- Annas Jan
- February 13, 2019
What are CompTIA Certifications and Are They Right for You
If you’re thinking about a stable career in IT and becoming an IT Professional, you definitely need to consider CompTIA Certifications. CompTIA’s A+ certification is highly valued by employers these days. In your quest to find a job, this certification is bound to take you places, and strengthen your arsenal of IT knowledge and skills. However, this is not the only certification that CompTIA offers – rather it is just the beginning.
If you are looking to enhance your resume with IT certifications and want to see how CompTIA certifications stack against other certification providers out there, this article is a must-read.
CompTIA’s vendor neutral certification program is considered to be one of the most widely recognized programs in the IT industry, with over 2 million people having obtained this certification during the 2 decades since it began.
Early in the year 2018, an Infrastructure Career Pathway was introduced by CompTIA, which aligns the certifications that the company provides with the skills necessary for all IT Professionals to be used in the real world. This career pathway ensures that the students who go through the courses are able to enhance their skills set and improve their command on the software while supporting and managing IT Infrastructures. What they have done now, is that instead if categorizing the certifications by skills levels, such as Basic, Professionals, Master and Specialty, they have categorized it now based on the skills set. Therefore, based on this, the four categories that have now been devised consist of core certifications, followed by infrastructure certifications, cybersecurity certifications, and additional professional certifications.
Core Certifications are designed to develop the basic skills which form the basis of advanced courses and certifications. It consists of four core certifications such as IT Fundamentals, CompTIA A+ which is primarily focused on device connectivity and user support functions, CompTIA Network+ which targets the main system connections via endpoint devices. And CompTIA Security+, which provides detailed information regarding the cybersecurity skills required at entry level.
This forms the second level of certifications which are designed to complement the credentials used in Network+. It consists of three certifications which include; CompTIA Server+ which provides details information regarding the issues faced during server administration and its support. The second certification is of CompTIA Cloud+ which covers a range of topics such as the administration of virtual systems, hybrid cloud and its mechanism, and the implementation of network storage resources). And finally, the third certification which this level offers is the CompTIA Linux+, which is geared towards providing information regarding the Linux operating system management along with its administration.
The cybersecurity certifications consist of three core credentials. The first credential being offered is the CompTIA CySA+, in which CySA refers to Cyber Security Analyst, and is primarily targeted towards the behavioral analysts responsible for IT security). The second credential is of CASP which refers to the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner and is targeted towards professionals responsible for developing and deploying security solutions. The final credential is the CompTIA PenTest+, which is the sort form of penetration testing. It is targeted towards professionals responsible for conducting vulnerability and penetration testing in systems.
Additional Professionals Certifications
The credentials which are part of this category do not fit in any other career paths as designed by CompTIA and hence those credentials have been fit into this category. These include CompTIA CTT+, CompTIA Project+, and CompTIA Cloud Essentials.
Now, let’s discuss these certifications in greater detail.
CompTIA IT Fundamentals
This certification is ideal for those professionals who are just beginning their studies in IT and provides basic knowledge regarding the PC compatibility and functionality, along with an understanding of technology topics like software installation, hardware basics, basic networking and security risks, and their prevention. It can also be used by a novice to the industry as a career planning tool, and can even be used as a development tool for those who are thinking of changing their careers. All you need to do is take one exam, passing which will earn you this credential. Currently, CompTIA has developed a new exam for IT Fundamentals, which was released late last year.
CompTIA A+ 901, 902
Moving on to the most sought-after certification. CompTIA A+ has been described as the rite of passed for entry-level IT Professionals. This certification has been specifically developed for those folks who want to pursue a career as support, help desk, networking or service technician, and covers a wide array of topics such as laptop and PC hardware, the configuration of mobile and computer operating systems, and software deployment. A+ is also designed to test the basic understanding of networking, security skills and troubleshooting of a candidate, as they serve as the basis of CompTIA security and networking certifications along with those offered by others. Over a million IT Professionals have successfully obtained the A+ Certification, as per CompTIA. If you aspire to work for renowned organizations such as Dell, HP, and Intel as a service technician, then A+ is a basic requirement that must be met. This certification is even recognized by the US DoD (Department of Defense). In order to earn this certification, all those enrolled should be able to pass two examinations i.e. exams 220-901 and 220-902 respectively.
Most of the IT Professionals begin with the CompTIA A+ Certification. However, there are those who feel that they have the necessary experience that would allow them to skip A+ and instead allow them to take the CompTIA Network+ Certification directly. This certification is geared towards professionals, having at least nine months of experience in the field, especially in that of networking. In order to be eligible for this course, a candidate must have prior knowledge of media, networking technologies, security, topologies, configuration, and installation. Dell, Intel, and HP highly recommend the CompTIA Network+ Certification, and this is also considered to be the point of entry for Apple Consultants Network. This credential has also been awarded ISO 17024, hence meets that standard while at the same time it is also recognized by the US Department of Defense. All you need to do is take one single exam, passing which would award you this certification. For this credential, a new exam N10-007 was introduced in March of 2018.
