A Guide to CompTIA Stackable Certifications


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If you are looking to improve your IT knowledge, there are a wide range of different qualifications that you can take.

There are so many that you might not be sure where to begin!

One of the options available to you is the CompTIA range of stackable certifications. Stackable certifications are a relatively new concept in the education and learning sector and are a great way to boost your skillset. They look extremely impressive on your CV too!

Join us as we look at the benefits of stackable certifications and how CompTIA’s certifications can help you move forward in your IT career.

What are stackable certifications?

Stackable certifications are a collection of qualifications that come together to provide you with a brand new qualification. These certifications can grow and develop as your career does.

Think of stackable certifications like stepping stones across a river. You start off on the first stepping stone and gradually move across them until you successfully get to your destination!

The benefits of stackable certifications include:

  • They provide you with a clear career pathway
  • You know what to expect from the qualifications you are taking and how you can progress
  • You can grow and improve on the knowledge you already have
  • You can learn at your own pace, moving on to the next qualification when you are ready to do so
  • They can be more cost-effective, meaning you or your employee can pay for your qualification piece-by-piece
  • Even if you choose not to carry on to the next level of certification, you will still have a valid qualification that you can use in your career

Stackable certifications can also be a great introduction to learning for those who have not taken qualifications out of school before.

What are CompTIA stackable certifications?

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) launched its collection of stackable IT certifications in 2018.

CompTIA says: “Stackable certifications demonstrate that you’ve earned multiple CompTIA certifications and have the knowledge and experience needed to grow your IT career. They… show a deeper mastery, opening up more job opportunities for you.”

As CompTIA certifications are acknowledged across over 120 different countries, their stackable certifications are an excellent option for people who want to work globally!

The CompTIA stackable certification journey

CompTIA currently has two separate pathways for its range of stackable certifications.

  • Infrastructure for those who want to focus on the management and administration of hardware, software, servers and networks
  • Cybersecurity for those who want to focus on both reactive and proactive protection against cyber threats like malware, phishing and denial of service attacks

There is some overlap between the two career paths, making it easy for delegates to move from infrastructure to cybersecurity, and vice versa.

Each pathway is divided into three experience levels:

  • Specialist: This is the first tier, for those who are starting out in the IT industry (up to two years of experience)
  • Professional: This is the second tier, for those who already have experience and want to improve their knowledge further (two to five years of experience)
  • Expert: This is the final tier for those who have several years of experience and want to truly master their career of choice (over five years of experience). This tier is only available on the cybersecurity career pathway

Again, there is some overlap between the three experience levels. For example, the Security+ qualification is a requirement across all three levels of the cybersecurity career pathway. This makes the Security+ qualification an excellent starting point for all delegates.

Here is the list of all the current CompTIA stackable certifications, and the individual qualifications needed to achieve each specific one.

Each individual qualification takes between 20 and 30 hours of study, as well as any relevant exams.

Infrastructure career pathway: Specialist

  • CIOS: CompTIA IT Operations Specialist (A+/ Network+)
  • CSSS: CompTIA Systems Support Specialist (A+/ Linux+)

Infrastructure career pathway: Professional

  • CCAP: CompTIA Cloud Admin Professional (Network+/Cloud+)
  • CNIP: CompTIA Network Infrastructure Professional (Network+/Server+)
  • CLNP: CompTIA Linux Network Professional (Network+/Linux+)

Cybersecurity career pathway: Specialist

  • CSIS: CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist (A+/Network+/Security+)

Cybersecurity career pathway: Professional

  • CSCP: CompTIA Secure Cloud Professional (Security+/Cloud+)
  • CSAP: CompTIA Security Analytics Professional (Security+/CySA+)
  • CNVP: CompTIA Network Vulnerability Assessment Professional (Security+/PenTest+)
  • CNSP: CompTIA Network Security Professional (Security+/PenTest+/CySA+)

Cybersecurity career pathway: Expert

  • CSAE: CompTIA Security Analytics Expert (Security+/CySA+/CASP+)
  • CSIE: CompTIA Security Infrastructure Expert (Security+/CySA+/PenTest+/CASP+)

How does this all work?

For example, let’s say that you have already completed your CompTIA A+ and Linux+ qualifications.

Under the stackable certifications structure, you can call yourself a CompTIA Systems Support Specialist. You will be able to download a certificate demonstrating this, and you can use the initials ‘CSSS’ in your email signature and on your business cards.

If you want to move to the next level, you could complete your Network+ qualification and become a CompTIA Linux Network Professional (CLNP). If you wanted to move in an alternative direction, you could take Cloud+ or Server+ instead to achieve a different certification entirely.

We hope that this short guide has given you more of an understanding of how stackable certifications work, and the advantages of CompTIA’s stackable certification scheme.

Want to find out more about the range of CompTIA certifications we can offer? Get in touch!

Whether you are at the start of your IT career or looking to expand your knowledge, a CompTIA qualification is the ideal choice.

We offer a wide range of CompTIA certifications at ITonlinelearning, including CASP+, PenTest+, Linux+ and CySA+. Our team of specialists can advise which qualification is the best one for your needs, and how you can utilise it to achieve the stackable certification of your choice.

All our qualifications can be completed online, meaning that you can study at your own pace – either at home or in the workplace. You can also take advantage of our career support team, who will provide support and advice every step of the way throughout your learning journey.

Contact us to find out more, and start your CompTIA journey today.

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