Should I take Network+ or Security+ first?

A computer network with a security lock icon in the center

As an aspiring networking or cybersecurity professional, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to pursue the Network+ or Security+ certification first. Both of these CompTIA certifications are highly respected in the industry and can help bolster your career prospects, but they differ in focus and rigor. In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the differences between Network+ and Security+ certifications, as well as the pros and cons of obtaining each one. We’ll also provide tips and tricks for preparing for each exam and discuss which certification may be more valuable to your career in the long run. So, let’s dive in!

Understanding the Differences Between Network+ and Security+ Certifications

The Network+ and Security+ certifications both serve as entry-level certifications for networking and cybersecurity professionals, but they cover different material. Network+ focuses on the basics of networking infrastructure, protocols, and troubleshooting, while Security+ delves into the principles of cybersecurity, including risk management, cryptography, and incident response. Both certifications are vendor-neutral, meaning they don’t focus on any particular brand of hardware or software. However, Security+ is often considered to be the more challenging and prestigious of the two certifications.

One key difference between the Network+ and Security+ certifications is the job roles they prepare professionals for. Network+ is geared towards professionals who work with network infrastructure, such as network administrators and technicians. On the other hand, Security+ is designed for professionals who work in cybersecurity, such as security analysts and engineers.

Another important factor to consider when choosing between these two certifications is the level of experience required. While both certifications are entry-level, Network+ is generally considered to be more suitable for professionals who are new to the field, while Security+ is better suited for those who have some experience in cybersecurity or networking.

Benefits of Earning a Network+ Certification

The Network+ certification is ideal for professionals who want to build a strong foundation in networking principles. This certification can help you gain a better understanding of how networks are structured, how data is transmitted across them, and how to diagnose and troubleshoot common network issues. Additionally, holding a Network+ certification can help you qualify for entry-level networking positions, such as network administrator or support technician.

Another benefit of earning a Network+ certification is that it can lead to higher salaries. According to a survey conducted by CompTIA, individuals with a Network+ certification earn an average salary of $74,000 per year. This is significantly higher than the average salary for individuals without a certification in the same field.

Furthermore, the Network+ certification is recognized globally and is vendor-neutral, meaning that it is not tied to any specific networking technology or product. This makes it a valuable certification for professionals who work with a variety of networking technologies and want to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to potential employers.

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Advantages of Obtaining a Security+ Certification

While the Network+ certification focuses on networking principles, the Security+ certification is more specialized and focuses on cybersecurity concepts. By obtaining a Security+ certification, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of security threats, controls, and vulnerabilities, as well as the overall security posture of an organization. This certification can help you qualify for entry-level cybersecurity positions, such as security analyst or security engineer. Additionally, the Security+ certification is highly regarded by employers and can help you stand out from other candidates for security-focused positions.

Another advantage of obtaining a Security+ certification is that it can lead to higher salaries. According to a survey conducted by CompTIA, individuals with a Security+ certification earn an average of $84,000 per year, which is significantly higher than the average salary for IT professionals without this certification. This is because the Security+ certification demonstrates a higher level of expertise in cybersecurity, which is a highly valued skill in today’s job market.

Furthermore, the Security+ certification is recognized globally, which means that it can open up job opportunities in different countries. This certification is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is recognized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This means that individuals with a Security+ certification can work in different countries and be recognized for their expertise in cybersecurity, which can lead to exciting career opportunities and experiences.

How to Decide Between Network+ and Security+ Certifications

Deciding which certification to pursue first can be a challenging decision. If you’re brand new to IT and have limited experience with networking concepts, it may make more sense to pursue the Network+ certification first, as it will provide you with foundational knowledge to build upon. However, if you’re more interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career, or already have some networking experience under your belt, the Security+ certification may be a better fit for you. Ultimately, the decision depends on your goals, interests, and current level of expertise.

It’s important to note that both certifications are highly valued in the IT industry and can lead to a variety of career opportunities. Network+ focuses on the fundamentals of networking, including network architecture, protocols, and troubleshooting, while Security+ covers topics such as network security, cryptography, and risk management. Both certifications require passing a rigorous exam, and it’s recommended to have some hands-on experience before attempting either one. Ultimately, the decision between Network+ and Security+ should be based on your career goals and interests, as both certifications can lead to a successful career in IT.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Your First Certification

When considering which certification to pursue, there are several factors to take into account:

  • Your primary career goals
  • Your prior experience with networking and cybersecurity concepts
  • Your current job or career aspirations
  • The level of study and preparation required for each certification
  • The availability of study resources and training programs

By taking all of these factors into account, you can make an informed decision about which certification will best meet your needs.

