In 2014, U.K-based Ayan Qureshi, 5 years and 11 months old, became the youngest person to earn an official IT certification. Introduced to computers at age 3 by his father, Ayan rapidly absorbed information and concepts while simultaneously developing a passion for Windows.
The overseers at the local Microsoft testing center originally refused to let him sit for the exam — they thought he was too young to handle it. Microsoft Corporate eventually stepped in and gave their permission. Ayan passed the certification exam in 2 hours. (Full disclosure: at Ayan’s age I was still struggling to open my own milk carton.)
This might be an extreme example of “IT youth-ification,” but as the world becomes more connected and more business is conducted online via file sharing, e-mail, teleconferencing and so forth, it is increasingly important for employees to have a basic grasp and knowledge of IT concepts.
As proof of this, it took CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the technology industry, founded in 1993, a bit less than 20 years to award its one millionth A+ certification — their flagship credential. In 2015, they awarded their two millionth certification overall. Certifications are here to stay and it’s not just working IT professionals who are earning them.
IT certification is increasingly a young person’s game as youth are exposed to personal computing devices at an earlier age and growing up with a high level of comfort in using them and learning what makes them work. The changes in business and exposure to devices aren’t lost on IT training companies.
More of those folks are recognizing the untapped potential of the youth market and moving to capture as much of it as possible. More middle schools and high schools are also getting into the game by offering classes in basic IT training.
When it comes to helping younger students obtain IT certifications, Microsoft has made a big splash in North Carolina in the United States. In 2011, Microsoft and North Carolina’s Board of Education teamed up to offer discounted training and certifications to every high school in the state.
Since then, more than 200,000 students and teachers have earned Microsoft certifications. The program has been so successful that there is talk among executives and administrators about expending the program to middle schools in the near future.
While there is debate over the propriety of earning certifications at such a young age, the reality is that it’s happening and will continue to happen as better learning materials and aids are developed and marketed more broadly. Today there are more than 1,700 IT related certifications available and they’re increasing in popularity and importance. According to CompTIA’s Employer Perceptions of IT Training & Certification study, 93 percent of hiring managers believe that certifications are beneficial.
CompTIA IT Fundamentals
This youth-ification movement is one of the reasons why, in 2014, CompTIA began offering their IT Fundamentals (ITF) certification. The ITF is a foundational certification that validates an individual’s knowledge and skills with basic IT principles and concepts. ITF covers a range of technological topics, concepts and practices that are widely used by organizations across all industries. Students learn how to identify and explain computer components, install software, connect to networks and how to prevent security risks.
ITF isn’t just for those planning on a career in IT. It’s also useful for anyone working in a related industry with a job that requires them to have a basic understanding of IT terminology. Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO, CompTIA in a press release, said, “IT literacy is a critical element in today’s innovation economy, which drives employment and powers growth in many other industries. This credential addresses the growing need for a deeper understanding of technology fundamentals throughout an organization.”
The ITF certification is designed to help students learn more about the world of IT and is an excellent starting point if you are considering an IT career, or if you work in a related field that requires use and a basic understanding of IT. ITF is also a great certification for older workers who may be transitioning into a workplace increasingly dominated by IT devices and networks.
One of the big advantages of an ITF certification is the increased flexibility and value it provides. Many small and mid-sized organizations will save money by not having to outsource or hire someone to handle day-to-day IT issues. It is a great selling point to an employer if you can handle basic IT situations.
Besides being a valuable selling point, ITF certification is also a dependable stepping stone to higher-level certifications like CompTIA A+ and, with a bit more specialized training, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+.
ITF has no prerequisites — anyone can jump into the certification at any stage of their education or careers. Preparation is easy and convenient. If you prefer you can locate and sign up for instructor led training at a convenient site. If you study on your own, you can purchase a number of stdy guides that are helpful.
One in particular is CertMaster, CompTIA’s intelligent online learning tool. CertMaster is an excellent preparation tool that maps directly to exam objectives. It uses an algorithm to identify and close any knowledge gaps a student may have.
CertMaster covers and helps students learn the basics of software, hardware, security, networking and IT literacy. It is a real confidence builder because it utilizes brain science, adaptive learning and game technology to help students master the required information quickly and with long-term retention.
It is simple to use. Students begin by answering questions as they study and CertMaster automatically adjusts their path throughout the course based on what they already know and what they still need to learn. Students can even record their varying levels of confidence they have with each question — with a less than certain level of confidence the program will automatically provide similar questions more frequently. CertMaster can also be used on a multiple of platforms.
The downside to CertMaster is that it’s not included in the cost of the exam. It has to be purchased for an additional $139 U.S. (₹9,350). Fortunately, CompTIA lets you try it before you buy it. Just click here.
Sitting for the exam is convenient. Depending on if the exam needs to be proctored or not, they can be taken at a local testing center, school, the workplace, or even from the comfort of home and pricing is a reasonably affordable $112 U.S. (approximately ₹7,500).
The CompTIA ITF exam covers the foundational IT concepts including explaining and identifying computer components, installing software, establishing connections to a network and, of course, preventing security breaches. Besides laptops and desktops the ITF exam also covers mobile and cloud computing.
The exam is available in two formats: FC0-U51 (for proctored exams) and FC0-Z51 (non-proctored). It consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. Students have one hour to complete the exam and a score of 650 is required to clear. Besides English, the exams are available in Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Korean, and traditional and simplified Chinese. ITF certification is good for life and need never be renewed.
Some of the positions that will benefit from ITF certification include: sales associates and engineers, account and business development managers, product and marketing specialists and entry-level customer support.
If you’re considering a career in IT, or transitioning into a job that requires a basic understanding and knowledge of IT, check out CompTIA’s IT Fundamentals certification. It’s a good way to go.