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Roadmap to Success: CompTIA Security+

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Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

UPDATED: We updated this article on August 30, 2016, to reflect relevant changes to the CompTIA Security+ certification curriculum.

CompTIA’s Security+ certification is an excellent starting place for learners beginning their IT security careers. It is among the most popular courses offered by CBT Nuggets and highly sought after by employers seeking IT security professionals. Generally, this certification will qualify learners for roles such as security engineer, security consultant, network administrator, or IT technician or manager.

CompTIA Security+
The CompTIA Security+ certification is designed to ensure learners have the knowledge and skills required to identify security risks, participate in risk mitigation activities, and provide infrastructure, application, information, and operational security. Learners also will be able to apply security controls to maintain confidentiality, integrity, and availability, identify appropriate technologies and products, troubleshoot security events and incidents, and operate with an awareness of applicable policies, laws, and regulations. The CompTIA Security+ certification is made up of just one exam, which is covered by the following CBT Nuggets training: CompTIA Security+ SY0-401.

Typically, learners pursuing this certification should have two or more years of experience working in IT administration, ideally with a focus on security. The CompTIA Security+ certification is a professional-level certification but is an excellent entry-point for IT professionals looking to specialize in security.

Downloadable Study Plan
CBT Nuggets offers a study plan that maps to Keith Barker‘s CompTIA Security+ SY0-401 course. This downloadable CompTIA Security+ SY0-401 study plan breaks down the course and supplemental learning resources to equip learners with a strategic and manageable approach to conquer training goals. Download the CompTIA Security+ SY0-401 study plan.

Exam Details
The CompTIA Security+ is made up of just one exam.

Time allotted for exam: 1.5 hours (90 minutes)
Number of questions: Maximum of 90 questions
Passing score: 750 (on a scale of 100-900)
Question types: Multiple choice and performance-based
Exam registration: Pearson Vue
Exam cost: $311 (USD)
Exam objectives: CompTIA Security+ SY0-401 (free resource)

CompTIA certifications are valid for three years from the date of certification. The CompTIA Network+ certification is eligible for renewal through CompTIA’s continuing education (CE) program. CBT Nuggets is a CompTIA partner, meaning that our courses are pre-approved for continuing education credit. For more information on our partnership with CompTIA, review our recent blog post, Continuing Education Credits for CompTIA.

The Next Step
CompTIA certifications serve as excellent building blocks that enable learners to pursue more advanced, vendor-specific certifications, or further CompTIA certifications. Following the CompTIA Security+ certification, learners most typically pursue:

Career Considerations
CompTIA provides excellent information about IT career paths related to their certifications, including a career roadmap that identifies certifications from CompTIA and other providers that equip learners for specific career opportunities. provides information that can help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with the CompTIA Security+ certification. Depending on experience, an employee who holds a CompTIA Security+ certification can earn anywhere between $39,511 and $107,789. Common roles or titles for those who hold a CompTIA Security+ include systems administrator, network engineer, network administrator, IT specialist, IT manager, and information security analyst.

The CompTIA Security+ certification meets the requirements for DOD 8750 and/or DOD 8140 baseline certifications for IAT Level II and IAM Level I, qualifying learners for Department of Defense jobs and contract work for the U.S. federal government.

CompTIA Certification Pathways
CompTIA certifications are considered “vendor neutral,” meaning that the content addressed by CompTIA certifications is universally applicable to any product or brand. Generally, CompTIA certifications are broad in scope, providing a conceptual framework that can be broadly applied. CompTIA certifications are broken down into four categories: Basic, Professional, Specialty, and Master certifications. However, no CompTIA certifications carry prerequisite exams, so learners can begin at any level. Though learners can start with any CompTIA certification, the hierarchy should be considered in developing training plans.

Basic certifications:

Professional certifications:

Specialty certifications:

Master certifications:

Concluding Thoughts
Earning a CompTIA Security+ certification is the first step toward developing a career focused on security issues in the IT industry. As learners acquire more security certifications, they distinguish themselves with an in-demand set of skills and knowledge.

Watch. Learn. Conquer the CompTIA Security+!

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CBT Nuggets has everything you need to learn new IT skills and advance your career — unlimited video training and Transcender® Practice ExamsVirtual Labs, validated learning with in-video QuizzesAccountability Coaching, and access to our exclusive community of IT professionals.

Learn more about the CBT Nuggets Learning Experience.


Not a CBT Nuggets subscriber? Start your free week now.

CBT Nuggets has everything you need to learn new IT skills and advance your career — unlimited video training and Practice Exams, Virtual Labs, validated learning with in-video Quizzes, Accountability Coaching, and access to our exclusive community of IT professionals.

Learn more about the CBT Nuggets Learning Experience.


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