If you’re looking to break into the cyber security industry, the CompTIA Security+ is a great certification to get. But before embarking on this journey, you need to know, “how long does it take to study for Security+” to plan your journey to your first entry-level job in cyber.
This article answers this question by providing a comprehensive roadmap that details what to expect in the exam, the factors that may affect your study time, what the average study time is, and how to best prepare for the Security+ exam.
Let’s dive in and discover how long it takes to study for Security+!
About CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Security+ is an entry-level certification that proves you have the fundamental skills to perform core security roles within an organization. Once you learn these core skills, you can pursue a specialist career path by taking one of CompTIA's other certifications.
To teach these fundamental skills, Security+ covers five cyber domains:
- Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities: Identifying, assessing, and analyzing the different types of attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities an organization faces (24% of the exam).
- Architecture and Design: Understanding, implementing, and maintaining secure network architectures and systems (21% of exam).
- Implementation: Deploying and configuring secure networks, systems, and other technologies (25% of exam).
- Operations and Incident Response: Monitoring and responding to security incidents (16% of exam).
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance: Understanding and applying security policies, procedures, and regulations for risk management and compliance (14% of exam).
Each domain is assessed on the Security+ exam, and you can read The 5 CompTIA Security+ Domains: All You Need To Know About for more details on these domains.
Security+ Exam Details:
- The exam consists of 90 questions. These are multiple-choice or performance-based questions.
- You have 90 minutes to complete the exam.
- The passing score is 750 on a scale of 100–900.
For a comprehensive guide on the Comptia Security+ certification and exam, read What Is CompTIA Security+? An Essential Guide.
Factors Affecting Study Times
How long it takes for you to study for the Security+ certification will depend on multiple factors. The three main ones are your prior technical knowledge, your level of industry or hands-on experience, and whether you have obtained other certifications prior to studying for Security+. Let’s look at each in detail.
If you have knowledge of cyber security, networking, or general IT before studying for the Security+ certification, you will have a significantly easier journey. Prior knowledge in these areas will allow you to grasp the concepts taught in Security+ quickly and more efficiently. You may even already know some of the content being taught!
The Security+ exam is split into two types of questions; multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of the study material and performance-based questions that assess your practical skills in cyber security by grading your lab work. If you have experience in a cyber security or IT role, these performance-based questions will be easier for you to answer, and your study time will be reduced.
You may have come across many of the scenarios described in the exam before, and you will be able to apply your real-world experience to the question. If not, you may be able to relate a similar experience to the exam question and deduce the correct answer.
Prior experience is invaluable in answering performance-based questions as it develops your critical thinking, problem-solving, and troubleshooting skills. Learn more in Top Cyber Security Skills You Need for an Exciting Career.
The Security+ exam is part of CompTIA’s certification pathway. This pathway is designed to take you from zero knowledge about IT and computing to being ready for an entry-level position in networking, infrastructure, or cyber security. You can join this pathway at any stage of your journey into cyber security, but having completed a CompTIA certification prior to the Security+, such as A+ or Network+, will better prepare you for Security+ and reduce your study time.
That said, many other certifications will also help you prepare for Security+ and cut down your study time. You can learn about these in The Best IT Certifications for Beginners.
Average Study Times
Now you know the main factors that will affect your study time, let’s look at the average study time for students who have successfully obtained their Security+ certification. The average study time of students can be broken down into two main camps; those with prior networking knowledge and those without.
Prior Networking Knowledge
A significant crossover exists between the material in Security+ and the material in Network+ or Cisco’s CCNA. About a third of the Security+ exam contains questions related to enterprise networking, with the other two-thirds being on security-specific content. If you have studied for Network+, CCNA, or another networking fundamentals course, your study time for Security+ will be shortened.
Additionally, Network+ and CCNA certifications contain some security-related questions. The Network+ exam is 19% network security, while the CCNA is 15% security fundamentals, so both of these certifications will give you an advantage when studying for Security+. If you want to know which one to study for, check out Network+ vs CCNA: Which Certification Is Best for You?
The average study time with prior networking knowledge is four to six weeks. If you just passed Network+ or CCNA, it will often be half the time spent prepping for that exam.
No Prior Networking Knowledge
If you are coming from a background with no prior networking experience, then studying for the Security+ certification may take longer.
Security+ assumes you have the fundamental IT and networking knowledge taught in the A+ and Network+ certifications. If you do not have this fundamental knowledge, you must learn it while studying for Security+. This is not a problem, but it will increase your study time.
The average study time without prior networking knowledge is up to three to six months as you simultaneously learn fundamental networking concepts.
Everyone is Different
These study times are just the average. It is important to remember that each student is different. They come from different backgrounds with different prior experiences, their capacity for learning is different, and they may have life events during their study time that get in the way.
Your study time for the Security+ certification may differ from the timescales listed above. However, no matter your circumstances, you can greatly reduce how long it takes to study for Security+ by preparing yourself beforehand. Let’s look at how you can do that!
How to Prepare for CompTIA Security+
To prepare for the CompTIA Security+ certification, you need to follow the advice in The Ultimate CompTIA Security+ Study Guide for Exam Prep and ensure you cover the following.
Be Aware of What You Need to Know Prior to Studying
The Security+ certification is packed with information and assumes you have basic IT and networking knowledge before starting. Depending on your background, you may know some of the material covered on the Security+, none of the material, or even lack the prerequisites.
Before starting your studies, you should assess your current knowledge to identify areas you need to focus on more. This lets you prioritize your time and explore resources that will be most beneficial to your needs.
Find High-Value Study Resources
You can pass the Security+ exam using freely available resources on the Internet. Unfortunately, it will take a long time to collect, assess, and organize these resources before you even start studying. To boost your learning, you need to find and use high-value study resources that will empower you along your journey.
A great place to start is the StationX accelerator program. Our program teaches you the skills needed for your ideal cyber security career and connects you with mentors, our career toolkit, and a custom study roadmap to get you there faster.
Some of the effective learning strategies included in the program include:
- Mastermind Groups
- Study Partners
- Teaching Others
- Courses and Practice Tests
- And more waiting for you to explore
When studying for any certification, it is far better to consistently study for an hour or two every day than to have a mammoth study session once a week. Consistent study over an extended period of time benefits you in two ways:
- It creates a study habit that will help you stay motivated throughout your learning journey.
- It ensures repeated exposure to the material you are trying to learn. This sets you up for long-term success and is recognized as the best way to learn and retain new information.
Take Practice Tests
You should regularly take practice tests before you sit the Security+ exam. These will help you gauge how much of the exam material you know and highlight areas you need to study further. To have the best chance at passing the Security+ exam, you should consistently score 85% or higher on your practice tests.
The following courses are great resources to prepare for the Security+ certification and practice before the exam:
CompTIA Security+ is a great entry-level certification ideal for landing your first cyber security job. This article examined how long it will take you to get this certification by discussing the factors affecting your study time, the average study times with and without prior networking knowledge, and how best to prepare for the exam.
It is important to remember that everyone is different, and your study time might vary. However, using high-value study resources, such as the StationX Accelerator Program, can significantly decrease the time it takes to get your Security+ certification.