As a cybersecurity professional or tech student, the chances you have heard of the Network+ certification and the Security+ certification made by CompTIA is high.
The two certifications are highly valued and numerous people interested in the cybersecurity industry often wonder which certification out of these is more valuable to prospective employers in the job market.
This article aims to compare both certifications while discussing which is best suited to burgeoning cybersecurity professional.
What exactly are the Network+ and Security+ Certifications?
With an interest in cybersecurity, you understand that the Network+ and Security+ certifications are important, however, what exactly are they? CompTIA’s Network+ is an entry-level certification suited for IT specialists.
This certification is for those individuals interested in formulating a career either in systems administration, computer support, network security or computer networking.
The Security+ certification is an entry-level certification created for IT specialists with an interest in cybersecurity.
What this means is that most cybersecurity associated jobs require a candidate that has at a minimum a Security+ certification.
Thought the two certifications might intersect on certain levels, they shouldn’t be mistaken as transposable.
Network+ and Security+ both have network security as a feature, however, they are created for two divergent groups of professionals, the cybersecurity professional and the networking professional.
This, however, does not mean you should take one at the expense of the other. What it does mean is that owning one certification does not automatically grant you the necessary skills to gain the other.
Who can take the Network+ & Security+ Certification exam?
CompTIA states that the Network+ certification is suitable for any individual that professionally troubleshoots, configures and manages networks, while Security+ is suitable for individuals looking to demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the skills required for cybersecurity.
The two certifications were created to validate a professional’s rudimentary expertise in security and networking concepts. Given that both Network+ and Security+ are both entry-level, these certifications form the best ways for those new to cybersecurity and or networking.
Why consider sitting for the Security+ or Network+ certification exams?
In today’s labour market, certifications are important. They show potential companies that you possess the foundational skills required to work in a particular role. Certifications can also be quite useful when certain qualifications like experience or education do not meet the requirements.
This, however, does not mean the first thing a burgeoning cybersecurity professional should do is pick a date for the exam. While these certifications are termed entry-level, they are not by any means easy.
It is typically recommended that these certifications are only undertaken after an individual has gained a particular level of experience working in a network or security-related job.
It is generally recommended anything from 6 to 1 year of experience to undergo certifications of this level. Even though the experience is always recommended, it isn’t necessary.
It’s possible for an individual to gain a Security+ or Network+ certification by studying intensively. There are numerous sample questions available to ensure adequate preparation for the exam.
What concepts and skills are required?
When it comes to what’s required for Network+, you need to know the following concepts and have these skills:
- Networking attacks
- Wireless networking
- Cabling and connectors
- Command-line utilities
- Switching and routing
- IP addressing
- Network protocols
When it comes to what’s required for Security+, you need to know the following concepts and have these skills:
- Social engineering
- Network security
- Secure network protocols
- Command-line interfaces
- Common vulnerabilities
It is easy to see that both these certifications have numerous common concepts. Having the ability to understand network protocols, network security, as well as utilise the command-line interface, are concepts covered in the two certifications.
Network+ tends to put more emphasis on network-related concepts compared to Security+, however, there are enough similarities that show just how important they both can be to a professional in the cybersecurity field.
Which certification should be considered: Network+ or Security+?
Seeing that both certifications can be useful in your career, it is advisable that you attempt to gain both certifications one after the other if it is feasible to do so. Having both these qualifications, in today’s labour market greatly increases your odds of being gainfully employed.
For a professional in the cybersecurity industry, the Network+ certification might not be compulsory, however, it shows that an individual has a clear understanding of the way a network operates and given the prevalence of cyberattacks today, this knowledge has become invaluable.
Numerous cybersecurity roles from penetration tester to security analyst demand a fundamental understanding of networking.
If you have been reading this article and aren’t quite sure of which certification is perfectly suited for you, then this section of the article aims to provide detailed comparisons of both certification exams.
While Network+ is labelled as an introductory level certification, you are still required to have a clear understanding of a network’s function.
You do not necessarily require experience before sitting for the exam, however, you have to be conversant with the concepts the exam is based on.
Important aspects and topics that will be broached in Network+ are network security, general networking concepts, network troubleshooting, network operations and infrastructure.
It is for this purpose that Network+ can be quite difficult for those just starting out in IT. When an individual has networking experience, they are better able to be cognisant with Network in about 60 days or so.
Else, it would be best to take some time becoming conversant with the exam based concepts. It is important to reiterate that the Network+ certification does not require previous experience.
Experience simply provides an advantage by already understanding the topics and increasing the chances of becoming certified. The Network+ has only a single exam and there are no requirements for experience or sponsors.
