Taking the CompTIA Security+ exam is a big step toward realizing your career dreams in cyber security. You’ll want to know how long you’ll study, your budget, and your preparation schedule. If you’re thinking, “Is CompTIA Security+ worth it?” we’ve got you covered.
We’ll explain how Security+ fits your IT and cyber security career journey. This article will show you how much time and money you can expect to spend if you decide to go for the Security+ exam and the doors Security+ opens for you so that you can make an informed decision on whether to pursue this certification.
If you’re ready, read on.
CompTIA Security+ Certification
The CompTIA Security+ certification shows employers that you’ve mastered the core skills to perform essential cyber security functions and pursue a relevant career. It focuses on the day-to-day real-time application of IT security knowledge at work.
You’ll need to answer at most 90 questions in this 90-minute examination and complete a survey after it ends. The passing score is 750 on a scale of 100–900.
As of the time of writing, the latest CompTIA Security+ exam code is SY0-601. The associated exam is available until July 2024. The Security+ exam domains are:
- Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities
- Architecture and Design
- Operations and Incident Response
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance
The CompTIA Security+ certification is ideal for IT professionals with two years of IT administration experience with a cyber security focus or equivalent training who are starting or furthering a career in cyber security. Anyone who wants to break into cyber security and have the necessary foundational networking know-how should consider taking Security+. We go in depth in our “What Is CompTIA Security+?” article.
As a highly recognized and respected certification, Security+ is compliant with ISO 17024 standards and approved by the U.S. DoD to meet directive 8140/8570.01-M requirements. You can consider taking Security+ even if you already have years of experience in networking or cyber security. For details, refer to our articles comparing Security+ with other certifications:
Time and Financial Investment
It’s important to set aside time and money for Security+ study materials. Moreover, due to cyber security’s evolving nature, CompTIA Security+ is not a one-and-done type of certification. It expires three years after you’ve passed your Security+ exam (as most CompTIA CE certification do), and you must take up continuing education units (CEUs) to retain your credentials.
An excellent self-paced study course will prepare you well for the Security+ exam and compensate for your lack of work or hands-on experience. If you’re looking for good Security+ study resources, we’ve listed a few in the conclusion of this article.
Some students pay for additional practice tests to ensure they have all their bases covered. Being part of a Security+ study group online or offline is also helpful.
As of writing, the listed price of the Security+ exam set is $392 (USD). You have two methods to renew your certification:
- With multiple activities: Collect at least 50 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through CompTIA-approved activities, including advanced certifications, work experience, publishing, and participating in industry events. To renew Security+, you should upload sufficient proof of participation to your certification account and pay a renewal fee.
- With a single activity: Advanced CompTIA certifications such as CySA+, PenTest+, and CASP+ suffice to renew Security+. You can also complete CompTIA’s online, self-paced continuing education course CertMaster CE, the Security+ version of which costs $199 (USD) as of writing.
Although Security+ has no hard-and-fast prerequisites, CompTIA recommends that Security+ candidates have CompTIA Network+ and two years of experience in IT administration with a security focus. Such prior expertise helps reduce study time.
The average time for most candidates with some technical background to prepare for the Security+ exam is 30 to 45 days. Without prior IT experience, you may need 60 days or longer. Don’t forget to check out our tips to pass Security+ when you do it the first time.
By studying for Security+, you fill in the gaps in the latest industry knowledge that competent cyber security professionals need to know, especially if you already have information security expertise, and prove your ability in troubleshooting cyber security incidents. Such skills are valuable in penetration testing, offensive/defensive cyber security, and risk management.
From Security+ study materials, you’ll gain technical knowledge of networking and security topics, such as public key infrastructure, wireless security settings, and organizational security. If you’re new to cyber security, you can get hands-on experience by doing labs where you learn how to apply cyber security concepts to real-life scenarios.
As a cyber security professional, a solid working knowledge of various domains in cyber security can help you identify and solve cyber security problems confidently. Being in control engenders trust in your non-technical employers and clients.
CompTIA boasts that Security+ opens the door to a career in cyber security. Available since 2002, this highly respected certification exam has been around for over 20 years. CompTIA keeps Security+ up-to-date with current technologies, making it an excellent certification for anyone desiring to break into cyber security.
As a vendor-neutral certification, Security+ prepares you for many cyber security jobs. Suppose employment in cyber security is your immediate concern. In that case, your job prospects and opportunities with Security+ include the following six entry- to mid-level job types, with potential for advancement upwards toward management, or laterally, as in changing jobs:
- Business analyst
- Cyber security manager
- Software developer
- Systems administrator
- MSP personnel
- Security consultant
Full-timers in these six roles can earn a salary of $43k – $180k annually. Additionally, CompTIA allows you to view more descriptions of Security+ jobs by selecting from the dropdown menu on this web page.
You can find thousands of open positions that require or mention CompTIA Security+ online. As of writing, Glassdoor alone returns over 4,000 results for a US-based job search on CompTIA Security+.
Meanwhile, Indeed has more than 6,000 results for US-based jobs whose descriptions mention CompTIA Security+:
For a detailed breakdown, refer to our Security+ Jobs article.
Security+ is an ideal certification if your goal is to break into cyber security.
The knowledge and skills in Security+ apply across most elements of the cyber security industry, including offensive/defensive/management, so it’s important to consider your career goals when deciding whether to get Security+ certified.
We hope our brief article answering “Is CompTIA Security+ worth it?” gives you a clear idea of the jobs Security+ offers, foundational knowledge in Security+, and investments to make if you pursue Security+.
If you want to learn more about Security+ and other cyber security certifications that may be suitable for you, check out our articles on this subject and our course offerings below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it’s not easy, but it’s an entry-level cyber security exam. It’s within reach for anyone who understands networking fundamentals and has studied the material. Check out our tips for passing Security+.
If you’re interested in an IT-related career, building your foundation in networking and cyber security is a top priority. Both certifications are equally valuable to have. We recommend that anyone interested in CCNA and Security+ do CCNA first. Refer to our CCNA vs Security+ article to find out why.
If you’re considering having both certifications, go for A+ first. If you aim to get Security+ and you’re not an IT beginner, you may want to assess your networking and cyber security knowledge level before you decide whether you’d like to get Network+, which overlaps much with Security+ content, and then move on to Security+.
Nobody knows because Security+ questions carry different weights. Check out our tips to pass Security+ the first time you take it.
It’s a tough call, depending on your networking expertise. Security+ requires studying a wide range of cyber security topics. In contrast, CCNA’s emphasis on Cisco-based network security makes it an easier exam for candidates familiar with Cisco enterprise network architecture to pass.
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