When it comes to IT certifications, the security+ (SEC+) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) are two of the most popular. But which one is harder? That’s a tough question to answer definitively, as it ultimately depends on your experience level, career goals, and personal learning style. In this article, we’ll break down the basics of both certifications, analyze their differences, and consider the pros and cons of pursuing each. By the end of the article, you should have a better understanding of which certification might be right for you.
The Basics of SEC+ and CCNA
First, let’s consider what both certifications cover. SEC+ is a security certification that focuses on the fundamentals of cybersecurity and network security. It covers topics such as threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, cryptography, and risk management. The CCNA certification, on the other hand, is a networking certification that validates your knowledge of the basics of networking, routing, and switching. It covers more hands-on topics such as IP addressing, routing protocols, WAN and LAN configuration, and network security.
It’s important to note that both certifications are highly valued in the IT industry and can lead to lucrative career opportunities. The SEC+ certification is often sought after by government agencies and defense contractors, while the CCNA certification is highly regarded by networking professionals in the private sector.
Additionally, both certifications require passing a rigorous exam. The SEC+ exam consists of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions, while the CCNA exam consists of 50-60 questions that must be completed within 90 minutes. It’s important to thoroughly prepare for these exams by studying the relevant materials and taking practice tests.
Differences in the Certification Process for SEC+ and CCNA
The certification process for SEC+ and CCNA is slightly different. To obtain the SEC+ certification, you must pass just one exam, while the CCNA certification requires passing two exams. However, the CCNA certification can be obtained by passing either two exams in the traditional route or one consolidated exam. Additionally, the CCNA certification has multiple specializations, such as CCNA Security or CCNA Wireless, that require additional exams to obtain.
Another difference between the certification process for SEC+ and CCNA is the level of difficulty. While both certifications are considered entry-level, the CCNA certification is generally considered more challenging due to the depth of knowledge required for the two exams. The SEC+ certification, on the other hand, covers a broad range of security topics but does not go into as much detail as the CCNA exams. It is important to consider your level of experience and knowledge before deciding which certification to pursue.
What is Tested in SEC+ Compared to CCNA?
While both certifications cover networking and security, the focus of each exam is different. The SEC+ exam tends to focus more on theoretical concepts, while CCNA is more hands-on and practical. A candidate for SEC+ will need to understand concepts such as access control, threat analysis, cryptography, and network security while a candidate for CCNA should know about configuring and troubleshoot Cisco switches and routers.
Additionally, the SEC+ exam covers a wider range of security topics, including wireless security, cloud security, and mobile device security. On the other hand, CCNA focuses more on Cisco-specific technologies and protocols, such as OSPF, EIGRP, and VLANs.
It is also worth noting that the SEC+ certification is vendor-neutral, meaning that it covers security concepts and best practices that are applicable to any organization or technology. CCNA, on the other hand, is specific to Cisco networking equipment and technologies, which may limit its applicability in certain environments.
The Prerequisites for Taking SEC+ or CCNA Certification Exams
There are no prerequisites for the SEC+ certification, but CompTIA recommends having at least 2 years of experience in IT administration with a focus on security. CCNA, on the other hand, requires the candidate to have CCENT certification or have completed an CCNA course in an approved institution.
It is important to note that while there are no formal prerequisites for the SEC+ certification, it is a challenging exam that covers a wide range of security topics. Candidates without sufficient experience or knowledge may struggle to pass the exam. Therefore, it is recommended that candidates thoroughly prepare for the exam by studying relevant materials and taking practice tests.
For CCNA certification, candidates must have a solid understanding of networking concepts and technologies. While completing a CCNA course can provide a strong foundation, candidates may also benefit from hands-on experience with networking equipment and protocols. Additionally, candidates should be familiar with Cisco IOS software and be able to configure and troubleshoot network devices.
A Comparison of the Exam Format for SEC+ and CCNA
The SEC+ exam has a maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions, with a time limit of 90 minutes to complete it. CCNA certification has a range of 60 – 70 questions, and the individual exams generally take 90 minutes, and the consolidated exam goes for 120 minutes.
Despite the differences in the number of questions and time limits, both exams cover similar topics such as network security, routing and switching, and network troubleshooting. However, the SEC+ exam places more emphasis on security concepts and practices, while the CCNA exam focuses more on network infrastructure and configuration.
Another difference between the two exams is the cost. The SEC+ exam costs $370, while the CCNA exam costs $325 for each individual exam or $1,295 for the consolidated exam. Additionally, the CCNA certification requires passing two exams, while the SEC+ certification only requires passing one exam.
Which Certification Is More Valuable: SEC+ or CCNA?
Both certifications are valuable, but which one is more valuable ultimately depends on the individual’s career goals. Someone who wants to work in cybersecurity may find the SEC+ certification more valuable, while someone focused on networking could find the CCNA certification more valuable. The CCNA certification tends to be more popular among employers as it is a Cisco certification.
It’s important to note that both certifications require a significant amount of time and effort to obtain. The SEC+ certification covers a broad range of cybersecurity topics, including network security, cryptography, and risk management. On the other hand, the CCNA certification focuses on Cisco networking technologies, such as routing, switching, and wireless networking.
