CEH vs CompTIA Security+: Understanding the Differences

Taylor Karl
CEH vs CompTIA Security+: Understanding the Differences 3329 0

CEH vs CompTIA Security+: Understanding the Differences

Today, skilled cybersecurity professionals are in high demand, and signs only point to that need growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of information security analysts will grow 35 percent by 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. If you're an information technology professional interested in a career in cybersecurity, you have probably heard of the CompTIA Security+ and CEH certificates.

As two of the most popular credentials in the field, you might be wondering which of these certifications you should pursue. If you want to know which path is best for you and what the differences between CEH and CompTIA Security+ are, including salary ranges, certification requirements, and how they can impact your career goals, this article is for you.

What is CompTIA Security+?

CompTIA Security+

Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a vendor-neutral, independent source of education and certification exam administration for the global tech workforce. CompTIA Security+ is an entry-level cybersecurity certification that verifies a professional’s knowledge of IT security-related concepts and technology. A holder of this credential has proven they have the technical expertise and skills required to design, implement, and maintain a secure network. The Security+ curriculum is designed to teach students the best practices for establishing a secure infrastructure.

Because Security+ is and entry-level certification it is an ideal starting point for those who are interested in becoming a cybersecurity professional. To earn this professional credential, candidates must pass an exam that proves they know the basics of performing core network cybersecurity tasks. Once achieved, you are qualified to hold intermediate-level jobs in cybersecurity.

What is CEH?

EC-Council CEH

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is an advanced IT Security certification that teaches candidates how to evaluate the protection of IT Assets. CEH provides an in-depth understanding of ethical hacking phases, various attack vectors, and preventative countermeasures. Those that earn CEH demonstrate a professional understanding of how an adversary might take advantage of weaknesses to gain unauthorized network access.

CEH is offered by EC Council, the world’s largest cybersecurity technical certification body. EC-Council aims to increase the skillset of security professionals by introducing ground-breaking curriculums that teach you how to view your network through the eyes of a hacker, track digital footprints through forensics, apply penetration tests, and securely code.

The goal of the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification program is to train Network Administrators to guard, identify, and respond to network attacks. Professionals with CEH certification will learn the basics of network defense, the use of network security controls, protocols, perimeter appliances, secure IDS, VPN, and firewall configuration, as well as the subtleties of network traffic signature, analysis, and vulnerability scanning. This aids the network administrator in creating more effective incident response strategies and network security policies.

How Does EC Council Compare to CompTIA?

Both companies are highly respected in the IT Industry. CompTIA focuses on five IT certification categories that test different knowledge standards—from entry-level to expert. They are divided into the following: Core, Infrastructure, Cybersecurity, Data and Analytics, and Additional Professional.

EC Council, meanwhile, specifically focuses on cybersecurity training and certifications. These include cybersecurity awareness, incident handling, network and cloud defense, pen testing, application security training, and more. EC-Council focuses on helping you protect your end-user community by understanding how to prevent and respond to cybersecurity incidents.

Key Comparisons Between CEH and CompTIA Security+ Exams

CEH is a more specialized certification, while CompTIA Security+ covers basic cybersecurity knowledge. Security+ is an excellent option for IT professionals just getting their start in cybersecurity or for those seeking a vendor-neutral certification. The knowledge and skills learned in the CEH course are much more advanced and specialized in the cybersecurity industry.

How Respected Are the Exams in the Industry?


Security+ is well respected in the IT industry as it is often the first credential many IT professionals pursue. It teaches fundamental cybersecurity knowledge and how to perform basic security tasks, including configuring, managing, and troubleshooting networks. However, it is an entry-level certification and covers rudimentary cybersecurity principles compared to CEH.


Because the CEH certification is more specialized with candidates typically holding years of security training and experience, it carries a higher level of respect than the Security+ certification. Additionally, CEH continues to evolve with the latest operating systems, tools, tactics, exploits, and technologies, so the certificate is always reflective of the most current threats and preventative countermeasures.

Who Should Take the Exams?

Security+ is an excellent choice for those just starting out in cybersecurity, as it covers a vast range of topics and requires minimal experience. Candidates that want to secure the credentials that allow them to move into a security role in IT should pursue the Security+ certification.

