IT Support Qualifications

Vendor Neutral vs Vendor Certifications

A Vendor is a company such as Microsoft or Cisco who produce certifications and exams relating to their own products.

For example, the following link is for those who wish to take an exam in a Microsoft product known as Active Directory

Such exams are normally recommended for those who are already working in the IT industry using the product in question with at least 18 months working experience. For this reason vendor certifications are often not advised for beginners looking to enter the IT industry for the first time. Usually Vendor Certifications are added according to the products you are using once you have landed your first Job in IT Support.

Vendor Neutral Qualifications such as the CompTIA A+ or those found within the BTEC ICT Specialist family ensure a potential employer that the candidate has a good all-round knowledge of the course skills mentioned in the previous article (see here IT Technician Job Description)


CompTIA (Computer Trade and Industry Association) qualifications are exam based and can require quite a lot of technical information to be retained, however they are internationally recognised.

The CompTIA A+ is seen as the starting point and is often followed by the Network+.

The A+ requires two exams to be passed and the Network+ just one.

Although there are a number of low cost CompTIA learning resources available, for example you should always remember to consider the cost of the exams, with A+ exams at around £140 each (2 required) and the Network+ £206 (1 required)

CompTIA Certifications expire after 3 years and so you will be required to recertify after this period should you wish to retain your certification status.

BTEC ICT Specialist Qualifications (QCF)

BTEC ICT Specialist Qualifications do not require any exams and so do not attract exam fees in the same way as CompTIA/Vendor Certifications. The cost of certification is built into the training.

The focus of BTEC qualifications is to prove professional competence in the workplace and having been designed by the sector skills council specifically for this purpose BTEC’s can offer an excellent starting point for those looking to land their first IT role, or accredit skills they are currently using within the workplace.

BTEC’s are awarded on a portfolio of evidence which is assembled whilst working through the course. This can be in the form of assignment, or video based evidence.

BTEC ICT Specialist qualifications can be customised from 60 different units to suit those who may wish to focus on different subjects such as general IT support, IT security or networking. Unlike CompTIA certification BTEC qualifications are valid for life.

Best of Both Worlds?

We have recently updated our study packs to include an IT Support Course in which we have based the BTEC Level 2 and Level 3 learning outcomes around those of the CompTIA A+, meaning that all three certifications can be obtained from the single package.


Level 2 (Entry Level)

Level 3 (More Advanced)

Triple Certification

Free Introduction Course