This credential is designed to provide detailed information regarding the security concepts that are integral for maintaining a network, along with the vulnerabilities and threats that may be present as well as the identity management, cryptography, access control, and much more. While this credential does not have any pre-requisite, it is recommended to have Network+ certification along with at least two years of experience in IT administration with the primary focus being on security, as it serves as an added advantage. This certification can be obtained by clearing the exam SY0-501.
This certification is targeted towards Linux Network Administrators having a minimum of one year’s experience as a Linux Administrator. Before deciding to enroll in this certification, the candidate should have prior experience in package management, deployment, shells, GNU and Unix Commands, security, scripting, and more. While there is no pre-requisite to this certification, it is highly recommended for a candidate to have A+ and Network+ certifications. In order to obtain this credential, a candidate enrolled in this course should pass two examinations.
Ever since its introduction, the Cloud computing industry and the market has grown phenomenally, and so has the demand for CompTIA Cloud+ Certification. This certification should be undertaken by those IT Professionals who have had 2-3 years of industry experience, particularly with networking, storage, and data center administration. The candidates who opt for this certification must clear one exam in order to obtain it. CV0-02 tests the candidates appearing in the exam about multi-cloud and hybrid solutions, cloud technologies, cloud solutions, and the various methods of incorporating cloud-based technology solutions in the system operations.
This credential is aimed to be undertaken by server administrators having at least 1.5 – 2 years of experience in working with server hardware as well as software technologies. It is also recommended that candidates thinking of taking up this certification should have A+ certification as well. The Server + credential is a basic requirement of Lenovo, HP, and Intel for the position of server technicians. This credential is also recognized by the US Department of Defense along with Microsoft and can be obtained by giving one exam SK0-004.
CompTIA Cybersecurity Certifications
CompTIA CySA+ (Cybersecurity Analyst)
The complexity of cybercrime increases with each passing day, which increases the demand for highly skilled security analysts who specialize in information security. According to the Bureau of Statistics, the demand for information security analysts is expected to grow by 28% between 2016 and 2026. This is considered to be one of the fastest growth rates for all occupations. The Cybersecurity Analyst CySA+ certifications have been newly added to the CompTIA certification portfolio, which was previously referred to as CSA+. This credential has been specially designed for meeting the increasing requirement for qualified and experienced information security analysts. While the exams and study material remains the same, the company decided to change the acronym for the credential.
A candidate having CySA+ credential has knowledge of the system threat detection tools and their optimal use, along with the use of behavioral analytics and other data for securing the systems and applications from threats, risks, and other vulnerabilities. Through this certification, IT Professionals are able to analyze the results after monitoring network behavior and develop solutions for improved protection against APTs (Advanced persistent threats), malware, intrusion, and the like. This is also considered to be a bridge certification between the CASP (advanced security practitioner certification) – a master level certification which requires at least 10 years of experience, and the Security+ credential. In order to earn this credential, the candidate undertakes a performance-based exam, which he or she should clear before advancing to the next level.
CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP)
This is one of the most sought-after certifications because it is considered to be a master level credential, even though CompTIA does not use this designation anymore. This credential is aimed to be undertaken by practitioners from the field, being the sole performance-based certification, which provides hands-on experience of real world issues and how to solve them. IT Professionals, responsible for planning, developing and deploying security solutions in their respective organizations should opt for CASP certification. While there are no pre-requisites to CASP, CompTIA recommends having Network+ and Security+ certifications before opting to tackle the CASP exam. Along with 10 years of experience in IT administration, candidates enrolling in this course must also have at least 5 years of experience in technical security. Hence, the reason why this certification is considered to be that of a master level.
There are certain positions, which require CASP certification, especially in Network Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Verizon Telematics. So, if you’re thinking of working for any of these or other companies, then having this certification is bound to give you an edge over others. Additionally, the U.S. Navy along with the U.S. Army also recognizes CASP as an industry based certification required by those performing IT work in the Department of Defense Data Centers. This certification requires candidates to have passed the CAS-003 exam, which consists of Over 90 MCQs and Performance-Based Questions.
This is the latest addition to the CompTIA certification. CompTIA PenTest+ is considered to be an intermediate level credential, designed specifically for complementing CySA+ certification. The CySA+n certification focuses on threat detection and response in the form of protection and hence it is considered to be defensive in nature. The Pentest+, on the other hand, is thought to be offensive in nature, due to the focus being on using penetration testing for identifying as well as managing the network vulnerabilities across a wide spectrum.
There is no pre-requisite for obtaining this certification, however, it is recommended to have Network+ and Security+ certifications, or equivalent skills, with 2 years of experience in information security. The PenTest+ or CySA+ can be undertaken by the candidates in any order, but keep in mind that the exam is in beta and consists of hands-on and performance-based questions.
