There are many types of cybersecurity certifications. Nevertheless, the goal of every IT security certification is to train entry-level workers to use specific tools and technologies and provide a way for more seasoned IT and computer networking professionals to verify and show mastery of skills.
Like other computer science and information technology fields, cybersecurity certifications play a large role in cybersecurity employment and career advancement. These certifications are valuable as they provide greener grasses for the cows to feed on.
In this post, we will list the best cybersecurity certifications in the world while explaining in detail why you need certifications in cybersecurity, the benefits of the IT security certification, and how to get a top cybersecurity certification.
What is cybersecurity?
According to cisco.com, cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These cyberattacks are usually targeted at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes.
It can be further defined as the protection of internet-connected systems such as hardware, software, and data from cyber threats. With strong cybersecurity, individuals and enterprises are protected against unauthorized access designed to alter, delete and destroy sensitive data.
Is A Certificate In Cyber Security Worth It?
Owing to the rise of cyber threats, the need for cybersecurity experts is on the increase. Acquiring a cybersecurity certification distinguishes you from the ordinary cybersecurity expert as it verifies your skills and shows you are fully educated and equipped for the certificate for which your bear.
The question, how valuable is a cybersecurity certificate has been raised severally. Here’s our response: a cybersecurity degree will only be worthwhile if it demonstrates your level of competence and dedication to the job. In other words, having the certificate and not the knowledge will be misleading.
A certificate in cybersecurity demonstrates your commitment, experience, and competence in a certain field. Furthermore, holding a cybersecurity certificate puts you in the lead for a cybersecurity position in a firm or industry, while competence ensures your continued employment. The sort of certification you receive may have a strong influence on your appeal.
Lastly, as a certified cybersecurity professional, your standard, character, and code of ethics are upheld.
Before we go on to tell you the best cybersecurity certification to obtain, let’s give you a brief rundown of why you need a cybersecurity certification.
Why Do You Need A Cybersecurity Certification?
According to a report from Grandviewresearch, the frequency and intensity of cyber scams and crimes have increased over the last decade, resulting in huge losses for businesses. As such, the cybersecurity market valued at USD 167.13 is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 10.9% from 2021 to 2028.
The data above shows the increase in demand for cybersecurity experts. To be in a better position for a career in cybersecurity, acquiring IT certifications is one route to follow. IT certifications go a long way to show how credible and qualified you are for a cybersecurity position.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Marketable Cybersecurity Careers
What Cybersecurity Certifications Should I Get First?
The first security certification that IT workers should obtain is CompTIA Security+. It establishes the foundational knowledge needed for any cybersecurity profession and serves as a stepping stone to intermediate-level cybersecurity positions. Here is a list of cybersecurity certifications for beginners:
#1. COMPTIA SECURITY+
Security+ is a beginner-level cybersecurity certification that is vendor-neutral. It assesses your abilities to set up and maintain security systems, as well as minimize risks and respond to security breaches.
Security administrators, systems administrators, IT support specialists, and network engineers will benefit from it.
To take the exam, there are no official criteria. CompTIA recommends that candidates have the Network+ credential plus a couple of years of IT security administration experience.
The exam is 1.5 hours long. It includes multiple-choice questions along with performance-based tasks.
#2 Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Security Fundamentals
One of the “entry-level” cybersecurity certificates is MTA Security Fundamentals. The MTA Security Fundamentals acknowledges understanding of key security principles as well as the essentials of the operating system, network, and software security. It is geared at high school and early college students, as well as individuals in the workforce who are wishing to change careers. To acquire this certification, you must pass a single exam, which costs $127.
To increase your chances of achieving the MTA Security Fundamentals certification, Microsoft advises that you have some hands-on experience with Windows Server, Windows-based networking, firewalls, and other common security products.
#3 SYSTEMS SECURITY CERTIFIED PRACTITIONER (SSCP)
The SSCP is a beginner-level certification from ISC2 that focuses on IT infrastructure security. It’s mostly recommended for systems administrators, security analysts, network security engineers, database administrators, and similar professionals.
The 3-hour exam consists of 125 multiple-choice questions.
To become certified, you must have at least 1 year of experience in a minimum of 1 of the 7 domains covered on the test.
#4 CERTIFIED CLOUD SECURITY PROFESSIONAL (CCSP)
The CCSP certification, which is also from ISC2, verifies your ability to manage and secure data and applications in the cloud. It’s aimed at security administrators, system architects, and other IT professionals.
In a recent ISCN study of over 90,000 cybersecurity professionals, the CCSP was one of the most popular qualifications.
You must have 5 years of relevant experience to become a CCSP. Internships (paid and unpaid) and part-time jobs are also valid options.
