Whether you’re just starting out in the field of IT or you’re a seasoned professional looking to expand your skillset, the question of whether to pursue Network+ or Security+ certification first is a common one. Some professionals may even ask if they can skip over Network+ entirely and go straight for Security+. In this article, we’ll explore the purpose and differences of each certification, examine the advantages and disadvantages of skipping Network+, and provide tips and advice on how to decide which certification to pursue first.
Understanding the Purpose Behind Network+ and Security+ Certifications
Before we can determine whether it’s possible to skip Network+ for Security+, we first need to understand what each certification entails. Network+ is a vendor-neutral certification that tests a candidate’s knowledge of networking concepts, protocols, and practices. On the other hand, Security+ is a certification that focuses on cybersecurity concepts, practices, and tools.
Network+ certification covers a wide range of topics, including network architecture, network operations, network security, and troubleshooting. It is designed to validate the skills required for entry-level network support positions. Network+ certification holders are expected to have a solid understanding of network technologies, protocols, and tools.
Security+ certification, on the other hand, is designed to validate the skills required for entry-level cybersecurity positions. It covers a wide range of topics, including network security, compliance and operational security, threats and vulnerabilities, application, data, and host security, access control and identity management, and cryptography. Security+ certification holders are expected to have a solid understanding of cybersecurity concepts, practices, and tools.
What Does Network+ Certification Entail?
To earn Network+ certification, candidates must demonstrate knowledge in areas such as network architecture, protocols and services, infrastructure, network operations, network security, and troubleshooting. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and performance-based simulations that test a candidate’s practical skills.
Network+ certification is a vendor-neutral certification, which means that it is not tied to any specific hardware or software manufacturer. This makes it a valuable certification for IT professionals who work with a variety of different technologies and systems.
Additionally, Network+ certification is recognized globally, which means that it can open up job opportunities in different countries and regions. It is also a prerequisite for many advanced certifications, such as Cisco’s CCNA and CCNP certifications.
What Does Security+ Certification Entail?
Security+ certification, on the other hand, covers concepts and best practices related to threat management, cryptography, identity and access management, network security, and risk management. The certification exam consists of multiple-choice questions and performance-based simulations that test a candidate’s practical skills and knowledge.
One of the key benefits of Security+ certification is that it is vendor-neutral, meaning that it is not tied to any specific technology or product. This makes it a valuable certification for professionals working in a variety of industries and environments. Additionally, Security+ certification is recognized globally, making it a valuable credential for professionals seeking to work in international markets.
To prepare for the Security+ certification exam, candidates can take courses and study materials offered by CompTIA, the organization that administers the exam. There are also many third-party resources available, including study guides, practice exams, and online courses. It is recommended that candidates have at least two years of experience in IT administration with a focus on security before attempting the Security+ certification exam.
The Key Differences Between Network+ and Security+ Certifications
While there is some overlap between the two certifications in terms of network security concepts, the primary difference between Network+ and Security+ is their focus. Network+ focuses on networking concepts and skills, while Security+ focuses on cybersecurity concepts and skills. It’s worth noting that Security+ assumes a basic level of networking knowledge, so candidates should have a strong grasp of networking concepts before pursuing Security+ certification.
Another key difference between Network+ and Security+ is the level of expertise required for each certification. Network+ is an entry-level certification that is suitable for individuals who are new to the field of networking. On the other hand, Security+ is an intermediate-level certification that requires candidates to have some experience in the field of cybersecurity. Candidates for Security+ certification should have a good understanding of security concepts and be able to apply them in real-world scenarios.
Why You Might Consider Skipping Network+ Certification
Given the differences between Network+ and Security+ certification, some candidates might wonder if it’s possible to skip Network+ altogether. While it’s not impossible to pursue Security+ certification without first obtaining Network+, it’s important to consider the potential disadvantages of doing so.
One disadvantage of skipping Network+ certification is that it provides a solid foundation of networking knowledge that is essential for understanding the more advanced concepts covered in Security+. Without this foundation, candidates may struggle to grasp the more complex topics and may not perform as well on the Security+ exam.
Additionally, many employers require Network+ certification as a prerequisite for Security+ certification or for certain job roles in the IT industry. By skipping Network+, candidates may limit their job opportunities and hinder their career advancement.
The Advantages of Earning Network+ Certification First
One advantage of earning Network+ certification before pursuing Security+ is that it provides a solid foundation in networking concepts and skills that are essential in cybersecurity. Network+ covers a range of topics, such as network protocols, addressing schemes, and security concepts. These concepts are relevant to security professionals and provide a strong foundation for understanding how different network components interact with each other.
Another advantage of earning Network+ certification first is that it can help you stand out in the job market. Many employers look for candidates who have a strong understanding of networking concepts and skills, and having Network+ certification can demonstrate that you have that knowledge. Additionally, earning Network+ certification can also open up opportunities for entry-level networking positions, which can provide valuable experience and help you build a career in the field.
Finally, earning Network+ certification before pursuing Security+ can also save you time and money. Since Network+ covers many of the foundational networking concepts and skills that are also covered in Security+, you may find that you are better prepared for the Security+ exam after earning Network+ certification. This can help you pass the Security+ exam more quickly and with less study time, which can save you money on exam fees and study materials.
