CySA+: IA levels and DoD 8570 [updated 2024]

Daniel Brecht
January 29, 2024 by
Daniel Brecht

CompTIA’s Cybersecurity Analyst certification, or CySA+, was approved by the United States Department of Defense in October 2017 as a baseline certification for DoD 8570 jobs. This is a noteworthy change to the approved baseline certifications, reflecting recent changes in the information security landscape and the growth of CySA+'s popularity.

This article will detail DoD Directive 8570, how CySA+ fits into the big picture, and the job categories CySA+ applies to. For anyone looking to apply the CySA+ certification to a career with the DoD or the DoD ecosystem, this is for you.

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Earn your CySA+, guaranteed!

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What is the Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program?

To execute the national cyber strategy, the DoD strives to make its operatives more skilled with specialized training opportunities — and increase efficiency in the recruitment, hiring and training of personnel in information assurance (IA) duties. 

This effort is summarized by DoD Directive 8140.01, “Cyberspace Workforce Management.” (Note:  Read our other article to learn more about 8570 vs. 8140.) It applies to IT employees who are part of the cyber or IA workforce, whether in full-time, part-time or embedded duty positions. They must be trained and certified to a DoD-approved 8570 baseline certification (per the 8570.01-Manual) as required for their position category or specialty and level. 

DoD has recognized the importance of having a highly qualified and capable cyberspace workforce and the role industry-recognized credentials play as part of the normal IT and cybersecurity professional training. This includes CompTIA CySA+ and a number of other certifications.

How does CySA+ satisfy the roles that DoD 8570 describes?

CySA+ is ISO/ANSI 17024-accredited and endorsed by the DoD. Therefore, military personnel and contractors performing IA functions can use it to fulfill the requirements of their position, specialty and level. This credential is a great option if you intend to work for the DoD, as it is listed under several categories.

Why was the CySA+ considered? This credential was created by gathering data on the field through industry-wide surveys and the input of subject matter experts in IT security. The certification differs from other available intermediate options thanks to its focus on cybersecurity analyst roles, one of the fastest-growing in the industry, and by having a very hands-on, practical knowledge approach. 

The CySA+ exam covers security analytics, pentesting, intrusion detection and response, advanced persistent threats, reverse engineering, vulnerability management and threat management. It goes in-depth on tools and techniques required to successfully perform as a cybersecurity analyst, security engineer and vulnerability or threat intelligence analyst. It also covers the skills needed to analyze gathered data, make recommendations, revise processes, participate in the software development life cycle and deal with the issues related to compliance.

Being a prominent target for cyberattacks, the DoD networks require that the employees entrusted with their use and protection — along with safeguarding all classified and sensitive info or data exchanged (transmitted and received) on them — be up-to-date and have the latest knowledge in defense mechanisms. The CompTIA CySA+ meets this demand for many of the DoD 8570 Information Assurance Technical (IAT) roles.

The CySA+ also falls under DoD Cyber Security Service Provider (CSSP), a certification issued by DoD to indicate a candidate’s readiness for the DoD information assurance (IA) workforce. Therefore, employees must complete a third-party certification to fulfill requirements that vary according to their job role. For example, those who have analyst, infrastructure support, incident response and auditor duties can utilize the CySA+ credential to fulfill requirements, making this certification a great choice as it covers several job functions.

Which requirements does CySA+ meet?

The DoD Directive 8570 and the broader 8140 primarily assure that personnel in the cybersecurity workforce have the necessary hands-on knowledge for their job roles —and the relevant certifications to prove their skills are up to date. The directive includes three levels with cumulative functions for employees working in IAT (Information Assurance Technical) Level II (where CySA+ fits in) or Level III positions, which require mastery of the functions of all preceding levels. 

This covers military, civilian and contract personnel handling department system information assurance in the following areas (CySA+ areas in bold):

  • IAT (Information Assurance Technical) Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3
  • IAM (Information Assurance Management Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3
  • Cyber Security Service Provider (CSSP) for the following categories: Analyst, Infrastructure support, Incident Response, Auditor and Manager.

Earn your CySA+, guaranteed!

Earn your CySA+, guaranteed!

Get hands-on experience and live expert, instruction. Enroll now to claim your Exam Pass Guarantee!

The DoD approved CompTIA CySA+ for five 8570.01-M job categories:

  1. Information Assurance Technician (IAT) Level II
  2. Cybersecurity Service Provider (CSSP) — Analyst
  3. CSSP — Incident Responder
  4. CSSP — Infrastructure Support
  5. CSSP — Auditor

The set of formal training requirements by the DoD directive has been based on the Workforce Framework for Cybersecurity (NICE Framework) and has a strong focus on being able to respond to real-life scenarios. According to the DoD 8570.01-M, IAT Level II personnel “pay special attention to intrusion detection, finding and fixing unprotected vulnerabilities, and ensuring that remote access points are well secured. These positions focus on threats and vulnerabilities and improve the security of systems.” 

Clearly, a certification like CySA+ fits perfectly for validating those skills.

A professional unable to meet or maintain compliance standards could lose their privileged access to DoD systems unless they can do so within six months of their assignment to an IA duty.

Earn your CySA+, guaranteed!

Earn your CySA+, guaranteed!

Get hands-on experience and live expert, instruction. Enroll now to claim your Exam Pass Guarantee!

CySA+ 8570 summary

All DoD organizations and contractors under the directive (8140/8570/8570.01-M) must meet the requirements. The initiative is designed to make U.S. government workplaces more secure, so it emphasizes up-to-date, relevant knowledge through industry certifications.

IA workers in the DoD ecosystem who ensure appropriate defensive measures are in place to protect the information system infrastructure can use this as a framework for their career progression. They should also be aware of any new guidelines issued, as they have six months from the first assignment of a position (or from their start date for new employees) to achieve the required certification.

The CySA+ certification is an excellent option for those in an analyst-type role. For more information on the CySA+ certification, watch our CySA+ webinar with CompTIA or explore our CySA+ informational hub.

Daniel Brecht
Daniel Brecht

Daniel Brecht has been writing for the Web since 2007. His interests include computers, mobile devices and cyber security standards. He has enjoyed writing on a variety of topics ranging from cloud computing to application development, web development and e-commerce. Brecht has several years of experience as an Information Technician in the military and as an education counselor. He holds a graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and a Master of Science in Information Technology.