The CompTIA Server+ certification is one of the most popular IT certifications for server administrators. The exam measures your knowledge and skills in server hardware, storage, network infrastructure, and other technologies that are critical to success in this field.
This certification is an excellent way to start a career as a data center technician or help with promotion into management roles.
The guide to CompTIA Server+ below should answer all of your questions about this important credential!
What is CompTIA?
CompTIA is short for the Computing Technology Industry Association. The company was founded in 1982 as the Association of Better Computer Dealers (ABCD) and later changed its name to CompTIA. The association is a nonprofit trade organization representing computer technology industry manufacturers, distributors, resellers, and end-users.
CompTIA’s stated mission is to “promote growth across all segments of the information technology industry,” It does so by developing educational programs, fostering professional development, setting standards for technical certifications, and hosting conferences and expositions.
There are four groups of certification exams that CompTIA offers:
- Core Certifications: ITF+ (IT Fundamentals), Network+, A+, and Security+
- Infrastructure Certifications: Cloud+, Linux+, and Server+
- Cybersecurity Certifications: PenTest+ (Penetration Tester), CASP+ (Advanced Security Practitioner), and CySA+ (Cybersecurity Analyst)
- Additional Professional Certifications: Cloud Essentials+, CTT+, and Project+
The Server+ Certification
The Server+ is a mid-level IT industry certification that prepares you to work in a wide range of environments. The Server+ is the first certification one can pursue after obtaining A+ and Network+, or it can be pursued separately as an elective.
The exam tests the following technical skills:
- Managing, installing, configuring, troubleshooting, and upgrading server hardware components.
- Working with mobile device networks and a server’s operating system to manage, install, and configure software technologies.
- Configuring network services such as DNS, DHCP, WINS, and time synchronization protocols NTP.
- Managing server security by using features such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. The exam also tests security concepts, including the following: basic principles of access control, authentication methods for user and device, and identity theft.
- Configuring email servers, name services, FTP servers, and other network-enabled devices.
- Managing updates on a server by configuring the OS to use software update mechanisms.
- Working in cloud environments and understanding virtualization principles.
The Server+ certification was created to validate competency in key IT skills and provide a foundation for more advanced certifications. The exam is designed to test core knowledge of how servers function and integrate with other components, including connections between networks, clients, storage devices, and web applications.
The exam consists of 90 questions, with 90 minutes to complete. The test taker must score at least 750 on a scale of 100-900 to pass the exam.
The two types of questions on the Server+ include multiple-choice and performance-based questions. The multiple-choice section mainly tests knowledge of IT topics, while the performance-based question is a simulation that requires you to perform specific tasks in a job-like environment.
A major benefit of Server+ is that it is a vendor-neutral certification. The exam is focused on general concepts so that you can find a job in any IT environment, not just one specific vendor (such as Microsoft or Cisco).
The Server+ is designed for people who want to take their skills beyond troubleshooting and basic networking concepts but still have expertise in these areas. It can help prepare you for an entry-to-mid level job in information technology or as a continuation towards higher certifications.
Good for Life
But how long does CompTIA Server+ last?
You’ll be pleased to learn that the Server+ is good for life. The certification doesn’t expire, so as long as you maintain your practical skill levels, you won’t need to take a new exam.
Typically, CompTIA exams require renewal on a two- to three-year cycle, but the Server+ is different. You don’t need to invest in any continuing education credits to maintain your certification status.
The year 2021 is exciting for Server+ because the old version of the exam (the SK0-004) is retiring, and the new version (SK0-005) was just released.
The SK0-004 was launched back in 2015. By now, it is considered to be somewhat outdated because it doesn’t cover newer server technologies like virtualization and cloud computing. The SK0-005 version has been updated to reflect the most recent developments in IT, and you’ll need to take it if you want your knowledge to remain relevant past 2021.
In the SK0-004, the exam content is distributed across these topics:
- Server Administration
- Server Architecture
- Disaster Recovery
The SK0-005 has fewer topics to learn from (but no less information within those topics). The exam content is distributed across these five areas:
- Server Administration
- Security and Disaster Recovery
- Server Hardware Installation and Management
Until December 2021, you will be able to take either of these two exam versions. After that, you will be able to take only the 005.
Server+ Job Roles
The Server+ can help prepare you for the higher-level certifications that CompTIA offers. The exam is designed to give you an edge in your career by proving that you have a solid foundation of knowledge in IT. It can open the door to future advancements and promotions within your career field.
There are many job titles that one could have after getting this certificate (or before, if they’re looking to fill an opening). You can land a job as:
A sysadmin is a person who has extensive knowledge of how servers function and integrate with other components, including connections between networks, clients, storage devices, and web applications. The title “sysadmin” is the umbrella term for someone working in an IT support position or managing databases.
The primary duties of a system administrator include maintaining the computer network, keeping servers running smoothly and effectively, installing software upgrades as needed (including operating system patches), configuring hardware devices, supervising staff members or other IT personnel.
Field Service Technician or Engineer
Field service technicians or engineers (also called field technicians) specialize in troubleshooting and repairing electronic equipment at a customer’s location. The Server+ can help prepare you for this career, giving you the technical knowledge to diagnose problems on computer systems, networks, and other devices that require physical access.
As a field technician or engineer, you will be tasked to troubleshoot various software and hardware issues. Excellent communication skills are also a must; you will be interacting with customers who are often frustrated and upset because their business has been disrupted.
You can work as a field service technician or engineer for a variety of companies, including:
- The manufacturer (OEM) that made the faulty equipment
- The customer’s IT support provider
- Internal IT department
Similar to a sysadmin, server administrators are IT professionals who specialize in managing servers. The difference is that you will be responsible for maintaining company-wide server infrastructure.
