CompTIA sets 3-year expiration policy for A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications

January 14, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in CompTIA, Vendor news | 58 Comments
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ETA 1-26-10: This post has been retained for archive purposes. The information is not current. To view an updated post, click here. To view the official CompTIA certification policies, go to For other CompTIA news on Transcender’s blog, click the “Categories” droplist in the upper right column and select CompTIA.

As of January 1, 2010, the three flagship CompTIA certifications (A+, Network+, and Security+) are no longer “open-ended” permanent certifications. Instead, they will expire three years from issue, after which the holder will need to refresh the certification to remain current.

Before you read on, here are the key points:

  • This new standard affects all past, present, and future certification holders, no matter when the certification was obtained.
  • The earliest expiration date for present certification holders is December 31, 2011.
  • A system of Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) will support recertification. You will not have to take new exams to renew certification. Details are TBA. See CompTIA’s CEU press release here.
  • Only these three certifications are affected. Other CompTIA certifications (including Project+, Server+, and Linux+) are not currently affected by this policy change.
  • Going forward, all certification material for these three tracks will have a “Valid Through” date. If you have an old certificate, you can order a new copy that includes your “Valid Through” date through CompTIA’s Web site.
  • If you hold multiple certifications, only the highest level certification has to be renewed. For example, if you have both CompTIA A+ and Security+ certifications, you only have to renew your Security+ to keep all of your lower-level certifications valid.
  • Bridge exams will be phased out.

You can read the entire CompTIA Certification Renewal Policy here: CompTIA has also released a Certification Renewal Plan that provides a timeline, a renewal deadline to retain certification, and a renewal action plan for certification holders:

The three-year renewal does not automatically require a test for re-certification. You’ll be able to track continuing education units (CEUs), conference attendance, publications, training, and other metrics to apply toward your renewal. The online system for tracking continuing education and renewal credits will be released in the next few months; keep checking for updates.

Note: If you currently have a Security+ certification, CompTIA recommends that you start tracking any security-related educational activities now, and log them once the CEU system goes live.

CompTIA states their policy change is driven by the standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and by efforts to keep these broad-based certifications relevant in a rapidly changing industry.

If you’ve been studying objectives for an older exam (such as 220-601 for the A+ 2006 objectives) and you plan to take that exam for certification, be sure to study these Certification Renewal Sample Scenarios.

ETA @ 3:40 PM: CompTIA Vice President Terry Erdle just published a podcast addressing these changes. You can listen to it here:  Addressing Certification Concerns. To read other users’ reactions, check the CompTIA blog post titled Cert Shelf Life.

I happened to recently pass my CompTIA A+ exams. My certification documents arrived two weeks ago and included an expiration date of December 2012. So, now that expiration has been instituted, here’s what you’ll see on your official certificate (which also arrives with a spiffy wallet card, might I add):

CompTIA certificate with expiration date

As my next step would be to register with CompTIA to record any CEUs, I’ll keep this blog updated regarding the CEU process once it’s established.

–blogmistress Ann


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  1. Well it took a while for CompTIA to become the money funnel the rest of the “certifiers” are but in some ways this is good – people won’t be so quick to get something at a high dollar cost with lots of time involved that expires in less time than their driver’s license to look good in the market. Great if you’re new to the field and want to show that you have some background but it boil down to the places and positions you’ve held on your resume, not whether you have that CompTIA card in your wallet. When I worked as an employee it was nice for employers to see I had it but it never got me any higher position or even higher pay – and not having one would never have prevented me from getting a job. Now self employed for over a decade I’ve never had a client ask if I was A+ certified or even MCSE or others but they did want my experience to turn into the proper fix for their problems which in turn becomes cash in the till for me. These industry certifications are a racket to make money off nothing and create some pseudo feeling of experience and capabilities in the field. Well before there were certifications available I was working on equipment and when experience was needed there was specific training available to gain that experience. Now they want you to self learn and pay to take a test and get a pretty certificate. Only reason I took it, like many others do, is that it didnt expire like all the rest. Now in about 2 yrs we’ll see how employers and the field looks at CompTIA certifications compared to how it’s viewed now and see how many high school technology classes offer masses of experience-less students an A+ out of their senior year. Am I getting anymore CompTIA certs? Had thought about possibly the network and security certs but no way am I spending another dime with any cert agency.