Just like Network+, Security+ does not require previous experience nor sponsorship. It also has just one exam made up of 90 questions.
Studying for the Security+ exam can be made easier by having previous work experience in the security field. To be able to succeed in gaining a Security+ certification, an individual would need a robust understanding of the following:
- OSI model
- Networking Protocols
- Kinds of cybersecurity threats
What the above means is that you will have to understand all that Network+ covers, as well as a bit more.
The Security+ certification exam can be tough, and for this reason, it is always better to take time going over the covered subjects before requesting an exam date.
Preparation classes can be taken to help get ready for the exam. It is also possible to search online for study resources.
There are numerous resources available to study both Security+ and Network+. When picking online resources, you must do so with care.
However, there are several colleges and universities that offer classes to help individuals prepare for Security+ and Network+.
Both the Security+ and Network+ are fairly inexpensive when compared to a few of the higher-level qualifications an IT professional might undertake later in their career.
The Network+ certification costs $330, while the Security+ costs $340. It is important to note that there are discounts available for these certifications.
These discounts are usually through a company covering the cost of the certification, in the case of an IT professional or a university cutting the price a student has to pay for this certification.
While these prices cover the exams, it should be known that prices can be higher depending on any add-ons. Things such as supplementary training can cause the base price to rise as much as $200.
These certifications are as expensive as others, they should still be seen as an investment for the future. For this reason, it is always best to be well prepared when taking the exam.
Network+ without a doubt is a difficult certification to attain. it is for this reason that a little bit of field experience is always recommended prior to taking the exam.
The subjects covered in the certification exam are typically exhaustive and it might be necessary to solve complex networking issues.
Simulations may be part of the exam, where a functioning network will have to be created.
Security+ certification can be described as much more challenging. You will not only have to show your understanding of network concepts but also have an updated understanding of the associated security issues.
This is where those with work experience in a security associated role or a cybersecurity student have a lead over others, given that they are familiar with the concepts.
This nevertheless does not negate the need to study. It is imperative that a prospective Security+ certification candidate learns about the question format used for the Security+ exam.
Commonly, a question might pose two correct answers to highlight which resolution to the security issue is not just effective but also the most optimised. It is important that all the proposed topics are understood before attempting the exam.
It is imperative to also remember that though the Security+ certification might seem like an intermediate version of the Network+ certification, this is not the case.
The two certifications are too varied to be thought of as similar and depending on the career path chosen, one certification might be more associated and important to one’s current career goals.
Both certifications are bound to place you in an advantaged position in the labour market. Network+ and Security+ are both in high demand and that means an IT professional in either can get a wonderful entry or mid-level role.
Certifications are so important in today’s labour market, that the majority of employers do not consider a candidate without a certification.
The Network+ certification tends to attract employers that require professionals to aid in maintaining network infrastructure or analysing network abnormalities.
Roles such as network administrator, network engineer and network analyst are compatible with individuals that adequately demonstrate knowledge of networks.
Conversely, Security+ is suited to those individuals looking to enter a security associated role. Cybersecurity consultants, security analysts and penetration testers are all roles that benefit from attaining the Security+ certification.
It is important to bear in mind that these certifications are not a “one and done” type of certification. Individuals with either of these certifications will have to renew their certification every 3 years.
To this effect, Continuing Education Units or CEUs are required for certification renewal. There are a certain number of CEUs required, however, this number varies depending on the certification.
For example, those with the Network+ certification need 30 CEUs to recertify, while those with the Security+ certification require 50 CEUs.
A CEU can be described as an activity that goes over exam-based objectives. Activities such as industry events, published articles and work experience can contribute to earning a CEU.
This means if you already work in a field related to your certification, getting the required number of CEUs is not going to be difficult.
It is important to note that documentation will be required to show your experience, else your activities would not count towards recertification.
At the beginning of the article, it was difficult to select which certification was best or which one should an IT professional go for first.
Having laid out what each certification offers in terms of knowledge and a potential increase in demand by employers, it can be said that both Network+ and Security+ are integral certifications that IT professionals need in their related fields.
As a burgeoning cybersecurity professional, earning the Security+ certification should be your main goal. The Security+ certification acts as a springboard into the cybersecurity industry.
For individuals looking to become networking professionals, the Network+ certification is best suited to them.
That being said, having a Security+ certification as a networking professional is as advantageous as having a Network+ certification as a cybersecurity professional.
The truth is certifications can be a wonderful asset to any professional’s resume as it shows your knowledge extends further than your chosen field.