Choosing Between CompTIA PenTest+ and CySA+
Written by: Marla Ovenden-Cooper
Pretty much everyone in cybersecurity knows and has heard of the CompTIA Security+ course. It is well regarded as one of the most important entry-level cybersecurity certifications that employers look for when hiring. Taking the Security+ certification training is a given, but what should an IT professional choose as their next intermediate level certification? The CompTIA pathway offers two different intermediate cybersecurity certifications: the CompTIA PenTest+ certification training and the CySA+ certification training. Both of these courses are intended for IT security professionals who have experience in the field and are looking to upskill.
The Role of a Penetration Tester
The CompTIA PenTest+ certification training is geared toward cyber professionals who are looking to gain experience in penetration testing and identifying vulnerabilities on a system. Individuals who take the PenTest+ will learn how to ethically exploit systems to determine vulnerabilities before hackers do. A penetration tester has a more offensive role and often people look at this position as desirable because it is a legal way to hack. Do not be fooled though, this job is more than just hacking. Not only do you need to be able to be good at hacking, but you also need to be an organized person, someone with attention to detail who is good at reporting. The importance of being able to prepare appropriate documentation for clients or companies you are working with cannot be emphasized enough. Also, penetration testers are expected to work on highly confidential projects. These projects generally have specific timelines for completion and are sometimes high pressure. If you are a person who enjoys being challenged, is curious and can effectively communicate your findings, then being a penetration tester may be a great career for you.
The Role of a Cybersecurity Analyst
The CompTIA CySA+, Cybersecurity Analyst certification is intended for individuals who intend to take on a role of protecting a company’s system, networks, hardware and software. Unlike the PenTest+ certification, the focus is more defensive and centres around being able to detect breaches, respond to breaches and prevent similar breaches in the future. Not unlike a penetration tester, the cybersecurity analyst must have good attention to detail. However, the attention to detail focus is not only in the area of documentation and communication, but also in paying attention and monitoring an infrastructure for inconsistencies. The ability to analyze data is a key component to this role, which means that individuals who like working with data and extrapolating meaning from it will enjoy this role. It also means that cybersecurity analysts need to have a very good understanding of all the infrastructure they are working with. Cybersecurity analysts also have high pressure, especially in the event of an incident. The ability to respond calmly and appropriately, following a developed plan, is essential. If you are a person who likes to solve problems, pays attention to detail and enjoys working with data, then being a cybersecurity analyst may well be a career that you will find fulfilling.
Remember when deciding to take any cybersecurity course, that the best part of being in the cyber industry is that there is always more to learn. You really cannot make a bad decision when you are choosing between the CompTIA CySA+ or the CompTIA PenTest+. What interests you today may change tomorrow and that is one of the best things about certifications. Once you have one certification, you can always sign up for additional boot camp courses or self-paced cybersecurity courses to gain the knowledge to upskill and pass another cybersecurity certification exam. Looking to learn more about other cybersecurity certifications? Check out our previous blog on the difference between the CompTIA Security+ and Network+ certifications.
Read our other blog: Are Canadian Companies and Organizations Taking Cybersecurity Seriously?