CompTIA Stackable Certifications: The Ultimate Guide

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CompTIA stackable certifications validate your skills in certain areas of information technology. A stackable certification is created once you have obtained the required complementary CompTIA certifications.

CompTIA offers over 15 certifications covering a range of IT specialties. To more concisely demonstrate your IT prowess, CompTIA allows you to combine these certifications into a stackable certification.

There are various stackable certifications you may obtain as you rack up CompTIA credentials. To help figure out which stackable certification you qualify for or aspire to obtain, we will explore each of CompTIA’s stackable certifications.

What Is a CompTIA Stackable Certification?

A CompTIA stackable certification can be thought of as a consolidated certification. You can claim a stackable certification only when you have already acquired the listed certifications for a certain career pathway.

Acquiring a stackable certification is a concise way to demonstrate your IT knowledge and skills. Listing out each certification you have under your belt can take up valuable real estate on your LinkedIn, business card, or resume. Listing only your stackable certification instead of a litany of certifications quickly and effectively conveys your IT abilities.  

Career Pathways

CompTIA stackable certifications aren’t only helpful to quickly convey your IT skills to potential employers. Stackable certifications also help IT professionals effectively build on their skills by providing concrete pathways. These pathways are designed to guide IT beginners and professionals as they navigate the many areas of IT.

Pathways make it clear what you should learn next and which certification will best demonstrate your skills to an employer.

The two career pathways are Infrastructure and Cyber Security.

While regular CompTIA certifications are organized as Core Skills and Professional Skills pathways, only stackable certification pathways are only organized as Infrastructure and Cyber Security.

CompTIA’s Infrastructure Career Pathway comprises certifications that validate your IT operations skillset. They also demonstrate your knowledge of IT hardware, software, and networking. If you want to master networking, have a baseline understanding of cyber security, understand the ins and outs of Linux, cloud computing, and how servers work, this may be the career pathway for you.

Cyber Security is the second pathway. Opting for this career pathway will demonstrate that you have a deep understanding of cyber security concepts, as well as technical skills.

CompTIA has created three categories within each pathway to help aspiring stackable certification holders navigate these pathways: specialist, professional, and expert.

These categories can guide users through their career pathway of choice. Each certification needed to obtain a stackable certification is categorized based on the level of IT experience CompTIA recommends someone to have before attempting to obtain a certification.

The experience level is as follows:

  • Specialist: 0-2 years of IT experience
  • Professional: 2-5 years of IT experience
  • Expert: 5+ years of IT experience

Infrastructure Stackable Certifications

Infrastructure stackable certifications drill down on IT basics such as networking and security before diving into more complex infrastructure material.  

CompTIA Stackable Infrastructure Pathway

Specialist

The specialist CompTIA stackable certifications are CIOS and CSSS.

CompTIA IT Operations Specialist

CIOS stands for CompTIA IT Operations Specialist. You’ll need to acquire CompTIA’s A+ and Network+ to obtain this stackable certification.

Obtaining CIOS status means you understand the basics of networking and IT support.

CompTIA Systems Support Specialist

CSSS stands for CompTIA Systems Support Specialist. Holders of this certification are required to first obtain A+ and Linux+.

A systems support analyst should be able to work the help desk and assist with a variety of issues that require technical troubleshooting.

Professional

Professional Infrastructure stackable certifications are more advanced than specialist certifications.  

CompTIA Cloud Admin Professional

CCAP is CompTIA’s Cloud Admin Professional stackable certification. To obtain it, you’ll need to acquire Network+ and Cloud+.

A cloud admin is expected to help businesses optimize their cloud computing needs.

CompTIA Network Infrastructure Professional

CNIP stands for CompTIA Network Infrastructure Professional. Network+ and Server+ are required to hold the CNIP certification.

A network professional plays a hand in creating and delivering network infrastructure designs.

CompTIA Linux Network  Professional

CLNP stands for CompTIA Linux Network Professional. Professionals need Network+ and Linux+ to obtain this certification.

Linux network professionals are capable of providing hands-on support with the Linux OS.

Cyber Security Stackable Certifications

Cyber security is the second career pathway offered by CompTIA. Those who opt for this pathway will desire to pursue a career in cyber security. These stackable certifications can be broken down into three categories.

CompTIA Stackable Cyber Security Pathway

Specialist

CompTIA recommends gaining zero to two years of experience before testing for specialist certifications. However, we have found that diligent studying is all that is needed to ace these exams and obtain these certifications.

CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist

CSIS stands for CompTIA Secure Infrasturcuture Specialist. A+, Network+, and Security+ are needed to secure this stackable certification.

Despite being the most elementary stackable cyber security certification, obtaining CSIS indicates that you have the ability to protect assets from a variety of threats.

Professional

Before attempting the professional stack of certifications, CompTIA recommends you have two to five years of experience. However, with the help of effective training material and dedication, these certifications can be obtained without any prior professional experience.

CompTIA Secure Cloud Professional

CSCP, otherwise known as CompTIA Secure Cloud Professional, can be obtained if you have Security+ and Cloud+.

As a secure cloud professional, you should be able to problem-solve technical challenges related to cloud security.

CompTIA Secure Analytics Professional

CSAP stands for CompTIA Security Analytics Professional. To obtain it, you’ll first need to pass the exams for Security+ and CySA+ certifications.

Being a security analytics professional means being able to harden your organization’s assets, networks, and systems.

CompTIA Network Assessment Professional

CNVP is CompTIA’s Network Vulnerability Assessment Professional stackable certification. To obtain it, you’ll first need Security+ and PenTest+.

A network vulnerability assessment professional can leverage software to identify and remediate vulnerabilities.

CompTIA Network Security Professional

CNSP, or Network Security Professional, can be achieved by obtaining Security+, PenTest+, and CySA+.

With this stackable certification to your name you should be able to scan and monitor networks for threats and unauthorized users.

Expert

Expert stackable certifications may take years to obtain. Both stackable certifications ask you to obtain various complex certifications. Professional experience in domains tested by these exams would be a major asset in your attempt to obtain them.

CompTIA Security Analytics Expert

CSAE stands for CompTIA Security Analytics Expert. To obtain this certification, you first need to pass exams for the following certifications: Security+, CySA+, and CASP+.

CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Expert

CSIE stands for CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Expert. Four certifications are needed to obtain the CSIE. They are: Security+, CySA+, PenTest+, and CASP+.

After obtaining CSIE you can be expected to manage and lead IT security infrastructure projects.

How Do I Claim a Stackable Certification?

After you have obtained the certifications needed for a stackable certification, you will automatically be awarded your stackable certification.

To find your stackable certification, simply log into your CompTIA account and go to “stackable certifications.” There you will find active and expire stackable certifications.

Stackable Certifications - CompTIA Website

Conclusion

CompTIA stackable certifications are awarded automatically once you have obtained the prerequisite certifications.

These certifications are a quick and easy way to convey to employers that you have mastered certain areas within IT and/or cyber security. Leverage stackable certifications by including them on your resume, portfolio, LinkedIn, and other employer-facing documents and platforms.

If you want to begin your journey to earning these or any other certification, consider joining the StationX Community for access to courses, mentors, study groups, and a personalized career roadmap.

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  • Spencer Abel

    Spencer is part cyber security professional and part content writer. He specializes in helping those attempting to pivot into the vast and always-changing world of cyber security by making complex topics fun and palatable. Connect with him over at LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with his latest content.

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