CompTIA Security+ Plus Certification: The ULTIMATE Guide

Thinking about taking the Security+ Plus Certification? Congratulations, this is a great security certification for beginners!

But how exactly do you earn this valuable credential?

Follow along as I give you a better understanding of the exam and whether the Security+ Plus certification worth pursuing!

What is the Security+ Plus Certification?

The Security+ Plus certification exam, developed by CompTIA in 2002 as an entry level cybersecurity certification, validates a person’s knowledge of basic IT security concepts across 5 security domains that I’ll discuss a bit later.

By far, the CompTIA Security+ Plus is the best cyber security certification if you’re just starting your career. And for many aspiring cybersecurity professionals, earning this popular entry-level certification was a first step toward a rewarding, in-demand career.

However, if you’re considering an alternative to the Security+ Plus, some have opted to take the GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC).

Is CompTIA Security+ Plus Certification Worth It?

Since 2011, CompTIA has awarded over 3 million certifications globally that are ISO 17024 and ANSI accredited.

Anyone with cyber experience can tell you that of the countless number of certifications, the Security+ Plus Certification is arguably one of the best known.

To give you a sense of how well respected this certification is in the IT security industry, here’s how it ranks among 5,700+ IT decision makers.

Most Popular IT Certifications 2023

As you can see the Security+ Plus certification ranked as the 9th most widely held IT certification in the world.

In the US alone, about 266K people currently hold the Security+ Plus certification.

Number of Security Plus Certifications Holders

This makes it the most widely held cyber security certification in the US.

Security+ Plus Certification is an Advantage

In addition to showing employers that you have a baseline knowledge of security concepts and principles, passing the Sec+ Plus exam is sure to make you a more attractive candidate for several entry level cyber security jobs.

Just to give you a bit more insight into the matter, in 2015 CompTIA conducted a study called HR

Perception of IT Training and Certifications to better understand how HR personnel perceive IT certifications.

Value of IT Certification Increasing Over Time

Between the years 2011 and 2014, the perceived value of IT certifications increased from 76% to 93%; that’s a 17% increase in only three years!

But I don’t want to get your hopes up…

Recruiters have many candidates to sift through. So don’t think that getting a Security+ Plus cert is going to automatically qualify you for a job.

But, they’re more likely to advance your cyber security resume to the next stage if you make it easier on them to identify your skillset.

And while not all security jobs require a certification, keep in mind that you’re competing for a role, and the candidate with a Sec+ Plus cert already has the advantage.

CompTIA Security+ Plus Job Positions

Even better, the Sec+ Plus is applicable to many sectors of the economy.

This certification makes you a valued candidate for many entry-to-mid-level cybersecurity jobs across large portions of the economy such as: healthcare, finance, retail, telecommunications, education, etc.

Are you a government employee or current military?

For you, this is the perfect entry level security certification!

DoD Approved Baseline Certifications

You’ll be pleased to know the Security+ Plus is an approved IAT Level 2 or IAM Level 1 DoD 8570/8140 baseline certification satisfying your agency’s certification requirements.

Security+ Plus professionals can take their careers in just about any direction.

You can be anything from a junior analyst, where you’ll be responsible for assisting network administrators, to a cyber security specialist who will help protect a company’s information systems, often with significant responsibilities.

In short, if a company has an IT infrastructure, there’s a very good chance they need qualified cybersecurity professionals, and there’s no doubt that a Security+ Plus promotes that qualification.

CompTIA Security+ Plus Certification Requirements

You can choose to take the CompTIA Security+ Plus exam with zero experience or formal education. But you do need to be aware that this exam is not designed for absolute newcomers.

CompTIA recommends: “CompTIA Network+ Plus and two years of experience working in a security/ systems administrator job role”.

That’s because there are many questions on the exam related to networking and network security concepts. So, you might be better off attempting the CompTIA Network+ Plus certification first.

CompTIA Security+ Plus Exam Structure

There are currently two versions of the exam, SY0-601…the older exam retiring July 31, 2024 and SY0-701…the newer version.

I suggest you take the exam that you were originally intending to take and are most comfortable with; however, that’s totally up to you.

To give you a quick overview of the SY0-701 exam structure:

  • Exam Time Limit: 90 minutes
  • Number of Questions: Maximum of 90 questions
  • Rate of Speed: Maximum of 60 seconds per question
  • Passing Score: 750 (out of 900)
  • Exam Format: Multiple-choice & Performance-based Questions
  • Work Experience: While there’s no experience required to take the Security+ Plus exam, CompTIA does recommend that you have a minimum of two years in security or systems administrator role.

CompTIA Security+ Plus Domains

As I mentioned previously, the exam consists of five domains with the following concentrations in each.

