Preparing for CySA+? Here’s How Long You’ll Need to Study

by Ross Heintzkill | Published on August 31, 2023

Careers in cybersecurity are interesting, challenging and tend to be well paid. The road to the best cybersecurity careers is often paved in industry certifications like the Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) from CompTIA. Although generally intended for people with little to no prior cybersecurity experience, the CySA+ is a career-defining certification for nearly anyone in the IT security field. But the cost and prep time of any IT cert is substantial, and knowing how long it takes to earn the CySA+ can help people decide whether or not to bother.

Knowing that, CBT Nuggets surveyed over 175 cybersecurity professionals who have earned the CySA+ to find out how long it took them to prepare for the CompTIA certifying exam. We found IT professionals on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to find out how long it takes to prepare and how you can get through preparation fast. Read on to learn the results and learn how to prepare for the CySA+ in as little time as possible.

How long did most people need to study for the CompTIA CySA+?

According to our survey, it took 66% of cybersecurity professionals up to 3 months to prepare for the CySA+, with the largest group taking 6 weeks to 3 months (39%). Only 34% of IT professionals needed more than 3 months, with 19% needing more than 5 months. If you go through Reddit threads on the topic, you'll find people who claim to finish in less than two weeks, but the numbers clearly show that the norm is closer to 3 months – and nearly a third of all people need more than 3 months.

Clearly, a quarter of all people who earn the CySA+ from CompTIA did manage in less than 6 weeks. But those people probably have some IT or cybersecurity experience, had a lot of time every day to study, or are especially good test takers. For most people, learning the intricacies of security operations, vulnerability management and incident response takes a bit longer.

How should you prepare ahead of taking CySA+?

No matter how much experience you have, the single most important thing you could do to prepare for the CySA+ in as little time as possible is to create and stick to a really good study plan. Decide ahead of time how much time you can set aside each day to study, and then diligently stick to that plan. When you do, your odds of being ready for the CySA+ exam in less than 6 weeks are drastically improved.

Also remember that the CompTIA certification exam is a hybrid practical & knowledge-based exam. That means you need to be able to prove real-world skills in cybersecurity analysis as well as demonstrate your familiarity with the theory behind networking concepts and terminology. You should also make sure that one of CompTIA's other certifications, like Security+, isn't the right certification for you.

Tips to make sure you’re test-ready before CySA+ exam day:

You may think you can learn about cybersecurity on your own, but undoubtedly the best way to prepare for the CySA+ in less than 6 weeks is with an online cybersecurity course that's built to prepare you for the CompTIA exam itself. That way you learn what you need to to pass the test and do the real job afterwards, not too much of one or the other. There are some learning tools that can help you succeed that you'll want to make sure the course you choose has. 

For example, the CySA+ exam will test your familiarity with detecting and analyzing indicators of malicious activity, understanding threat intelligence reports and handling threat management. That's not the sort of thing you can just read about or hear about and remember later. Your best chance at preparing for the CySA+ is with real-world, practical experience. Only take courses that include special tools that help you develop the practical skills you'll need to pass the CySA+.

Use virtual labs

Virtual labs are the single best tool for practicing IT skills without endangering a computer or network. Cybersecurity analysis like what is covered on the CySA+ requires time on a computer, actually reading the behavioral analytics and applying updates and new configurations based on your analysis. Virtual labs are simulated networks where you can do that in an environment that's real in every way except that it's not live. Find a course with virtual labs to help you prepare for the CySA+.

Test yourself using practice exams

One of the more challenging aspects of preparing for certification exams is the mismatched confidence a person can feel after they've spent weeks preparing for the exam. You think you've studied hard and you're pretty sure you've practiced what you need to – but without taking the test itself, you have no way of knowing if you've spent way too long preparing for the CySA+ or if you haven't focused on the right things. Online courses with practice exams help you be more efficient with your studying. Practice exams let you learn what's on the test, skip what you already know, and focus on what you need to work on.

Learn from the experts

Don't risk your cybersecurity career on the advice or thoughts of amateurs. Learn cybersecurity analysis from experts in the field who also know how CompTIA has tested cybersecurity skills over the last several years. Click here to watch the first video in the CBT Nuggets CySA+ course for free – you'll see John Munjoma's confidence and expertise come through, and you can decide for yourself if he's the expert you want bringing you across the CySA+ finish line.

The CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst certification takes most people at least 3 months to prepare for. If you want to earn the CySA+ and would like to spend only a few weeks preparing, you should consider an online course with practice exams, virtual labs, expert instructors and an entire structure of support to get you through the preparation as fast as possible. A CBT Nuggets membership does that not just for CySA+ but hundreds of other certifications. Sign up for a free week and see how quickly you can earn the CySA+.

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