Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Cyber Security For All podcast. A podcast all about cybersecurity from Apetech. I’m your host, Alex and today we are going to be taking a deeper look into CompTIA certifications. CompTIA offers a lot of different certifications and if you are new to the cybersecurity space, a CompTIA certification is probably the best way to go. There are a lot of pros and cons and I want to talk about those in this episode. I have personally held the CompTIA Security+ certification and will share my experience with you. I’ll also be discussing my favorite question I get asked all the time, do you need a certification to get into cybersecurity? Let’s take a deeper look.
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When I was first getting into cybersecurity, I had no idea where to start. Every person you talk to will give you a different opinion and many recommend that you look at certifications. I personally did a hybrid approach where I took some classes and also received some certifications. When it comes to beginner certifications, CompTia ranks high in the popularity list. They are not the best certifications to have in the field of cybersecurity, but from an introductory standpoint, they get the job done. Since I first received my Security+ certification years ago, CompTia has significantly increased their offerings. I want to look at each certification they offer, talk about it, share some of the salary expectations and talk about the value of that specific certification. For the rest of this conversation, I’ll be on CompTia.org if you want to follow along.
Looking at their certifications, they are divided into a few different categories. You have Core, Infrastructure, Cybersecurity, and Additional Professional. Let’s take a closer look at each one of these categories.
The Core is going to be your fundamentals to IT and cybersecurity concepts. This is going to be super basic stuff and if you are completely new to the world of IT or cybersecurity, this is where you want to start. These certifications, while challenging, should still be basic enough that anyone that studies for the exam should be able to pass. Next up are infrastructure. These certifications are geared more towards the IT systems administrator or IT network administrator. You’ll be working with servers and networks a lot more and you have to have a pretty good understanding of how IT and cybersecurity works. Next up are the cybersecurity specific certifications. These are more advanced versions of the security+ certification and really start specializing within specific niches of cybersecurity. And finally, you have the additional professional certifications. These certifications are different from the other ones. These are, in my opinion, geared more toward folks within an IT organization, but not necessarily part of the technical team. Now that we’ve discussed the different categories, let’s take a look at each exam within each category. I’ll only be focusing on the exams under core for this episode. Make sure you come back every week to hear my analysis and thoughts on the rest of the CompTia certifications.
First certification is the ITF+ or IT Fundamentals. This is an introductory certification for those with very basic IT skills. The certification is marketed towards individuals that are not quite sure if they want to jump into an IT career, but maybe they are interested enough to get a certification. This doesn’t really make sense to me because most folks will want to try to get a job or some experience in the field as opposed to obtaining a certification first. I think the test is better suited for folks with a non technical role in IT and maybe they are wanting to switch to a more technical role. One last thought on this exam is the fact that it’s geared toward middle and high school aged students. I think this is a good thing because it introduced younger students into the technical field, but not sure how many students would take advantage or even know about this. The exam is only 60 minutes with 75 questions.
Up next is the A+ certification. Unlike the ITF+, the A+ certification has been around for a while.
I’ve always seen the A+ certification as a certification to learn how to fix computers, but there is a little more to it. The A+ certification is similar to the ITF+ in that it is the perfect certification for those just starting out their careers in IT, but this certification is geared more towards technical folks that want to get started with IT. This certification will prepare you and introduce you to the basic technical concepts of typical IT work. The exam is 90 minutes with 90 questions.
Next is the Network+ certification. This is perfect for those that want to focus on network administration. In this certification, you will be asked to know all about networks! You’ll know how to configure and manage devices, how to troubleshoot network problems, and how to support the creation of virtualized networks. Basically all the basic stuff when it comes to deploying and managing a network for just about any company. If you are looking to go a step beyond the basics, this network+ is the perfect certification. Like A+, the exam is 90 questions and lasts 90 minutes.
Finally, the last exam under the core umbrella is the Security+. I’ve personally taken and passed this certification. I never used it, but it was required for me to have while I was employed at one of my previous employers. The security+ certification has evolved since I last took it and that’s a good thing because the cybersecurity threat is evolving and changing every single day. It is recommended that you have the network+ certification before you attempt the security+ exam, but honestly, this exam is easy enough that as long as you have a basic understanding of networks and how they work, you should have no problem with security+. This exam is technical and you will need to know a plethora of cybersecurity facts. If you want to jumpstart a career in cybersecurity, this is the first certification you want to be preparing for. This will lay out the foundations for future certification which we will cover at a later point in time. This exam is also 90 questions and you have 90 minutes to answer.
There you have it, your overview of the CompTia’s core certifications. There are many more exams to cover, but we are going to leave that for future episodes. I wanted to start at the beginning and cover the exams that folks just getting started with a technical career might benefit from. Do you currently have any of these certifications? I personally had the security+ certification but I let it expire because I didn’t have any need for it in my current line of work. Are you planning on getting any of these certifications? I’d love to hear from you and if there is anything I can do to help you prepare for the exams, please let me know. If you look on Amazon, you will find books for each of the exams that will help you prepare. If you are not sure if a certification is right for you, please feel free to reach out. I’d be more than happy to discuss with you and determine what is best for you based on your specific needs.
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