General Security Concepts (12%)

  • Explain: the importance of change management processes and the impact to security, and the importance of using appropriate cryptographic solutions.
  • Compare and contrast: various types of security controls.
  • Summarize: fundamental security concepts.

Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Mitigations (22%)

  • Explain: common threat vectors and attack surfaces, various types of vulnerabilities, and the purpose of mitigation techniques used to secure the enterprise.
  • Compare and contrast: common threat actors and motivations.
  • Given a scenario: analyze indicators of malicious activity.

Security Architecture (18%)

  • Explain: the importance of resilience and recovery in security architecture.
  • Compare and contrast: security implications of different architecture models, and concepts and strategies to protect data.
  • Given a scenario: apply security principles to secure enterprise infrastructure.

Security Operations (28%)

  • Explain: the security implications of proper hardware, software, and data asset management; various activities associated with vulnerability management; security alerting and monitoring concepts and tools; the importance of automation and orchestration related to secure operations; and appropriate incident response activities.
  • Given a scenario: apply common security techniques to computing resources, modify enterprise capabilities to enhance security, implement and maintain identity and access management, and use data sources to support an investigation.

Security Program Management and Oversight (20%)

  • Explain: elements of the risk management process, the processes associated with third-party risk assessment and management, and types and purposes of audits and assessments.
  • Summarize: elements of effective security governance and elements of effective security compliance.
  • Given a scenario: implement security awareness practices.

When you register for the exam, you can request a copy of the CompTIA Security+ Plus objectives and practice questions, depending on which exam you take (see figure below).

CompTIA Security Plus Practice Exams

In it, you’ll find a comprehensive list of each of the subdomains which are then further broken down to the exact topic being covered.

The practice questions are a misnomer and aren’t given to help you study. They’re simply there to help you understand how the questions on the exam are structured and give you a feel for how the real exam should look.

Together, they’re both a great way to understand the totality of what’s being covered and whether you’re up to the task.

CompTIA Security+ Plus Exam Costs

The CompTIA Security+ Plus exam costs $404 USD.

Security Plus Exam Voucher Cost

With that price, you get the exam voucher and a retake, just in case it’s needed.

However, this doesn’t include the Security+ Plus study guide, practice exams, labs, or any other training materials.

So, if you’re going to spend the money on the exam, there’s no point in taking the exam without also having the relevant training materials available.

CompTIA Security+ Plus Certification Training Costs

I understand that exam preparation is very much a personal choice. The great thing is that CompTIA offers multiple learning styles for everyone.

Some people prefer the traditional style of book reading, others prefer learning by trial and error, so they take practice tests, others learn via hands-on practice.

Traditionally, students have gotten by with just the Security+ Plus study guide and practice exams, but I’ll go over every option available to you. (I’m NOT getting paid for these listings.)

Security+ Plus Self-Paced Study Guide ($169 USD)

If you prefer traditional textbook-style learning, you can choose the illustrated Official CompTIA books. They’re packed with informative and accessible content that covers all the Security+ Plus exam objectives.

CertMaster Learn for Security+ Plus ($561 USD)

CertMaster Learn is CompTIA’s exclusive eLearning solution for Security+ Plus. It’s interactive, self-paced, and designed to help you prepare for your certification exam. With a customizable learning plan, practical questions, videos, flash cards, and a game center, it guides you through a steady path of learning. It further includes:

  • 100% coverage of exam objectives that focus on job roles
  • Over 40 hours of engaging content
  • 16 lessons with interactive performance-based questions (PBQs)
  • 160 practice questions with immediate feedback
  • 90-question final assessment simulates the test experience

CertMaster Labs for Security+ Plus ($211 USD)

CertMaster Labs gives you the hands-on training to help you understand the subject matter better and reinforces the practical aspects of the exam objectives. You get to practice your knowledge in a virtual environment which may be helpful for those that need more of a hands-on approach to learning.

For the price you pay and the experience you gain, this is an affordable third option.

CertMaster Practice for Security+ Plus ($211 USD)

CertMaster Practice is the official practice question tool that helps you assess your knowledge and exam readiness for Security+ Plus. It identifies your strong areas and helps fill gaps in your weak areas, making you feel more prepared and confident for your Security+ Plus certification exam.

You can certainly purchase all the exam materials ala-carte, but the wiser thing would be to take advantage of CompTIA’s Security+ Plus Certification Exam Bundles.

Security+ Plus Certification Exam Bundles

Basic Bundle ($581 USD)

If you want the basic bundle, that’ll come with your exam voucher and retake as well as the Self-Paced Study Guide.

Security Plus Basic Bundle Cost

Alone, these would’ve costed you $573. That’s right it’s cheaper to purchase these separately!

However, I wouldn’t necessarily tell you to go for this bundle as you’ll need to work on practice questions.

Exam Prep Bundle ($741 USD)

Next up, it’s the Exam Prep Bundle which includes everything in the Basic Bundle plus the CertMaster Practice tool.

