Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on CompTIA A+

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

The CompTIA A+ credential provides a point of entry to the IT realm for many aspiring tech professionals.Turn back the clock 25 years and we’ve got President Bill Clinton in the White House, Jurassic Park rampaging through the movie box office landscape, and Michael Jordan taking down Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals. Also 25 years ago, then-fledgling tech industry association CompTIA unveiled its first certification exam, a little thing called A+.

In 2018, more than 1 million individuals worldwide have made CompTIA A+ certification (No. 64 in this year’s Salary Survey 75 list) an IT career building block. That a lot of A+ certs in a lot of back pockets and a lot of people who learned the basics of a pretty broad range of IT disciplines from various CompTIA study materials over the past 2.5 decades.

Here’s what the salary picture looks like for CompTIA A+ holders who responded to the Salary Survey:

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $94,730
Median Annual Salary: $90,640
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 10.2 percent
Very Satisfied: 17.9 percent
Satisfied: 45.4 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 17.3 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 9.2 percent

All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $62,570
Median Annual Salary: $54,000
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 1.4 percent
Very Satisfied: 8.3 percent
Satisfied: 54.2 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 22.2 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 13.9 percent

The largest single body of A+ holders who responded to the survey is made up U.S. residents (87.9 percent). Everyone else checked in from one of on 13 different countries: Australia, Bermuda, Brunei, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and Yemen.

Given that A+ is a gateway to the wider IT realm for thousands of individuals, it’s perhaps not a promising indicator that 93 percent of A+ holders who responded to the survey are men, leaving women just a few ticks above 7 percent. Most A+ holders in the survey are perhaps older than you’d expect, with 60 percent of respondents either between the ages of 35 and 44 (32.7 percent) or between the ages of 45 and 54 (28.7 percent). The only other large groups are A+ holders between the ages of 25 and 34 (15.7 percent of those surveyed) and those between the ages of 55 and 64 (16.1 percent), with a handful of outliers either age 18 or younger (0.5 percent), between the ages of 19 and 24 (2.7 percent), or between the ages of 65 and 74 (3.6 percent).

There are a handful of exceptions, but it would appear that you’re most likely to achieve (and retain) A+ certification if you go on to complete some level of post-high school education. The highest level of formal education completed by most A+ holders in the survey is some level of college, either a bachelor’s degree (29.6 percent of those surveyed), master’s degree (22 percent), or associate’s (two-year) degree (19.7 percent). Also well represented are those who completed some level of technical training after high school (18.8 percent of respondents). The outliers are those with advanced degrees — either a doctorate (0.5 percent of those surveyed) or a professional degree (1.3 percent) — and those either still in school (3.6 percent) or who went no further up the educational ladder after graduating from high school (4.5 percent).

Full-time employment among A+ holders is solid at 93.7 percent of those surveyed, with a handful of respondents who are either students (0.5 percent), employed part-time (3.2 percent), or presently out of work (2.6 percent). Among those with jobs, most either put in a standard 40-hour work week (34 percent of those surveyed) or are mildly overworked with a schedule of between 41 and 50 hours per week (48.3 percent). The rest are either putting in more than 50 hours per week (11.6 percent of respondents), or skating by with between 31 and 39 hours per week (6.1 percent).

In terms of workplace standing, there are A+ holders at every level of the standard workplace org chart, with most holding jobs either in the senior specialist tier (36.8 percent of respondents), in the specialist tier (24.1 percent), or as rank-and-file employees (14.3 percent). Most of the management-level A+ holders are either managers (10.5 percent of those surveyed), senior managers (5.9 percent), or directors (5.9 percent), with a smattering of executives (2.5 percent) at the very top of the pyramid.

There a fairly normal (at least for our Deep Focus series) distribution of workplace experience among our A+ holders, with 12.6 percent having worked in a role that directly utilizes one or more of their certified skills for between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years, while 15.2 percent have done the same for between 3 years and 5, 10.1 percent have been so engaged for between 6 years and 8 years, and 7.2 percent have been at it for between 9 and 10 years. Slightly more than half of A+ holders surveyed (54.8 percent) are vets, having plied their certified skills for more than 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: 53.2 percent
Several times a week: 24.1 percent
Several times a month: 10.5 percent
Occasionally: 8.8 percent
Rarely: 3.4 percent

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills. 
Strongly agree: 37.1 percent
Agree: 36.7 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 18.6 percent
Disagree: 4.2 percent
Strongly Disagree: 3.4 percent

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 30.4 percent
Agree: 42.2 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 16.9 percent
Disagree: 7.6 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.9 percent

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 26.6 percent
Agree: 41.4 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 21.5 percent
Disagree: 8 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.5 percent

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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