ exams?
A: CompTIA recommends that a person has 9 months of hands-on experience in the field, but this is not required. Many people take the exam with less experience. No other certifications are required as pre-requisites, but the A+ is recommended.
Q: Should I take a class on Network+?
A: If you have not built a network before, or do not have the recommended 9 months of experience in the field, I would normally recommend an instructor-led authorized CompTIA Network+ course. I'm talking about an on-site course where you can learn in a hands-on manner from a dedicated instructor in a classroom that has plenty of networking equipment: switches, routers, cabling, tools, and of course, computers and servers. The training center should also have the software required for operating system installations (Windows Server 2008, Linux, Novell, and so on...). If you are brand new to computers, I recommend an introductory computer course and then take the A+ course before moving on to the Network+ course. Net+ courses can be taken at county and community colleges, technical schools, and even some high schools. Click the search button below to find Network+ training centers in your area.
Q: Should I set up a home lab? And if so, what equipment should I use?
A: You should definitely have a lab. You need to create, configure, and troubleshoot networks in order to really understand the objectives on the Network+ exam. And regardless, my mantra is always "learn by doing!" In fact, I probably sound like a broken record!
This lab should not include the computer you have for
everyday use. You don't want to damage your main everyday computer do
you? Of course not. Your network should have at least two computers,
more if you can swing it. At least one should act as a dedicated server.
If you are short on money, consider e-bay, and computer refurbishers
such as Dell Outlet
Business Computers (a quick Google search will aid you in your quest
for more computer refurbishers). Also consider using virtual machines
so you can run Windows XP, Vista, and 7, Server 2008, Server 2003, Linux,
and so on, all at the same time, even if your network is limited to
only two computers! There are several different types of virtual software
that can be downloaded for free; for example, Microsoft
Virtual PC 2007. For information on how to use Virtual PC, see
this video. You should also have a small-office/home-office (SOHO)
router to experiment with. I recommend the D-Link
DIR-655 Extreme N Gigabit Wireless Router. Another smart option
is to use a KVM switch. KVM stands for Keyboard-Video-Mouse; these devices
allow you to share a monitor, keyboard, and mouse between multiple computers.
Powered KVM switches are the best, but passive models are less expensive,
for example the IOGear
2 Port USB Cable KVM Switch with Audio and Mic GCS72U (Black). Other
manufacturers of KVM switches include StarTech and TRENDnet. It would
also help to get a switch, a Cisco router, some cabling and cabling
tools as well. The more hands-on you do, the better you will prepared
for the exam. I understand that these things cost money, so search around
for good deals on e-bay, and on Google, as well as the links I previously
mentioned. If you don't feel comfortable with obtaining this type of
equipment, then I further recommend a hands-on course at an onsite authorized
Q: What kind of, and how many study materials should I use?
A: The typical study guide is usually the best bet. I usually recommend that the reader study from two sources, in order to get the viewpoint of two different authors. This helps to increase your knowledge greatly. I recommend the Network+ Cert Guide, but feel free to use even a second and even a third source! A quick search on Amazon (or your favorite book website) for the search term "CompTIA Network+" will yield plenty of results with reviews. Video training can also be beneficial, but most people only use this as a secondary method, and not as the primary training method. My Network+ Video Mentor (shown below) has acted as a very helpful tool in giving hands-on knowledge to readers and solidifying their knowledge for the exam. Finally, it is possible to purchase extra practice exams, but this should only be done if the reader feels it is absolutely necessary, and is not doing well on the practice exams in the study guides, or, if the study guide does not offer enough practice exams.
Q: How long does the certification last for?
A: As of January 1st, 2011, the Network+ certification is valid for 3 years from whenever you completed passing both exams. After 3 years, a person would need to re-certify by either taking the new exam, or by obtaining continuing education units (CEUs). CEUs can be gathered by taking classes, sitting workshops, teaching classes, taking a higher level exam, and so on. See this link for more information on how this can be accomplished. If you were certified before January 1st, 2011, your certification will remain valid for life. This also applies to the A+ and Security+ exams.
Q: Can I still take the bridge exam?
A: No, the bridge exam has been retired. In fact, CompTIA is retiring the bridge exams for each of the A+, Net+, and Sec+. This is because these exams have become 3-year renewables as of January 1st, 2011.
Q: Can I take the exam in Spanish?
A: Yes, in addition to English, the exam is administered in Spanish, German, Japanese, and Korean. Keep in mind that you will need to pick the right language when you register for your exams.
Q: What's next after the Net+?
A: Generally, the next step for my students and readers
is to go for the CompTIA Security+ exam.
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