Candidates who would like to secure a position as a penetration tester have a better understanding of how to manage personnel who are penetration testers or are responsible for developing a security strategy for their organization should pursue a CEH certification.

What are the Career Paths for each Certification?


This is the first security certification IT professionals should earn, as the knowledge gained in this course provides a springboard to intermediate-level cybersecurity jobs and advanced IT security certifications. This certification is ideal for IT professionals who want to further a career in IT by acquiring foundational knowledge of security topics. Careers in cybersecurity often begin with positions such as cybersecurity specialist, network administrator, and security administrator.


The Certified Ethical Hacker certification is designed for security officers, auditors, security professionals, site administrators, or anyone who is concerned about the integrity of the network infrastructure.

Salary Potential for CEH and Security+

A person's salary varies based on their employer, experience, job title, and duties. However, certified professionals usually earn more than their uncredentialed peers.

CEH vs Security+ Average Salaries


Security+ is typically associated with entry-level cybersecurity positions. Salaries for these roles are included below:

  • Security Administrator: median salary of $91,562.
  • Security Specialist: median salary of $61,090.
  • Security Systems Engineer: median salary of $88,932.


CEH is a specialized certification, which means the salaries for associated positions are, on average, higher than those that require Security+. Here are a few average salaries for CEH-certified professionals:

What are the Prerequisites Required?

Neither organization has required prerequisites for their certification classes or exams.

What are the Prerequisites Suggested?

While neither certification requires specific prerequisites, some industry-specific job experience and certificates can be helpful.

Prerequisites for CEH and Security+ Certifications


CompTIA Security+ focuses on entry-level knowledge and recommends that those interested in becoming credentialled first complete a minimum of two years of working in system IT administration with a security focus. Additionally, CompTIA recommends completing the CompTIA Network+ certification or hold equivalent experience before attempting the Security+ exam.


For CEH, it is recommended, but not required, that candidates have ten years of relevant IT experience and the A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications. Additionally, any candidate would be well served to have a programming language in their arsenal.

What Experience Should You Have Before You Complete the Certification?


While there are no prerequisites for CompTIA Security+, it is recommended that students have at least two years of IT administration experience with a security focus and the CompTIA Network+ certification or equivalent experience.


It is recommended, but not required, that candidates have ten years of relevant IT experience, the A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications, and be proficient in a programming language.

What are the Benefits of Each Certification?

These certifications demonstrate your expertise in cybersecurity, make you more competitive as a jobseeker, and can help you achieve your desired career goals.

What Topics Are Covered in the Exams?


The CompTIA Network+ certification exam is 90 minutes with a maximum of 90 multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and performance-based questions on the following topics:

  • Cryptography
  • Access Control Identity Management
  • Data Integrity and Privacy
  • Operational and Organizational Security


The certification exam is a four-hour exam and includes 125 multiple-choice questions on the following segments:

  • Security threats
  • Attack vectors
  • Detection
  • Prevention
  • Procedures
  • Hacking Methodologies

How Hard is Each Exam?

All IT-related exams are very difficult. The difficulty of each exam will vary depending on your preexisting security work experience and strength as a test taker.

How long do you need to study?

The amount of time needed to prepare for the exam is dependent on your cybersecurity experience and preexisting knowledge. For Security+, candidates typically require 30-45 days to study. Because CEH is geared towards experienced professionals, candidates usually require fewer days to prepare.

What are the course and exam costs?

Course and Exam Costs for CEH vs Security+


The cost for the 5-day United Training Security+ course $2475 and the exam voucher must be purchased separately at $392.


The cost for the 5-day United Training CEH course is $3,495 and the exam voucher is included.

What are the Recertification and CEU policies?

After passing either exam, accreditation holders must complete 120 CEUs over a 3-year period or successfully retest.

How Should You Choose Which Exam to Take?

Security+ is geared towards IT professionals just starting out in cybersecurity. CEH, on the other hand, is specifically meant for those with extensive expertise in the field.

Do You Need One or Both Certifications?

You do not need both, but if you are going to take CEH, then you should take Security+ first.


Both certifications are great options for those interested in cybersecurity jobs. Security+ provides a foundation of knowledge to help you get started in cybersecurity, while CEH was built for experienced professionals and incorporates a hands-on environment and systematic process across each ethical hacking domain and methodology.