Chase Lucas passed his CompTIA A+ 701 test on the first try—at age 11. He passed the CompTIA Security+ exam at age 17. Lucas is clearly CompTIA’s poster child (literally) for the exams it offers, but he is also proof that the certifications know no age limit. So if the exam is child’s play, what is the CompTIA Security+ certification, exactly?
What is CompTIA?
What industry does not love a good abbreviation? The Computing Technology Industry Association is known as CompTIA, which is much easier to communicate. It is the leading provider of vendor-neutral IT certifications in the world.
CompTIA has issued more than 2,000,000 IT certifications worldwide. Being vendor-neutral means it is dedicated to helping IT professionals lead the charge in our digitally connected world, not dedicated to one company or another.
CompTIA, a non-profit trade association, is the voice of the IT industry. CompTIA works through professional certifications, educational programs, research, networking events, philanthropy and public policy advocacy to advance IT. Because CompTIA is committed to impartiality and objectivity in carrying out its certifications, it is highly respected here in America and in over 140 other countries around the world.
Sign Me Up!
To take the certification exam, you need to buy a voucher from CompTIA. Buying the voucher gives you the all-important exam voucher number, delivered by e-mail. The voucher is redeemable at a Pearson VUE test center, within 12 months of purchase.
Obviously you should only sign up and purchase the voucher if you are truly ready for the exam. What does that involve?
90 Minutes to Mastery
In information technology (IT), having a CompTIA Security+ certification is definitely an advantage. You earn your certification by demonstrating mastery of the skills and knowledge that, as CompTIA puts it, “covers network security, compliance and operation security, threats and vulnerabilities as well as application, data and host security. Also included are access control, identity management, and cryptography.”
At 90 minutes for 90 test items (multiple choice and performance-based questions), the $311 exam is not to be taken lightly. The performance-based questions (PBQs), for example, use realistic simulations of various software and programming environments. You have to actually perform tasks. The CompTIA website provides as a sample task the quick formatting of a drive in a Windows 8.1 environment.
What Else Should I Know about this Exam?
The exam is offered in English, Japanese, and Portuguese. On a scale of 100 to 900, 750 is a passing score. You are advised to have CompTIA Network+ certification already, plus two years of experience in IT administration with a security focus. You studied; you bought your voucher; you went to a Pearson VUE test site and took the exam. You passed!
What should your next step be? What does the certification get you? How do you earn back the $311 you spent to get certified?
Earning the CompTIA Security+ certification means you are competent in all these areas of IT:
- Application, Data, and Host Security
- Access Control and Identity Management
- Compliance and operational security
- Network Security
- Threats and vulnerabilities
What employers find these skills attractive? The Department of Defense (DOD) is an option for those interested in government work. If you are not keen to take your talents to the federal government or into military service, consider these professions that use CompTIA Security+:
- Security Specialist/Administrator
- Security Consultant
- Security or Systems Administrator
- Network Administrator
Or consider these companies that use it:
Cybersecurity Job Growth
Having CompTIA’s Security+ certification helps prepare you for a career in cybersecurity, a field growing so fast and with such high salaries that you could have your pick of positions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites a median annual wage for information security analysts of $90,120 as of May, 2015. Job demand for information security analysts is projected by the BLS to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations (seven percent), and even higher than for all computer occupations (12 percent).
Unsurprisingly, IT specialists and information security analysts tend to cluster around our nation’s capital, where they earn the nation’s highest average salaries in the sector. Typical annual mean wages in the Washington, DC area are $116,100, says the BLS.
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