Do you need to take the CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+? Taking the CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ will establish a strong foundation in information technology, networking, and information security. Obtaining all three of these certifications will set you up very well for a career in cyber security. Investing the time early on in your career to stress the foundation will save you years of headache.
Stress the Foundation
It is incredibly important to build a strong foundation if you are looking to excel in the field of cyber security. Let’s compare this to a house. We could jump go right to building the structure and start building the walls and the roof and it may be fine for the first year. As time goes on the walls begin to crack and they can’t support the roof anymore. We need to fix the foundation. The house is already built and it would very difficult to go back and build a proper foundation with the walls and roof in the way.
Let’s compare this to your cyber security education. It can be very easy to neglect to study foundational concepts. It is possible to start studying for the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) for example with no experience in cyber security or ethical hacking at all. The OSCP is a very difficult exam that is very hands-on and applied. You can learn buffer overflows, SQL injection, and Metasploit but if you fail to understand the basics of networking or even computers in general you are going to fail.
Build the foundation the right way
Your foundational knowledge is certainly not written in stone. At least we hope not. It is possible to go back and re-learn foundational concepts. But this is the hardest way to do it. It is much harder to go back and re-teach yourself beginner concepts. Take the time early on to learn the basics and it will save you time later on.
Do I need to take the CompTIA A+ before the Network+?
If you have a strong background in information technology and computer hardware, you do not need to take the CompTIA A+ before the Network+. The A+ teaches some great foundational material but it is more focused on IT Support. Your time will be better spent studying for the Network+ and Security+ instead.
If you are brand new to information technology and cyber security, we would recommend talking the A+ before the Network+ and the Security+. But, the A+ is the only one of the CompTIA exams that we would say is up to your discretion. Unlike the Security+ and the Network+ where 100% of the material is applicable to a career in cyber security, the A+ has a slightly different focus (IT and Help Desk). If you are brand new and have no experience with IT, we would still recommend the A+.
Do I need to take the network+ before security+?
Taking the CompTIA Network+ before the Security+ will help you build a strong foundation in networking and also will help you easily pass the networking questions on the Security+ exam. There is some overlap between these two certifications, but both of these exams have crucial foundational material for your career in cyber security.
Does the Security+ require a lot of networking knowledge?
Yes, the Security+ exam encompasses a lot of networking knowledge. Some of the networking questions can be very basic, like answering various network terminology while others will call upon both your networking and security knowledge. Being able to apply your networking knowledge to security scenarios is the most important skill for the security+ exam.
Can I take the Security+ without the Network+?
Yes, there are no prerequisites for the Security+ exam. Studying for the Security+ alone will give you all of the networking knowledge you need to pass the exam. If you have a very strong foundation in networking this is a good option.
Should I take the Security+ without the Network+?
While there are no prerequisites for the Security+, we recommend taking the Network+ first. Having a solid understanding of networking will make the Security+ a lot easier. If you already understand the networking concepts on the security+, this will allow you to devote more time to understanding how security is applied to these networking concepts.
Is the Network+ harder than the Security+?
The Security+ is more difficult than the Network+. In order to pass the Security+, you need to have a solid understanding of the information from the Network+ and you also need to be able to apply security concepts to the networking topics.
Which CompTIA certification should I get first?
If you are brand new to the field of information technology or cyber security, you should take the A+ first. After passing the A+ you should then move on to take the Network+ and then the Security+.
CompTIA provides a very in-depth Certification roadmap that shows not only the CompTIA exams you need for a certain path, but also certifications from other vendors.
Can’t decide whether to take the Security+ 501 or the 601? Check out this post where I lay out the pros and the cons of each exam.
If it has not been evident so far, there is no set order or selection of the A+, Network+, and Security+ that you HAVE to take. All of these exams will provide you with valuable material that you can apply to your career in cyber security. Everyone has a different starting place, so their unique demands should be considered. The bottom line is that you need to evaluate your background and your current knowledge and choose which combination of exams are right for you. The most important thing is that you be honest with yourself and where your knowledge is at. Remember, do not neglect the foundation!