How Long Does It Take to Prepare for SEC+ or CCNA?
The amount of time it takes to prepare for either certification depends on the individual’s study and learning habits alongside their previous experience. For most people, it will take at least a few months of studying to feel comfortable taking the test.
However, it’s important to note that the amount of time needed to prepare can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the material and the individual’s level of familiarity with the subject matter. For those with little to no experience in the field, it may take up to a year or more to fully prepare for the exam. On the other hand, those with prior experience or a strong background in networking may be able to prepare in a shorter amount of time.
The Cost Comparison of Taking SEC+ Versus CCNA
The cost of taking each exam varies, but overall, CCNA tends to be more expensive due to requiring multiple exams. The consolidated CCNA exam can cost around $325 while the SEC+ exam can cost about $349 if you decide to take it online. Some institutions charge for preparatory courses as well, making it more expensive to obtain an IT certification.
However, it is important to consider the potential return on investment when obtaining these certifications. According to recent studies, individuals with IT certifications, such as SEC+ and CCNA, tend to earn higher salaries than those without certifications. In fact, some employers may even offer to cover the cost of certification exams and preparatory courses as part of their employee development programs.
How to Choose Between Pursuing a Career with SEC+ or CCNA Certification?
To choose between the two, one should consider individual goals, their career path, and make sure to have a deep knowledge of what these certifications can offer. Ensure you have a deep understanding of the skills that come with each certification and determine which might be most applicable to your chosen career paths.
It is also important to research the job market and demand for each certification. While both SEC+ and CCNA are highly respected and sought after certifications, certain industries or job roles may place a higher value on one over the other. Additionally, consider the level of difficulty and time commitment required to obtain each certification. SEC+ may be a better fit for those with a strong background in security, while CCNA may be more suitable for those with a strong foundation in networking.
What are the Job Prospects with an SEC+ or CCNA Certification?
Both certifications have strong employment prospects and can lead to careers in fields such as Network Administrator, Information Security Analyst, and Systems Administrator. According to Payscale, The average salary for someone who is CCNA certified is around $78,000 while someone with Sec+ certification can expect to earn $70,000.
However, it is important to note that having a certification alone may not guarantee a job. Employers also look for relevant work experience and soft skills such as communication and problem-solving abilities. Therefore, it is recommended to gain practical experience through internships, volunteering, or entry-level positions in the field to increase your chances of landing a job.
Can You Pass Both Exams with the Same Level of Preparation?
Depending on your study habits and experience, it is possible to pass both exams with the same level of preparation. However, it is important to note that the exams test different skills and concepts, so it is recommended to tailor your studies to the specific certification you wish to obtain.
For example, if you are preparing for the CompTIA A+ certification, which focuses on computer hardware and software, you may need to spend more time studying technical details and troubleshooting techniques. On the other hand, if you are preparing for the CompTIA Security+ certification, which focuses on cybersecurity and risk management, you may need to focus more on network security and threat detection.
Additionally, it is important to consider your own strengths and weaknesses when preparing for these exams. If you have a strong background in computer hardware, you may find the A+ exam easier to pass, while if you have experience in cybersecurity, you may find the Security+ exam more manageable. Ultimately, the key to passing both exams with the same level of preparation is to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and tailor your studies accordingly.
Which Is More Relevant for Your Career: SEC+ or CCNA?
As previously mentioned, this depends on your career goals. Someone who wants to work as a cybersecurity professional should consider the SEC+ certification, while an individual who wants to delve into networking will want to consider CCNA.
The Importance of Staying Updated with Both Certifications
The IT industry is continually evolving and is among the fastest-moving sectors. The chance of obsolete information in the field is high, making it necessary to keep up with the latest trends and topics in the field.
How to Prepare for Both Certifications Simultaneously
Preparing for both certifications simultaneously can be challenging, but it is not impossible. Taking prep courses and using study materials such as books, online courses, and practice exams can help you stay on track with both certifications.
Is It Possible to Take Both Exams on the Same Day?
It is possible to sit for both exams on the same day, but it is not recommended. The exams test different skills and concepts, making it challenging to prepare for them simultaneously, plus taking them on the same day can be overwhelming and lead to burnout.
What Are the Reasons People Choose One Over the Other?
People choose one certification over the other due to their career paths, previous experience, and personal interest. Someone who enjoys working with networking technology may choose CCNA, while someone interested in security may choose SEC+.
The Future of IT Certifications: A Look at Trends in the Industry
The IT industry continues to grow, and the need for skilled professionals is on the rise. Cybersecurity will become a vital factor, and the world will continue to move towards automation. Certifications related to automation and cybersecurity will continue to be highly valued in the IT industry.
Tips and Tricks on How to Pass Your SEC+ or CCNA Exam
Studying effectively and consistently is the key to passing any certification exam. Practical experience with the technology can also help, as can studying with focus, using multiple resources, and taking practice tests.
Conclusion: Which Certification Is Harder Depends on Your Experience Level and Career Goals
In conclusion, it is hard to determine which certification is harder as it depends on the individual’s career goals, experience level, and learning style. SEC+ is more theoretical, while CCNA is more practical, but both certifications are highly valued in the IT industry and can lead to excellent career prospects.