Microsoft SC-900 vs CompTIA Security+: All You Need To Know

Taylor Karl
Microsoft SC-900 vs CompTIA Security+: All You Need To Know 2238 0

Microsoft SC-900 vs CompTIA Security+: All You Need To Know

In today's rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape, there's an ever-increasing need for professionals who possess the requisite skills and knowledge to safeguard organizations from threats. Two of the most widely recognized certifications in this realm are Microsoft's SC-900 (Microsoft Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals) and CompTIA's Security+. Each offers unique benefits, learning paths, and outcomes. However, choosing between the two can be a challenge for aspiring security experts. In this blog post, we'll dive deep into the core differences, strengths, and career implications of both certifications to help you make a well-informed decision for your professional journey.

What is CompTIA Security+

CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized certification that validates the foundational skills necessary to perform core security functions and pursue a career in cybersecurity. Offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), this certification covers a wide range of introductory topics, including threat management, cryptography, identity management, network access control, and risk identification. Earning the Security+ credential signifies that an individual possesses the knowledge and skills to secure networks, systems, and applications, and can effectively respond to and mitigate security incidents.

What is Microsoft SC-900 (Microsoft Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals)?

Microsoft SC900: Security, Compliance, and Identity (SCI) Fundamentals, is a certification that encompasses foundational knowledge in security, compliance, and identity solutions across Microsoft's ecosystem. Aimed at individuals starting their career in cybersecurity or those looking to understand Microsoft's security offerings, the SC-900 delves into topics such as Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, and hybrid environments. Notably, this certification replaced the previous Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Security Fundamentals, representing a more comprehensive and updated approach to modern cybersecurity challenges and solutions within Microsoft's suite of tools and platforms.

Key Comparisons Between Microsoft SC-900 and CompTIA Security+ Exams

The main difference between CompTIA and Microsoft certifications comes down to intent. CompTIA Security+ 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.

SC-900 is a vendor-specific certification offered by Microsoft. It focuses on security, compliance, and identity concepts within the Microsoft ecosystem, making it suitable for individuals working within organizations heavily reliant on Microsoft technologies

How Respected Are the Exams in the Industry?

SC-900

SC-900 is recognized primarily within the context of Microsoft-centric environments. It is known for giving candidates the development fundamentals, knowledge, credibility, and confidence needed to pursue a career as a Microsoft Technology Associate.

Security+

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.


CompTIA eBook

Submit your email below to download our free eBook, Upgrade Your Team with CompTIA Certification


Who Should Take the Exams?

SC-900

The Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals certification is for IT professionals familiar with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 and who understand how Microsoft security, compliance, and identity solutions can span across these solution areas to provide a holistic and end-to-end solution.

Security+

This certification is a good starting point for anybody interested in a career as a cybersecurity professional, as it covers the basics of performing core network cybersecurity tasks and qualifies its holders for intermediate-level jobs in cybersecurity.

What are the Career Paths for Each Certification?

Having certifications like Security+ and Microsoft can enhance employability in the cybersecurity field. CompTIA Security+ is widely recognized, while Microsoft certifications demonstrate proficiency in Microsoft technologies. Continuous learning, practical experience, and staying updated with industry trends are also important for securing job opportunities.

SC-900

This certification proves your understanding of options to secure Microsoft environments. This foundational certification can act as a steppingstone for those aspiring to progress into role-specific certifications in areas such as security operations, identity and access management, and information protection

Security+

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 begin a career in cybersecurity, often as a cybersecurity specialist, network administrator, and security administrator.

Salary Potential for MTA and Security+

SC-900

The SC-900 certification alone may not qualify you for specific job roles, but it can be a valuable asset when combined with other skills and certifications.

Security+

This certification 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.

What are the Prerequisites Required?

There are no required prerequisites to take these exams.

What are the Prerequisites Suggested?

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

SC-900

For SC-900, it is recommended candidates have:

  • Familiarity with networking and cloud computing concepts
  • General experience working in an IT environment
  • An understanding of Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365

Security+

It is recommended candidates complete CompTIA Network+ Certification (or have equivalent knowledge/experience): Before diving into Security+, it's beneficial to have a solid understanding of networking concepts. The CompTIA Network+ covers these topics, ensuring you're familiar with network architectures, protocols, traffic management, and other foundational topics.

What Experience Should You Have Before You Complete the Certification?

SC-900

Candidates should be familiar with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 and understand how Microsoft security, compliance, and identity solutions can span across these solution areas to provide a holistic and end-to-end solution.

Security+

It is recommended candidates have two years of work experience in IT with a security focus. Practical experience can help in understanding the real-world scenarios and concepts that the certification exam covers.

What are the Benefits of Each Certification?

These certifications demonstrate your expertise, make you more competitive as a job-seeker, and can help you achieve your desired career goals.

What Topics Are Covered in the Exams?

Security+

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

SC-900

The exam varies in length, usually between 30-60 multiple-choice questions on the following topics:

  • The concepts of security, compliance, and identity (10–15%)
  • The capabilities of Microsoft Azure Active Directory, part of Microsoft Entra (25–30%)
  • The capabilities of Microsoft Security solutions (25–30%)
  • The capabilities of Microsoft compliance solutions (25–30%)

How Hard is Each Exam?

The difficulty of an exam is subjective and can depend on individual strengths, background knowledge, and experience. Both exams have their own unique content and objectives so some individuals may find Security+ more challenging due to its comprehensive coverage of various topics, while others may find SC-900 more challenging if they lack familiarity with Microsoft technologies.

How Long Do You Need to Study?

The amount of time needed to prepare for the exam is dependent on your experience and preexisting knowledge. For Security+, candidates typically require 30-45 days to study. How long studying and preparation takes for the SC-900 exam depends on your existing knowledge of Microsoft environments. Some preparatory courses only require one day of study to complete.

What do the Exams Cost?

Security+

The cost for this exam is $400.

SC-900

The cost for this exam is $100.

How Should You Choose Which Exam to Take?

It's not necessary to take certifications from both vendors. However, starting with a foundation of knowledge is important. It is generally recommended to begin with a vendor-neutral certification like Security+ to gain a comprehensive understanding of security concepts applicable across different environments. Afterward, if you have an interest in Microsoft technologies and want to focus on security within the Microsoft ecosystem, you can consider pursuing the Microsoft Fundamentals certification.

Do You Need One or Both Certifications?

Both certifications can be suitable for beginners or individuals looking to enter the field of cybersecurity. CompTIA Security+ is often recommended as an entry-level certification and provides a solid foundation for various cybersecurity roles. SC-900 is suitable for those interested in Microsoft technologies and seeking to build a foundational understanding of security, compliance, and identity management, specifically within the Microsoft ecosystem.

Conclusion

With security professionals in greater demand than ever, having these certificates will help your employability, even if it's at the basic level. For those looking to get started in IT or shift their career in a new direction, Microsoft Security Fundamentals certifications are the first step toward that path.

Remember that certifications validate knowledge and skills but are not the sole factor in employability. Practical experience, continuous learning, and a strong understanding of industry trends are equally important. Understanding how certification exams are structured, recognizing common themes, and practicing with sample questions can help improve your chances of success. Additionally, considering career growth opportunities within an organization and being open to learning from experienced professionals can contribute to your overall development in the IT industry.

Print