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The Best Computer Hardware Certifications

Bassam Kaado
Bassam Kaado
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2023

Break into the IT industry with one of these certifications.

  • The right computer hardware certification can help you score one of thousands of potential IT jobs.
  • Computer hardware certifications that focus on a specific brand or industry will help you advance in those ecosystems.
  • Computer hardware certifications that focus on neutral equipment or tools will give you the possibility of working for a variety of small and big businesses.
  • This article is for job seekers interested in the IT industry and computer hardware certifications

With a significant increase in remote and computer-based work in recent years, the need for businesses and individuals to maintain computer performance is key. While software work and coding are usually at the center of the conversation when it comes to potential computer-related jobs, becoming a computer technician is a great point of entry into the IT field. Breaking into this industry is easier for those who obtain computer hardware certifications. These certifications can help demonstrate your knowledge and competency in maintaining computers, mobile devices, printers and more. 

Best computer hardware certifications

As you can imagine, there’s a wide variety of computer hardware certifications available, so finding the best option can be overwhelming. We did a little digging and put together some of our favorite certifications for an easy way to begin your research. Below, you’ll find our picks for the top computer hardware certifications to help get your IT career off the ground. The list is in alphabetical order.

Apple Certified Support Professional

Given the popularity of Apple products and platforms, and the widespread use of Macintosh computers in homes and businesses of all sizes, there’s demand galore for Mac-savvy computer technicians.

As Apple products are dynamic and expand the Apple ecosystem, the company’s certification program has changed to stay up to date. The latest Apple certification available to qualify someone to work with their products is the Apple Certified Support Professional certificate. This credential acknowledges that the holder has expertise in the Apple tools, services and best practices an organization would need to use. A person with the Apple Certified Support Professional certification can help troubleshoot everything used by a help desk professional, technical coordinator or service provider that supports Mac, iPhone and iPad users; manages networks; or provides technical support for Apple devices. 

Obtaining the Apple Certified Support Professional certificate requires passing the Apple Device Support exam, which gives passing students the company’s digital badge proving certification. Users are allotted four attempts (each must be purchased) to pass the exam, with a two-week buffer period between each attempt. Skills that are covered under this certificate include Apple Device Setup and Security, Apple Hardware, Backup, Help Desk Support, and iPhone, iPad and Mac Support. 

The Apple Certified Support Professional is a permanent credential and doesn’t require annual recertification. However, Apple has changed and updated its certifications over the years, with its popular AppleCare Mac Technician certificate in 2017 no longer available. That certificate itself was an updated certificate. Keeping up with Apple’s offered certifications will help you stay current with industry expectations and get the best salary ranges. Furthermore, if Apple is where you want your career to go, obtaining this certificate will allow you to later pursue the Apple Certified IT Professional credential.

Certification name

Apple Certified Support Professional

Prerequisites and required courses

There is no needed prerequisite or coursework.

Number of exams

One exam, titled Apple Device Support Exam (9L0-3021-ENU)

105 questions, 2 hours, 80 percent passing score

Tests are administered by Pearson VUE; Apple ID and password required

Cost per exam

$149

URL

https://training.apple.com/it

Self-study materials

Apple Device Support Tutorials

Apple Device Support Exam Prep Guide

BICSI Technician (TECH) Certification

BICSI is a professional association that supports the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, mainly in the areas of voice, data, audio and video, electronic safety and security, and project management. BICSI offers training, certification and education to its more than 26,000 members, many of whom are designers, installers and technicians.

BICSI facilitates several certifications aimed at ICT professionals, who mainly deal with cabling and related technologies. Two credentials, the BICSI Technician (TECH) and the BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD), are pertinent (and popular) for those interested in computer hardware.

The BICSI Technician certification recognizes individuals who lead an installation group or team, perform advanced testing and troubleshooting of cable installations, evaluate cabling requirements, recommend solutions based on standards and best practices, and roll out new and retrofit projects. Technicians must be well versed in both copper and fiber cabling, which calls for candidates who have a good deal of knowledge about the hardware, networking devices and communications equipment to which they connect cables.

Did you know?Did you know?: The impact of the BICSI Technician (TECH) certification on people interested in computer networking is so significant that we also feature it in our roundup of the best certifications to advance your networking career.

To earn the BICSI Technician credential, candidates must pass a two-part exam consisting of a hands-on practical evaluation and a written test. To be eligible for the exam, interested candidates must meet one of four requirements (see breakdown in chart below). 

Interested candidates should also check out other BICSI certifications, such as the Installer 1 (INST1), Installer 2 Copper (INSTC) and Installer 2 Optical Fiber (INSTF). Credentials are valid for three years. Certification holders must earn 18 hours of continuing education credits (CECs) in each three-year credentialing cycle and pay the current renewal fees to maintain this credential.

