Get the Inside Scoop on CompTIA CSA+ from Three Beta Testers

by Debra B. McCraw | Feb 17, 2017

CompTIA CSA+ logoWondering what it’s like to take the new CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+) exam? Hear firsthand from three beta testers about why they took it, how they prepared and what they thought.

Jack Haines

Jack owns Haines I.T. and consults with clients on a wide variety of technology challenges. He lives in Kansas City, Mo.

Why did you decide to take the CSA+ exam?

I love having certifications – I currently have 21 active IT certs – but I particularly love being one of the first people with a certification!

How did you prepare for the exam?

With some of the beta exams I've taken, there was no training material available, so I had to rely on my experience. With CompTIA CSA+, I was already planning to take CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP), so I just studied for CASP. Since the material overlapped, I took them both the same day (and thankfully, passed both).

Would you recommend CSA+ to others?

Yes, and I have, especially on the Reddit/r/CompTIA subreddit! I think it's a great add-on to CompTIA Security+ and certainly great for people looking to get CASP and/or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications. Every certification you can add is one more thing that might set you apart from the countless other people who have applied. I think it's great to have a certification that goes past the general IT security of Security+ and focuses on the dangerous ocean of the internet!

Laura Malave

Laura Malave

Laura is the academic chair for the College of Computer and Information Technology at St. Petersburg College (SPC), Downtown/Midtown Campuses, in Tampa, Fla. She teaches and develops cybersecurity courses, co-leads the SPC Cybersecurity/Digital Forensics Lab and leads the College of Computer and Information Technology Club – Cybersecurity Student Meetups.

Why did you decide to take the CSA+ exam?

I have the CompTIA Security+ certification, and I’m interested in completing the CASP certification. I felt that CSA+ was a good stepping stone certification that would also validate hands-on/technical skills not covered in Security+.

How did you prepare for the exam?

I have been self-studying for CASP and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker. I found that the study materials for these also prepared me for CSA+. My self-study consisted of prep books, information security-related podcasts, such as Security Now, and video training at ITPro.tv. Also, I am active in the local information security community and attend trainings and conferences.

Would you recommend CSA+ to others?

Yes. It is a great certification to take after Security+ and to use as a stepping stone for CASP and other advanced cybersecurity certifications. I am always interested in obtaining industry certifications, especially in cybersecurity. I am also very interested in keeping my skills up to date and learning new technologies. CSA+ has validated my hands-on and advanced skills in cybersecurity. 

Nicholas Carrol

Nicholas Carrol

Nicholas is the systems administrator at the Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine in Tallahassee and a lead adjunct applied cybersecurity instructor at Tallahassee Community College (TCC). By day he works on the infrastructure operations team at FSU, and by night he teaches two classes on applied cybersecurity in the workforce development program at TCC.

Why did you decide to take the CSA+ exam?

I hold Security+ and CASP, and I saw CSA+ being touted as a solid intermediary between those two certifications. I wanted to see for myself if it really was and if it was going to be relevant to real-world skills.

How did you prepare for the exam?

I think that teaching cybersecurity gives me a bit of an unfair advantage. My students all have an eye on passing certifications like Security+, or even something more advanced like CSA+, when they’ve completed their classes. Because of that, I have to make sure the fundamentals I’m teaching are strong and well ingrained into my own head so I can relay it well and the students leave with the knowledge and hands-on skills they need to be successful.

Since there weren’t any study guides to follow when I took the beta exam, I broke out my notes from CASP and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker. I found the CSA+ exam to be a good challenge but one that could be conquered with appropriate study and experience.

Would you recommend CSA+ to others?

Absolutely. The real-world-scenario-style questions provide a great way for someone to demonstrate they have more than just the basic knowledge. It proves they have the critical thinking skills needed to apply that knowledge in the field.

This test is a great fit for someone who’s looking for a way to prove themselves as more capable than Security+ but who isn’t quite ready to tackle something as intense as CASP or Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).

I didn’t see CSA+ as a direct way to further my career. I wanted to take it for the challenge and enjoyment found in verifying my own abilities. I actually wish this certification existed a few years ago, when I was looking for a way to show that I was ready to take on more responsibility in the field. I think it would have been a great stepping stone for my career then. After seeing the quality of the content for this exam and being able to contrast it with some of the other security exams I’ve taken, I really hope that the word spreads about CSA+.

Are you ready to try CSA+? Buy your exam today!

7 Comments

  • Craig Sharp

    Sunday, February 26, 2017

    How do I study for A+, and where do I get the voucher and for how much?

  • Thursday, March 2, 2017

    Hi, Craig! There are a number of training options available for A+, including self-study and classroom options: https://certification.comptia.org/training You can buy a voucher for an exam, or even a bundle with training material in our marketplace: https://www.comptiastore.com/?ProductCode=comptiaa&utm_source=CertificationWebsite&utm_campaign=BuyNowButtons&utm_medium=Website&utm_term=APlusButton&mkto=aWRfbWt0bz0xMTItSElMLTQ5MiZ0b2tlbl9ta3RvPV9tY2gtY29tcHRpYS5vcmctMTQ4ODI5NDE4MzUyMS0zMjkwNg The standard price for the A+ exam is $205, although some schools and organizations offer discounts to their students and employees.

  • Mohammad Suhail.K.M

    Saturday, April 22, 2017

    Hi, There are a number of training options available. . It is a great certification to take about it. . I think it's great to have a CompTIA CSA+, and Iā€™m interested in completing the CASP certification.

  • Francois

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    are there any required years of experience to be eligible to take the CSA+? or do you just need to study for it?

  • Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    Hi, Francois! CSA+ is recommended for those with 3-5 years of hands-on security experience. Along the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway, Security+ is the first step, mirroring 2 years of experience. The exams include performance-based questions, in which you have to complete tasks related to cybersecurity, so having hands-on experience really does help. You can read more here: https://certification.comptia.org/it-career-news/post/view/2016/10/11/introducing-the-comptia-cybersecurity-career-pathway

  • Mike Norman

    Monday, August 7, 2017

    I've acquired the Security+ cert, and want to move on to the CSA+ but I have no access to actual servers, etc. Would a virtual machine be sufficient for me to obtain the necessary hands-on experience and, if so, could you please recommend any such services? Thank you, Mike

  • Patrick Lane

    Thursday, August 10, 2017

    Hello Mike, You can use open source software (Wireshark, Bro, Snort, AlienVault OSSIM) or use a content provider's labs, such as the Practice IT CSA+ labs (they run on live servers in a virtual environment). Please visit our CompTIA store / marketplace to see the latest CSA+ products available. Regarding the open source software, remember that the software is free, but your time isn't. If you use OSSIM, you'll need to feed it data, such as router traffic. You can also join the LinkedIn CSA+ group of IT pros that might have more suggestions. Patrick

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