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A CompTIA-Certified Professional’s Guide to Maintaining Your Certifications

Date:
July 13, 2021
Author:
Mike Kilgore

You have earned a CompTIA certification. Congratulations! This demonstrates your hard work and dedication and validates your skills.

The next step is to ensure that your certification remains current and valid. Some certifications are good for life, while others require renewal. Let’s look at what certifications require renewal, the options that you have for maintaining your certifications, and steps to get it done.

 

What Certifications Need to Be Renewed?

If you hold the Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+), Cloud Essentials, IT Fundamentals (ITF+), Project+, or Server+ certification, these are considered “Good for Life” and do not need to be renewed.

This is also true for retired certifications, which are listed on the CompTIA website here. Any certifications earned prior to Jan. 1, 2011, and not renewed since that date are also considered “Good for Life.”

Many of the most popular CompTIA certifications, however, do require renewal.

If you hold one or more of these certifications and earned or renewed them on or after January 1, 2011, they need to be renewed every three years to remain valid.

 

Current certifications requiring recertification:

  • A+
  • Network+
  • Security+
  • PenTest+
  • CySA+
  • CASP+
  • Cloud+
  • Linux+.

 

The three-year recertification period is based on when the certification was last earned or renewed and not on the calendar year. For example, a certification earned on March 1, 2021, would need to be renewed before March 1, 2024.

If the certification is not renewed within this timeframe (using one of the methods outlined below), the certification expires and would need to be earned again by passing the current version of the exam. Renewal is not available for certifications that have expired.

If you are unsure of the expiration date for your certifications, you can log in to the Candidate Portal for details about the certifications that you hold.

 

Renewing Multiple CompTIA Certifications Together

CompTIA recognizes that many professionals have more than one certification. Fortunately, recertifying certifications also recertifies additional lower-level certifications.

Earning or renewing any of the certifications below renews both the certification itself and the additional listed certifications:

 

  • CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+): renews Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+), PenTest+, Security+, Network+ and A+
  • CySA+: renews PenTest+ Security+, Network+ and A+
  • PenTest+: renews CySA+, Security+, Network+ and A+
  • Security+: renews Network+ and A+
  • Network+: renews A+
  • Cloud+ (version CV0-002): renews A+ and Linux+
  • Linux+: renews A+

 

For example, if you hold the A+ and Network+ certification and renew the Network+ certification, your A+ certification is also renewed. If you have the A+ and Network+ certification and earn the PenTest+ certification, your A+ and Network+ certifications are renewed.

One additional note: Although Server+ does not automatically renew any other certifications, passing the exam and earning the Server+ certification offers enough Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to renew Network+ and A+. CEUs will be discussed in detail later in this document.

 

Renewing with a Single Activity

There are four methods for renewing with a single activity. These are…

  • Passing the Latest Release of Your CompTIA Exam
  • Earning a Higher CompTIA Certification
  • Earning a Higher Non-CompTIA IT Industry Certification
  • Completing the Appropriate CompTIA CertMaster CE

Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages. A summary of these can be found on the CompTIA website here, but let’s look at each:

 

Passing The Latest Release Of Your CompTIA Exam

If you are confident that you have the requisite knowledge to pass the latest version of the exam, this is a quick method for renewing your certification.

In order to renew via this method, the exam must have revised to a newer version than the one that you last passed. Because the exams update every three years and you have three years to renew your certification, there should be a newer version available to you within the deadline.

For example, if you earned your Security+ certification by passing the SY0-501 exam which released in October 2017, you can renew your Security+ certification by passing the updated SY0-601 exam which released in November 2020.

This option is available for every renewable CompTIA certification. The only cost for renewing by passing an updated test is the cost of the exam, although it may be helpful to take the corresponding course to ensure that you are prepared.

 

Earning a Higher CompTIA Certification

Another option is to earn a higher-level CompTIA certification. Just as renewing a higher-level certification renews the certifications below it, earning a higher-level certification also renews all lower-level certifications. The list above under “Renewing All CompTIA Certifications Together” shows what certifications are renewed by earning specific subsequent CompTIA certifications.

The only cost for renewing by passing a higher-level CompTIA certification is the cost of the exam, although you will likely want to take the corresponding course to prepare.

 

Earning a Higher Non-CompTIA IT Industry Certification

In addition to higher-level CompTIA certifications, some certifications from other vendors will also renew your CompTIA certifications.

Because both the CompTIA and other certifications are updated on a regular basis, CompTIA maintains a list of the other certifications that renew each CompTIA certification. It is best to refer to this list regularly to be sure that the certification that you would like to use to renew your CompTIA certification is still a valid renewal option.

The cost for this method of renewal is slightly more than earning a higher-level CompTIA certification. In addition to the cost of the exam (and corresponding course should you decide to take it), you will also be required to pay CompTIA Continuing Education (CE) fees, also known as “renewal fees,” when using this method. Renewal fees are discussed in more detail below.

 

CompTIA CertMaster CE

One last single-activity renewal option is the CompTIA CertMaster CE. CertMaster CE is a self-paced e-learning course and is currently available to renew A+, Network+, and Security+. Each CertMaster CE course takes approximately 8-10 hours to complete, depending on your knowledge of the topic. By completing one of the CertMaster CE programs, you will automatically renew the corresponding certification. Other than the cost of CertMaster CE itself, there is no additional cost or fees to recertifying via CE.

 

Renewing with Multiple Activities

One of the options for renewing CompTIA certifications is by completing a number of activities that each earns a quantity of Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Once you have enough CEUs, you will be able to renew your certification. Just as with other renewal options, you will have three years from the time of certification (or renewal) to earn the CEUs.