Certification name

BICSI Technician

Prerequisites and required courses

Meet one of four options to be eligible for the exam

Option 1 

Have both: 

a.) One year of verifiable full-time-equivalent structured cabling systems (SCS) field experience, which may be obtained on the job, in a trade school or an apprenticeship program

and

b.) A certificate of course completion for BICSI’s instructor-led hands-on training in copper and fiber SCS

Option 2

Have both:

a.) Two years of verifiable full-time-equivalent SCS field experience, which may be obtained on the job, in a trade school or an apprenticeship program

and

b.) A certificate of course completion for the BICSI’s instructor-led hands-on technician training in SCS training

Option 3

Have both:

a.) Three years of verifiable full-time-equivalent SCS field experience, which may be obtained on the job, in a trade school or an apprenticeship program 

and

b.) Completed a minimum of 35 hours of documented continuing education in copper and fiber SCS, which may include training provided by BICSI, manufacturer training, college courses, industry training and/or vendor training 

Option 4

Have either: 

a.) The BICSI Installer 2 credential 

or

b.) Both the BICSI Installer 2 Copper and Installer 2 Optical Fiber credentials

Number of exams

One two-part exam, including a written exam (100 multiple-choice questions to be done in 2 hours) and a hands-on, performance-based exam (consists of completing 14 tasks, to industry standards, within a 20-minute-per-task time limit)

Cost per exam

$335 (nonrefundable application fee must be received by BICSI at least 7 days prior to the hands-on exam), plus $50 for the Hands-on Walk-in exam fee

URL

https://www.bicsi.org/education-certification/certification/cabling-installation/bicsi-technician-(tech)

Self-study materials

BICSTI recommended prerequisites:

100 hours review of BICSI Information Technology Systems Installation Methods Manual (ITSIMM)

Training in safety and personal protective equipment (PPE)

Training in firestopping

Training in optical fiber splicing and termination

Training in copper splicing and termination

or

TE350: BICSI Technician Training course

IN101: Installer 1 Training course

IN225: Installer 2 Copper Training course

IN250: Installer 2 Optical Fiber Training course

50 to 100 hours review of BICSI Information Technology Systems Installation Methods Manual (ITSIMM)

Training in safety and personal protective equipment (PPE)

Training in firestopping

Training in optical fiber splicing and termination

Training in copper splicing and termination

BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) Certification

An advanced BICSI credential, the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) certification is so well respected that the Department of Defense Unified Facilities requires it for several telecom-related design projects. 

RCDD candidates should be able to create and prepare system design specifications and plans, as well as recommended best practices for security design requirements for business automation systems. Those certificated are also well versed in data centers, cabling systems, and design for wireless, network and electronic security systems.

TipTip: If working with data seems more appealing to you, here are our recommendations for the best big data certifications.

To earn this credential, candidates must meet the experience requirements, submit the application (plus credentialing fees and a current resume) and pass the exam. In addition, candidates’ experience must be verified, and BICSI may require additional resources as proof of experience. The RCDD test requires individuals to meet one of three eligibility requirements, as outlined in the chart below.

Certification name

BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD)

Prerequisites and required courses

Meet one of four options to be eligible for the exam:

Option 1 

Have both: 

a.) Two years of verifiable full-time work experience in ICT design

and

b.) A current BICSI certification (BICSI TECH, RTPM, DCDC® or OSP)

Option 2 

Have both: 

a.) Two years of verifiable full-time equivalent work experience in ICT design

and

b.) Two years of higher education coursework in ICT, which may include:

• STEM or trade school

• Two-year degree

• ICT and industry-related programs, apprenticeships or certifications

• Military-training-equivalent evidence of completion of higher education coursework (certificates, diplomas, registrar’s documentation and other bona fide documents) 

Option 3 

Five years of verifiable ICT experience

Number of exams

One exam (100 questions, 2.5 hours)

Cost per exam

$510 for BICSI members / $725 for nonmembers for application fee

URL

https://www.bicsi.org/education-certification/certification/rcdd

Self-study materials

BICSTI recommended prerequisites:

MID-CAREER (Two to five years of experience)

DD101 (or the pre-assessment): Best Practices for Telecommunications Distribution Design (BICSI CONNECT online course)

DD102: Applied Best Practices for Telecommunications Distribution Design

150+ TDMM study hours

BICSI TDMM flashcards

BICSI RCDD Test Preparation Course

(BICSI CONNECT online course)

ADVANCED CAREER (5+ years of experience)

• DD101 (or the pre-assessment): Best Practices for Telecommunications Distribution Design (BICSI CONNECT online course)

• DD102: Applied Best Practices for Telecommunications Distribution Design

• 125+ TDMM study hours

• BICSI TDMM flashcards

• BICSI RCDD Test Preparation Course (BICSI CONNECT online course)

CCT Routing & Switching: Cisco Certified Technician Routing & Switching

Cisco certifications are valued throughout the tech industry. The Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) certification is an entry-level credential that demonstrates a person’s ability to support and maintain Cisco networking devices at a customer site. The CCT Routing & Switching credential best fits our list of the top computer hardware certifications, and it serves as an essential foundation for supporting Cisco devices and systems in general.

