Why Sec+ Should be Your First Cert
Certifications can earn you more money. They'll allow you to keep up with new technologies as they're released. And, they'll validate your understanding of a topic or technology to future employers.
If you're thinking of starting your journey into networking certifications, there are different paths you can take.
You can start by getting your Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT), which gives you the skills necessary to successfully install, operate, and troubleshoot a small branch office network using Cisco products.
Or, you could go the Microsoft route. Since most entry-level networking jobs deal with desktop support (at least a little bit), you might want to get your Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification anyways.
Those are great, but if you want to focus on general technologies and concepts CompTIA might be for you. CompTIA focuses on the technology rather than the brand name, hence it's title as a vendor-neutral cert.
CompTIA has a trio of exams that are universally seen as the gateway to your IT career: A+, Network+, and Security+. These certifications focus on computer configuration and maintenance, networking infrastructure, and network security, respectively.
There are plenty of opinions about where to start. We previously suggested that you start with A+, then take the Net+, and save Sec+ for last. And that's how they're designed from easiest to hardest (recognizing those as subjective terms).
But what if you know that your career goals specifically involve network security? You may want to rethink your CompTIA path. Here are some reasons why.
You've already been academically training.
If you went to college, consider what your major when thinking about which certifications to earn. Did you get your bachelor's degree in an area like computer science, information security, or network security? If so, earn the low hanging fruit certifications. You might have the degree, but certifications make you that much more hirable.
Employers typically want you to have more than an IT-related degree. Education is important to achieving a career goal, as we discussed in our college degrees vs. IT certifications blog post, but experience also is key. Don't get stuck in the experience loop. (You can't get a job without experience, but you can't get experience without a job.)
Certifications add a crucial, unique level of accomplishment to your resume, but not just any certification will do. Possessing the right certifications can be the difference between being one of many suitable candidates or being the right candidate for a position.
If you've been working toward a path in network security, there isn't much reason to go back to more general certifications, like the A+ and the Net+.
Just keep forging down the security path that you're already on!
You need Security+ for your next job.
If you have a specific career path in mind, learn if there are any certifications that employers recommend you have before applying.
The Security+ certification is a useful certification for information security experts and IT managers, and employers are regularly listing it as a requirement for positions. Not only is it a good introduction to information security, but it's also a useful foundation for starting a career in network security.
For example, you need the Security+ to work for the United States government.
Granted, to get to any specialized or advanced career in network security, having only your Security+ certification will not cut it. However, it is a good starting point to gain the conceptual knowledge to move forward to getting certified in higher level security certifications such as the Cisco Certified Network Professional Security (CCNP Security) credential, White Hat Hacking, or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
You simply want to learn more about network security.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in network security, the Security+ certification is considered to be a good baseline. It covers procedures and common-sense security, giving you the foundation you need to be able to protect your information and networks.
Even though Security+ is technically an entry-level exam, it can be daunting. It is generally thought to be the most difficult of the three CompTIA exams. Why? Because CompTIA wants it to be that way.
Earning Security+ certification validates that you completely understand the fundamentals of hardware, networks, and network security. It also shows a strong commitment to learning security, which many employers value.
Security issues surround us in the workings of IT, regularly. If you're intrigued by the expanding types of cybercrime, detecting and preventing intrusions, or the different specializations in network security that are growing daily, the Security+ credential is a credible way to emphasize these interests with potential employers.
Fun Fact about Security+: One of the lesser known benefits of taking this exam is that it actually counts as a year towards your 5-year experience requirement for your full CISSP certification.
Each and every certification has its importance in the world of IT. Some are more important than others, depending on your career path, skill set, and education, so take these factors into consideration before getting started.
If you think that learning more about network security and Security+ certification is a good move for you, we have a great first step for you!