When it comes to IT certifications, there are many options available. Among the most popular are the A+ and Security+ certifications from CompTIA. However, one question that often arises is whether someone should get A+ certification before pursuing Security+ or if they can jump straight into Security+. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at both certifications and their differences to help you determine which certification is right for you and in what order you should get them.
What is A+ Certification?
The A+ certification is considered an entry-level certification for IT professionals. The certification is vendor-neutral and focuses primarily on hardware, software, and troubleshooting skills. The certification covers topics such as installation, configuration, and maintenance of computers, laptops, and mobile devices, printers and other related hardware, networking, security, and virtualization.
Obtaining an A+ certification can be a great way to kickstart your career in the IT industry. It is recognized globally and is often a requirement for many entry-level IT jobs. The certification can also help you stand out from other candidates and increase your chances of getting hired.
To obtain the A+ certification, you need to pass two exams: the Core 1 exam and the Core 2 exam. The Core 1 exam covers topics such as mobile devices, networking technology, hardware, and virtualization, while the Core 2 exam covers topics such as operating systems, security, cloud computing, and operational procedures.
What is Security+ Certification?
The Security+ certification is an intermediate-level certification that focuses on cybersecurity skills. It covers topics such as risk management, access control, cryptography, identity management, security assessment, and incident response. It aims to test an individual’s knowledge of securing computer systems, networks, and other digital devices in an organization.
Obtaining the Security+ certification is highly beneficial for individuals who are looking to pursue a career in cybersecurity. It is recognized globally and is often a requirement for many cybersecurity job positions. Additionally, it provides a solid foundation for individuals who wish to pursue advanced cybersecurity certifications such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
The Security+ certification exam is a multiple-choice exam that consists of 90 questions. The exam duration is 90 minutes, and the passing score is 750 out of 900. The exam can be taken in-person or online, and the certification is valid for three years. To maintain the certification, individuals must earn continuing education units (CEUs) or retake the exam after three years.
What are the Differences Between A+ and Security+ Certifications?
As mentioned, A+ certification focuses on hardware, software, and troubleshooting skills, while Security+ certification covers cybersecurity and risk management. A+ certification is an entry-level certification, whereas Security+ lies in the intermediate-level category. The A+ exam consists of two parts, while Security+ certification only requires one exam to achieve certification.
Another difference between A+ and Security+ certifications is the job roles they prepare you for. A+ certification is ideal for those who want to work in technical support or help desk roles, while Security+ certification is more suitable for those who want to work in cybersecurity-related positions such as security analyst, security engineer, or network administrator.
Furthermore, the scope of knowledge required for Security+ certification is broader than that of A+. Security+ covers topics such as network security, cryptography, and access control, while A+ focuses more on computer hardware, operating systems, and software installation. Therefore, Security+ certification is considered more advanced and requires a deeper understanding of cybersecurity concepts.
Which Certification Should You Get First: A+ or Security+?
The decision on whether to get A+ or Security+ certification first depends on your career goals and existing skills. If you are new to IT and have little experience with computer hardware and software, it may be best to start with A+ certification. A+ is an entry-level certification that provides essential skills and knowledge to jumpstart an IT career. On the other hand, if you already have hardware/software experience and want to move into a cybersecurity role, Security+ should be your first choice.
It’s important to note that both A+ and Security+ certifications are highly valued in the IT industry and can lead to various career opportunities. A+ certification focuses on computer hardware and software, while Security+ certification covers cybersecurity concepts and practices. Therefore, it’s recommended to pursue both certifications to enhance your knowledge and skills in the IT field and increase your chances of career advancement.
Understanding the Prerequisites for A+ and Security+ Certifications
There are no specific prerequisites for A+ certification. However, CompTIA recommends that candidates have about six months of experience in the field of computer hardware before taking the certification exam. For Security+ certification, CompTIA recommends CompTIA Network+ Certification, two years of experience in IT security with knowledge of networking, and have CompTIA A+ certification.
It is important to note that while there are no specific prerequisites for A+ certification, having additional certifications such as Network+ or Security+ can greatly enhance a candidate’s job prospects and earning potential. These certifications demonstrate a deeper understanding of computer hardware and security, making candidates more valuable to potential employers.
Furthermore, obtaining A+ and Security+ certifications can also lead to career advancement opportunities. Many companies require these certifications for higher-level positions in IT, such as network administrators or security analysts. Additionally, having these certifications can make it easier to transition into other areas of IT, such as cloud computing or cybersecurity.
The Benefits of Getting A+ Certification Before Security+
Getting A+ certification before Security+ will provide you with a solid foundation in the basics of computer hardware, software, and networking. By starting with A+ certification, you will have a better understanding of the components that make up computers and how they work together. Moreover, building on this knowledge, you can better understand how cybersecurity threats can affect a computer system, leading to more informed decisions when it comes to protecting them.
Additionally, having A+ certification can also open up more job opportunities in the IT field. Many entry-level IT positions require A+ certification as a prerequisite, and having this certification can give you a competitive edge over other candidates. Furthermore, A+ certification is recognized globally, making it a valuable asset for those looking to work in the IT industry internationally.