Obtaining the CCT requires passing a single exam. Topics include identification of Cisco equipment and related hardware, such as switches and routers, general networking and service knowledge, working with the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC), and describing Cisco IOS software operating modes. Candidates should also have a working knowledge of Cisco command-line interface (CLI) commands for connecting to and remotely servicing Cisco products. [Learn more in our detailed Cisco Certification guide.]

Certification name

Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) Routing & Switching

Prerequisites and required courses

None

Recommended training: Supporting Cisco Routing and Switching Network Devices (RSTECH) ($299)

Number of exams

One: 100-490 RSTECH (55 to 65 questions, 90 minutes)

Cost per exam

$125

Exam administered by Pearson VUE.

URL

http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/certifications/entry/cct/rs/index.html

Self-study materials

Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) Routing & Switching Course

CompTIA A+

The CompTIA A+ certification is the granddaddy and best known of all hardware credentials. For anyone serious about working with PCs, laptops, mobile devices, printers or operating systems, the A+ should at least be on your radar, if not in your game plan.

Since the first A+ credential was awarded in 1993, the program continues to draw active interest and participation. With more than 1 million IT professionals now possessing this certificate, it’s something of a checkbox item for PC technicians and support professionals. It also appears in many job postings and advertisements, as you’ll notice in our job board search results further down.

A+ is also ISO 17024 compliant and accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). As a result, this credential must be renewed every three years in keeping with concomitant requirements for continuing education or regular examinations to maintain certification currency. Some 20 continuing education units (CEUs) are required for renewal.

The A+ certification encompasses broad coverage of PC hardware and software, networking and security in its overall technical scope. Earning an A+ from CompTIA involves passing two exams: 220-1101 and 220-1102. Exam 220-1101 covers mobile devices, networking technology, hardware, virtualization and cloud computing. Exam 220-1102 draws on knowledge of installing and configuring common operating systems (Windows, Linux, OS X, Android and iOS) and covers security, software and operational procedures. Candidates will find a variety of question formats, including standard multiple-choice, drag-and-drop and performance-based questions, on these exams.

Candidates who earn the A+ often find themselves in roles such as system support specialist, field service technician, desktop support specialist, help desk technician, associate network engineer and junior system administrator. The A+ is recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense (in DoD Directive 8140/8570.01-M). Also, technology companies like Ricoh, Nissan, Dell, HP and Intel require staff to earn the A+ certification to fill certain positions.

Certification name 

CompTIA A+

Prerequisites and required courses

9-12 months of hands-on experience in the lab or field recommended

Number of exams 

Two exams (each has a maximum of 90 questions and runs 90 minutes): 220-1101 and 220-1102 (CompTIA Academy Partners use the same numbers)

Cost per exam 

$246 per exam. Exams are administered by Pearson VUE. Exam vouchers are available through CompTIA.

URL 

https://certification.comptia.org/certifications/a

Self-study materials

CompTIA offers several self-study materials, including exam prep, study guides and classroom and e-learning training opportunities. Prices vary, with lower options around $400 (including a voucher for one of the exams).

Credential seekers may also want to check out the CertMaster online learning tool. Links to CompTIA training materials may be found on the certification web page.

Recommended books:

CompTIA A+ Core 1 (220-1101) and Core 2 (220-1102) Exam Cram, by David L. Prowse, published July 2, 2022, Pearson IT Certification, ISBN-10: 0-13-763754-3, ISBN-13: 978-0-13-763754-6

CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide: Core 1 Exam 220-1101 and Core 2 Exam 220-1102, 5th Edition, by Quentin Docter and Jon Buhagiar, published May 3, 2022, Syybex, ISBN-10: 1119862914, ISBN-13: 978-1119862918

CompTIA Server+

CompTIA also offers a server-related certification, which goes beyond covering basic PC hardware, software and networking topics to the more demanding, powerful and expensive capabilities in the same vein usually associated with server systems.