Security Plus Exam Prep Bundle Cost

Trying to purchase these a-la-carte is a mistake as it’d cost you about $784. This package is the least you should consider for yourself prior to taking the exam.

eLearning Bundle ($1,005 USD)

If you’re ready to go completely electronic while still learning at your own pace, the eLearning Bundle might be for you.

Security Plus eLearning Bundle Cost

At just over $1,000, it’s a bit on the pricier side but still much cheaper than buying each individually, about 15% cheaper.

The only downside is that it doesn’t have the benefit of the CertMaster Practice questions.

Complete Bundle ($1,111 USD)

For an even bigger discount (about 20%) you can get the complete bundle which also includes the practice questions.

Security Plus Complete Bundle Cost

This is by far the best bundle you can get before you start reaching out for live training.

Instructor-Led Training ($2,499 USD)

Self-Study options can allow you to take as much time as you need to complete all the materials.

On the other hand, online instructor-led training has its own advantages as you get trained in a virtual learning environment with the supervision of qualified instructors.

So, if you want the full experience and have the money to spend, you can opt for the Online Instructor-Led Training which basically includes everything online.

  • 10 days of hands-on, instructor-led online training (Monday-Friday, times vary)
  • Security+ Plus exam vouchers (including a free retake)
  • CertMaster Labs for Security+ Plus
  • CertMaster Practice for Security+ Plus
  • CertMaster Learn for Instructor-Led Training for Security+ Plus
Security Plus Live Online Training Cost

When you break it down, you’re paying about $140 per day for online training above the Complete Bundle.

On a side note, when it comes to certifications, I ALWAYS recommend the official practice and study guide materials, or those that have been officially authorized, as no other source is the authority.

The test is always subject to change, and you’ll never know if any unauthorized training materials or facilities are updated to reflect such changes, so it’s best to stick with vendors that are authorized by CompTIA. (I’ve listed the link below.)

CompTIA Security+ Plus Exam Preparation

The most effective way to prepare for any cybersecurity certification is by working through practice tests and taking advantage of the various learning tools.

So, if you don’t do anything else, the study guide and practice questions are an absolute must. You should be able to save a bit of money by purchasing the “Exam Prep Bundle” for $741.

Unfortunately, the instructor-led training offered by CompTIA is an online learning environment. But CompTIA does provide a list of authorized training centers that may offer in-person training sessions.

I will say, that of all the Security+ Plus training out on the market today, I highly recommend Professor Messer.

Professor Messer

His extensive list of video content is free and covers most, if not all the Security+ Plus exam objectives. It’s also a great place to start!

However, if you’re truly interested in pursuing CompTIA certification, the first thing to do is figure out what learning style suits you best.

It’s worth considering all the available study methods before deciding on which one works for you.

Certainly, some methods are cheaper than others and you may have to select a method to fit your budget; but at the end of the day, it all comes down to whatever method you feel most comfortable with and will help you pass the certification with the highest score.

Maintaining the Security+ Plus Certification

Unless you were one of the lucky few to pass the “Good-for-Life” version of the Security+ Plus all those years ago, the certificate you’ll receive only remains valid for 3 years from the date you pass your certification exam.

You may already be aware that most security certification programs require either recertification or by obtaining continuing professional education or continuing education units (CPE/CEU) to maintain your certification, that’s if you don’t want your Security+ Plus certificate to expire in 3 years and have to retest…ouch!

Using CompTIA’s continuing education (CE) program, you can renew your Security+ Plus cert and extend it for additional three-year period by paying the $150 USD maintenance fee plus recording any of the “units” you accumulate.

Usually these CPE/CEU’s are granted for attending various training sessions, or other security-related activities as prescribed by CompTIA.

Luckily, CompTIA requires the Security+ Plus certificate holder to submit only 50 CEUs for every three-year cycle, which is significantly less than other types of certificates.

The good thing about earning your CEUs is that there are so many options, there’s no excuse not to find an activity that suits your learning style.

Just capture all your CEUs the first year, pay your maintenance fee, and your set for the next three years!


The Sec+ Plus certification is an industry-standard designed to validate your knowledge of IT security and is certainly a must-have for any IT professional looking to work in cyber security.

In today’s article we talked about the Security+ Plus certification, the advantage of having this prestigious certification and where it leads, the structure of the exam and certification requirements, how much the exam and supporting material costs, the methods of preparing for this exam, and whether the exam is worth your time.

Earning a CompTIA Security+ Plus cert opens more job opportunities across the economic spectrum including professionals working with government agencies or the military.

And while it’s not a substitute for real-world experience, it is an essential tool in developing that expertise and getting your foot in the door. It’ll set you apart from other candidates during an already competitive job search and can help you secure an entry level cybersecurity job.

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