Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on CompTIA A+

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Do you have CompTIA's A+ certification? In the beloved movie usical The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’ buoyant Maria, a free-spirited Austrian nun-turned-governess, teaches her charges about singing by telling them, “Let’s start at the very beginning / A very good place to start.” For many in tech, the same could be said of IT  industry association CompTIA’s long-lived A+ certification. With its broad base of foundational IT concepts and processes, A+ (No. 69 in this year’s Salary Survey 75) is both at the very beginning, and also a very good place to start.

The A+-certified individuals who responded to our 2016 Salary Survey are almost all U.S. citizens (90.1 percent), though we did capture a cross-section of global responses as well, with A+ holders checking in from 15 countries outside the United States: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Libya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

Among A+ holders in the United States, the average annual salary in 2016 was $82,270, with a slightly more robust median annual salary of $85,000. For those outside the United States, the average annual salary was $70,060, with a median annual salary of $65,830.

Most of those we surveyed are men (93.9 percent), though we did hear from some A+-certified women. A+ skews younger than many of the certifications in the survey, with 5.4 percent of respondents between the ages of 19 and 24, and 21 percent between the ages of 25 and 34. The biggest group of A+ holders are between the ages of 35 and 44 (31 percent of those surveyed), with other notable contingents between the ages of 45 and 54 (27.6 percent) and between the ages of 55 and 64 (13.1 percent).

The highest level of education attained by most A+ holders is either a bachelors’s degree (33.9 percent of those surveyed) or master’s degree (25.6 percent). The rest of our respondents are here, there, and everywhere: 14.1 percent have completed some technical training (but never attended college), while 13.8 percent have associate’s (two-year) degrees, 4.7 percent have yet to go any farther than simply graduating from high school, and 5.3 percent are currently enrolled as students at a variety of institutions.

A very solid 91.2 percent of A+ holders in the survey are employed full-time, versus just 2.7 percent who are unemployed, 3.4 percent who hold part-time jobs, and 2.4 percent who are students. Among those who have full-time jobs, most either put in a standard 40-hour work week (38.4 percent of those surveyed) or work between 41 and 50 hours (40,7 percent). A little less than 7 percent work more than 50 hours per week, while 5.4 percent work between 31 and 39 hours per week.

Relatively modest proportions of the A+ crowd are in management or executive roles at their places of work, though 12.6 percent of those surveyed are managers. (Also notable: 6.4 percent are senior managers, while 6.8 percent are directors.) Most are serving below the management tier, employed as either senior specialists (30,6 percent of those surveyed), specialists (21.9 percent) or rank-and-file employees (19.5 percent).

There are a lot of old hands among A+ holders in the survey, with 45.2 percent of those surveyed having worked in a role that directly utilizes their certified skills for more than 10 years. The youth movement is also strong however, with 20.2 percent of those surveyed having been in the game for between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years, and 14.1 percent having been thus engages for between 3 years and 5 years. In the middle of the spectrum: 13.1 percent who have been toiling in IT for between 6 and 8 years, and 7.4 percent who have been at it for between 9 and 10 years.

Finally, here’s the view of A+ holders on key questions from the survey about how certification impacts job performance:

At my current job I use skills learned or enhanced through certification: 
Several times a day: 55.9 percent
Several times a week: 24.9 percent
Several times a month: 8.1 percent
Occasionally: 9.1 percent
Rarely: 2 percent

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills. 
Strongly agree: 35.7 percent
Agree: 38.4 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 17.8 percent
Disagree: 3.4 percent
Strongly Disagree: 4.7 percent

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 27.9 percent
Agree: 45.7 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 19.7 percent
Disagree: 4.4 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.3 percent

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 24 percent
Agree: 39.7 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 26.2 percent
Disagree: 6.1 percent
Strongly Disagree: 4 percent

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