Understanding the Differences: Cisco Cyber Ops vs CompTIA security+

Taylor Karl
Understanding the Differences: Cisco Cyber Ops vs CompTIA security+ 6231 0

Which Is Best: Cisco Cyber Ops vs CompTIA Security+

Knowing the differences between the most common entry-level and associate cyber security certifications helps you further your career within your chosen security and networking environment.

What is Cisco Cyber Ops certification?

Cybersecurity certifications within the Cisco credential program begin with the CyberOps Associate (CyberOps). It is ideal for the entry-level cybersecurity professional seeking to verify expertise, establish their dedication to growing their skills in the field, and to prepare for a future Security Operations Center (SOC) role.

Cisco’s Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is also an entry-level certification but is generalized in nature and not focused on cybersecurity like CyberOps certification. Many technology professionals consider the CCNA as a foundation for all Cisco certifications due to the range of topics it assesses.

For some cybersecurity professionals, achieving Cisco’s CyberOps certification is followed by earning CCNA, for others, they begin their Cisco certification journey with the CCNA and then move to earning CyberOps as they pursue becoming a cybersecurity specialist qualified to work in a SOC. Both CyberOps and CCNA are within Cisco’s Associate level certification path.

Organization that oversees Cisco Cyber Ops exam administration

Cisco Systems, Inc., referred to as "Cisco," is a US-based global corporation offering specialized certifications linked to the mastery of their specific telecommunication and information technology products, systems, and services. Employers with Cisco products and services often require Cisco certifications for the professionals in their information technology teams and departments.

Cisco maintains many certifications that cross expertise levels and domain specialties. CyberOps is focused on cyber-security specifically whereas the CCNA is network related. There are Cisco certifications for focus areas including cyber-security, networking, collaboration, DevNet, service provider, collaboration, and data center.

Cisco Cyber Ops credential preparation

The CyberOps credential process is simple in terms of process: achieve a passing score on one exam. However, just like with Cisco's CCNA certification exam, candidates need knowledge in security, networking, and systems to pass the proctored timed exam. Cisco’s suggested exam prep framework applies to any exam prep:

  1. Review
  2. Study and Train
  3. Connect with Cisco’s learning community
  4. Practice exams
  5. Assess
  6. Schedule exam (CCNA or Cyber Ops for example)
  7. Certify
  8. Recertify

Employers may have security certification requirements for cybersecurity roles regardless of having an information technology or cybersecurity focused college degree.

Cisco Cyber Ops exam level of difficulty

There is a ton of information about cybersecurity careers! If your company uses Cisco within its security systems and networking, then Cisco certifications will most certainly be of value and likely a requirement. CyberOps Associate is the first in the general Associate level, and part of the CyberOps track. CCNA is also within the Associate level, but it falls within the Enterprise track.

Review the provided Cisco learning certification chart to see the Cisco certifications options you can earn to verify your skills and prepare for advancement in multiple technology focus areas.

Specifically for Cyber Ops certification, note that while there is foundational knowledge needed for everyone working in the field, for the analysts working in the SOCs based in large companies, government facilities, and enterprise settings there are skills and knowledge specific to the type and level of cyber threats and processes within large, complex environments. Whereas CCNP Security focuses on securing Cisco devices, CyberOps is more generic in its approach as an SOC would likely be populated with devices from various vendors.

Benefits of CyberOps certification

In addition to a college degree in a related field, cybersecurity certifications like CyberOps benefit your career with the following:

  • Cisco verified skills and knowledge set,
  • salary increase potential,
  • enhancement of digital skill badges for resume, online profiles, and job applications,
  • globally recognized level of security expertise, and
  • job opportunities with security certification requirements.

Cisco certification renewal and continuing education requirements

The Cisco CyberOps certification for cyber security, like the CCNA certification, has a three-year renewal from the day you achieve a passing score for the exam. Cisco certification renewals require a either earning a passing exam score or earning 30 Continuing Education (CE) credits within the renewal period and through specified training and activities.

Cisco-related certifications/progression

By earning the Cisco security certificationsanalysts enhance their information technology and system specialist career with demonstrated expertise in cyber security processes, protocols, and systems.

  1. Cisco Certified Support Technician Cybersecurity (CCST)
  2. CyberOps Associate
    1. CCNA
    2. CyberOps Security
  3. CyberOps Professional

Every Cisco-verified credential demonstrates a specific depth of knowledge within the information technology field. Professionals in security and system roles, whether entry-level or seasoned professionals, benefit from certifications verifing their skill set. Check with your management regarding training support and certification fee reimbursement options.

What is CompTIA Security+ certification?

Understand the CompTIA Security+ credential requirements to plan your security certification work and goals.

Security+ certification exam administration

With over 2 million information technology certifications issued, CompTIA is the world's largest vendor-neutral IT exam developer. It is also a nonprofit global trade association.

Security+ credential preparation

The Security+ exam is designed for the entry-level cybersecurity professional with content focused on the core cybersecurity skills required for security and network administrator roles. There are no prerequisites required for the exam, but it is recommended a candidate have at least two years of experience in IT administration with a security focus, as well as Network+ certification or equivalent experience. In addition to recommended prerequisites, prep training courses can also help you reach a passing score.

