CompTIA PenTest+ vs. CySA+

PenTest+ and CySA+ are among the most popular certificates for cybersecurity. These certificates can help advance the career prospect and give you higher recognition. Yet, the value these two options bring is quite different.

I will discuss the knowledge and benefits each option brings. Thus, you can decide on the more suitable certificate for your needs and preferences.

Where to start: PenTest+ or CySA+? This detailed comparison will help you make an easy decision. So, let’s dive into this post for more details!

An Overview of PenTest+

PenTest+ is an extensive exam that covers all the essential knowledge and skills of PenTest. So, the holders of this exam aim to be experts in the cyber field.

This exam combines both knowledge and skill-related questions. It ensures that the candidate can understand all stages of the PenTest. Besides, the exam also covers essential skills like planning and managing weaknesses.

Candidates must take a 165-minute test and achieve the 750 minimum scores to pass. CompTIA offers many training courses to prepare candidates for the exam.

CompTIA PenTest+

An Overview of CySA+

The targeted holders of CySA+ are also cyber specialists. Unlike PenTest+, CySA+ focuses on a wider array of knowledge than just pen testing. The exam covers basic knowledge and skills relating to IT security tasks.

After passing the exam, the candidates can have deep knowledge of security. They can understand the current trends happening in this industry.

Also, they can effectively use modern tools and methods used by analysts. To achieve CySA+, candidates must pass two exams called CS0-003 and CS0-002.

You must pass two exams to qualify for CySA+

Key Differences

Exam structure85 questions (165 minutes) 1 exam85 questions (165 minutes) 2 exams
FocusPenetration testingInformation security
Requirements3-4 years of practical experienceAt least 4 years of practical experience
Preparation timeShorterLonger
Average income$118,104$95,510

Both PenTest+ and CySA+ are developed and distributed by CompTIA. In the following sections, I will discuss the values and focuses of each certificate.

You can consider your skill sets and goals carefully to make a suitable decision.

Which One Is More Popular?

Both exams feature very high popularity in the cyber field. The degree holders can gain high recognition for their skills and experience. They can also seek more opportunities to advance to higher positions.

However, PenTest+ is typically popular with experts in pen testing. The areas of knowledge it covers revolve around this domain. Therefore, PenTest+ will bring higher recognition in the penetration testing industry.

Meanwhile, CySA+ aims toward the IT security field. It covers a wider range of skills required for different industries.


Some popular skills covered by the PenTest+ exam:

  • Plan and scope customers’ requirements
  • Prove an ethical mindset in hacking
  • Gather information and find weaknesses in systems
  • Coding skills
  • Write reports and communicate with the other departments

Meanwhile, CySA+ covers the essential skills:

  • Operate security tools and systems
  • Protect networks against attack
  • Write reports and communicate with the other teams
  • Manage risks and respond to urgent incidents

Knowledge Emphasis

PenTest+ focuses more on pen testing. You will learn all the concepts and tools used for this specific task. Thus, you can gain deep expertise as a pen tester.

Meanwhile, CySA+ covers a much broader range of knowledge. It helps you acquire the fundamentals of security roles. If you want to master the basics of different domains in this field, CySA+ is a more suitable option.

Both certificates feature high value in the IT industry

What Are Their Requirements?

CompTIA recommends a minimum of 3-4 years of experience with information security to pursue PenTest+. Meanwhile, you should have at least 4 years of experience working as a response analyst for CySA+.

Which Option Is More Difficult?

It would take more time and effort to acquire CySA+. It’s because candidates must pass up to two exams to acquire this certificate. Meanwhile, you have to pass only one single exam to achieve PenTest+.

In addition, the PenTest+ exam consists of 85 questions and 165 minutes. You will pass the test with a minimum score of 750 (on a maximum scale of 900).

Each CySA+ test features the same number of questions and times. Yet, the CS0-002 exam will dwell on the skills of security analysts. Meanwhile, the CS0-003 exam will test your knowledge in identifying risks.

For this reason, the CySA+ exam features higher difficulty. Candidates must prepare for a larger area of knowledge. They also must spend more time on passing the two exams.

How Long Do You Have To Study For Each Certificate?

You typically have to spend more time preparing for the CySA+ exam. The first reason is that it consists of two exams. In addition, the certificate covers a much broader range of skills and knowledge than PenTest+.

Meanwhile, PenTest+ narrows down to pen testing and related domains. The candidates typically must have built a solid foundation in information security. Thus, they can prepare for the test with less effort.

How Much Can You Earn With Each Certificate?

Most PenTest+ holders hold a position in the pen testing industry. According to our research, penetration testers earn an average salary of $118,104 per year.

Meanwhile, the holders of CySA+ can work in different domains in the IT industry. CompTIA indicates that professionals holding CySA+ earn an average income of $98,510.

Which Option Is More Beneficial For Your Career?

The answer depends on the career path you want to pursue. It’s apparent that all cyber experts can benefit greatly from these two options.

PenTest+ is more valuable if you want to become a penetration tester. On the other hand, choose CySA+ if you want to experience many domains.

Suppose you love IT security but haven’t decided on a specific position. Then, CySA+ will bring you higher values.

How Much Do They Cost?

Both PenTest+ and CySA+ feature a fixed cost of $392. You can choose to attend a nearby testing center or take the exam online. In addition, the training courses and prep bundles for the two options feature similar prices.

For example, you can pay $720 for the exam prep bundle of CySA+ and PenTest+. It includes an exam voucher and a free retake chance. You can also access the study guide and CM practice with this option.

For these reasons, the preparation cost for the two exams is the same.

Choose CySA+ if you are new to the IT security field

CySA+ or PenTest+: Which Should You Choose?

Suppose you want to advance to a professional role in pen testing. Then, PenTest+ is the optimal choice for your target. It will give the deep and useful skills required for this task.

Meanwhile, consider CySA+ if you want to approach the cyber security field. It verifies all the essential skills related to different domains in the industry.

Final Thoughts

The two certificates offer excellent value for cyber experts. They will open the door to many job opportunities. They also help you advance to higher positions.

Therefore, it would be best if you have both PenTest+ and CySA+. The beginners can start with CySA+ to acquire the foundation first. Then, you can take PenTest+ to specialize in pen testing.

Thank you for reading!