#5 OFFENSIVE SECURITY CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL (OSCP)
The OSCP is primarily concerned with penetration testing. It can help network administrators and other security professionals demonstrate their understanding of hacking techniques and tools.
You do not need to have any prior work experience. However, you must complete the PEN-200 training course offered by Offensive Security.
To be eligible for enrollment, you need to have a solid grasp of networking and Linux fundamentals.
The exam is a practical test. Instead of a written exam, you’ll be handed a list of IP addresses and allowed 24 hours to hack into them.
How Do You Get A Cybersecurity Certificate?
Cybersecurity certifications come in all shapes and subjects – from forensics to intrusion to ethical hacking. They are typically administered by independent accrediting organizations like CompTIA, EC Council, GIAC, ISACA, and (ISC)2.
Accrediting organizations often divide their programs into three categories: entry-level, intermediate, and expert. Entry-level certifications are meant to ground you in the basics – foundation principles, best practices, important tools, latest technologies, etc. Intermediate and expert-level certifications on the other hand give you an extensive and detailed grasp of the job in addition to your presumed high experience.
To earn a cybersecurity certification, you must satisfy the prerequisites for cybersecurity certification. Prerequisites for cybersecurity certification vary based on certification.
For instance, if you wish to obtain the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), you must have at least five years of paid, full-time experience in at least two of the eight (ISC)2 domains or four years of paid, full-time experience in at least two of the eight (ISC)2 domains and a college degree.
However, there are common prerequisites that must be met, such as; meet the required experience, completing course training, first pass an exam (or multiple exams), and then earn continuing education units (CEUs) to keep your certification active. This shows that your skills and knowledge match those demanded by today’s jobs.
Which Is More Important In Cybersecurity? Degrees or Certifications
A cybersecurity certification is generally the completion of coursework in an educational program and is offered both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It can be earned without taking any classes. They mostly assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities that IT professionals have already mastered and reflected on what’s going on in the field today. A degree in cybersecurity on the other hand is awarded typically as a sub-discipline of computer science.
In a bid to answer the question of which one is more important in cybersecurity degrees, or cybersecurity certifications, here are a few salient points you need to understand.
- Experience: How much IT experience do you already have? If you have little or no experience, undergraduate certificates and certifications may be the way to go. Whether you’re taking college courses or certification training boot camps or you’re studying on your own, you’ll gain the foundational skills necessary to succeed in cybersecurity.
- Time: Finding out how quickly you need a cybersecurity credential or skill will help you decipher which option is best for you. A certification will be your quickest route; however, if you are new to IT or cybersecurity, there is a need to spend time learning and practicing which can be done by obtaining a degree in cybersecurity. You may also need to start with more general IT certifications before getting a cybersecurity certification.
- Job Requirements: Are you looking to meet the requirements of a job, or are you just looking to increase your knowledge? Employers value certifications and degrees.
- Cost: How much can you afford to spend? If you’re paying for this out of pocket, a certification will be your least expensive option.
IT certifications and degrees all have their place in their field. Deciding the right one for you at a time solely depends on many factors like the job requirements, professional goals, and possible options.
Where Do I Get A Cybersecurity Certificate?
A good number of colleges, universities, institutes and cybersecurity organizations offer cybersecurity certification. Nonetheless, there are major organizations that offer cybersecurity certifications. For newbies looking to obtain cybersecurity certification that is widely recognized, here are some well-known and highly recommended places where you can get a cybersecurity certificate.
- (ISC)2 – The International Information System Security Certification Consortium
- GIAC – Global Information Assurance Certification
#1 ISC 2
The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2, is the body that oversees the coveted CISSP certification. The (ISC)2 bills itself as “The World’s Leading Cybersecurity Professional Organization” on its website. (ISC)2 is a not-for-profit organization with over 140,000 accredited members. ISC2 offers the following cybersecurity certifications:
Next on our list of organizations that award cybersecurity certification is EC-Council. The Certified Ethical Hacker certification, otherwise known as the CEH, is the most well-known EC-Council qualification. EC-Council offers a variety of other certifications in addition to the CEH. Rather than concentrating on specific areas of expertise, the EC-Council focuses on certain responsibilities and titles. EC-Council offers the following certifications;
CompTIA certificates are among the most well-known IT credentials available. CompTIA offers certifications in a variety of IT sectors, including software development, computer networking, cloud computing, and information security, to name a few. CompTIA has four major certifications;
- CompTIA IT Fundamentals
- CompTIA A+
- CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA Security
The Global Information Assurance Certification was developed in 1999 to certify information security professionals’ abilities. Thousands of businesses and government entities, including the US National Security Agency, rely on GIAC certifications (NSA). GIAC offers certifications in a variety of areas, including cyber protection, penetration testing, incident response, and forensics, among others. Here is a list of certifications offered by GIAC;
- GSEC – GIAC Security Essentials
- GMOB – GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst
- GCFA – GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst
- GCIH – GIAC Certified Incident Handler
- GPEN – GIAC Penetration Tester
- GCIA – GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst
- GCFE – GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner
- GNFA – GIAC Network Forensic Analyst
ISACA is the acronym for the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, which was previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. ISACA was founded in 1969 by a small group of professionals who saw a need for a centralized source of information and assistance in the rapidly growing field of computer system auditing controls. Here is a list of certifications offered by ISACA;
- CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor
- CISM – Certified Information Security Manager
- CGEIT – Certified in Governance of Enterprise IT
- CRISC – Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control
What Are The 10 Best Cybersecurity Certifications In 2022?
