student at desk researching which comptia certification should i get first

Which CompTIA certification should I get first: A+ or Security+?

Cybersecurity employment is expected to grow 33% in this decade alone, according to the  Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  That’s much faster than other industries. In fact, the BLS predicts there will be more than 47,000 net new cybersecurity jobs available by 2030. In addition to pure opportunity, technology jobs can provide a lucrative career path. If you have an interest in tech, now is the time to get into cybersecurity.

Building a cybersecurity career is a lot like building a house. You can’t just skip to roof construction. First, you need to lay a foundation, then frame out the walls and eventually you get to the roof. And even when the roof is complete, there’s still plenty of work to do inside.

If you want to work in cybersecurity, you may have already asked yourself the question, “Which CompTIA certification should I get first?” Even for those with some IT job experience, it may be difficult to master Security+ training without the foundation of A+. The best way to build core foundational skills is via CompTIA A+ certification. Then, layer your knowledge with CompTIA Security+.


I Want to Work in Cybersecurity. Which CompTIA Certification Should I Get First: A+ or Security+?

Anyone interested in getting into the IT field should take CompTIA A+. It is known as the industry standard for establishing a career in IT, a reputation it has for two reasons:

  1. It is vendor neutral. This means you learn core concepts that apply to a broad range of platforms.
  2. It covers a broad diversity of knowledge. Entry-level technicians need to know a little about a lot – and that includes cybersecurity.

If you’re looking to start a career in IT – with cybersecurity as your destination – think of CompTIA A+ as your springboard. CompTIA recommends that candidates pursuing CompTIA A+ certification have 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in the lab or field, or that they have equivalent training.


What Does CompTIA A+ Cover?

CompTIA A+ is a performance-based certification that supports the ability to connect users to the data they need to do their jobs regardless of the devices being used.

Specifically, the CompTIA A+ exam covers the following domains and topics:

  • Hardware: Identify, use and connect hardware components and devices
  • Networking: Explain types of networks and connections including transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP), Wi-Fi and small office/home offices (SOHO)
  • Mobile Devices: Install and configure laptops and other mobile devices
  • Network and Hardware Troubleshooting: Troubleshoot device and network issues
  • Security: Identify and protect against security vulnerabilities for devices and their network connections
  • Windows Operating System: Install and support Windows OS, including command line and client support
  • Other OS Technologies: Understand Mac OS, Linux and mobile OS
  • Software Troubleshooting: Troubleshoot PC and mobile device issues, including application security support
  • Operational Procedures: Follow best practices for safety, environmental impacts, communication, and professionalism


Want to learn more? Download the CompTIA A+ exam objectives for free.

Consider CompTIA A+ your introduction to security best practices. You’ll learn about malware detection and removal, privacy concerns consideration, device hardening and physical security implementation.

If you understand all the above-listed points, you may be ready for CompTIA Security+. If not, don’t get in over your head! Start with CompTIA A+ and then work your way up.


Who Should Take CompTIA Security+?

You may be asking yourself: If my ultimate destination is a career in cybersecurity, why wouldn’t I take CompTIA Security+ first? Well, it’s all about building a solid foundation of knowledge and skills.

CompTIA Security+ validates the baseline skills needed to perform core security functions. That’s why CompTIA recommends that candidates pursuing CompTIA Security+ have at least two years of experience in IT administration, preferably security focused.

While CompTIA Security+ holds value for those in pursuit of a cybersecurity career, you’re more likely to experience success if you’ve laid that first, solid foundational layer. Otherwise, you’re trying to build a house on uneven ground – that can be frustrating and risky.


What Does CompTIA Security+ Cover?

CompTIA Security+ establishes the core knowledge required for any cybersecurity role and prepares candidates for intermediate-level cybersecurity jobs.

Specifically, the CompTIA Security+ exam covers the following domains and topics:

  • Threats, Attacks and Vulnerabilities: Analyze indicators of compromise and determine types of malware or compare and contrast types of attacks
  • Identity and Access Management: Implement identity and access management controls or differentiate common account management practices
  • Technologies and Tools: Troubleshoot common security issues or deploy mobile devices securely
  • Risk Management: Explain the importance of policies, plans and procedures related to organizational security
  • Architecture and Design: Summarize secure application development, deployment, cloud and virtualization concepts
  • Cryptography and PKI: Compare and contract basic concepts of cryptography or implement public key infrastructure


Want to learn more? Download the CompTIA Security+ exam objectives.

This image provides a visual summary of the differences between these two certifications.

Your Next Step?

So if your question is, “Which CompTIA certification should I get first if I want to pursue cybersecurity?” we hope this article has helped you come to an answer. Unless you already have a depth of field experience and training in the foundational areas of IT, you should probably start with A+ to set yourself up for success going forward.

If you need some help getting ready, CompTIA Tech Career Academy offers comprehensive training to prepare you to pass the A+ exam. While you’re at it, you’ll also benefit from soft skills development and robust support on the job market. 

Find out more about our IT-Ready Technical Support Training.