Aside from Microsoft, there is another IT professional certification provider that administers exams through Thompson Prometic and Pearson VUE testing centers. Established in 1982, this non-profit trade association is commonly known as CompTIA or Computing Technology Industry Association. If Microsoft has MSCE or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, CompTIA has an equivalent certification called CompTIA A+, a vendor neutral exam that aims to test a candidates competency as a computer technician.
For IT professionals who want to qualify for an MSCE exam, they sometimes use CompTIA A+ certification as an elective. The partnership between Microsoft and CompTIA has given candidates more options to choose from as far as pre-requisites are concerned. Currently, there are more than 800 professionals who have achieved an A+ credential around the world.
There are two versions of the CompTIA exams: one being 2003 CompTIA A+ and the other one is 2006 CompTIA A+. For the 2003 exam, the candidate needs to pass two exams: A+ Core Hardware Exam and A+ Core Operating System Technologies Exam. The candidates need to complete each 100-point exam for 90 minutes. To pass, the candidate has to get 515 on the hardware exam and 505 on the OS exam. However, this exam is no longer being offered in the US as of June 30, 2007.
On the other hand, the 2006 CompTIA A+ certification was updated last September of 2006 wherein candidates must take both an A+ Essentials exam and one elective exam, wherein candidates are required to get a 675 (Essentials) or 700 (elective) marks to pass. To prepare for this, there is a need to revisit books and other reading materials to be reminded of the principles of CompTIA A+.