Comparing GSEC and Security+: Which Certification is Right for You?

gsec vs security plus

In the realm of cybersecurity, certifications are highly regarded as indicators of an individual’s knowledge and skills in safeguarding digital systems and networks. Two prominent certifications in this field are the GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) and CompTIA Security+ (Security+). Both certifications serve as benchmarks for entry-level and mid-career professionals seeking to validate their expertise in cybersecurity. However, they differ in various aspects, including content, difficulty, recognition, and career opportunities and much more.

Overview of Security+

The Security+ exam is a widely recognized certification offered by CompTIA, a leading provider of IT certifications. It is designed to validate the foundational knowledge and skills required for entry-level cybersecurity roles. The Security+ certification is intended for individuals who are looking to start a career in cybersecurity or enhance their existing IT credentials with a focus on security.

Overview of GSEC

The GSEC (GIAC Security Essentials) certification is a popular entry-level certification offered by the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC). It’s designed to validate the skills and knowledge of professionals working in the field of information security, particularly those involved in hands-on security roles.

Synopsis of the Differences between GSEC and Security+

Differences GSEC Security+
Vendor GIAC CompTIA
Level Mid-entry Entry
Prerequisites None None
Number of exam 1 1
Required experience None None
Number of questions 106 questions 90 questions
Type of questions Multiple choice questions Multiple-choice and performance-based
Passing score 73% 83%
Exam cost $979 $226
Languages English English, with Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish to follow
Difficulty More Less
Provider SANS Pearson VUE
Validity 4 years 3 years
Renewal criteria 36 credits 50 CEUs</span

1. Learning Topics


GSEC covers a broad range of topics, including:

  1. Network Security
  2. Access Controls
  3. Cryptography
  4. Incident Handling and Response
  5. Security Policies and Procedures
  6. Malware Defense
  7. Risk Management
  8. Security Awareness


CompTIA Security+ (SY0-701) is a foundational certification that covers essential cybersecurity topics. Its content includes:

  1. Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities
  2. Technologies and Tools
  3. Architecture and Design
  4. Identity and Access Management
  5. Risk Management
  6. Cryptography

Security+ provides a comprehensive overview of cybersecurity principles and practices, making it suitable for entry-level professionals.

Curious to learn more about why the GSEC certification holds value in the cybersecurity field?

2. Difficulty

Security+ is often considered less technically demanding compared to GSEC. It serves as an excellent starting point for individuals new to cybersecurity or those seeking to transition into the field.

GSEC is considered more advanced and technically challenging compared to Security+. It delves deeper into technical aspects of cybersecurity, requiring candidates to have a solid understanding of networking, cryptography, and system administration.

3. Career Opportunities

GSEC certification can open doors to various job roles, including:

  • Security Analyst
  • Incident Responder
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Consultant
  • Penetration Tester

Security+ certification can pave the way for roles such as:

  • Security Specialist
  • Network Administrator
  • Systems Administrator
  • Security Consultant (entry-level)
  • Help Desk Manager

Read more: CompTIA Security+ Certification Cost

4. Recognition

CompTIA certifications, including Security+, are widely recognized by employers across various industries. Security+ holders are valued for their foundational knowledge of cybersecurity concepts.

GIAC certifications are well-respected within the cybersecurity community and are often sought after by employers looking for skilled professionals. GSEC holders are recognized for their expertise in a wide range of security domains.

Choosing the Right Certification

When deciding between GSEC and Security+, consider the following factors:

  1. Experience and Expertise: If you have a strong technical background and seek a more advanced certification, GSEC may be the right choice. However, if you’re new to cybersecurity or looking for a foundational certification, Security+ is a suitable option.
  2. Career Goals: Determine the specific job roles you aspire to and research the certification requirements for those positions. Some roles may prioritize one certification over the other.
  3. Time and Resources: Assess your readiness to undertake the certification exam, considering factors such as study time, available resources, and budget.


Ultimately, both GSEC and Security+ certifications offer valuable credentials for professionals entering or advancing in the cybersecurity field. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether the GSEC or Security+ certification is better to take.  Your choice should align with your career goals, level of experience, and commitment to mastering cybersecurity concepts and techniques. Since both the credentials are well recognized, you may compare factors like their cost, available study materials for GSEC and Security+, and their renewal policy to decide the best exam for your match. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Security+ is cheaper than GSEC. The cost of GSEC $979 is while Security+ exam price is $226.This makes Security+ an affordable choice.

Whether you prepare for Security+ or GSEC, you must follow these steps for preparation:

  1. Learn the requirements of the exam. Both these exams have no strict requirements and can be taken by beginners.
  2. Study the course outline of the exam.
  3. Opt for a proper course or study lectures for the exam.
  4. Practice the exam concepts for efficient study.
  5. Register for the exam.

The basic exam course is similar in both exams. However, the technical concepts and detailed learning make GSEC more challenging for the students to prepare.  

You can get an entry-level job with these credentials. However, it is advisable to get advanced credentials if you wish to secure a security job. 

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