Additional Professional Certifications
This certification is primarily focused on project management and can be undertaken by project managers having experience with the entire project lifecycle, starting from planning, to its completion. The candidate should be able to complete a project within the allotted budget and in the given time. Project managers, considering this certification, should have at least 1-year experience in project management of small to medium-sized projects. In order to obtain this certification, a candidate should give PK0-004 exam and pass it.
CompTIA Cloud Essentials
This certification is designed to be undertaken by those individuals, who have an understanding of the business aspects of cloud computing and know the process of moving from in-house storage to cloud storage. Additionally, they should also be aware of the impact, risks and resulting consequences of deploying a cloud-based solution. In order to earn this certification, candidates need to pass only one exam.
The Certified Technical Trainer Certification is ideal for those individuals, who may have an interest in obtaining technical training. This certification includes instructor skills like presentation, preparation, communication, evaluation, and facilitation in vendor-neutral fashion. Renowned companies, such as Dell, Microsoft, Cisco, Adobe, Ricoh, and IBM recommend CCT+ to their trainers. This certification is even accepted by these organizations, in lieu of the in-house trainer certifications that they themselves provide. Two exams need to be undertaken in order to earn this certification, which includes the CompTIA CCT+ Essentials – TK0-201, and one of the following: CCT+ Virtual Classroom Trainer (TK0-203), or CCT+ Classroom Performance Trainer (TK0-202). Both the latter exams are performance based exams, in which the candidate is required to submit a recording or video to the virtual classroom or classroom sessions, and fill out a form documenting the candidates training preparation, student evaluations, and delivery.
Related Jobs and Careers
Along with the certification levels, these certifications are also grouped into various career paths by CompTIA, which include:
- IT (Information Security)
- Hardware, services, and infrastructure
- Network and Cloud Technologies
- Mobile and Web
- IT Strategy and Management
- Office Productivity
- Software Development
By visiting the CompTIA Certifications page, the individual can select a level or career path, based on which the website offers a list of certifications which should be focused on first. Take for example, network administration, one of the most sought after career paths in the IT Industry. The network and cloud technologies career path offered by CompTIA offers various certifications which helps an individual in advancing through their network administrator career, including A+ and Network+ (Core certifications), IT Fundamentals, Cloud Essentials, and Linux+ and Cloud+ (Infrastructure Certifications). Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in network security should opt for the certifications that are mentioned in the Information Security path as outlined by CompTIA. This path is inclusive of the four core credentials, namely; IT Fundamentals, A+, Network+, and Security+, along with the certifications discussed under Cybersecurity certifications.
Additionally, a highly detailed IT Certification roadmap is also offered by CompTIA, which includes information regarding all those certifications which CompTIA offers along with those offered by other organizations such as Microsoft, Cisco, ISACA, Mile2, EC-Council, and many more. Depending on the level of experience, skill set, and the area of interest of an individual, CompTIA Credential holders can opt for numerous kinds of jobs since CompTIA does not offer the development of only a single skill of the candidates. Following are a couple of career options which can be considered by a CompTIA certificate/ credential holder.
Usually, a candidate having A+ certificate can opt for jobs in supporting roles like support technicians, support administrators or support specialists.
Individuals having Network+ certification prefer to work in network related roles, like administrators, network analysts, and/ or support specialists. Additionally, these people can even find work as network engineers, network help desk technicians, or even field technicians.
CySA+ Security Analyst
Professionals who opt for this certification may find work as a cybersecurity analyst or specialist, security engineer, SOCs (analysts for security operations centers), and the threat or vulnerability analysts.
With this certification, a candidate can work as a system and security administrator, network, administrator or specialist, security manager, or even as a security consultant.
Jobs for professionals having Server+ certification consist of IT/ Server Technicians, Server Support, as well as Server and Storage Administrators.
Professionals having Linux+ certification can work as network administrators, Linux Database Administrators, and even web administrators.
Cloud Essentials/ Cloud+
Professionals holding this certification can work as system and network administrators, developers or cloud specialists. Such professionals are likely to work business development or cloud technical sales more as compared to others.
Professionals having CASP certification are likely to become InfoSec Specialists, Security Architects, cybersecurity specialists, and information security professionals.
Those having Project+ certification is found to be in the role of coordinators, project managers, team leads, and even directors. W
The aforementioned examples are bound to give you an insight of the kind of career you can expect by having any one or all of these certifications being offered by CompTIA.
CompTIA Training and Resources
CompTIA offers numerous training options, which consist of study materials, classroom training, as well as e-learning. There are many CAPPs (CompTIA Authorized Training Providers) such as QuickStart; that offer effective CompTIA certification training, across a variety of modules and certification types.
Have any further questions or concerns? You can always connect with QuickStart experts and get the answers to all your queries.