Your responsibilities as a server administrator include:
- Managing the database servers used by the company.
- Configuring the servers to meet new needs as they are identified.
- Overseeing everything from security measures on the server down to which software programs should be installed.
The Server+ certification is a good choice for those who want to get started because it covers many of the basic skills needed for the position.
In a more general job title, an IT technician can be involved in installing and maintaining server hardware, networking equipment, or even software. The Server+ exam covers many of the topics that are central to this field, so it is a great starting point for those who want to pursue an IT career in general.
Data Center Technician or Engineer
Finally, data center technicians are concerned with the physical aspects of the data center. The Server+ covers physical security, environmental controls, and mechanical systems, so it is a great way to get started if you want to work with hardware or be concerned with keeping your servers cool.
A data center engineer has to manage physical servers as well as all server-level operations. Their main tasks consist of physical installation, server configuration, and maintenance.
Is CompTIA Server+ worth it?
One of the most common questions regarding the Server+ is whether or not it is worth it.
It is difficult to answer since it all boils down to your own needs. How do you determine what “worth it” means? The Server+ exam is a good starting point for those who want to gain hands-on experience working with servers.
That being said, we should examine some statistics related to server administration job positions.
- The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the position of “Network and Computer Systems Administrators” is high in demand and will grow by 4% from 2019-2029.
- In May 2020, the median salary for a sysadmin was $84,810 per year, with an average hourly rate of $40.77.
- CompTIA’s analysis states that the average annual salary of a Server+ certificate holder is approximately $82,000.
These numbers are not to be sneered at. Statistically, you have a very high chance of landing a job with your computer server knowledge. It is also very likely that you will have a relatively high salary for the position. When we take all of that into consideration, the Server+ is undoubtedly worth it if you want to work in IT.
Preparing for the Exam
Server+ is not exactly a beginner-level exam. The certification prerequisites include the A+ (possibly the Network+ as well) and at least two years of experience in a software or hardware support role.
If you don’t have this experience, you can still take the exam! But it will be more difficult, and it will take more time.
There are two main paths you can take in order to study: self-study or instructor-led training. The former will require more time, while the latter may be easier because it provides an opportunity to network with others in the field. The choice is yours, but you will need to make it in order to study for the exam.
Most people prefer taking a self-study route because they have more control over their progress, and they don’t have to worry about staying on schedule with others. Additional benefits of studying at your own pace include the ability to decide how much time you have for studying and when.
The downside is that it can be more difficult and require a lot of research on your own since there’s no one else guiding the way or supporting you in this process. If you want to learn by yourself, you can reach for these learning resources:
- Study guides: CompTIA has study guides for this certification that contain a lot of information. The guides provide both study plans as well as practice exams you can take to test your knowledge. The drawback is that the books are only available for purchase online, so they will be more expensive than other options on this list.
- YouTube videos: There are many video tutorials available on YouTube that can walk you through the most important topics.
- Online resources: The internet is full of various online courses, forums, and blogs that may be helpful.
- Books: The classic books are often the simplest option because they don’t require any downloads or large purchases, but there’s a chance you won’t be able to find all the information you’re looking for in these texts.
If you find that self-study isn’t working for you for any reason, you can always change to instructor-led training. The resources for this are similar to self-study, but there’s a chance you won’t need as much time and research on your own.
In contrast to the previous method of studying, instructor-led training offers you the benefit of working with others. Interacting with peers and teachers helps keep you on track and provides a sense of community. Additionally, the classes you will attend are structured, holding you accountable for your progress. You will also have a better assessment of whether or not you’re ready to apply for the Server+ exam.
However, this training type may be more expensive. You might also have to travel and deal with other factors that are out of your control. If you are strapped for time and money, or if you need to work on your own, this might not be the best option.
When it comes to materials, this method of learning doesn’t require any research on your behalf. The course is designed to help you pass the exam, and the instructor is there to ensure that you cover all the bases. Materials will be provided for you, and your teachers will offer guidance along the way.
It’s also worth noting that if you have an experienced IT professional as a mentor, they can provide personalized instruction at any time of day. The mentor can also work with you as much, or as little, as you need to be successful.
Tips for Exam Day
Once you find yourself at the testing center, there’s no going back. You have studied hard, researched extensively, and now it is time to earn your certification. The nerves build up as you have a few last-minute moments of preparation before entering into what will be an intense exam day where there are no second chances.
Keep these tips in mind for the exam day itself:
- Arrive at least an hour before the exam starts. If you have never visited the testing center, you won’t want to waste time looking for parking space.
- Bring any necessary materials like ID or passport and review them just before entering the testing room. The proctor will ask you to produce them when asked
- The exam has a timer that is always running, so there’s no need for the alarm on your phone or watch; it can be distracting
- Take time to read all of the instructions given by the proctor before beginning and paying attention
- The proctor will let you know when it is time to stop your exam
- The proctors are there to ensure that candidates follow the examination rules, so do not talk or text on your phone during the test
- The people watching over you will help in an emergency.
- Remember to take a deep breath before starting. The rest of the day is going to be challenging, but you can do it!
Figuring out which career path to take in the vast IT industry is a challenging task. By obtaining the Server+ cert, you are opening yourself up to a world of opportunities that were not available before.
Preparing for the certification exam requires time and effort. You can study on your own, or you can take a training course. It all depends on your needs and what you are comfortable with. The exam is intense no matter which route you take to get there.
The best advice for test day is to arrive early, be prepared in advance of the exam start time, and prepare yourself mentally for it as well!
The Server+ certification is worth it, regardless of the time or money you might have spent on getting this far. By taking the initiative and studying thoroughly for the exam, you can establish a successful career with its help!
If you’d like to know more about preparing for the Server+, feel free to send us a message. MyComputerCareer will be happy to answer any questions you might have.