Security+ certification can be a great introduction to information security.The IT industry has always played a substantial part in the transformation of how business is done. It is doing so again with the large-scale adoption of cloud computing and mobile devices. Company executives use IT to make decisions, project trends and gather a whole lot of data on their customers.

Unfortunately, as more data is generated and stored on company networks, the associated security risks also increase. Hence, business leaders are waking up to the importance of identifying risks and preparing in advance to deal with the recovery and remediation process of security breaches and other disasters. It’s not surprising that there is a great surge in demand for skilled IT security professionals.

Security is the fastest growing segment of IT. Just because there is a high demand, however, doesn’t guarantee you a promising IT security career — you still have to survive the stiff competition and convince potential employers that you have what it takes to help them protect their data and networks.

You need an edge over other job seekers. Fortunately, such an edge exists in the form of the Security+ certification offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) of the United States. A Security+ certification will give you that much-needed advantage over other security professionals and open doors to greater career opportunities.

Companies want employees with IT security skills and knowledge that can be easily validated via training and a certification offered by a reputable third-party provider. This is exactly what CompTIA’s Security+ certification does. It validates the foundational IT security knowledge and skills.

Regardless of whether you are an entry-level security professional or an experienced one, Security+ is a useful tool in building your career. Security+ gives you the knowledge and skills to secure data networks as well as manage access controls, cryptography, risks, and even disaster recovery.

Security+ aims to equip the candidates with the requisite knowledge and skills in areas like network access control, identity management, security risk identification and mitigation, and cryptography. The certification also enables you to have a solid understanding of security systems and infrastructures.

Security+ is ideally suited for entry-level security engineers or consultants, network administrators, IA technicians, IA managers, and so on. Let’s take a deeper look at the details of CompTIA Security+, its advantages, and a bit about the exam.

History

CompTIA launched Security+ in 2002 as a way to empower IT professionals with foundational knowledge and skills related to best practices in information security and risk management. It has since evolved into a globally recognized must-have certification for security professionals. A testament to its worldwide popularity is the fact that more than 250,000 IT professionals have been Security+ certified across more than 147 countries, including India.

As further evidence that Security+ is seen as the standard for security professionals, the U.S. Department of Defense has approved it for meeting their ISO 17024 standards for Information Assurance (IA) technical and management certifications.

Security+ in India

The certification has gained in popularity among Indian security professionals over the past few years. One reason for this is the spread of internet access among the population, particularly among mobile device users (in 2014 more than 71 million smart phones were sold in India). More users means more networks, and each new network has to be secured.

There are also a number of other reasons why Indian security pros are completing their Security+ certifications:

  • Security+ can easily be applied as an elective to popular Microsoft certifications, such as Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Security Specializations and Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Security.
  • There is a prevailing trend among Indian IT professionals to look forward to joining a foreign IT company abroad or to work for some client of their Indian organization. The global recognition of Security+ aids in their “overseas work” aspirations.
  • There are no mandatory prerequisites for the Security+ certification. Hence, an entry-level IT professional can easily prepare and clear the exam.
  • As with all their certifications, CompTIA maintains Security+ with a constant combination of industry-wide survey feedback and input from their highly-qualified advisory committee of subject matter experts. You can be sure that the latest updates and best practices are included in the training and on the exam.
  • The certification offers a substantial earnings boost for across different IT companies in India and abroad.

Exam preparation

The current version of the CompTIA Security+ exam is SYO-401. While there are no prerequisites to sit for the Security+ exam, CompTIA suggests that candidates should hold a Network+ certification and have at least two years of full-time work experience in an IT administration job that is focused on security.

Training materials are widely available either through CompTIA or other vendors. CompTIA possesses a team of subject matter experts who help devise the content for the Security+ exams. The relevant study material is made available in the form of eBooks, books, videos, eLearning, and practice tests.

You can avail any certification study material that has the CompTIA Approved Quality Content (CAQC) stamp, which indicates that those preparation materials meet the strict quality standards of CompTIA. CompTIA’s site offers and easy way to find the best materials for study.

Candidates can pursue study on their own or in a classroom environment. You can even opt for an online learning experience by using CompTIA’s responsive/adaptive online learning tool, CertMaster. Although CertMaster costs $139 (U.S.), it is a very useful study tool. It has been purchased by more than 25,000 users and they report an 81 percent pass rate on the exam.

The curriculum exposes candidates to a wide variety of topics, including: network security and access control, compliance and operation security, risk and risk mitigation strategies, cryptography, application, data, host security, and Identity management.

The regular cost for the exam is normally $311 (U.S.), but a special country discount for India brings the price down to a more affordable $174 (U.S.). The exam can be taken at any Pearson VUE testing center.

SYO-401 consists of 90 questions with a time duration of 90 minutes. A clearing score is 750 out of a possible 900. Most of the questions are multiple choice (MCQs), but there are a number of performance-based questions (PBQs). The PBQs require you to solve scenarios in a simulated environment. Take care to manage your time on these because most of them come at the front of the exam and you will not be able to view a clock until you start the MCQs. To try a sample PBQ, click here.

Renewal

Security+ certification can be a great introduction to information security.Security+ is good for three years from the day of your exam. After which it will need to be renewed. Fortunately, CompTIA provides a continuing education program that enables credentialed individuals to extend their certifications in three-year intervals by participating in and completing activities and training relating to Network+. For a complete description of renewal options, check out the CompTIA Continuing Education program.

CompTIA Security+ certification is the gold-standard for the industry. Once you are certified you will have the opportunity to build a solid career as an IT security professional. The most popular job profiles that are available for credentialed individuals include Security Specialist/Administrator, Security Consultant, Security or Systems Administrator, and Network Administrator.

One added benefit to Security+ from CompTIA is the ability to develop and track a career roadmap. This roadmap will help you navigate future certifications so that you save time and money.

Once you’ve successfully completed the Security+ certification, you can look for exciting job prospects for a career in IT security. Some of the popular job profiles that you can look forward to include security specialists, security administrators, security managers, and security engineers.

Again, high-demand doesn’t guarantee you a job, but CompTIA’s Security+ certification will give you a step on your competitors. I hope that the above shared information about the CompTIA Security+ certification proves valuable to you. If you have any Security+ related queries, please feel free to comment in the below section.