The CompTIA Certification Path Explained

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

CompTIA certification paths can help you decide which CompTIA certifications are right for your career. Learn more about the certifications that CompTIA offers, as well as how to prepare for the certification exams.

[Featured Image] An IT professional researches the best CompTIA certification path while on their laptop.

CompTIA is a non-profit trade organization that offers a variety of credentials for IT professionals. The certifications are sorted into five main career pathways relevant for professionals working as IT support specialists, network specialists, cybersecurity specialists, data specialists, and software and web developers

In this article, you’ll learn more about the CompTIA certification paths and how they can help you advance your IT career. 

Read more: 10 Essential IT Certifications

What are CompTIA certifications?

CompTIA certification paths help outline and demonstrate levels of mastery among computer technology topics. By earning these certifications, you can demonstrate to employers that you have a standardized set of skills. The complete list of certifications as of November

 2023 is as follows [1]: 

  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+)

  • CompTIA A+

  • CompTIA Network+

  • CompTIA Security+

  • CompTIA Cloud+

  • CompTIA Linux+

  • CompTIA Server+

  • CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

  • CompTIA Penetration Testing (PenTest+)

  • CompTIA Data+

  • CompTIA Data Systems (DataSys+)

  • CompTIA Project+

  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials+

Read more: What Is the CompTIA A+ Certification? A Certification to Start Your IT Career

CompTIA certification paths

CompTIA certifications cover different topics that are relevant to various careers in computer tech and IT. To make it easier to navigate which certifications are right for your career, CompTIA certifications are sorted into five career paths: core skills, infrastructure, cybersecurity, data and analytics, and professional.  


The core skills pathway can help you learn IT and computer skills relevant to a wide range of careers in the industry. This tract comprises four certifications: 

  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals+

  • CompTIA A+

  • CompTIA Network+

  • CompTIA Security+

These certifications can help you begin a career as a technical support specialist, field service technician, security engineer, and more. 


The infrastructure pathway builds on the certifications you earn in core skills. This tract adds Server+ or Linux+, followed by Cloud+. The infrastructure pathway also has stackable certificates to help you demonstrate the combination of your skills. For example, you could earn your CompTIA Systems Support Specialist certification stacking A+ and Linux+. Stackable infrastructure certificates include: 

  • CompTIA Systems Support Specialist (A+ / Linux+)

  • CompTIA IT Operations Specialist (A+ / Network+)

  • CompTIA Cloud Admin Professional (Network+ / Cloud+)

  • CompTIA Network Infrastructure Professional (Network+ / Server+)

  • CompTIA Linux Network Professional (Network+ / Linux+)


The cybersecurity pathway extends the core pathway to PenTest+, followed by CASP+. Similar to the infrastructure pathway, the cybersecurity pathway features stackable certificates to help you demonstrate a combination of skills. The stackable certifications in the cybersecurity pathway include: 

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

  • CompTIA Secure Cloud Professional (Security+ / Cloud+)

  • CompTIA Security Analytics Professional (Security+ / CySA+)

  • CompTIA Network Vulnerability Assessment Professional (Security+ / PenTest+)

  • CompTIA Network Security Professional (Security+ / PenTest+ / CySA+)

  • CompTIA Security Analytics Expert (Security+ / CySA+ / CASP+)

  • CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Expert (Security+ / CySA+ / PenTest+ / CASP+) 

Data and analytics

The data and analytics pathway stands alone with Data+, which can help you begin or enhance a career as a data analyst, reporting analyst, or business data analyst. This certification demonstrates your skills in data mining, data environments, visualization, data governance, and more. 


The professional pathway offers Project+, Cloud Essentials+, and CTT+.  The Project+ certification can help you prepare for a job as a project manager or business analyst. Cloud Essentials+ is appropriate for business analysts, business process owners, and managed service provider personnel. Lastly, the CTT+ certification can help you prepare for work as a training consultant or academic instructor. 

