Is Security+ (plus) Worth It?

It does not matter what cybersecurity certification is done, the question of if the certification is really worth the effort and time would inevitably arise.

The CompTIA Security+ certification is no doubt one of the most popular certifications out there, and it is no wonder that numerous prospective certification applicants ask if the Security+ certification is truly worth it.

So, is the Security+ certification worth it? A short answer would be yes.

The CompTIA Security+ certification is definitely worth the time and effort if you have intentions of pursuing a career in cybersecurity, or if you are interested in adding security qualifications to your CV.

It is also useful if you require knowledge of network security for your current role.

While this might sound pretty straightforward, it still doesn’t help answer what exactly it is about Security+ that makes the effort put in worthwhile, at least compared to the many other certifications.

The aim of this article is to delve deeper into the numerous aspects of Security+ to find out why it is a great certification to attain. 

What is CompTIA Security+ Certification?

The Security+ certification is an IT security certification which develops your expertise and skills in network and computer security domains such as network security, IT risk management and cybersecurity. It should be seen as a lower level cybersecurity certification which covers the following topics:

  • How to recognise risks in a connected network
  • How to utilise tools, techniques and technologies to safeguard hardware and software assets from hostile parties and hackers.

A Security+ certification can help you gain jobs in the network security and cybersecurity fields, with roles such as information security specialist, penetration tester, security engineer, security administrator, and network administrator.

What are the skills measures by the Security+ certification?

The integral skills that the CompTIA Security+ certification validate include threat analysis, configuration and installation of secure applications, cryptography, risk mitigation techniques, understanding types of attacks and proffered solutions, cybersecurity law and policy, network protocols and layers, mobile security, forensics and architecture design with maximum risk mitigation.

Every one of the skills covered is bound to make you knowledgeable of the fundamentals to the point where you are able to recognise the possible risks found in cybersecurity.

You will also understand the required solutions that every organisation can utilise to safeguard their data, hardware and software assets.

Given that the Security+ certification comes with performance and lab-based questions, you have the opportunity to gain hands-on introspect and experience in discovering solutions to complicated problems associated with cybersecurity and modern networks.

You do not need experience to attempt the Security+ exam

When you climb up the ranks in the cybersecurity industry, you will discover that quite a number of the renowned certifications come with prerequisites like having a particular number of years of recorded experience.

It could also be that you have to have completed a sanctioned training before you can even take the CompTIA Security+ certification exam. There are also certain exams that require you to be sponsored by an individual that has already been certified.

A wonderful benefit that the Security+ certification offers is that there really is no previous training or experience required before you are able to take the exam. You can simply select a date for the exam and take it.

What this means, however, is that you have to be adequately prepared before taking the test. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful benefit for individuals just entering the computer networking or cybersecurity industry, as they are able to attain a certification in a time when adequate roles for job opportunities can be scarce and college degrees can take longer to finish.

The CompTIA Security+ certification is something that can be done in about 60 days, as long as you prepare and study well.

Security+ meets 8570 Requirements and is approved by the United States Department of Defence

The US DoD has a directive known as 8570 which offer guidance on how its direct employees and those working on behalf of the Department of Defence in information assurance or cybersecurity tasks have to be trained and gain certification.

This directive ensures that Security+ is the foundational certification for the majority of the work. What this means is that the Department of Defence understands and recognises the value and validity of the Security+ certification. This is clearly evident that it actually requires it for particular roles.

When a certification is recognised and cleared by such an important part of the national governments, contractors and vendors are likely to reap the rewards of having a CompTIA Security+ certification.

Security+ training can be offered almost everywhere

The Security+ certification is so prevalent that the majority of universities and colleges offer training for the exam at certain times in their academic calendar. It is even possible to use online training resources.

Moreover, there are numerous resources for online courses available, so prospective Security+ candidates can prepare and study for the exam. The quality offered by these courses tend to vary, so it is important to pay close attention to the training resources you utilise.

Now that the wonderful features that make the CompTIA Security+ certification a worthwhile endeavour, it is now time to consider other questions you might have concerning this certification.

Compared to numerous other certifications, Security+ is cheaper

Certifications are not cheap by a long shot, and certain cybersecurity-related certifications tend to cost a minimum of $500, which is quite a large sum of money to part with if you are not sure you are going to pass.

Thankfully, CompTIA seems to understand this and has ensured that its prices are reasonable, particularly for Security+ certification which costs a bit more than $300.

There are also discounts that can be had as CompTIA lets students take the Security+ certification for about $200 in certain instances.

Is it possible to retake the Security+ if you don’t pass the first time?

CompTIA enables certification candidates to retake the Security+ exam if you don’t pass. It even offers the opportunity to purchase a testing voucher with a retake option.

Nevertheless, if you are unable to pass the exam on the second try, you will be temporarily blocked from taking the exam. Generally, this block lasts about 2 weeks.

How much time do you have to devote to studying for the Security+ certification?

How much time you need to devote to studying and the effort required typically differs from one individual to the next.

It depends on your experience and knowledge, however, a great yardstick is typically around 50 hours of devoted study, before you are truly ready to take the Security+ certification exam.

You only have one exam to take with the Security+ certification

This is a great benefit of this certification. You only require a single exam. Certain mid to high-level certifications like Microsoft’s MCSA or Cisco’s CCNP requires numerous exams.

While there is nothing wrong with that, those multiple exams do not necessarily equal a large increase in either career prospects or salary. This can be a negative considering just how much work is required for them.

With a certification that has just one exam like the CompTIA Security+, you only need to prepare for a single exam and once you pass it you are certified. That makes it a much more enticing prospect to take on.

Will having a Security+ certification instead of the Network+ raise eyebrows in the job market?

Quite a lot of people become concerned about having certain certifications and skipping others.

In the majority of cases, employers do not seem to question why a prospective candidate doesn’t have a particular certification.

The lack of a supposed lower certification is not something that is held against a prospective employee.

The majority of employers actually value certifications, particularly higher-level ones and they tend to presume the candidate in questions is knowledgeable enough in the lower aspects.

Do I require experience to successfully take the Security+ certification?

As stated earlier in the article, it is possible to take the exam at any point, with no need for previous work experience. However, this does not mean it should be the case.

If you are interested in taking the Security+ exam and be successful without any previous cybersecurity-related work experience, it is imperative that you have a robust knowledge of computer networking.

This knowledge should include the understanding of protocols, the OSI model, port numbers as well as the functions of networking hardware components like routers, firewalls and switches.

What this means is that you have to be particularly strong on the majority of CompTIA’s Network+ topics before you attempt to take the Security+ exam.

This, however, doesn’t mean you have to gain this knowledge from an actual cybersecurity-related job, or that you need to first take the Network+ certification exam.

What it does mean is that you will have to show proficiency in these areas, before you can move onto the topics Security+ has.

Jonathan Holmes

Jonathan Holmes is a writer for HKS Siblab, an education and business blog. He has a MSc in Cyber Security & Digital Forensics from the University of Hertfordshire and has been working in the cyber security industry since 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing guitar and spending time with his family.

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