Training and Certification
Is CompTIA Security+ (Plus) Worth It?
February 4, 2015
[This post was originally published on 2/4/2015 and last updated on 2/26/2019.]
Is the CompTIA Security+ certification worth it? It depends.
After receiving feedback from past students and speaking with cyber security professionals, their answers heavily favor a yes to the question.
The experience gained while earning the certification, and the fact you have it, is valuable. The training, how you prepare for the test, and other variables factor into the value you take from the certification.
The Unfiltered Reddit and Spiceworks Opinion on Security+
Similar questions are posted in online forums. Look for advice on CompTIA Security+ from Reddit where comments say, “If you want to get a job with the government it’s my understanding security+ is a DoD requirement” and,
“Just to get HR departments to look at a resume for entry-level IT, the CompTIA A+ was mandatory. The A+ doesn’t really demonstrate you know how to do much of anything, but it DOES demonstrate that you have invested some money and time into improving your hire-ability, which means more than the certification itself.
I obtained the CompTIA Network+ and got an entry-level position at a web hosting company. This really was the beginning of my career as a systems admin.
Security+ hasn’t much for me but it was good to have, I feel more knowledgeable about security technologies. It was reimbursed by work. I don’t think that any certification is useless if it’s a current technology.”
Read other forums where this topic surfaced. In Spiceworks, a private online community of millions of IT professionals, one user asked, “Is It Worth Doing an A+, Networking+ and Security+?”
The responses varied. One user said, “Everyone has a different route they prefer, some like certs, some college, and others just prefer to read and tinker…Personally, I like the certification route.”
The majority of responses agreed that it is a baseline certification, often required for government positions, and it leads to other certifications, such as CISSP and CEH.
What IT Professionals Say about Security+
This feedback comes from past Security+ students and a question posted as a poll to answer yes or no in the IT Professionals community on Google+. The community contains over 160,000 members. After 232 votes, 19 comments, and several email responses, there are clear conclusions.
1. Yes if you want to work in the federal government
Department of Defense Directive 8570 (DoDD 8570) requires all full-time and part-time military service members, defense contractors, civilians and foreign employees with privileged access to a DoD system, regardless of job series or occupational specialty, to obtain a commercial certification credential that has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The CompTIA Security+ (Plus) certifications is required for certain individuals.
Comments from the Google+ poll agreed on this fact. For professionals working in the commercial sector, the certification may not help as much and prove unnecessary if you have significant cyber security experience. Who can say how much and what type of experience is enough to land you the right type of job? The accreditation may appear as entry-level or for the “IT neophytes”, but one of our past students said it best:
It’s entry-level, but it’s what can make the difference between you getting in the security field versus someone who doesn’t have it.
2. Depends on your experience
Security+ certification look greats on a resume, but it does not carry as much weight as experience. Experience holds the most weight. Perhaps you have strong knowledge of security practices and technology, but little to no practical experience in the field and no related educational background.
The certification may not serve you well due to the depth of your knowledge. Certifications such as CASP+, CISSP, CCNA Security, CEH or one of the certifications referenced in this blog post on “Top Cyber Security Certifications“.Part of knowing if Security+ or another certification is worth it involves understanding if it fits your background.
Before deciding to pursue a certification, speak with several professionals and those familiar with certifications to see what matches your experience and understanding. Don’t pursue every related popular certification to improve your resume.
3. One week of studying for the exam is not enough
Security+ training lasts five days. At the end of the training students usually take the exam. Not everyone is capable of training, studying and passing the exam within this short period. One past student said,
I was very pleased with it, the instructor, and the handout/ practice tests. The only thing I did not like was that we were required to take the exam the last day. I did not feel ready and, although I passed anyway, I would still have done much better if I had even another week or two to study the material.
Once again, it’s important to reiterate the reality that study time and other factors depend on each person. Unless you are well-versed in the content within the Security+ course, one week is not long enough to fit in training and studying. Before training and taking the exam, set aside substantial time to study. Training is as important as self-study time. The instructor holds a Security+ certification, experience with the exam and helps students pass the test. This insight proves very valuable.
CompTIA Security+ is worth it if…
There is no single solution for a person’s educational resources and career advancement in IT. You should constantly look for ways to learn to enhance your cyber security skills (learn programming too), knowledge, and experiences in and outside of the classroom.
When deciding whether to pursue the Security+ certification, ask yourself:
- Will it improve my career marketability?
- Does my experience in security surpass the course content?
- Does my job or future employment require the certification?
Reach out to security professionals who have it. Don’t know any? Reach out to us and we can connect you with professionals of various backgrounds who hold their Security+ certification. If you’re looking to pursue it, read this blog post to learn about the study methods for passing the CompTIA Security+ exam.