Looking to get your foot in the door as an information security professional? If so, you have a number of choices available when it comes to certifications and training. One common starting point is to earn your CompTIA Security+ credential. Is this right for you? Can you actually earn a decent living with this certification? What sorts of jobs might you qualify for with only this certification?

The Reality of Security+ Certification

First, let’s get something out of the way. CompTIA Security+ certification, while an important first step, is just that—a first step. It’s designed to “validate foundational IT security knowledge and skills.” In short, it’s a beginner’s certification. Yes, it will help you get started on a rewarding career, but if you never progress beyond this certification, the salary you’ll earn as an infosec professional will be significantly less than it would be otherwise.

A Realistic Look at Security+ Salary Data

As mentioned, the CompTIA Security+ certification is an entry-level credential. As such, it’s an excellent option for those just starting their careers in the infosec world, but it will not result in a high-paying position, unless you have additional credentials, skills, education or training. What might you expect to earn with only Security+ certification?

In this section, we’ll look at some real-life job postings from companies across the U.S. that require only Security+ certification. Note that all job positions, salary data, and hiring information were posted in mid-2017. Only positions with actual pay ranges listed in the job description were utilized.

  1. Help Desk Technician—This position was posted by a company named Quiet Professionals, LLC, out of Fort Bragg, NC. It offers a starting salary of $40,000 to $45,000 per year and requires that you have CompTIA Security + certification (or A+/Network+ certification) to be hired. However, you will also be required to achieve HDI certification within six months of being hired and the company states that they do prefer applicants to have their MCSA, MCP or ITIL V3 credentials, as well.
  2. Travel PC Tech—Posted by APEX, out of Fort Hood, Texas, this position pays $17 to $22 per hour and requires commitment to traveling three to five days per week. The company requires that you have at least CompTIA Security+ certification, but will accept both Network+ and A+ certification. Note that you must also be able to obtain DoD security clearance to qualify for this position.
  3. Computer Repair Technician—This position was posted by Dayna’s Computer Repair in Idaho Falls, ID, and pays $15 to $25 per hour. The company requires Security + or A+/Network+ certification, as well as four years of experience with computer hardware.
  4. Tier 1 Help Desk—This position pays $40,000 per year and was posted by Metro Systems Inc. out of Frederick, Maryland. The company does require at least Security+ certification, but also requires you to earn HDI certification, as well. Note that you also need to be able to qualify for DoD “secret” clearance, and that in addition to your Security+ credentials, you also have an associate’s degree in any area related to computers.
  5. Information Technology Specialist—Posted by Southern VA Higher Education, this position pays $34,000 to $43,500 per year. It requires basic familiarity with all information technology areas and the hirer prefers applicants to have CompTIA Security+ certification (or A+/Network+ certification).
  6. IT Help Desk Technician—Posted by Ka’ala Systems Technology Corp. in Pearly Harbor, HI, this position starts at $65,000 per year. However, while that may seem higher than many others on this list, understand that the cost of living in Hawaii is commensurately higher than many other areas of the nation. With that factored in, you’ll find that this salary is in line with other positions. Note that in addition to Security+ certification, the company also requires knowledge of DoD IT systems and at least two years of experience in the field.
  7. IT Technician Level 2—This position was posted by Intelligent Technical Solutions out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and pays between $36,000 and $38,000 per year. In addition to Security+ certification, the company requires at least two years of IT support experience. Note that Security+ is only one accepted certification. Others include Network+, MCP and MCDST certifications.

Now, as you can see from the information above, Security+ certification alone isn’t going to land you a position that earns you $90,000 or more per year. To enjoy a higher salary, you’ll either need to earn additional infosec-related credentials or bring more to the table from the outset. Some of the more common degrees that Security+ certification holders pursue before applying for a position in the industry include:

  • Bachelor of science
  • Master of science
  • Associate of applied science
  • Bachelor of arts
  • Associate of science

However, note that all of these degrees should focus in some way on information technology and computer science. Most hirers today require that you have a minimum education in the field, represented by a degree, and backed up by certification, such as Security+.

Security+ is an entry-level credential that will help you meet minimum requirements for starting positions in the field of IT security and information security.

CompTIA itself describes this certification as “the certification globally trusted to validate foundational, vendor-neutral IT security knowledge and skills. As a benchmark for best practices in IT security, this certification covers the essential principles of network security and risk management, making it an important stepping stone of an IT security career.”

Does that mean it’s not worth your time? No, it doesn’t.

Security+ certification can deliver quite a few important advantages, particularly for those just starting their infosec career. For instance, CompTIA points out that the Security+ credential is:

  • ISO 17024 compliant and DoD approved, as well as Federal Information Security Management Act compliant
  • Recognized around the world, by 147 different nations
  • Supported by leading IT experts to ensure industry acceptance and validity

While you won’t land a high-paying career with this credential alone, it is an important stepping stone on your path to a more rewarding career as an experienced infosec professional. By completing the CompTIA Security+ training and earning your credentials, you’re taking the first step toward a higher certification and better remuneration. From this point, you might consider pursuing any number of additional certifications.

