Anyone interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career can immediately unlock new and higher-paying opportunities with a CompTIA Security+ certification. In many ways, CompTIA Security+ is a cybersecurity gateway.
So, how do cybersecurity professionals train for and take the CompTIA Security+ exam? Our ultimate guide will prepare you with everything you need to know to begin advancing your cybersecurity career.
What is CompTIA Security+?
CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized certification. It demonstrates that an individual has the baseline knowledge necessary to pursue an IT security career. It’s overseen by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).
The certification focuses on the core cybersecurity competencies and is acknowledged worldwide, including at governmental defense department levels. That’s why it’s generally the first cybersecurity certification professionals will earn.
The training and exam emphasize pragmatic skills building when working toward a CompTIA Security+ certification. Undergoing that training tells hiring organizations that you can recognize cybersecurity incidents and fully protect against and mitigate them.
Although two years of IT administration experience are recommended, there are no prerequisites for pursuing CompTIA Security+ certification.
Who Should Take the CompTIA Security+?
CompTIA Security+ certification is for IT professionals with knowledge and experience covering networking and administrative skills in Windows®-based Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networks.
Certification enables them to pursue career advancement and promotion opportunities for roles (and salaries) such as:
- Network & Systems Administrators: $65,000>
- Penetration testers: $75,000>
- Security professionals: $90,000>
(Keep in mind that the salaries above are US national medians, weighted for location. For ranges more accurate for your specific location, try to refine the filters available on the site linked above).
What Topics Does CompTIA Security+ Cover?
CompTIA Security+ exam takers must answer up to 90 questions in 90 minutes on topics from one of five “domains”:
- Domain 1 | Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities – Comprises 24% of the exam
- Domain 2 | Architecture and Design – Comprises 21% of the exam
- Domain 3 | Implementation – Comprises 25% of the exam
- Domain 4 | Operations and Incident Response – Comprises 16% of the exam
- Domain 5 | Governance, Risk, and Compliance – Comprises 14% of the exam
The exam is graded on a scale of 100-900. Successfully earning certification requires a minimum score of 750. Once an individual has passed the exam, their CompTIA Security+ certification remains active for three years.
Pursuing additional certifications and training in those three years and earning 50 “continuing education units” (CEUs) will qualify for Security+ renewal.
Is CompTIA Security+ for Beginners?
Beginners and students of all skill levels can pursue CompTIA Security+ certification.
However, it is generally recommended that they have accrued two or more years of professional experience in an IT administration role—particularly emphasizing security responsibilities.
Once a beginner has some experience, achieving CompTIA Network+ certification would certainly benefit future opportunities.
Is CompTIA Security+ Worth It?
CompTIA Security+ certification is very much worth the effort and expense for professionals interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career. As it’s considered one of the first professional certifications earned within the field, all but entry-level job opportunities may be automatically denied without it. Even some entry-level jobs may require it.
Furthermore, maintaining CompTIA Security+ by attaining 50 CEUs is relatively easy for professionals active in the cybersecurity field.
So, passing the initial exam and periodically attending additional certifications and training should help any individual maintain their Security+ credential as long as they choose.
Additional CompTIA certifications are also available to further specialize in a cybersecurity subfield or pursue advanced-level knowledge. New Horizon also provides CompTIA Security certification training for:
- CompTIA Security+
- CompTIA Penetration Testing Certificate (PenTest+)
- CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst Certification (CySA+)
- CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner Certification (CASP+)
What Does CompTia Security+ Cost?
New Horizons’ five-day CompTIA Security+ course costs $2,475 and runs two (sometimes three) times per month, allowing for busy schedules. The complete course comprises 21 modules that cover:
- Exam preparation
- Defining and explaining an array of security vulnerabilities
- In-depth examinations of secure system and network design
- Implementing identity management (IDM) and access control
- Defensive cybersecurity controls, including public key infrastructure (PKI), firewalls, and intrusion detection systems (IDS)
After completing the course, you’ll be prepared to take the Security+ certification exam, although a practice exam is recommended.