Security+ certification exam level of difficulty

With up to 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions to be completed in 90 minutes, the CompTIA Security+ exam is designed to verify your "...knowledge and skills required to assess the security posture of an enterprise environment and recommend and implement appropriate security solutions; monitor and secure hybrid environments, including cloud, mobile, and IoT; operate with an awareness of applicable laws and policies, including principles of governance, risk, and compliance; identify, analyze, and respond to security events and incidents."

Benefits of Security+ certification

CompTIA’s Security+, like Cisco’s CyberOps, can provide benefits such as:

  • salary increase potential,
  • globally recognized knowledge and level of expertise,
  • digital skill badge for adding to online profiles and job applications,
  • vendor agnostic for broader application of knowledge, and
  • job opportunities in both private and government sectors with certification requirements.

Security+ certification renewal and continuing education requirements

The CompTIA Security+ certification has a three-year renewal from the day you pass the exam. The renewal is achieved through CompTIA continuing education:

  • complete CertMaster CE, an online, self-paced CE course, or
  • earn at least 50 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through verified training and activities that align to the certificate’s focused skill set.

CompTIA-related certifications and progression

CompTIA administers certifications for professionals working to advance their careers, including:

  • Cloud+
  • Server+
  • CySA+
  • CASP+
  • PenTest+

For any certification, check with your management to see what training and fee reimbursement may be available for you.

Understanding the Differences: Cisco Cyber Ops vs CompTIA Security+

Use the provided table to see how each certification compares on critical components.


Cisco Cyber Ops Credential


professional level

Associate (not entry-level)


certification digital image

Cisco CyberOps Associate

CompTIA Security+

potential career paths

· role within a Security Operations Center (SOC) team

· cybersecurity analyst

· cybersecurity engineer associate

(Cisco Cyber Ops Associate, April 2023)

· Junior IT auditor

· Systems administrator

· Network administrator

· Security administrator

(CompTIA.org, April 2023)

exam prerequisites

not formal prerequisites

(Cisco Cyber Ops Associate, April 2023)

CompTIA Network+ certification or equivalent experience is recommended but not required

(CompTIA.org, April 2023)

credential experience

not formal prerequisites

(Cisco Cyber Ops Associate, April 2023)

No formal prerequisites, but it is recommended candidates have at least two years of I.T. administration experience with a security focus

(CompTIA.org, April 2023)


· Security Concepts

· Security Monitoring

· Host-Based Analysis

· Network Intrusion Analysis

· Security Policies and Procedures

(Cisco Cyber Ops Associate, April 2023)

· Threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities

· Identity and access management

· Technologies and tools

· Risk Management

· Architecture

· Cryptography and PKI

(CompTIA.org, April 2023)



(Cisco Certification Exam, April 2023)


(CompTIA.org, April 2023)

U.S. salary average


(Talent.com, April 2023)

$61,520 - $102,600

(CompTIA.org, April 2023)

Job outlook for Cisco Cyber Ops vs CompTIA Security+

The demands for cybersecurity knowledge and security skills continue to grow. Thus, Cisco CyberOps, SSCP, Security+, and CISSP certifications are tied to solid job outlooks. In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the"...employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 35 percent from 2021 to 2031."

Which certification should specialists pursue: Cisco Cyber Ops vs CompTIA Security+

The IT profession is one of continuous learning. Your certifications should reflect your expertise and efforts to apply the most current industry standards and systems. Both the Cisco CyberOps and CompTIA Security+ certifications are:

  • intended for entry-level professionals,
  • valid for a set period, and
  • require fulfillment of renewal requirements by associated certification administration.

To decide between certifications within a skill area, determine what you need the certification to do in terms of your career goals in the short term, then pursue the certification that best meets that objective. For example, for entry-level cybersecurity certification options, ask yourself these questions:

Are you looking to verify foundational, vendor agnostic knowledge as part of your current entry-level cyber security role?

  • CyberOps is for the entry-level professional, covers general non-vendor specific foundational knowledge, and yet is part of the Cisco certification program.
  • Security+ certification is for the entry-level professional and is completely vendor agnostic.

Are you earning certification to add cybersecurity to your verified expertise or to set the foundation for a cybersecurity focused career path?

  • CyberOps is part of the Cisco certification program including their cyber security track.
  • Security+ certifications is one of multiple CompTIA certifications which can be combined to best reflect your area of specialty, regardless of vendor.

Are you preparing for a role in a SOC that includes Cisco technology and systems?

  • CyberOps, as part of the overall Cisco certification program, connects to other Cisco certifications frequently valued if not required for SOC environments.
  • Security+ certification, one of many CompTIA certifications, can be a requirement for small environments or for a SOC environment, regardless of the use of Cisco technology.

After you have earned any professional certification, reassess your career goals for your current role and potential advancement opportunities. Determine what certification you may need next. And of course, keep track of renewals for every certification so that you do not lose any that continue to support your current or planned role.


With the explosive job market growth in security, there is competition among job candidates, from entry-level to engineer. Earning a certification adds to the overall professional profile showing dedication to the field, verified skills, and a drive to practice industry standards. Of course, there is no limit to earning certifications – other than your time and budget! But you should invest in the credentials that best align with your current and future career path to maximize their impact.