Ruminating on CompTIA's Security+ Milestone: 500,000 Certs Served

CompTIA has become the 800-pound gorilla of IT certification.

For a long while now, the Big Three entry-level IT certs have all belonged to CompTIA — namely, A+, Network+, and Security+. The third item in that trio just hit a major milestone in mid-August, as CompTIA announced that the size of the Security+ certified population just topped the half-million mark.


To quote the press release verbatim, the organization reported that "more than 500,000 individuals have earned its CompTIA Security+ credential." This is a kind of big deal, for several reasons that I will now elaborate.


Reason 1: The 800-pound Gorilla Flexes ALL of Its Muscles


For a long time now, the 800-pound gorillas of IT certification have been Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA — and more or less in that order, too. Now that Microsoft is reshaping and de-emphasizing its certification program, however, and now that Cisco is reinventing itself as a company (and thus also, as a training and certification provider), CompTIA has slowly but surely moved to the head of this already awesome pack.


There are already more than 1 million A+ certification holders, a milestone CompTIA reported back in 2015, as well as a large number of Network+ holders (closing in on the 500,000 mark, according to CompTIA's CorpCom Director Steven Ostrowski). Now we have more than 500,000 Security+ certification holders.


I can think of no other combination of entry-level certifications that has the heft and the name recognition of this particular trinity. In fact, I know of many four-year and community college IT programs that require students to earn all three of these items en route to their respective degrees.


Reason 2: CyberSecurity Remains the Source of the Biggest IT Skills Gap in the Workforce


It doesn't matter which source or resources you consult, governments and analysts around the globe are agreed that there's an information security/cybersecurity skills gap in dire need of filling. Depending on whom you ask (and CompTIA itself offers plenty of information on this topic through its CyberSeek materials), there are more than 300,000 open security jobs in the United States right now.


Add to that the roughly 2 millions such jobs that are open around the globe. As one looks further into the future, the size of that demand only increases. CompTIA cites U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which project that demand for cybersecurity employment will increase by 28 percent in the period from 2016 through 2026.


It's a huge growth opportunity. The size of the Security+ certification population argues strongly that Security+ is THE place to get started down the cybersecurity certification path. And you can't really stop there — not even at CompTIA, which also offers the CySA+ (Cybersecurity Analyst+), CASP+ (CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner), and even a penetration testing credential (PenTest+) for those with more advanced and specific cybersecurity career goals in mind.


Reason 3: CompTIA's Methodology and Approach Ensure On-the-job Relevance


CompTIA's certification and exam design process keeps the focus squarely on skills, knowledge, and problem-solving approaches that are used — and needed — in the workplace. This means that even though Security+ is an entry-level credential by design, it's also devoted to practical, hands-on topics and skills that will play out immediately in business, research, academia, and elsewhere.


In addition, the Security+ exam is performance-based. Thus, it relies on candidate's abilities to use what they know to solve real-world problems and address common workplace scenarios, rather than requiring them to memorize and rehash a set collection of questions and answers. This gives Security+ real value, even though it's "only" a foundational, entry-level cybersecurity certification.


Try It Out At Your Leisure


If you're a junior-to-mid-level IT professional and you don't already have the Security+ certification, then there's no better way to get yourself started into that area of IT expertise. Check out the Security+ home page for information, exam codes, and more. Great stuff!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.