The Benefits of Getting Security+ Certification Before A+
If you’re primarily interested in cybersecurity and want to pursue a cybersecurity-focused career, we recommend you start with Security+ certification. Security+ will provide you with the skills you need to secure a computer system and learn about cybersecurity threats. Once you have gained those fundamentals, pursuing A+ certification will help you understand more advanced computer hardware and software components.
Additionally, having Security+ certification can also make you a more competitive candidate in the job market. Many employers require or prefer candidates with Security+ certification, as it demonstrates a strong foundation in cybersecurity. Furthermore, Security+ certification can also lead to higher salaries and career advancement opportunities.
Pros and Cons of Getting A+ and Security+ Certifications in Different Orders
The order in which you obtain A+ and Security+ certification depends on your interests and career goals. Getting A+ certification before Security+ certification may prepare you better for cybersecurity and offer solid knowledge of hardware and software. At the same time, starting with Security+ certification can provide expertise in cybersecurity, followed by a detailed view of computer hardware. However, as both certifications provide different fundamental knowledge, obtaining these credentials in either order provides added value to your IT career path.
It is important to note that the difficulty level of the exams may also play a role in determining the order in which to obtain these certifications. A+ certification is considered to be more entry-level and may be easier to obtain, while Security+ certification is more advanced and may require more experience and knowledge. Therefore, if you are new to the IT field, starting with A+ certification may be a good idea to build a strong foundation before moving on to Security+ certification. On the other hand, if you already have experience in the field and are looking to specialize in cybersecurity, starting with Security+ certification may be more beneficial.
How to Prepare for A+ and Security+ Exams
CompTIA provides official training materials to prepare for certification exams. Candidates can also find online training and learning resources from various trusted platforms. Additionally, candidates can attend boot camps, seek guidance from mentors & study groups, watch video tutorials, and complete practice tests to assess their knowledge level before the exam.
It is important to note that candidates should have a solid understanding of the exam objectives before beginning their preparation. This can be achieved by reviewing the exam objectives and identifying areas where they may need additional study. Candidates should also create a study schedule and stick to it, allowing enough time to cover all the necessary material.
Furthermore, candidates should take advantage of the resources available to them, such as online forums and discussion groups, to connect with other exam takers and gain insights into the exam experience. It is also recommended that candidates take breaks and practice self-care during their preparation to avoid burnout and maintain focus.
Tips for Passing A+ and Security+ Exams on the First Attempt
To pass A+ and Security+ certification exams on the first attempt, we recommend the following tips:
- Attend official CompTIA training programs.
- Utilize third-party study materials such as books and practice exams.
- Set a study schedule and stick to it.
- Join study groups or find a study partner.
- Take online practice tests to get a feel for the exam environment.
Additionally, it is important to take care of your physical and mental health during the exam preparation period. Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet to keep your mind and body in top condition. It is also helpful to take breaks during study sessions to avoid burnout and maintain focus. Remember to stay positive and confident in your abilities, and trust in the preparation you have done to succeed on exam day.
Career Opportunities with A+, Security+, or Both Certifications
Getting certified in A+, Security+, or both offers IT professionals numerous career opportunities. The A+ certification can qualify candidates for jobs such as computer support technician, help desk technician, and desktop support specialist. Security+ certification qualifies you for job roles in cybersecurity, such as security engineer, threat analyst, and security consultant. Having both certifications enables individuals to take up roles such as a network administrator, IT auditor, IT specialist, and cybersecurity analyst.
Moreover, having A+ certification can also lead to job roles in network administration, database administration, and system administration. With the increasing demand for technology in various industries, the need for IT professionals with A+ certification is also on the rise.
On the other hand, Security+ certification can also open doors to job roles in risk management, compliance, and governance. Professionals with Security+ certification are highly sought after by organizations that deal with sensitive information, such as financial institutions and government agencies.
How Much Do A+, Security+, or Both Certifications Pay?
The salary range for A+ certification holders is between $30k to $70K per annum depending on a candidate’s work experience and position. Security+ certification holders can earn an average salary of $71k per annum. Holding both certifications can lead to high paying job roles in cybersecurity with an average salary of $87k per annum.
Which Certification is More In-Demand: A+ or Security+?
Both A+ and Security+ certifications are in-demand in the IT industry. However, Security+ certification is in more demand as more organizations are moving towards a cybersecurity-oriented approach to data protection. As cybersecurity threats are becoming more advanced, employers are looking for cybersecurity professionals who have Security+ certification. On the other hand, A+ certification is an entry-level certification that prepares candidates for IT job roles.
Future Trends in IT Industry for A+, Security+, or Both Certifications
The IT industry is constantly evolving. As technology advances, the demand for IT professionals will continue to grow. A+ certification focuses on hardware and software, while Security+ focuses on cybersecurity. However, in the future, it’s likely that both certifications may merge, as cybersecurity is becoming more critical in the IT industry. Therefore, gaining both certifications would prepare individuals for future job roles that require both cybersecurity and hardware/software knowledge.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to get A+ certification before Security+ certification depends on your career goals and existing IT skills. Starting with A+ certification provides a robust foundation in hardware and software, while Security+ certification focuses on cybersecurity. Whichever certification you get first, both A+ and Security+ certifications are valuable to an IT career, leading to various job opportunities with high-paying salaries.