What Is CompTIA Security+?

Cybersecurity is an increasingly pressing concern for organizations across all sectors. If you’re looking to further your career in cybersecurity or switch into a more security-centric role, the CompTIA Security+ certification might be perfect for you. In this blog, you’ll find a detailed answer to the question: What is CompTIA Security+ certification?

Description of CompTIA Security+ Certification

CompTIA Security+ is an internationally recognized, vendor-neutral certification from CompTIA that demonstrates competency in the baseline skills needed for a career in IT security industry. Earning this certification verifies your skills in the following areas based on the exam objectives:

  • Threats, attacks and vulnerabilities: You can detect various kinds of compromise and have knowledge of penetration testing and vulnerability scanning.
  • Technologies and tools: You can deploy various network components, as well as assess and troubleshoot problems to support operational and information security technology
  • Architecture and design: You know how to implement a secure network architecture, cloud computing, virtualization technology and systems design.
  • Identity and access management: You can implement access controls and identity management and access services, as well as management control
  • Risk management: You understand risk management and data security best practices and their business impact.
  • Cryptography and PKI: You can install and configure settings for wireless security and implement public key infrastructure (PKI).

Benefits of CompTIA Security+ Certification

This certification is ideal for IT security professionals who are relatively new to the field or have never taken a security certification exam before. It’s also useful if you’re looking to switch to cybersecurity from a related field. It is recommended as the first security certification you should earn, as it deals with the core skills needed for any job in cyber security and can help you to move into an intermediate-level cybersecurity position.

Earning the CompTIA Security+ certification can help you land job roles that are in high demand and command a good salary, such as security architect, security engineer, security or systems administrator, security analyst, network administrator, security consultant, and junior IT auditor. Although certification isn’t typically a requirement for these positions, it can provide a career advantage.

The U.S. Department of Defense has approved the CompTIA Security+ credential to meet Directive 8140/8570.01-M requirements. The certification also complies with ISO 17024.

  • Related Certifications

CompTIA Security+ is the foundational certification in the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway, which includes seven different security certifications to help cybersecurity professionals develop the skills they need to advance in their careers. Along with two different career pathways and core skills certifications, CompTIA offers Project+ certifications for specific professions, such as project manager, business analyst and project team member, and other professional certifications.


There aren’t any prerequisites for taking the CompTIA Security+ exam, but CompTIA recommends that you have at least two years of experience working in IT administration with a security focus. It is also helpful to have completed the other core certifications that deal with the more fundamental skills needed for an IT career.

CompTIA Security+ Exam Passing Score and Test Logistics

Before taking the exam, it’s best to complete certification training and use simulation tools and practice questions to test yourself. One option is the CompTIA CertMaster eLearning program. You can also purchase official e-books from CompTIA or take part in classroom training with a partner authorized by CompTIA.

Once you feel you’re ready for the test, you can start making plans to take it. CompTIA partners with Pearson VUE, which has facilities all around the world, for testing. You’ll need to create an account on the Pearson VUE website, use the site to find an authorized Pearson VUE testing center near you and schedule your test. Then you can purchase an exam voucher through Pearson VUE or the online CompTIA marketplace, or at a testing center. Vouchers are typically valid for one year from their purchase date. You can take the test in English, Japanese, Portuguese or simplified Chinese.

The CompTIA Security+ certification exam includes a maximum of 90 questions and takes 90 minutes to complete. The questions are either multiple choice or performance-based. Performance-based questions are focused on your ability to solve problems in a simulated environment. The test is scored on a scale of 100 to 900, and you are required to earn 750 out of 900 for a passing score.

It’s also important to note that the latest version of the test, SY0-501, launched on Oct. 4, 2017. The English version of the old CompTIA Security+ exam (SY0-401) was officially retired on July 31, 2018. Make sure you’re preparing for the current version.

Price of CompTIA Security+ Certification Testing and Renewal

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) provides you with three pricing options for CompTIA Security+ certification exam:

  • If you buy just an exam voucher, it will cost $339.
  • For $899, you can purchase the CompTIA Security+ Deluxe Bundle, which includes the exam voucher plus a voucher good for one retake and two training resources — CompTIA CertMaster Learn for Security+ and the Official CompTIA Study Guide for Security+ eBook.
  • If you want more, you can choose the premier bundle, which includes everything the deluxe bundle does plus CompTIA CertMaster Practice for Security+, for $1,049.

If you earned your certification before Jan. 11, 2011, you remain certified for life. Otherwise, your certification will be valid for three years from your exam date. To renew your certification, you need 50 continuing education units (CEUs) over the three years. You can earn your CEUs by completing the CompTIA CertMaster CE course, earning a higher level CompTIA certification, earning another industry certification, passing the latest release of the CompTIA exam, participating in IT industry activities, gaining work experience, completing higher education and more. As you earn your credits, you can upload them to your account; once you have enough, your certification will renew automatically. Renewal fees vary based on which recertification option you choose but typically total around $150 for the three-year recertification period.

Today, virtually every organization needs to worry about cybersecurity, which has driven high demand for professionals with proven skills and knowledge in this area. If you’re an IT professional looking to progress in your security career or transition into a security role, CompTIA Security+ is a great place to start.

Kayla Matthews, a tech and data journalist, has been featured in publications such as InformationWeek, Data Center Frontier, The Data Center Journal, and others. In the past, She's also contributed regularly to The Next Web and worked as a staff writer for Writerzone.