    • I see CompTIA’s latest move as a way to INCREASE the value of what has often been thought of as an entry-level certification. CompTIA is just trying to move their certifications to the next level. It is a common practice in the professional world for most people to have to either complete CEUs or recertify. Teachers must maintain their certification by attending classes and seminars. Other professions require this same standard. And even in the IT certification world, other vendors have expirations.

      We’ll keep our customers posted on the way CompTIA will handle re-certification as details are rolled out.

      • Rabernathy open your eyes, this is a slap in the face to all of us folks who spent a lot of time and money to get these certs with the promise they were lifetime certs. I dont see any universities calling up their grads and saying they have to renew their degree.

        Theses ARE entry level certifications that IT professionals should not have to spend time and money to keep filling the pockets of CompTIA with cash, it should be up to employers to determine whether or not a persons cert is current enough to do the job.

        I should have to pay a $50 annual maint fee to keep my Sec+ cert alive AND go to seminars which are not free or publish a book or teach a class just to keep alive what I already earned and paid dearly for.

        As far as other vendors go, CompTIA is supposed to be VENDOR NEUTRAL so it doesnt matter what vendors do. You can sugar coat it any way you want but mark my words their is going to be lawsuits galore.

        • John, it looks like they’ve altered their policy in regards to existing certifications. Check

          • The UNited States Government requires A+ thru Security+ and even CASP for almost every IT position I’ve looked into, as well as CISCO certs across the board, as well as Belkin.

            The only thing that separates ignorant fools who think they have a clue about a computer fresh out of HS or even college (Actual UNIVERSITIES teach their Computer Science programs towards A+, NET+ SEC+, CASP, CCNA/CCNP, Linux+ Server+, etc. In my state I alone, I can think of TWELVE universities whos entire bachelors programs and even two of their masters programs are based on CompTIA certs. almost every community college does as well, well the ones that are top rated in my state anyway.)

            I have been turned down job after job after job because I don’t possess my A+, Net+, Sec+, Server+ Cloud, Healthcare IT, and my Linux+ Certifications. Just to even get a basic Helpdesk position or general Technician Position anywhere in my area, even with an Associates in Technical Arts, Bachelors of Science, or even Masters Degree in IT, without the certifications, good luck finding a job on the west coast.

            I even got shut down by a retail company because I didn’t have A+ thru Security+ and my CCNA and CCNA Security, friend of mine who has a masters in Computer Information Systems, was pushed off from even working for a small mom and pop computer repair shop, because he didn’t have A+ certification.

            He just got his Masters in Software Engineering, etc. Microsoft even turned him down because he didn’t have the CompTIA certs to back up his educational background.

            School says what you did, the certifications say what you actually know.

            • You’re a moron. If you cant get a job, its not because you don’t have A+ certification, I can GUARANTEE you that. These certs are completely irrelevant toady. 30% of the questions for the net+ test involve dial up modems – enough said. Experience TRUMPS a $100 Comp TIA cert, trust me.

              • I don’t remember to much on the test being about dial up

                • As this post is six years old, I seriously doubt you’ll find dialup in the question pool! But I have found the perfect t-shirt for you

  2. i was gonna get certified but someone in my class mentioned this and as far as im concerned you can kiss my a$@ comptia. that’s a foul ball. making it expire especially when i’m 2 months from being out of college.

    • You should check the most updated information. CompTIA has changed their policy in response to feedback. Check

      • yeah I know buddy all of us need to stand tall and tell comptia to stop this because well fight this we need to boycott the companies behind this if comptia does this then they will be boycotted too we need to send a message and say stop this and leave our certifications alone once certified always certified it is in our blood.

        • I love you man, Once certified always certified

  3. CompTIA Certification Renewal Policy
    To Our Customers,

    I am very appreciative of the honest feedback you have provided us regarding our recent announcement concerning CompTIA certifications. We’ve listened to what you have told us and we’ve changed the policy announced on January 11, 2010.

    CompTIA will not require recertification for any current holders of CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ certification. You are not required to retest to maintain your valid CompTIA certification. Regardless of when you became certified in CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+, you are certified for life.

    For candidates currently preparing to sit for a CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ exam, if you pass an exam and become certified by December 31, 2010, you too will have a lifetime certification with no requirements for recertification or retesting.

    Effective January 1, 2011, all new CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ certifications will be valid for three years from the date the candidate is certified. After three years, the certification must be renewed. This can be done by passing the most current exam for a respective certification or by participating in CompTIA’s upcoming new continuing education program, which will allow individuals to keep their skills current and their certification up to date without retesting.