The number of CEUs required to maintain a certification varies depending upon the certification. As a reminder, only the highest-level certification needs to be maintained as this will also renew the lower-level certifications.

For example, if you hold A+, Network+, and Security+, Security+ is considered the highest-level certification. By renewing your Security+, your A+ and Network+ certifications are automatically renewed as well.
As you can see in the table below, 50 CEUs are needed to recertify Security+, so you will only need 50 total CEU’s to recertify all three certifications.

These are the number of CEUs required for each certification:

 



CEU activities must meet certain requirements:

  • CEUs must be completed during the three-year renewal cycle. This is the three-year period following certification/recertification and is not a calendar year.
  • At least 50% of the activity content must relate to one or more exam objectives for the certification that you are renewing.
  • Some of the activities require documentation in order to earn CEUs. These are…
    • Earning non-CompTIA IT industry certifications
    • Completing training and higher education
    • Participating in IT industry activities
    • Publishing a relevant article, white paper, blog post or book
    • Gaining related work experience

 

To determine the number of CEUs that each activity earns, as well as the maximum number that can be applied to a given certification from each activity, you can view the chart and details on CompTIA’s website.

If you are unsure whether or not your activities are eligible for CEU credit, you can use this simple CEU Assessment Tool that CompTIA has created to find out.

 

Renewal Fees

As we have discussed, there are multiple ways to renew your CompTIA certifications. Some of these require Continuing Education (CE) fees, also known as renewal fees, while others do not.

If you renew your certification by passing the latest release of your CompTIA exam, earning a higher-level CompTIA certification, or utilizing the corresponding CompTIA CertMaster CE, you will not have to pay any renewal fees.

If you are renewing via some other method, you will be charged CE fees. These certification renewal fees are charged on an annual basis, based on your renewal cycle (not the calendar year). In order to remind you, CompTIA should send you automated reminder emails that will ask you to upload documentation for any CEUs that you have earned, as well as pay any CE fees due.

Certification fees (see the table below) are charged annually, and must be paid before CEU activities are earned and registered with CompTIA. If it has been more than a year after certification before you earn and register your first CEUs with CompTIA and these fees have not been kept current, CompTIA will require you to “catch up” on any past due annual fees before accepting the CEU activities for credit.

For example, if you hold a Security+ certification the annual CE fee is $50. If you start to earn CEUs during the first year after you receive your Security+ certification, you will be charged $50 each year. If you do not begin to earn CEUs until the second year after earning the certification and have not yet paid any renewal fees, you will first be required to pay the $50 due from the first year and the $50 now due for the second year ($100 total) before earning and submitting CEUs toward renewing your Security+ certification. Once you renew your certification, the fees also renew, so these fees will essentially be charged for each year that your certification is maintained.

 

These are the fees charged for each certification:

Certification Annual CE Fees Total CE Fees (over three-year cycle)
CompTIA A+ $25 $75
CompTIA Network+ $50 $150
CompTIA Security+ $50 $150
CompTIA Linux+ $50 $150
CompTIA Cloud+ $50 $150
CompTIA PenTest+ $50 $150
CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) $50 $150
CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) $50 $150

 

Just as renewing a higher-level certification renews those below it, you will only need to pay renewal fees for the highest-level certification that you hold.

 

DoD Employees and Contractors

If you are an employee of or contractor for the Department of Defense, you may have the option of paying your CE fees via prepaid tokens. Prepaid tokens are tokens purchased by DoD components that can be used by employees to pay their annual CE fees. Check with your manager or component POC to find out if you’re eligible for a token. CE tokens do not expire.

 


Summary Notes for Success

If you’re looking to renew your certification, be sure to keep the following items in mind. They will be helpfulto you renew your certifications.

  • Know when your certifications expire: CompTIA will send you automated emails to remind you that your certification renewal date is coming. Pay attention to these reminders – you do not want your certifications to expire because you missed the deadline. If you have any questions about your specific certification expiration dates, you can access the Candidate Portal for details.

 

  • Consider earning another certification: One of the more straight-forward ways to renew is to earn an additional higher-level CompTIA certification. This not only allows you to hold the higher-level certification and enjoy all of the benefits of it, but also renews the lower-level certifications. It is a good value because you will no longer have to earn CEUs or pay renewal fees on the lower-level certifications because they will continue to renew with the higher-level CompTIA certification.

 

  • Tests are not required: If you have test anxiety or just don’t want to take another exam, there are several ways to recertify without testing. One of these is to take a relevant training course. If at least 50% of the training course content relates to one or more of the exam objectives for the certification you’re renewing, the course duration is at least one hour for every CEU that you need, and the course is approved by CompTIA, merely taking the course without taking the exam will still provide you with the CEUs that you need.

 

  • Look at activities you already do: You may already be participating in activities that earn CEUs and not even be aware of it. Have you attended a live industry webinar or conference? If you have, and at least 50% of the content relates to one or more of the exam objectives of the certification that you are renewing, these events can be used to earn CEUs.

 

  • Know what you need and stay on top of it: Be sure that you have a clear understanding of how many CEUs are required to renew your certification, pay your annual fees, make a plan to earn CEUs as you go, keep track of the activities you have done, and enter these activities into the CompTIA Portal. You do not want to be in a position of losing your certification because you weren’t prepared.

 

CompTIA certifications are valuable. They confirm that you have the critical skills necessary to perform key technical tasks. Once you have earned these certifications, you want to keep them and reap the benefits.

Recertifying doesn’t need to be difficult. There are many options to do so. Global Knowledge offers several certification training options for CompTIA, among others, that may help you recertify. See CompTIA Certification Training online here, and reach out with any questions. Our experts will guide you through the process and ensure that your certifications remain current.

 

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