How to get CompTIA certifications

To earn your CompTIA certifications, you will need to pass an exam. Each exam has a recommended level of experience for professionals interested in gaining the certification, from no experience to up to three or four years of work experience. 

CompTIA offers other educational products to help prepare for your exam, such as e-learning programs through its CertMaster Learn platform, including interactive labs. You can also find practice exams, ebooks, and study guides to help you prepare. 

Consider Coursera. You can prepare to take any CompTIA certification exam with online courses from other education providers. For example, the Information Technology (IT) and Cloud Fundamentals Specialization offered by IBM can help you prepare for the CompTIA ITF+ exam. 


Who should pursue CompTIA certifications?

CompTIA offers certifications relevant to many different IT and computer technology careers. Among the job roles CompTIA suggests can benefit from its certification are:

Cloud architectNetwork engineer
Cloud engineerPenetration and vulnerability analyst
Cybersecurity managerPenetration and vulnerability tester
Data analystQuality assurance (QA) analyst
Data engineerSecurity analyst
Data scientistSecurity architect
Database administratorSecurity engineer
DevOps engineerServer administrator
E-commerce developerSoftware developer
Front end developerSoftware engineer
Help desk support specialistSystems administrator
IoT solutions architectUser experience (UX) designer
IT project managerUser interface (UI) designer
IT security auditorWeb designer
IT support specialistWeb developer

What jobs can you get with a CompTIA certification?

Getting a CompTIA certification can help you qualify for various jobs and potentially advance in your current IT role. Keep in mind that a CompTIA certification isn’t the only factor that employers consider in a candidate. Let's look at three careers that you may qualify for with CompTIA certifications.  

*All salary data sourced from Glassdoor as of November 2023.

IT support specialist

Estimated annual total US salary: $57,501 [2]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 5 percent [3]

Education requirements: 50 percent hold a bachelor’s degree and 32 percent have an associate [4

As an IT support specialist, you will help people troubleshoot and correct problems with technical equipment. IT support specialists often work directly with customers or network users either in person, over the phone, or through email or chat. You may be responsible for managing workstations and maintaining software within an organization. 

Network engineer

Estimated annual total US salary: $96,147 [5]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 2 percent [6]

Education requirements: 62 percent hold a bachelor’s, 21 percent hold an associate typically in computer science or electrical engineering [7]

As a network engineer, you will be responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining network connections. In this role, you may collaborate with other IT professionals to configure, troubleshoot, and optimize the infrastructure needed to power your organization’s network. 

Cybersecurity specialist

Estimated annual total US salary: $117,652 [8]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 32 percent [9]

Education requirements: 56 percent hold a bachelor’s and 23 percent have an associate, typically in computer science or information technology [10

As a cybersecurity specialist, you will work to prevent, detect, and respond to security incidents. Depending on your role, you may work to build security measures or respond to threats as they happen. You may also be responsible for reporting on security matters to leadership. 

Read more: 5 Cybersecurity Career Paths (and How to Get Started)

Renewing your CompTIA certification

Once you earn your CompTIA certification, some will be valid for three years before they expire. You can renew your CompTIA certification by earning enough continuing education units (CEUs) for your specific certification. That can be done in several ways:

  1. Complete a single high-level activity, such as passing the latest release of your certificate exam, completing a higher-level CompTIA certification, or earn a non-CompTIA IT industry certification.

  2. Complete multiple activities together, such as a training or higher education, earning another CompTIA certification, or publishing a relevant article or white paper. 

Getting started with Coursera

Ready to learn more about IT? Learn about systems administration and IT infrastructure with a Google IT Support Professional Certificate on Coursera. This program is designed for beginners with no prior experience to develop the skills you need for a career in IT. The topics covered include technical support fundamentals, operating systems, IT security, and more. 

However, if you’re interested in starting a career in cybersecurity, consider the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera. The courses cover topics such as security models, tools that are used to access and address threats, networks, and more. 

Article sources


CompTIA. “CompTIA Certifications,” Accessed November 2, 2023. 

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