Furthering Your Career—Certifications and Qualifications to Consider After Earning Your Security + Credentials

What positions might you aspire to with additional certifications? What certifications might you consider after you earn your Security+ certification? Here’s a quick look at some of the top-paying positions and certifications in the industry. Note that we have not included Network+ or A+ certification, as those are also entry-level credentials and are often equated with Security+ by employers (as exemplified in the job postings described previously).

  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) – $133,298
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – $128,156
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate – $125,091
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – $121,729
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) – $119,349
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – $115,471
  • Citrix Certified Professional—Virtualization (CCP-V) – $105,086
  • ITIL® v3 Foundation – $103,408
  • VMware Certified Professional 5—Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) – $102,962
  • Citrix Certified Associate—Networking (CCA-N) – $102,598
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)—Server Infrastructure – $101,150
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)—Windows Server 2008 – $99,558
  • Citrix Certified Associate—Virtualization (CCA-V) – $99,411
  • Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Routing & Switching – $96,826
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)—Windows Server 2012 – $93,718
  • Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching – $83,945

These are only a few of the myriad options available to you depending on your chosen direction within the wider IT/infosec world.

Don’t Neglect the Role of Geography

You’ll note that, in the list of positions requiring only Security+ certifications, a couple of locations pay significantly more than others. This is for a couple of reasons. One of those is the cost of living in those areas. For instance, both Alaska and Hawaii have significantly higher costs of living than the rest of the nation, so compensation will be higher.

Another reason is demand for these skills, which correlates with the concentration of businesses in need of skilled infosec workers in those areas. So, it can be a smart decision to research pay for infosec professionals in different areas of the nation. We’ve compiled a short list of 15 areas in the US that pay infosec workers higher salaries on average.

Note that these figures are averages for cybersecurity positions in general, not strictly Security+ credentials. Also note that they’ve been adjusted for the cost of living:

  • Arlington, Virginia—$74,254
  • Los Angeles, California – $86,072
  • Boston, Massachusetts – $88,453
  • Washington, D.C. – $92,191
  • San Diego, California – $98,303
  • San Jose, California – $99,075
  • New York City, New York – $102,271
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – $106,207
  • Austin, Texas – $110,190
  • Chicago, Illinois – $111,303
  • Denver, Colorado – $117,308
  • Dallas, Texas – $117,890
  • San Francisco, California – $119,346
  • Seattle, Washington – $119,349
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota – $127,757

Again, the cost of living in a particular geographic area must be taken into consideration. While the salary for infosec professionals in your area might be lower than the numbers listed above, the cost of living might also be lower, which balances things out. Before you decide it’s time to move to Minneapolis or Denver, dig into the specifics of your current geographic area.

With that being said, Payscale points out that the Security+ credential is in highest demand in the following cities:

  • Washington, DC
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Colorado Springs, CO

Sec+ Training – Resources (InfoSec)

Ready to Launch Your Infosec Career?

While Security+ certification won’t instantly lead to a high-paying position, it’s a crucial first step down the path toward becoming a fully credentialed infosec professional. The industry is expected to be worth $5 trillion by 2021, so now is definitely the time to get your foot in the door. Our Security+ Boot Camp is an ideal way to do just that. As the industry continues to grow, so too will the demand for credentialed professionals. Those relying on hands-on experience or on-the-job training will fall by the wayside.

You’ll find that our boot camp is also fully updated to meet the changes CompTIA recently enacted, including a greater focus on mitigating threats, not just recognizing them. The course is broken down into six different areas, each accounting for a different percentage of the exam. These are network security, compliance and operational security, threats and vulnerabilities, application, data and host security, access control and identity management, and cryptography. It’s also not just about teaching theory. You’ll learn by doing with hands-on labs, as well.

Our boot camp training course covers a full five days, and immerses you in the information you’ll need to know in order to become Security+ credentialed. Our course has been recognized as one of the best in the industry, including the CompTIA Outstanding Partnership Award for 2016.

We invite you to experience the difference earning this credential can make in your ultimate career success. If you’re interested in entering the world of information security, earning your Security+ credential is an excellent way to get started. We can also provide you with the training and education necessary to pursue higher certifications, including some of the most in-demand credentials in the industry, helping you find the rewarding career you deserve.

 

Sources

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=CompTIA_Security%2B/Salary

http://resources.infosecinstitute.com/average-cissp-salary-2013/

http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2016/08/05/15-cities-with-the-best-paying-cybersecurity-jobs?page_all=1&slreturn=1490636003

http://resources.infosecinstitute.com/security-salary/#gref

https://www.infosecinstitute.com/courses/security-plus-boot-camp?utm_source=Top%20Nav&utm_medium=Most%20Popular%20Courses

http://resources.infosecinstitute.com/7-top-security-certifications-you-should-have/

https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/off-topic/the-top-10-highest-paying-jobs-in-information-security-part-1/

https://www.globalknowledge.com/us-en/content/articles/top-paying-certifications/

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Ryan
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Ryan
Fahey

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