How to Prepare for the CompTIA Security+ Exam
CompTIA advises that it takes roughly six weeks to prepare for the Security+ exam, with studying efforts mirroring any standardized testing scenario. Once you’ve developed a basic knowledge of the exam topics and have committed to pursuing certification, you’ll want to:
- Sign up for a preparation course. New Horizons offers CompTIA Security+ courses roughly twice per month. This is step one because not all preparation courses are guaranteed to take place. So, you’ll first want to ensure that you can participate in training before committing to an exam date.
- Schedule a testing date roughly six weeks away (depending on your course scheduling). With a test scheduled, you’ll be able to keep your studies focused and on track.
- Take a blind practice exam. Although it may seem early in the preparation process, practice exams are available for free from CompTIA and will help you understand your current knowledge level. If you’re apprehensive about signing up for the CompTIA Security+ exam, it may be wise to start here and gauge your existing knowledge. However, the training course and materials should help anyone with the recommended two years of IT administrator experience quickly adapt regardless of first-time practice scores.
- Expand your study scope. Gather your preparation materials and start to familiarize yourself with the topics further. Take note of which seem more difficult, and begin preparing questions your course provider can help with. If your course doesn’t begin until closer to the examination date, you may want to self-study more early on. If you prefer to work with printed materials, you may need to order them in advance to account for shipping times.
- Begin your training course, taking full advantage of the resources it offers.
- Take another practice exam with two or three weeks remaining to ensure your studying has been effective. You may wish to take multiple practice exams depending on your results and confidence.
- Continue studying, making extra time for difficult topics as needed. Consider joining online communities and forums to speak with more people who have sat for and passed the exam to ensure you’re familiar with everything you can expect. Online communities can also help you with any topics you might be stuck on.
- Relax and take a breath. Step away from your study materials for a day or two before the exam to relieve any last-minute stress. Standardized tests are particularly challenging for some people, but you’ve put the work in at this point.
- Follow a healthy pre-test routine starting the night before the exam. We suggest:
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat a nutritious breakfast
- Be ready to go 15-20 minutes before the exam starts
- Have a clock nearby, as the exam is timed
How to Put Your CompTIA Security+ Certification to Good Use
Put your CompTIA Security+ certification to good use by prominently placing it with other professional credentials on your resume. Given the widespread recognition throughout the cybersecurity industry, nearly anyone familiar with hiring requirements in the field will recognize it.
As a globally acknowledged certification, achieving the CompTIA Security+ will immediately showcase core competency skills in cybersecurity regardless of other professional or educational experience.
Certified individuals should leverage their achievement for higher-paying, more-advanced cybersecurity career opportunities or to demonstrate continuing education.
Get Your Comptia Security+ Certification with New Horizons
When you’re ready to get started pursuing your CompTIA Security+ certification and progress in your cybersecurity career, New Horizons is here to help you with everything you need. We offer comprehensive training and certification for CompTIA Security+ and numerous other professional IT certifications.
Come exam date, we’ll have you ready to take the test with complete confidence.
Cybersecurity Best Practices
Cyber attacks continue to evolve every day, resulting in a need to be constantly improving and implementing new cybersecurity measures. This concept can be overwhelming for any cybersecurity team, no matter how big or small. That's why we've created a free ebook to help you design a comprehensive cybersecurity plan.
CompTIA. Free Practice Tests for A+, Security+, & Network+ & More. https://www.comptia.org/training/resources/practice-tests
CompTIA. Get IT Done: 6 Weeks to Upskill. https://www.comptia.org/blog/6-weeks-to-upskill
Salary.com. Entry Level Security Engineer Salary in the United States. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/posting/entry-level-security-engineer-salary
Salary.com. Network Administrator I Salary in the United States. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/network-administrator-i-salary
Salary.com. Penetration Tester Salary in the United States. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/listing/penetration-tester-salary
Salary.com. Security Administrator Salary in the United States. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/security-administrator-salary
Salary.com. Security Consultant Salary in the United States. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/posting/security-consultant-salary
Salary.com. Security Specialist Salary in the United States. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/security-specialist-salary
Salary.com. Systems Administrator I Salary in the United States. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/systems-administrator-i-salary