    We’ve worked hard to balance the interests of our current and future customers first and foremost, with the stringent requirements to maintain our ISO 17024 accreditation for CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+. Our ISO accreditation is extremely important to us because of the global credibility it carries. Equally important is the trust our certificate holders placed in us when they became certified. We believe our new plan accomplishes both goals.

    We encourage you to continue to visit and for information and updates. We value your input.

    Best Regards,

    Todd Thibodeaux
    President and CEO

    • This is still bogus. If a person completes the Net+ in Jan 2011 he is just as qualified as a guy who completed it in 2003?! NOT! You have just effectivly made the lifetime certs worthless and you know it! Those looking to hire somone with the cert will look for the newer cert because they will know that they are up to date on the latest out there. The guy with the 2003 cert is still wondering “what this new IPv6 stuff is and where is IPv5?”

      • I don’t see why anyone would stop learning after passing a test; we’re not frozen in time. If you’re working in the industry, then your job duties and your technology knowledge will continue to evolve to meet present-day challenges. With that said, we don’t make CompTIA’s policies – we just report them! You might be interested in this post in CompTIA’s blog (, which explores the logic behind the new certification expiration policy. Feel free to comment there and make your opinion heard.

      • I passed my A+ exam way back in 2000. I am now a top technician and consultant in my company as a result of living and breathing this stuff. Thinking that people with more experience are somehow less learned is very weird and skewed kind of thinking.

  4. Hey how do i check A online , i mean i have a position in my business for computer technician , how i can check for certf… Numbers is real and not a fake A ???

    • All CompTIA certified professionals have access to CompTIA CareerID. This database will contain their exam history and transcripts. Just ask your potential employee(s) to login to CareerID and have a copy of their exam transcript sent to you via the Transcript feature in the database. Hope that helps & good luck on filling the position with a great A+ professional!

  5. dear to all those who plan on getting certified,

    really I do disagree with the folks at comptia because they say it is not about money well it is. the future of information technology is on dangerous grounds of being changed. look to all the past and current students you most voice your views and really take action. because one industry after another, once certified we don’t need to be retested nor need to be forced to have to pay more money to get retested on the stuff we already know. I smell something and I know what it is it is all a bunch of BS. Comptia you are lying about its not about money. you know full well that it is about money and your planning on stealing more of our money. so you are failing to see that we technicians or future technicians will not stand by and let this take us on the never ending rollercoaster of being retested. I am not going to spend another dime on certification we need to boycott iso and the other companyies behind this because we don’t want to or need to be retested. plain and simple one certified we are certified for life. GOT IT COMPTIA

  6. What do you do if you want to certify A+ in Zimbabwe since there is no any testing center?

    • You will need to contact CompTIA directly for this information. Good luck!

  7. Hi Everyone passed by CompTia A+ in 2008 It’s last for just 3 years then you have to do the whole lot again in 3 years Since windows 7 come out and there no more do windows exam 2011 retaken another test in 2010 and passed that which i will have to retake again in 2013.

    shaun ore

    • Here are the rules:

      1) If you are A+, Network+, or Security+ certified by December 31, 2010, your certification does not expire.
      2) If you are A+, Network+, or Security+ certified January 1, 2011 or after, your certification expires three years from the date of achievement.
      3) To prevent certification expiration, you can either retake the certification exams or obtain enough Continuing Education Units (CEUs) before expiration.

      Make sure to keep track of those CEUs and enter them in the CompTIA tool. To do this go to

      If I understand what you are saying here, your certifications do not expire because you took everything in 2010 or prior.

  8. Not a freakin’ chance! Okay, I understand their logic behind it, that they want to increase the credibility of their qualifications by ensuring they are recent, but seriously? Every three years??? Say I get a varsity degree, do I have to go re-write the final exams every three years? No. The content of those also changes, yes, but you’ve shown you can understand the key concepts and cope under pressure… I just find it absurd that you may use a qualification to get you into a job, and then if three years down the line, you begin looking for a new job, suddenly you’re somehow less qualified than before, unless you re-write exams?!

    I’m pretty disappointed. Here in South Africa, the costs to write those exams, not to mention the study materials online are expensive… I can’t picture doing that every three years as an on-going responsibility. I was pretty keen to do some of the core exams to have a good founding for my CV, but after reading this there’s no chance of that anymore. Bye CompTIA!

  9. Lol. This is a stupid rule.. No offense. I’ll just get my AA degree in Help desk, and transfer to a University to focus on criminal Justice. Too bad too late that I didn’t think about this sooner.. Who would want to retake a test after every 3 years?