What to Expect on the Network+ Exam

The CompTIA Network+ certification exam consists of 90 questions that need to be completed within 90 minutes. The questions are all multiple-choice and may include performance-based items that test your ability to troubleshoot networking issues. The exam is designed to test your knowledge of the following areas:

  • Networking concepts
  • Infrastructure
  • Network operations
  • Network security
  • Network troubleshooting and tools

What to Expect on the Security+ Exam

The CompTIA Security+ certification exam consists of 90 questions that need to be completed within 90 minutes. Like the Network+ exam, the Security+ exam includes both multiple-choice and performance-based questions that test your ability to apply security concepts to real-world scenarios. The exam is designed to test your knowledge of the following areas:

  • Threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities
  • Technologies and tools
  • Architecture and design
  • Identity and access management
  • Risk management
  • Cryptography and PKI

Preparing for the Network+ Exam: Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for preparing for the CompTIA Network+ certification exam:

  • Study networking concepts thoroughly, including the OSI model and TCP/IP protocol suite
  • Learn how to configure and troubleshoot networking devices, such as routers and switches
  • Practice using network diagnostic tools, such as ping and traceroute
  • Take practice exams to get a feel for the types of questions you’ll encounter on the actual exam
  • Consider enrolling in a training program or course to help you prepare

Preparing for the Security+ Exam: Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for preparing for the CompTIA Security+ certification exam:

  • Study cybersecurity principles, including the CIA triad and risk management frameworks
  • Learn how to apply security controls, such as access control and encryption
  • Practice identifying and mitigating security threats and vulnerabilities
  • Take practice exams to get a feel for the types of questions you’ll encounter on the actual exam
  • Consider enrolling in a training program or course to help you prepare

How Difficult is the Network+ Certification Compared to Security+?

Both the Network+ and Security+ certifications are challenging, and the level of difficulty varies depending on your prior knowledge and experience. Generally speaking, the Security+ certification is considered to be more difficult than the Network+ certification, due to its broader and more complex subject matter. However, with sufficient preparation and dedication, both certifications are attainable for motivated learners.

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Which Certification Will Benefit Your Career More?

Ultimately, the certification that will benefit your career more depends on your professional goals and interests. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in networking, the Network+ certification may provide a valuable boost to your resume and open up entry-level positions in network administration or support. However, if you’re interested in cybersecurity, the Security+ certification is often considered to be the industry standard for entry-level security positions. Additionally, the Security+ certification is a highly respected credential in the cybersecurity community and could help you stand out from other job candidates.

Network+ vs Security+: A Comprehensive Comparison of Content Covered

Here’s a breakdown of the topics covered by each certification:

Network+ Security+
Networking concepts Threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities
Infrastructure Technologies and tools
Network operations Architecture and design
Network security Identity and access management
Network troubleshooting and tools Risk management
Cryptography and PKI

As you can see, the Security+ certification covers a broader range of topics, but still includes some networking concepts. The Network+ certification, on the other hand, focuses more narrowly on networking principles.

Cost Comparison: Is One Certification More Expensive Than the Other?

The cost of obtaining either certification is roughly the same. As of 2021, the cost for the Network+ and Security+ exams is $329 USD per exam. However, there may be additional costs associated with purchasing study materials or taking a training course.

The Importance of Continuing Education for Networking and Cybersecurity Professionals

Finally, it’s worth noting that obtaining a Network+ or Security+ certification is just the first step in a lifelong journey of learning and professional development. The technology industry is constantly evolving, and networking and cybersecurity professionals must stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices. Continuing education, through attending conferences, taking additional training courses, or pursuing other certifications, is essential for staying competitive and advancing your career.

In conclusion, the decision to pursue a Network+ or Security+ certification first depends on your career goals and interests. Both certifications offer a strong foundation for a career in networking or cybersecurity and are highly respected in the industry. With sufficient preparation and dedication, anyone can pass these exams and start building a successful IT career.

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