If you're new to IT, and looking to break into the field, certs like the CompTIA A+ certification can give you a basic foundation in networking, software and PC hardware to build on. Server+ certification helps you dig deeper into those concepts as they relate to the server. The latter credential tells shops you have what it takes to be a server technician, server support specialist, server administrator or storage administrator.
Bottom line? Passing the Server+ exam shows employers — whether or not they understand support — that you understand how to set up, troubleshoot and manage servers from all kinds of vendors.
Why It's Worth Your Time
Think about it: The person who screens resumes for IT jobs, especially in big organizations, isn't the hiring manager; it's the HR generalist. These screeners may not understand every technical cred or ability, but they recognize the value (and can Google the name) of a certification. Unlike a vendor-specific server certification — and hoping you can find a job to match — Server+ certification is universal, respected by numerous giants (Dell, Intel and the Department of Defense, to name a few) with accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Once you're hired, you can proceed with vendor-specific certifications you know will come in handy. You might even be able to convince your employer to foot the bill.
Although Server+ is an intermediate-level credential, CompTIA doesn't have official prerequisites for the exam, such as course credits or prior certifications. They do recommend 18 to 24 months of experience, but they don't require it. Earning certification just asks that you pass the Server+ exam, which consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. Signing up for the test is as easy as:
- Finding a Pearson VUE testing center near you. Just make sure they facilitate the Server+ certification exam.
- Buying your exam voucher on the CompTIA website. Make sure to double-check to ensure you're registering for the right exam.
- Scheduling a test date and time with the testing center, either online or over the phone. Be sure to show up to the testing center a few minutes early for attendance and the setup process.
If you fail your exam the first time, you can take it a second time as soon as you sign up and pay the fee again. If you don't pass the second time, you'll have to wait 14 days before registering for a new test date. If you are unable to attend and in-person test, or if there are in-person restrictions in your area, you can also take the exam online.
Preparing for the Server+ Certification Exam
The Server+ exam covers most hardware-related topics as they apply to the server: processors, cooling, memory, and BIOS. It also addresses storage, networking, operating systems, and disaster recovery. Even though you're getting some on-the-job experience in your current helpdesk seat, never assume you already know everything on the exam. Make time to study, whether it's through text materials or classroom training. You'd be surprised by what you didn't already know.
- Text: Most sysadmins will tell you that when it comes to CompTIA certifications, Mike Meyers' books are the gold standard. His Server+ guide is currently in it's ninth edition and remains a great resource for exam preparation.
- Class: CompTIA has a wide range of instructor-led courses for Server+ preparation. Search for a class near you if you think you'd benefit from classroom instruction.
- Free video training: Professor Messer's CompTIA A+ video training course is a well-regarded training tool and completely free of charge.
You'll find a lot of online courses and videos for CompTIA's A+, Security+ and Network+ certifications. Unfortunately, good videos and online training for Server+ are hard to come by. Wikibooks has a Server+ exam resource that will give you a decent preview of what the test covers. Keep in mind, however, that Wikibooks is a resource that's only as good as the users who edit the wiki. It's not foolproof in terms of recency.
Maintaining Your Certification
Once you've earned Server+ certification, it's yours for life. You don't have to renew it or take continuing education units. To keep expanding your skillset, and to make yourself even more marketable to employers, try Network+ or Mobility+ certification from CompTIA. You can also earn ITIL or Microsoft certification as part of your next position in IT.