  10. I guess many new people will not be interested in the Comptia certification after this money making scheme has begun

    • I am an IT specialist, and I was going to get A+ and other certifications, but I will never get an entry level cert that expires. Sorry, but I am a life long learner, in the field, and will not be getting any certifications from Comptia now. I even marked their email as spam, so they will stay out of my inbox.

  11. ?? I just got hired as a tech, I was going to do my certs but for what now??? I’m already hired… and its going to expired while I’m employed, I prefer to wait when I’m ready to move to a higher position or a new job and be current for 3 years. Very disappointing.

  12. Don’t turn me into a cash COW! It’s not right…

  13. What’s great is you can simply scan your certificate, edit out the expiration date and put in a new pre-expiration policy date, print the edited image on cardstock, then frame it.

    Illegal? No, because your certificate is still technically valid, just with a wrong date listed on it. What this will do is keep about 95% of IT managers from pestering you to renew your CompTIA certs.

    Will it get you fired if your IT manager actually discovers this? Absolutely.

    Either way, f*** CompTIA for coming up with this money-making ripoff policy.

    • “Will it get you fired if your IT manager actually discovers this? Absolutely.” LMAO…Hilarious Rod. I may have to try this because although renewing my certification would probably be beneficial it’s completely unnecessary for I’m doing now. Besides, I’m too old and lazy to memorize countless pages of crap I know I’ll never use nor ever care to use.

  14. what if i have network exam, do i still need to write a every three years

    • You shouldn’t have to re-up your A+ to keep your Network+ valid if you have a lifelong Network+ certification. However, you may need to perform CEU (continuing education unit) activities for your A+. Again, the best place to find this information is directly from CompTIA, as we do not set their policies. Good luck!

      • Dear Transcender Team. Many thanks for the reply.

  15. how can i contact the CompTIA directly? I am in Zimbabwe and i want to get certified

  16. I was also going to cert for a+ and network+ to add to my CCNA. Why bother now. I will just keep my CCNA current. Bad move.

  17. So if ur A+ cert is expired.can yu find a jib?@

  18. I would buy CompTIA’s “it’s not about the money” claim if they didn’t make you pay for the full cost of the three year CE program when you complete the 50CUs or get a higher certification ahead of your deadline. If I finish my CE credits after 2 years, it looks like they are being money-sucking-profiteers and making me pay ‘the remainder of [my] 3 year fee,’ and then resetting my date 3 years ahead of the current date — so I pay 6 years worth of fees for 5 years worth of certification. Sure, that’s not about the money…

  19. i have recently written my A+ N+ S+ exams and i have not yet recieved the certificate so does it mean my certificate will expire before it reaches me

    • Hassan, receiving your physical certificate in the mail doesn’t affect the dates of your certification. That said, you should probably contact CompTIA’s customer service with any questions about your account. Thanks for reading!

  20. […] two, the argument can be made that a program focused on work readiness, even if the relevance of A+ certifications have been questioned, the awareness they can provide is a start, considering the need for STEM […]

  21. A+ is useless if you re working in a professional environment , I work @ ottawa U (IT department) , and they never asked me for a stupid A+ cert. and I am a software engineer… bunch of {redacted} , you can shove the A+, greedy pieces of dirt…

    • Anonymous,

      I understand what you are saying here. However, I don’t look as any certification as a necessity for most jobs. Job listings don’t always include any required IT certifications, but could that be because the HR department does not understand the certifications? I know of one large employer who recently added certification requirements to all IT positions during a departmental review. Employees had a limited time to obtain certification to keep their positions.

      For me, certification provides a differentiating factor in my resume. I have lots of IT experience, but so do many other IT professionals. By obtaining certifications, I have an outside party that verifies my skills. By keeping the certifications current (either through retesting or obtaining CEUs), I show a prospective employer that I maintain my skills.

      The 3-year expiration was a necessity for the main four CompTIA certifications (A+, Network+, Security+, CASP) to be recognized by ISO. So while it may anger some of you, keep in mind that the DoD now recognizes these four certifications as part of the 8570.01 initiative. Certain DoD employees are REQUIRED to obtain IT certifications to keep their positions. So whether you think they are relevant or not, I don’t think we should discount their importance in the real world.

