CompTIA, the creator behind the Security+ certification, describes Security+ as the “first security certification a candidate should earn.” The Security+ certification offers a hands-on understanding of the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to launch a cybersecurity career.
This guide will dive into everything you need to know how the CompTIA Security+ certification, so you can decide if it is the right credential to help further your cybersecurity career goals.
Table of Contents
- What Is The CompTIA Security+?
- CompTIA Security+ Exam Details
- How Does The CompTIA Security+ Certification Compare To Other Industry Certifications?
- How To Study For CompTIA Security+
- What Jobs Can You Get With CompTIA Security+?
- How Do I Maintain My CompTIA Security+ Certification?
What Is The CompTIA Security+?
As mentioned, the Security+ certification was created and is maintained by CompTIA. The certification is designed to validate core security knowledge across a variety of environments that can apply to any IT or cybersecurity role.
Security+ is ISO 17024 compliant and meets requirements within the DoD 8140/8570.01-M directive. Since 2011, CompTIA has delivered over 2.3 million ISO/ANSI-accredited exams.
CompTIA Security+ Exam Details:
The current CompTIA Security+ exam code is SY0-601. This exam launched on November 12, 2020 and will be valid for about 3 years. This exam features key differences from the previous version in order to better align with the latest cybersecurity industry techniques and trends. According to CompTIA:
“The CompTIA Security+ certification exam will verify the successful candidate has the knowledge and skills required to assess the security posture of an enterprise environment and recommend and implement appropriate security solutions; monitor and secure hybrid environments, including cloud, mobile, and IoT; operate with an awareness of applicable laws and policies, including principles of governance, risk, and compliance; identify, analyze, and respond to security events and incidents”CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 Exam Description
This exam consists of:
- A maximum of 90 multiple choice or performance-based questions
- A maximum time allotment of 90 minutes
- A passing score of 750 on a 100-900 scale
It is also recommended that candidates hold an active CompTIA Network+ certification and possess 2 years of IT work experience with a focus on security.
What Are The CompTIA Security+ Exam Objectives?
There are 5 exam domains on the CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 exam:
- Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities
- Architecture and Design
- Operations and Incident Response
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance
While studying it is important to consistently reference CompTIA’s detailed exam objective document. This document outlines, in detail, the specific attacks, tools, techniques, etc that you need to understand for exam success. We often suggest students go through the exam objectives list and highlight any topic areas they are not 100% comfortable to effectively guide their study plan.
We Have Trained Thousands Of Students For Their CompTIA Security+ Certification.
How Much Does The CompTIA Security+ Exam Cost?
The exam voucher alone costs $381 USD. Many exam candidates, however, receive it bundled into their training fees if they choose to receive formal Security+ exam preparation.
Where Can You Take Your CompTIA Security+ Exam?
How Long Is Your CompTIA Security+ Certification Valid?
After passing your CompTIA Security+ exam, you will hold an active certification for 3 years. During that 3 year period, you can participate in qualifying continuing education activities and upload those CEUs to your CompTIA certification account to renew your certification. If you fail to renew your certification during your three-year window, you will need to sit for and pass the latest version of the CompTIA Security+ exam in order to gain an active certification again.
How Does The CompTIA Security+ Certification Compare To Other Industry Certifications?
The CompTIA Security+ certification is often compared to the EC-Council CEH, (ISC)2 SSCP and the GIAC Security Essentials certifications. These certifications focus on entry-level penetration testing, security and cybersecurity skills, respectively. However, these certifications often require candidates to have prior cybersecurity-specific work experience to be successful on the exams.
The Security+ certification, on the other hand, does not require candidates to have dedicated security experience prior to sitting for the exam. It offers a bridge for candidates with general IT knowledge and experience to gain the security knowledge they need to grow in their careers and eventually sit for these other entry-level cybersecurity exams.
Considering the global shortage of qualified cybersecurity workers, the CompTIA Security+ certification offers candidates a way to demonstrate to potential employers that they have the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to fill entry-level cybersecurity roles and grow within this field. For this reason, we include the Security+ certification as part of our Cyber Foundations program designed to help people launch new careers in cybersecurity.
How To Study For CompTIA Security+ Exam?
Before diving into the ways you can prepare for your CompTIA Security+ exam, it is important to note that first you need to determine how you learn best. There are a number of ways students can learn the material needed for the CompTIA Security+ certification exam, including:
- Instructor-led Security+ training class
- Self-paced Security+ training
- Relevant on-the-job training etc.
Determining which method is best for you really depends on how much time you have to prepare for your exam and how you absorb information. Our guide, Instructor-Led vs Self-Paced eLearning: What’s Best? can help you determine the best path forward for you.
5 Reasons Candidates Fail Their CompTIA Security+ Exam
What Are The Prerequisites For The CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam?
CompTIA does not require you to show a valid certification, degree or work experience prior to sitting for any of their certification exams, including Security+. However, they do recommend candidates have their CompTIA Network+ certification and 2 years of relevant work experience. This recommendation is based on data regarding the audiences most likely to do well on the certification exam. Plenty of candidates pass their exam without this specific prior experience but, often times, they spend more time preparing for their exam compared to candidates with this specific experience and certification.