The Server+ credential tackles the essential hardware and software technologies of on-premises and hybrid server environments, including high availability, cloud computing and scripting. Obtaining the Server+ certificate also demonstrates multistep knowledge to securely deploy, administer and troubleshoot servers, including coverage of more advanced storage systems, IT environments, virtualization and disaster recovery, and business continuity topics. It also puts a strong emphasis on best practices and procedures for server problem diagnosis and troubleshooting. 

Earning the Server+ certificate from CompTIA involves passing one exam: SK0-005. The test assesses the hands-on skills of IT professionals who install, manage and troubleshoot servers in data centers, as well as in on-premises and hybrid environments. Candidates will find a variety of question formats, including standard multiple-choice and performance-based questions.

TipTip: If the Server+ certificate’s focus on data centers is attractive, you may also want to consider other data center certifications.

Candidates who earn the Server+ credential often find themselves in roles such as system administrator, server administrator, data center technician or engineer, field service technician or engineer, network administrator, and IT technician. It can also be a stepping stone into vendor-specific server technician training programs at a wide variety of blue-chip companies or with their authorized resellers and support partners. Although Server+ is vendor-neutral in coverage, organizations such as HP, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Xerox, Lenovo and HP use Server+ credentialed technicians. 

Get more information on CompTIA credentials in our CompTIA certification guide.

Certification name 

CompTIA Server+

Prerequisites and required courses 

No prerequisites

Recommended to be CompTIA A+ certified or have equivalent knowledge and have two years of hands-on experience working in a server environment  

Number of exams 

One: SK0-005 (90 questions, 90 minutes, 750 out of 900 passing score)

Cost per exam

$358. Exam is administered by Pearson VUE. Exam vouchers are available through CompTIA.

URL 

https://www.comptia.org/certifications/server

Self-study materials

CompTIA provides exam prep and study guides, as well as classroom and e-learning training opportunities. Lower-cost options are around $400 (including a voucher for one of the exams).

Credential seekers may also want to check out the CertMaster online learning tool. Links to CompTIA training materials may be found on the certification webpage.

Recommended book:

CompTIA Server+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, Second Edition (Exam SK0-005) 2nd Edition, by Daniel Lachance, published Aug. 3, 2021, McGraw Hill, ISBN-10: 1260469913, ISBN-13: 978-1260469912

Beyond the top 6: More hardware certifications

There are many more hardware-oriented certifications available that you might want to consider. As you get into IT and start to develop a sense of your own interests and observe the hardware systems and solutions around, you’ll be able to dig deeper into this arena.

You can investigate all the major system vendors (including HP, Dell, IBM, and other PC and server makers) as well as networking and infrastructure companies (such as Juniper and Fortinet) to find hardware-related training and certifications to occupy you throughout a long and successful career.

Although ExpertRating offers many credentials, we excluded it from our list after viewing several complaints regarding the general quality of the courses. Obviously, such complaints are from disgruntled customers, but they were enough to make us proceed with caution.

Did you know?Did you know?: Business News Daily has compiled all of the best IT certifications for easy access.

Job board search results

During a recent search of popular job boards, we found a plethora of businesses seeking candidates with computer hardware certifications for open roles. 

Certification

SimplyHired

Indeed

LinkedIn

LinkUp

Total

Apple Certified Support Professional

57

109

720

506

1,392

BICSI Technician

34

68

1,391

519

2,012

BICSI RCDD 

25

49

555

239

868

CCT

43

52

3,047

492

3,634

CompTIA A+ 

137

228

4,242

4,154

8,761

CompTIA Server+

222

345

4,884

1,737

7,188

Various factors, such as the specific job role, locality and experience level, may impact salary potential. Indeed lists the average base pay for an IT technician as $66,013, while other sites share an average that lies closer to $55,000. The average national salary for computer hardware technicians ranges from about $31,000 to more than $53,000. However, some certifications command higher salaries. For example, Certification Magazine’s 2022 Annual Salary Survey found that the average salary for someone with a CompTIA A+ credential is $100,660.

Computer hardware certifications and your future

As technology is ever-changing and its dynamic nature is constant in our society, the need for qualified individuals to help improve and maintain the computer hardware contributing to our technological growth will grow itself. You can help meet that need. However, in an area where continuous change in tools and technology is the norm, a course of lifelong learning will be essential to help you stay current on what’s relevant in the field today and will likely show up on the job soon.

Ed Tittel and Mary Kyle contributed to the writing and research in this article. 

Image Credit: SolisImages / Getty Images
Bassam Kaado
Bassam Kaado
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Bassam Kaado is a New Jersey based writer, communications specialist, and artist. He has over a decade of freelance and small business Public Relations and Marketing experience that includes both B2C and B2B focuses. He has over a decade of experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, and copy editor, in both business and creative disciplines. Bassam also has worked within the entertainment business and is an active artist.