  22. Great! The younger you are or if you are a late comer you have to pay for it up the nose! Really, is there any reason to even waste time on network+ certification?? I have been looking to get into the industry, but with the effort & Cost before the job, hmmm. Are the jobs even worth spending effort & Time getting “Certs” just to get an entry level $39,000 garbage job that some 1985 Guy has been holding without “Certs” (and probably still has a floppy disk collection). How is this fair to make the new guys pay every 3 years, yet the old timer get another free pass.

  23. Why would someone waste the time & Money to get certified just to attempt to enter the computer industry, when just as they are making headway they have to pay more money for Continuing education and more CUE depending on their other licenses. From my perspective it seems not fiscally smart to accumulate any of the CERTS. I read a few older NETWORK + books (because I lack money to buy the newer ones) and it was exciting to read that I could get a life certification. I was motivated until now! Especially since I am currently taking over 48 CUE for my present job….kind-of-means no reason to waste money right!! No reason to take any CompTIA anything right!! If anyone knows of alternative ways into the computer industry I would certainly like to know.

    • Robert, thanks for your comment, and we totally understand where you’re coming from. The good news is, not every employer requires a certification for a given IT role. By the same token, not every job that requires an A+ certification may accept the lifetime cert in lieu of the three-year renewal certification. Regardless, there are many free Network+ and A+ study resources available (starting with your public library), and I encourage you to use the most recent material to ensure the skills you’re learning will be the most current. I’m also sensitive to the cost involved in staying current. So, a good place to start would be to download the current A+ and Network+ objectives from CompTIA’s website and use them as a self-study template to ensure you’re picking up the skills that would be validated by that certification. Finally, many employers pay to certify or recertify their employees, so the ongoing cost of CEUs may not be an insurmountable issue. Good luck!

  24. Personally guys, I’d recommend getting the certs you were looking into – and let comptia be the only one to worry about you recertifying them. Once you’ve earned the cert, throw it on the CV, and have the knowledge ready if asked for in your interview.


    • James,

      I have to disagree with you here. Individuals need to be concerned about re-certification, particularly if they are in a job role to which the certification applies. Having an old A+ certification is no longer valid in today’s market. For example, consider the 300-series A+. The operating systems covered in those exams are not even considered valid. In addition, many of the skills that were needed in the old operating systems have changed significantly in the newer operating systems. Re-certification allows a candidate to prove his proficiency in newer technologies.

      Someone who is a help desk technician and was certified in A+ 300-series exams will agree with me that the skill set has changed since the 300-series was released. Re-certifying will provide you with a validation of your skill set. Granted, if you plan to move on to another job role before your current certification expires, then you may decide that re-certification is not for you. If your new job role does not require the skills that are supported by any CompTIA certification, I can understand (a bit) if you decide to let it expire.

      But let me also open your eyes up to the possibilities. Re-certification can be achieved simply by completing a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs), Did you attend a technical conference this year? Some of the sessions you attended can be used to maintain your certification through CEUs. Did you write a technical blog post or a book? Did you teach a class on IT topics? Register in CompTIA’s CE program, and enter any CEUs you have completed. You can even get CEUs for your job experience.

      Maintaining that certification status is much easier than you think!

      For more information on CompTIA’s CE program, including the number of units you need to complete and how to register for the program, by going to

  25. I did my A+ back in 2000 through a college here in South Africa.Is there any hope for old folk like me.Thanks.Sydwell Kemele.

    • If you earned the A+ in 2000, it’s still valid. You certified under the “certified for life” banner. But an employer might want something that proves a more recent skills base. So I think a potential employer would look at recent work history. Remember that any older version of the A+ tested on old, retired versions of Windows and older hardware. Windows has vastly changed over the years, and so has hardware.

      If possible, you might want to consider re-certifying. If that is not possible, make sure your resume includes support of your experience with current technology.

      • Your wrong. The current policie allows a person to only worry about their highest level of certification. One maintained, all lower certs are alos renewed. So, you may never have to leanr that new OS you referenced.

      • Not much good being certified for OSs up to Win 2000 in todays industry

  26. Renewing your certifications is fine if you are a student and you are taking higher level courses, however, after that you are basically stuck as a student studying to keep them valid. Sure the IT world is changing but not as much as you may think. The logic with how computers work and interact stays the same. It’s really just the hardware that gets faster and more powerful. Even the operating systems all follow a similar scheme.

    In the end it’s really just a big money grab.

  27. Not having a cert may not prevent you from getting a job. But it will help you in the long run in keeping a job.

  28. […] years ago, CompTIA introduced its three-year expiration policy for its flagship certifications. To keep their certifications current, students may register […]

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