You know that a CompTIA Security+ certification will open doors in your career but now you need to actually earn the certification. Achieving your Security+ certification is a rather straightforward process and we outline all of the steps you need to properly study for the Security+ certification exam, register and pass your exam and finally maintain your Security+ certification.
5 Steps To Earning Your Security+ Certification
1. Decide Which Security+ Exam You Will Take
You don’t always have a choice when it comes to which CompTIA Security+ exam you can sit for, but every few years you do. Typically, there is a version update every 3 years after CompTIA launches a new exam and there is a period of time where you can choose to take either the latest or the older version of the exam.
2020 is the year CompTIA updates their Security+ certification exam. The new exam, SY0-601, is set to release in November 2020 and the old exam, SY0-501, is not set to expire until July 2021. This means you have about 7 months where you can choose which Security+ exam you want to take. This may not seem like a big deal but it does affect how you prepare for your exam so you need to consider it. Typically, it is best to sit for the older version of the exam if possible. There are a few reasons why this is the best course of action:
- The Security+ exam prep material you are using is likely aligned to the older exam objectives.
- If you enroll in a CompTIA Security+ instructor-led training course or if you watch self-paced exam prep courses, the trainers leading these courses may not have sat for the new exam yet and are still teaching based off of their experience with the previous Security+ exam objectives.
If you must take the latest version of the CompTIA Security+ certification exam, then verify the materials and trainers you use are well versed in the latest exam objectives so you are not blindsided by any new material during your test.
2. Study For The CompTIA Security+ Exam
Now that you know what Security+ certification exam you will sit for, you need to prepare for the exam. This process can take either a few weeks or a few months, depending on your familiarity with the material. While every student learns differently, there are few steps most students should take in their preparation process:
- Download the Security+ Exam objectives and practice questions from CompTIA.
- Read through the objectives and take the practice questions, highlight any objectives that you don’t feel 100% comfortable with and any questions you get wrong.
- Focus your studies (instructor-led class, self-paced course or self-taught material) on those trouble areas.
- Continuing practicing for the exam by taking a variety of timed Security+ practice exams (both multiple-choice and performance-based questions) to simulate the testing environment.
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3. Register To Sit For The Security+ Certification Exam
Before you can sit for your Security+ exam, you need to register through Pearson VUE to schedule your Security+ exam date. To do this you need to:
- Create a Pearson VUE testing account.
- Sign in and either find a physical testing center near you or choose an online testing option.
- Schedule your exam for a day, time and location that is convenient for you.
When scheduling your exam, do so for a time that is best for you. If mornings are your prime, schedule it then. If your brain performs best in late afternoons or evenings, schedule it then. Also, do not schedule your exam on the same day or even in days leading up to other major events in your life (job interview, important presentation at work, your daughter’s wedding, etc.). You want a clear head going into your Security+ exam so schedule it during a time when it can be your top priority.
4. Pass Your Security+ Exam
Now is the time to put all of your hard work and preparation to the test, literally. While you may be tempted to continue cramming into the late evening or during the day leading up to your exam time, we often advise students to not do this. Instead, make sure you get a good night’s rest, eat a healthy meal, and arrive at the testing center or location of your online exam with plenty of time to use the bathroom and calm yourself prior to sitting then sit for the exam. Trust that you have prepared to the best of your ability to pass your Security+ exam.
When your exam day arrives, there are a few steps you will need to follow before officially sitting for the exam:
- Sign in to the testing center or online exam environment. You will need to show two forms of identification, such as a driver’s license and a credit card with your name on it.
- Review CompTIA’s testing policies and sign their CompTIA Candidate Agreement.
- If you are testing in a physical testing center, you cannot take anything into the testing room with you. This includes car keys, bags, books, cell phones, watches, etc. You should have access to a locker to secure your belongings while you are in the testing room. If you are testing online, you will need to take pictures of your room to ensure that you do not have access to books, pens, computers, phones, and any items hanging on nearby walls are inspected for content. Only once your room passes the room scan will you be able to begin your test.
Once you have met these requirements, you will be able to begin your CompTIA Security+ exam.
5. Earn Security+ Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
You will know immediately upon submitting your test, if you passed your Security+ exam. Once you pass your CompTIA Security+ exam, you need to maintain your credential by earning and submitting continuing education units during a 3-year renewal cycle following the date you achieved your Security+ certification. If you fail to renew your certification, then your CompTIA Security+ becomes lapsed and the only way to achieve an active Security+ certification is to sit for the exam all over again.
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