Knowing what certifications you need is essential in a world where we need cyber security at every turn. However, diving into a deep sea can be overwhelming, especially for a "first-time diver," so to speak. In that case, we will delve into the best ones to ensure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
The best cybersecurity certifications arguably boil down to the ones that are most likely to land you a well-paying job or, at the very least, give you some level of job security once you are in the field.
To that end, these are the eight most popular security certifications and how each could benefit you and your future.
If you had a specific organization, company, or employer in mind that utilizes one of the above certifications, you should prioritize that. Still, flexibility is essential when considering which certification you want, and you should never lock yourself into just one, as most companies would prefer you to have two or more.
What Are the Best Cyber Security Certifications?
As stated above, there are many cybersecurity certifications. However, choosing the right one for your needs is essential moving forward. Nonetheless, we will go over more of that down below. For now, let us review the ones mentioned above.
If putting your best foot forward were a security certification, then CompTIA would be it. This certification serves primarily as an entry-level security cert.
Having this under your belt shows that you know the bare minimum to find success in almost any cybersecurity position you could land, with your most prominent skills being the ability to fully comprehend the regulations and laws regarding simple things like risk and compliance. It also shows your knowledge in assessing potential security risks to a company.
2. Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
With a higher level of skill and difficulty to boot, this intermediate security credential will accurately demonstrate your competence and ability to develop, employ and oversee a sound IT infrastructure over extended periods.
This certification exam takes a deeper dive into base concepts like incident response, application security, and other vital jobs needed to secure data.
However, be advised that you will need at least a year of paid experience in one of the areas you are being tested for to attempt the exam. Still, these mandatory requirements can also be met with a bachelor's or a master's degree in just about any cybersecurity-related program.
3. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Being in the trenches might be all fun and games for some people. Still, those who aspire to greater heights or attempt to get their managerial position would benefit significantly from securing their CISM certification.
This certification allows you to prove your knowledge in specialized areas like program development, information security, and risk management.
However, you will need a bare minimum of five years of relevant experience in information security management to qualify for this exam. Still, you can bypass this with a graduate degree in any information security-related field and gain an additional two years of this requirement in any generic information security experience.
4. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
If you want to be a techno Jedi, this would be your best option, as CEH certification essentially puts your hacking talents to work for the greater good. Donning the white hat for those in the industry, ethical hackers help companies and organizations test for vulnerabilities in their security by lawful means. This certification gives you all the challenges of cracking that case without the jail time that would usually follow.
You must have at least two years of work experience in the information security field to attempt to get your CEH certification.
5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Hands down one of the most highly sought-after certifications, with over 183,000 job listings on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Simply Hired, and more.
This certification is almost the tip of the iceberg in terms of job demand, and this certification will demonstrate that you are not only experienced in things like monitoring a cybersecurity program but can be the flag bearer. You have the insight to design your own and the knowledge to implement them properly.
The requirements to get this certification are just as high as the jobs that want it. You'll need at least five years or more of total work experience to qualify, and you must have this time invested in at least two of the eight viable cybersecurity domains.
6. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Obtaining your CISA certification demonstrates your knowledge of finding vulnerabilities within a cybersecurity system and your ability to document your findings and show a keen eye and attention to detail. This certification is noted as one of the most common in the industry and is seen as being mid-level.
As with most of the higher levels of certification, you'll need five years of relevant work experience in things like security, IS audit, and assurance to qualify.
7. GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
Going back to basics, the GSEC is yet another entry-level security credential primarily for people with some experience in networking and information systems. Netting this certification is a significant lead for more excellent opportunities, especially if you are passionate about incident response, active defense and other general network security-based jobs.
Technically speaking, there is no absolute requirement to take this exam. Still, if you genuinely want to succeed and ensure you get it, you'll want to have as much experience as possible with computer networking beforehand.
8. CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)
The CASP+ certification is for people who aren't too keen on jumping on a managerial position but instead leaning further into their mastery over cyber security. It is not for those who are still green around the gills.
To even qualify for the CASP+, you'll need ten years in IT administration, with the additional requirement of five years of direct experience in all facets of IT security, but the reward for this certification allows you to pivot into all kinds of different branches like risk management, enterprise security integration, and others.
How Do You Choose a Cybersecurity Certification?
There are many ways you can choose a cybersecurity certification. For example, if you have a budget for a specific type of certification, then it is vital to keep that in mind before going into a specific field.
Another example is what area you wish to focus on. In that case, we recommend purchasing a certification that will be one that you enjoy and will help you in the future.
So, the key areas we will focus on are affordability, area of focus, potential employers, and your experience level.
Certifications are costly, and some cost well over $2,000. As such, it's wise to plan the road you want and select a certification that matches your budget (because you should always invest in yourself). It is a worthy endeavor considering your experience.
2. Area of Focus
Attempting certification in something you could be more knowledgeable in could be helpful. Still, keeping your horizons too broad could end up hurting you, narrowing your focus on honestly trying to have just a handful of career paths ahead of you, knowing what certifications you'll need to obtain them.
3. Potential Employers
Knowing the company you want to work at is a guaranteed way to get your foot in the door, especially if you know the certifications and those they will require in the future.
4. Your Level of Experience
In cybersecurity, experience is everything. Having an innate prowess for any branch of cybersecurity is excellent.
Still, the ability to adapt and display tangible experience with complex situations and navigating troubled waters will prove invaluable to any employer, and these same experiences will make obtaining your certifications all the easier.o
Is a Cybersecurity Certification Worth It?
Yes, a cybersecurity certification is worth taking. This is because many specific jobs will only take prospective applicants with the relevant certification in the field. Most companies or potential employers want to guarantee that you know what you are doing or that someone vogues for you in some way, shape or form.