The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is the leading IT certification provider in the nation. For the more than 75 million IT experts in the U.S., it's the go-to resource for top-tier education and training.
Are you an IT professional eyeing some of the certifications that CompTIA offers? If so, two of the most prominent ones you might be considering are the Network+ and Security+ certifications.
While both can benefit you professionally, following the right timeline is important. You may ask, "Should I take Network+ before Security+ or vice versa?"
If you're confused about which certification to pursue first, read on. Today, we're sharing the key differences between Network+ and Security+ so you can make an informed decision for your career.
What Is the CompTIA Network+ Certification?
Put simply, CompTIA Network+ certification is an introductory-level certification for IT professionals. This exam verifies that an individual has the basic knowledge and skills required to excel in an IT infrastructure career. It focuses on the chief elements of networking, covering topics such as:
- Networking theory
- Networking best practices
- Networking architecture
Vendor-specific networking certifications are available. However, Network+ prepares learners to support networks across any platform. This way, they have a firm foundation to build on as they move into more specialized vendor solutions.
CompTIA Network+ is the only certification in the industry that's broad enough to cover both wired and wireless networks. By achieving this certification, IT professionals can demonstrate they have the knowledge required to perform the following duties:
- Troubleshoot networks
- Configure new networks
- Managed existing networks
In addition, this certification also confirms that an individual has a professional understanding of current and emerging technologies, which include cloud and virtualization platforms.
What Is the CompTIA Security+ Certification?
The CompTIA Security+ certification validates that an individual has the baseline skills required to perform core IT security functions at an organization. It focuses on cybersecurity training and is considered to be a more focused version of the CompTIA Network+ certification.
For most professionals in this space, Security+ is regarded as one of the top certifications they should pursue. It gives them the fundamental knowledge required to excel in any cybersecurity role. At the same time, it also prepares them to enter into more intermediate-level positions in the future.
By achieving this certification, current and prospective cybersecurity professionals can demonstrate that they can competently perform the following duties:
- Detect different types of cybersecurity compromise
- Understand vulnerability scanning and penetration testing
- Install and deploy networks while troubleshooting security issues
- Implement secure network architectures and systems designs
- Analyze risk management best practices and their operational impact
- Install and configure access and identity services
- Install and configure management controls
- Install and configure wireless security settings
The CompTIA Security+ certification emphasizes best practices in risk management and risk mitigation. As they pursue it, cybersecurity experts will gain practical, hands-on experience in the field of threat identification.
Should I Take Network+ Before Security+?
Do both of the above CompTIA certifications sound like exams that you'd like to take? If you're interested in furthering your IT career, you may find that both are advantageous to your position.
However, there isn't a right or wrong answer when it comes to the exact training schedule you should follow. The test you should take first depends on a number of different factors, including the skills, knowledge, and experience you already have.
A few of the questions you can ask yourself as you decide which certification to pursue include:
- What is my starting skill set?
- How do I prefer to process information?
- What are my career goals?
As you might imagine, everyone will have their own unique answers. Your learning journey is as unique and one-of-a-kind as you are. Yet, there is a general order that most IT and tech experts tend to follow.
Let's take a closer look.
Following the CompTIA Certification Path
The majority of certifications you can pursue through CompTIA do not have prerequisites. This means that you do not have to pass one exam before you can take another.
However, they do have recommended certification paths that interested learners can pursue. If you follow their route, you will pursue your Network+ certification before Security+.
Why is this the case?
In short, the cybersecurity realm covers many types of learning paths, including networking. In fact, a main component of cybersecurity is networking. This is evidenced by the fact that IT networks are the area where most cybercriminals tend to infiltrate.
Whether you want to manage or secure information networks, you need a basic knowledge of how they work. This is where the Network+ certification comes in.
Especially in today's Digital Age, networks are only becoming more intricate and complicated in nature. This gives unscrupulous users even more access points and attack vectors to pursue. IT security experts need to understand core concepts, such as how wireless networking protocols function, to identify and fortify potential areas of weakness.
Check Job Requirements
If you're unsure which certification you need to get first, consider checking the job boards! This is a great way to learn what prospective employers are looking for.
Search the main sites for positions that interest you. Then, click on each job description and read what it entails. Often, employers list the specific certifications they'd like their ideal candidate to have.
If you're looking for IT jobs, this may include CompTIA certifications, such as Network+ or Security +.
Consider Your Career Goals
While CompTIA might recommend taking the Network+ certification first, this route will not apply to everyone. As you plan your next move, it's important to consider your career goals, too.
The professional direction you want to go in will determine whether you should take Network+ vs. Security+ first. For some individuals, the correct answer will be that they only need one of these certifications to get where they want to go.
Taking Security+ First
If you want to focus strictly on cybersecurity, you may know that you want to pursue the Security+ certification. This cert is required for many cybersecurity positions and can help you land a job you love.
Taking Network+ First
Similarly, you may choose only to take Network+ if you have your sights set on systems administration. While you might not need to be a cybersecurity expert in the SysAdmin field, you will need a strong understanding of networking basics.
Taking Now vs. Later
Some jobs may not require you to get the CompTIA Network+ or the Security+ certification. Before investing your time, energy, and money into taking an exam, knowing if it's necessary for your chosen career path is important.
Talk to your boss or supervisor and other colleagues in your department. Ask what certifications they have decided to pursue and how their decision affected their role in the company.
As you listen to their advice, remember that their professional journey might not mirror your own. Instead of taking one certification right after the other, you may take one test now and the other one later.
If you decide to focus your efforts on Security+, does this mean that the Network+ certification will never be necessary? Does the opposite hold true? Not at all!
Learning as much as possible about topics in your field is always useful. As you review the Network+ materials, it can help you prepare for your Security+ exam and vice versa.
Regarding which test to prioritize, consider your career goals and the timeline you need to follow. For instance, if you want to advance in your cybersecurity career as soon as possible, Security+ should be your first focus. If you want to climb the ladder in a SysAdmin role, start with Network+.
Later, you may decide to pursue the certification you didn't get, especially if you already took the time to study for it. This is always a smart decision! The better educated you are about your
Your Source for IT Education
Now that you know which factors to consider, it should be easier to answer the question, "Should I take Network+ before Security+?"
Once you have a general timeline in mind, it's time to start studying! That's where we come in.
At ProTech, we're dedicated to helping professional learners ace their approach to enterprise IT training. We offer exclusive resources to help you score as high as possible on your industry certifications, including those from CompTIA.
To learn more, check out our CompTIA Training Courses today!