Why Security+ Certification Might Be a Better Starting Point
On the other hand, if your primary goal is to work in the field of cybersecurity, pursuing Security+ certification might be a better starting point. Security+ assumes a basic level of networking knowledge, so candidates who have already worked in networking roles might find it easier to skip Network+ and go straight for Security+. Additionally, Security+ is a well-respected certification in the cybersecurity field, so having it on your resume can help catch the eye of potential employers.
Furthermore, Security+ covers a wide range of topics related to cybersecurity, including network security, cryptography, identity management, and risk management. This makes it a comprehensive certification that can provide a solid foundation for a career in cybersecurity. In fact, many employers require or prefer Security+ certification for cybersecurity positions, as it demonstrates a candidate’s knowledge and skills in the field.
The Importance of Networking Knowledge in Cybersecurity
Whether you decide to pursue Network+ or Security+ first, it’s important to understand that networking knowledge is a crucial part of cybersecurity. Network security is a key component of cybersecurity, and threats can come from a wide range of sources, including email, web traffic, social media, and more.
Having a strong understanding of networking concepts and protocols can help you identify potential vulnerabilities in a network and implement effective security measures. Additionally, network security is not just about protecting against external threats, but also ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data within the network. Therefore, having a solid foundation in networking is essential for any cybersecurity professional.
The Value of Having Both Network+ and Security+ Certifications
Ultimately, the decision of whether to skip Network+ for Security+ depends on your career goals, background, and experience. However, it’s worth considering the value of having both certifications. Having both Network+ and Security+ certifications can demonstrate to potential employers that you have a strong foundation in networking concepts and skills as well as cybersecurity concepts and skills.
Furthermore, having both certifications can also open up more job opportunities and potentially lead to higher salaries. Many job postings in the IT industry require or prefer candidates with both Network+ and Security+ certifications, as it shows a well-rounded knowledge and expertise in both areas. Additionally, having both certifications can lead to career advancement opportunities, such as moving into management or specialized roles within a company.
How to Decide Which Certification to Pursue First
If you’re still undecided about whether to pursue Network+ or Security+ first, consider taking practice exams or talking to professionals who have taken the exams themselves. Additionally, think about your long-term career goals and which certification will help you achieve them. Finally, consider your existing knowledge and experience and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each certification.
Another factor to consider when deciding which certification to pursue first is the job market. Research job postings in your desired field and see which certifications are most commonly required or preferred by employers. This can give you a better idea of which certification will be more valuable to you in terms of job opportunities.
It’s also important to consider the time and resources required to obtain each certification. Network+ may be a better option if you’re just starting out in the field and need to build a strong foundation of knowledge, while Security+ may be more appropriate if you already have some experience and want to specialize in cybersecurity. Be sure to factor in the cost of study materials, exam fees, and any necessary training courses when making your decision.
Tips for Preparing for the Network+ or Security+ Exam
No matter which certification you decide to pursue first, there are several tips you can follow to prepare for the exam, such as studying exam objectives, taking practice exams, and seeking out study materials and resources.
One important tip is to create a study schedule and stick to it. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you cover all the necessary material before the exam. Additionally, it’s important to take breaks and give yourself time to rest and recharge, as studying for long periods of time can lead to burnout.
Another helpful strategy is to join a study group or find a study partner. This can provide accountability and support, as well as the opportunity to discuss difficult concepts and ask questions. Additionally, teaching others can be a great way to solidify your own understanding of the material.
Common Misconceptions About Network+ and Security+ Certifications
There are several common misconceptions about Network+ and Security+ certifications, such as the idea that they are only relevant for entry-level professionals or that they are easy certifications to obtain. In reality, these certifications are valuable for professionals at all levels and require extensive knowledge and preparation to earn.
Another common misconception is that Network+ and Security+ certifications are only relevant for professionals working in the IT industry. However, with the increasing importance of cybersecurity in all industries, these certifications are becoming more and more valuable for professionals in fields such as healthcare, finance, and government.
It is also important to note that earning a Network+ or Security+ certification is not a one-time achievement. These certifications require ongoing education and renewal to ensure that professionals stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and best practices in the field.
Real-World Applications of Network+ and Security+ Knowledge
Finally, it’s important to remember that the knowledge and skills gained from Network+ and Security+ certifications have real-world applications. Ultimately, these certifications can help professionals improve their understanding of networking and cybersecurity concepts and become more effective at their jobs.
For example, a professional with Network+ and Security+ certifications may be able to identify and troubleshoot network issues more quickly and accurately, reducing downtime for their organization. They may also be better equipped to implement and maintain security measures to protect against cyber threats, such as malware and phishing attacks. Additionally, these certifications can open up new career opportunities and potentially lead to higher salaries.
Final Thoughts on Whether to Skip Network+ for Security+
While it’s possible to pursue Security+ certification without obtaining Network+ certification, whether or not to skip Network+ for Security+ depends on your career goals, background, and experience. Both certifications have value and can help professionals become more effective in their roles. Ultimately, the decision of which certification to pursue first requires careful consideration and planning.