CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 vs SY0-501| Which is Right For You?
Published on: August 24, 2020
Written By Colin
Secutity+ 501 vs 601

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The CompTIA Security+ is updated to reflect the newest trends in the security industry every 3 years. With each new iteration of the exam comes the question of whether to take the older version of the Security+ or the newest most cutting-edge version of the Security+.

Should I Take The Security+ Sy0-501 or the Security+ Sy0-601?

 If you have not started studying for either version of the Security+ certification, we recommend that you take the newer Security+ SY0-601. If you already have invested time and money studying for the Security+ SY0-501, we recommend you take the SY0-501.

Make The Educated Decision

With the newest version just around the corner (launching November 2020), we have put together this article to give you everything you need to make an educated decision about whether you should take the CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 or the CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 exam.

What is the Security+?

The CompTIA Security+ is a great certification to get your foot into the cyber security industry, or to level up your current skills. The Security+ provides you with a strong foundation in topics spanning the cyber security industry. We believe that the CompTIA Security+ is one of the first security certification IT professionals should earn.

Out With the Old and in With the New

The Cyber Security landscape is rapidly changing. Adversaries are rapidly incorporating new tactics, techniques, and procedures. As defenders we need to constantly update our craft and knowledge. That’s where the new Security+ SY0-601 exam comes in. CompTIA updates their exams every 3 years to keep the information as relevant as possible.

6-Month Transition Period

As with every CompTIA Exam Transition, there is a 6-month period where you will have the option to either take the new Sec+ SY0-601 exam or the Sec+ SY0-501. In this post we will tell you all of the public information about these two exam versions to help you better decide whether you should take the new Security+ exam or stick with the older version.

How Much Do The SY0-601 and Sy0-501 Differ?

Security+ SY0-601 and the current Security+  SY0-501 we should expect about a 25% overall change in content.

 What’s New?

We have said it a lot about the CompTIA Security+ exam, but the exam coverage is a mile wide and an inch deep. This presents an interesting opportunity when updating the exam. The broad nature of the exam allows the exam authors to more easily incorporate the newest and hottest areas in cyber security while phasing out more out dated material. As a test taker this is awesome! You will know that CompTIA is updating their exams every 3 years to keep the material the most applicable to what is actually going on in the field.

New Areas of Focus:

– Cloud support to likely be enhanced as is and cloud security

– Growth of Virtualization platforms and how to secure them

– Common mobile device security breaches

– Securing online payment systems and cart technology

– More on monitoring tools, their metrics and the analysis of their data

– Emphasis on network access control models

– Manufacturer-specific issues regarding mobile device security

As they have with previous iterations of the Security+ Exam Series, we can expect CompTIA to put more of a focus on the Performance Based Question (CompTIA PBQs).


What Roles The Security+ Applies To:

  • Cyber Security Specialist
  • Cyber Security Administrator
  • Cyber Security Consultant
  • Systems Administrator
  • Network Administrator
  • Junior IT Security Auditor
  • Junior Penetration Tester

Addition of Auditor and Penetration Tester Roles

With All of their exams CompTIA Releases job roles that align with the certification. It is important to note the addition of the Junior IT Security Auditor and the Junior Penetration Tester. This is awesome news for those looking to go down the offensive route. This also means that the Security+ will better prepare you to take the CompTIA Pentest+.

Which Security+ Exam Should You Take?

Deciding which exam to take can be very tough. It would make sense that you should take the newest exam, but we will provide advantages and disadvantages for each side.

CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 vs. SY0-501. Pros and Cons:

Security+ SY0-601 Pros:

  • Newest cutting edge material
  • Removal of less relevant material
  • More PBQs

Security+ SY0-601 Cons:

  • Less Material Available
  • Less First Hand Accounts of the Exam
  • New and Relatively Untested Study Material

Security+ Beta Exam

While the Security+ SY0-601 applies the newest, most cutting-edge material, there is just less known about this exam. CompTIA usually provides a Beta exam for people in the industry who produce study content for the exams. With time we can expect more first hand accounts of the newest exam.

How Should you Study For the Security+

Everyone is different when it comes to studying methods, but here at Cyber Career School we have really honed in on the approach of utilizing 3 main study methods.

  1. Reading the Book
  2. Watching the Video
  3. Taking Practice Questions

While it sounds simple, this proven approach is effective for visual learners, auditory learners, kinesthetic learners, and reading / writing learners.

What Material Should You Use to Study for The Security+?

For the Security+ 601 there are 2 books from our favorite sources that are available for pre-order. CompTIA Security+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, Sixth Edition (Exam SY0-601) 6th Edition This series from McGraw Hill has proven to be a great study method for the previous iterations of the exam. Next, we have CompTIA Security+ Study Guide: Exam SY0-601 8th Edition from Sybex. Sybex has produced some of the most popular study guides out there so we are sure this book will prepare you well for the exam when it gets released!

Choosing to Take the Security+ SY0-501? Check out our favorite study material.

Through studying for the Security+ Sy0-501 ourselves and advising other students, we have identified the two best books on the market. CompTIA Security+ Certification Kit: Exam SY0-501. The full certification kit provides both a study guide, and a book of practice exams. This satisfies 2/3 of the requirements for the Cyber Career School study method. We have personally taken these practice exams and can attest to their value come exam dayCompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide Get Certified Get Ahead is arguably the most popular study guide on the market for the Security+. Darril Gibson organizes the content in a very digestible way and he also has a website with additional material. really provides some great material on the CompTIA exams.

Best Security+ Online Course

For online courses we highly recommend Pluralsight. While they do not have a Security+ SY0-601 course yet, their SY0-501 course is extremely informative. If you have choosen the newer exam, don’t worry. We think that the Pluralsight course in combonation with either of the SY0-601 books will set you up for success.

Final Thoughts

Each of these exams will have it’s pros and it’s cons. To answer the question of “Should I take the Security+ SY0-501 or the Security+ SY0-601?” If you have not started studying for either versions of the Security+, we recommend that you take the newer Security+ SY0-601. If you already have time and money invested in studying for the Security+ SY0-501, keep going and stick to your original plan.

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