What Do You Need To Know To Pass Your CompTIA Security+ Exam?
CompTIA’s Security+ certification exam objectives guide provides the most comprehensive list of the knowledge, skills, abilities and more you need to know to pass your exam. Using this guide to focus your studies will not ensure you are prepared for everything you may see on the certification exam but it will help you to understand most of the content. Additionally, using this guide in tandem with practice multiple-choice and performance-based questions can help show you which domain areas you need to study harder.
What Jobs Can You Get With CompTIA Security+?
Most people pursue certification as a means to qualify for a promotion from their current role or to break into an entirely new field. The CompTIA Security+ specifically offers a springboard for anyone to grow into a cybersecurity-focused role. This certification aligns closely to the job responsibilities of:
- Security Administrators
- Systems Administrators
- Helpdesk Manager / Analysts
- Network / Cloud Engineers
- Security Engineer / Analysts
- DevOps / Software Developers
- IT Auditors
- IT Project Managers
What Organizations Contributed To The The CompTIA Security+ Certification?
CompTIA aims to develop certifications that can greatly benefit the industry by aligning the content to the practical needs of employers. To achieve this, CompTIA recruits the world’s top employers to contribute to the exam development process. Exams are completely revamped every three years but they also undergo minor revisions during the interim as significant industry trends emerge.
The CompTIA Security+ exam includes contributions from leading employers, including:
- General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT)
- The U.S. Navy’s Center for Information Warfare Training
- Johns Hopkins University
The CompTIA Security+ is also recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense as an IA approved baseline certification for IAT Level II & IAM Level I professionals. Finally, at the time this article posted, over 85,000 open job results are returned on LinkedIn.com when you search for “CompTIA Security+” in the United States. Simply put, employers recognize the value of this certification and the immense capability of CompTIA Security+ credential holders.
What Is The Salary For A Security+ Certification?
It’s evident that employers look for Security+ certified professionals, but how much does the certification pay out in terms of salary? Payscale reports an average of $78,000/year. More specifically, the jobs most CompTIA Security+ certified professionals hold report the following average annual salaries:
- Cyber Security Analyst: $76,617
- Systems Administrator: $66,292
- Network Engineer: $77,690
- Information Security Analyst: $72,419
- Cyber Security Engineer: $95,563
- IT Manager: $81,261
- Security Analyst: $68,034
How Do I Maintain My CompTIA Security+ Certification?
As mentioned previously, the CompTIA Security+ certification is only valid for three years. However, credential holders can renew their certification by attaining and submitting 50 continuing education units (CEUs) during that three-year period. Doing so will renew the certification for another three years during which time you can earn and submit the required CEUs again for as long as you want to maintain the credential.
Below are the continuing education activities that can be completed for renewing a Security+ certification:
|Continuing Education Activity||Estimated CEUs Earned|
|Earn the CySA+ Certification||50 (Fully Renews Security+)|
|Earn the PenTest+ Certification||50 (Fully Renews Security+)|
|Earn the CASP+ Certification||50 (Fully Renews Security+)|
|Earn a Non-CompTIA Certification (CEH, CISSP, CCNA Security, a full list can be found here)||50 (Fully Renews Security+)|
|Pass a newer version of the CompTIA Security+ exam (if your current certification is the 501, you can take the 601 when that is released)||50 (Fully Renews Security+)|
|Attend a live webinar where at least 50% of the content relates back to the Security+ exam objectives||1 CEU for each hour you attend (Can apply a max of 10 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Attend a conference where at least 50% of the conference session relates back to the Security+ exam objectives||1 CEU for each hour you attend (Can apply a max of 10 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Complete a college or ACE course where at least 50% of the course content relates back to the Security+ exam objectives||10 CEUs for each 3-4 credit course (Can apply a max of 50 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Teach or mentor where at least 50% of the content relates back to the Security+ exam objectives. You can only submit teaching content once.||1 CEU for each hour you teach or mentor (Can apply a max of 20 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Create instructional materials where at least 50% of the content relates back to the Security+ exam objectives.||2 CEUs for each hour of materials creation (Can apply a max of 20 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Participate as a subject matter expert in a corresponding CompTIA Exam Development Workshop||1 CEU for each workshop hour (Can apply a max of 50 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Publish an article or whitepaper where at least 50% of the content relates back to the Security+ exam objectives.||4 CEUs for an article or whitepaper of a minimum of 4 pages in length (Can apply a max of 16 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Publish a blog post where at least 50% of the content relates back to the Security+ exam objectives.||1 CEU for each blog post with a minimum of 500 words (Can apply a max of 16 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Publish a book where at least 50% of the content relates back to the Security+ exam objectives.||40 CEUs per book (Can apply a max of 40 CEUs toward Security+)|
|Work experience where at least 50% of the work you are performing relates back to the Security+ exam objectives.||3 CEUs per year of work (Can apply a max of 9 CEUs toward Security+)|
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