Security+ Training and Certification: Its Value for Cybersecurity Professionals

CompTIA Security+ Training and Certification

The field of cybersecurity is evolving rapidly. It offers both lucrative and engaging opportunities for current and rising information technology professionals. A great way to get ahead in this promising field is to secure a credential. One of the most popular is the CompTIA Security+ certification. Don't be intimidated by the thought of the test! There are ways to prepare and it is actually a very approachable credential for a beginning professional. Here are the answers to a few FAQ's that candidates often have.

1. Security+ Training 101: What is the CompTIA Security+ certification?

The CompTIA Security+ certification is the foundational credential for information technology professionals who want to specialize in cybersecurity. By passing the test, you show your ability to install and work with systems that secure devices, applications, and full networks. You must demonstrate the capacity to evaluate and mitigate system threats and show a strong working knowledge of current cybersecurity policy.

2. Who should pursue the certification?

As an entry-level examination, the CompTIA Security+ certification is an approachable one for the beginning cybersecurity professional. The CompTIA organization recommends that candidates have a CompTIA Network+ certification and two years of experience in IT security, but don't be intimidated if you're not there yet. A number of individuals with minimal prior IT knowledge have passed the examination, given the completion of such thorough preparation courses as the Alpine Security's Security+ bootcamp.

3. What opportunities does CompTIA Security+ provide for a career in cybersecurity?

The Security+ certification can qualify you for systems, network, and security administration as well as in junior IT auditor and penetration tester positions. The latter is newly covered under the SY0-501 examination, as compared to its prior incarnation. 

Work in the Defense Contracting Industry

A Security+ certification can also provide you with opportunities in defense and defense contracting. According to the DoD 8570 Directive, commonly called the Information Assurance (IA) Workforce Improvement Program, all IA professionals who have access to DoD data must obtain an accredited certification. For this reason, hiring companies often look for the Security+ certification in order to ensure compliance. By completing the exam, you can qualify for IA Technical Level II and IA Management Level I positions.

4. How can a Security+ credential help me to build foundational career knowledge?

By studying for and completing the CompTIA Security+ exam, you gain exposure to all of the basic principles for risk management and network security professionals. You will cover these skills not only from a theoretical standpoint but also from a practical perspective since the Security+ exam focuses on the demonstration of skills. In this regard, it offers a more comprehensive exposure to cybersecurity concepts as compared to other certification exams.

5. What can I expect from the recently released exam version, the SY0-501?

The SY0-501 launched in October of 2017, in response to the evolving cybersecurity industry. Like its predecessor, the SY0-401, it is scored on a scale of 100 to 900 points. To pass, you must complete the exam with a score of at least 750. 

What to Expect on Test Day

When you sit the exam, you will complete a maximum of 90 questions, including both multiple-choice and performance-based questions. The performance-based questions allow you to demonstrate, in a simulated environment, how you would use your knowledge of tested cybersecurity concepts to solve real-world problems. The SY0-501 contains more of this practical and hands-on work as compared to the SY0-401. 

The new exam also focuses more intently on the skills that are most in demand among security analysts and other specialized positions, which are becoming more prevalent within the industry. Because the test itself has responded to these changes in the industry, receipt of the certification will demonstrate your current knowledge.

6. What is the hiring outlook for job seekers with Security+ certification?

As the IT industry becomes more specialized, companies are seeking professionals with cybersecurity credentials. At last count, there were more than 32,000 available positions that list CompTIA Security+ as a requested certification. 

As a certified professional, your options will include organizations in both the public and private sectors.  There are opportunities to work with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army, as well as with such government contractors as Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton.

7. Where can I find a CompTIA Security+ course or Security+ bootcamp?

As with many standardized exams, there are a number of training programs, from simple practice tests to instructor-facilitated classes.  You may find that the best way to pursue CompTIA Security+ training is often to complete a targeted Security+ class. 

Alpine Security provides both in-person and live online certification courses, all taught by certified practitioners in the field of cybersecurity.

The Alpine Security Guarantee

Participants in the Security+ class receive digital and print test preparation materials. All course fees include a complimentary voucher that allows candidates to sit the exam. The CompTIA Security+ course also includes an exam pass guarantee, which allows any candidates who do not successfully complete the examination to attend the company's next Security+ bootcamp for free. You may re-take the course as many times as you wish before the exam, whether or not you have taken it before.

Best of luck with your cybersecurity career!