With a long list of cybersecurity certifications, deciding the one to pursue can be daunting. To save you the stress, we’ll outline the 10 best cybersecurity certifications in few lines to come.
#1 Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
A certified ethical hacker is a professional who is able to spot the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems and uses the knowledge and tools legitimately to assess the security strength of target systems.
To obtain this certificate, you must first complete a course in ethical hacking foundations. In the course, you’ll learn how to assess vulnerabilities in an organization’s network and system infrastructures.
The CEH exam costs $1,199 and retakes cost $450. To register for the test and certificate, visit the EC-Council’s webpage.
#2 Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
CRISC is the only credential that prepares and empowers IT professionals to meet the unique challenges of IT and enterprise risk management, positioning them as strategic partners to the organization. CRISC can give you the necessary knowledge, expertise and credibility in your interactions with internal and external stakeholders.
The first step to becoming CRISC certified is to apply for certification. To apply, you need to pass the CRISC exam within the last 5 years, have the relevant full-time work experience, in the CRISC exam content outline then submit the CRISC Certification Application with the processing fee.
CRISC exam cost $575/$760.
Visit ISACA website for more details.
#3 Certified Information Privacy Professional/US (CIPP/US)
This ANSI accredited certification delivers higher earning potential and increases your chances of job elevation. The CIPP is the global industry standard for professionals in the field of privacy. Achieving a CIPP/US credential shows an understanding of a principle-based framework and knowledge base in information privacy within the U.S. context.
To get certified, you need to register and take the exam. The certification test costs $325.
Visit IAPP website for more details.
#4 Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
The Certified Information Security Manager credential is for IT professionals who work in management. It is an advanced certification that demonstrates the recipient’s overall knowledge and experience in managing security teams and enterprise-level applications, as well as assisting in the development of an organization’s security best practices.
A CISM certification costs $760. ISACA members can take the course for $575; an ISACA membership costs $130 annually.
To be eligible for the certification, you need to have 10 years or fewer before filing an application or five years after passing the exam. This means you don’t need to have all of the professional experience when you take the exam, but you must get it within the set time period to earn the certification.
The CISM certification costs $50 for the one-time application processing fee.
Visit ISACA website to register and take the exam.
#5 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The CISSP credential certifies your ability to plan, develop, and manage a world-class cybersecurity program. It is mainly for security analysts who make up the majority of most organizations’ cybersecurity teams. Created by the ISC2, it is designed to teach cybersecurity professionals industry standards.
The CISSP certification exam usually costs $699, but costs may vary depending on what entity is administering the test.
Visit ISC2 website to register.
#6 CISCO Certified Network Association Security (CCNA)
CCNA certification demonstrates the skills required to develop a security infrastructure, recognize threats and vulnerabilities to networks that pose security threats. The CCNA Security curriculum emphasizes core security technologies, the installation, troubleshooting, and monitoring of network devices to maintain integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data and devices, and competency in the technologies that Cisco uses in its security structure.
Visit the website for details on how to apply.
#7 CompTIA Security
CompTIA Security+ is a global certification IT professional should earn. It validates the baseline skills necessary to flourish as an IT person.
This certification establishes the foundational knowledge needed for any cybersecurity profession and serves as a stepping stone to intermediate-level cybersecurity positions. In the certification class, you will learn how to handle cyber threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities
This certification exam costs $370.
Visit CompTIA website for more details.
#8 Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI)
The Certified Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) curriculum from EC-Council is the only comprehensive ANSI-accredited, lab-focused program on the market that provides businesses with vendor-neutral digital forensics training. This certification course teaches attendees a thorough understanding of digital forensics, including a detailed and methodological approach to digital forensics and evidence analysis that includes Dark Web, IoT, and Cloud Forensics. These tools and procedures used in the program will prepare the learner to perform digital investigations utilizing cutting-edge digital forensics technology
The program is for IT professionals involved with information system security, computer forensics, and incident response.
VISIT EC-Council website.
#9 CISCO Certified Network Professional Security (CCNP)
This cybersecurity certification enhances your skills with security solutions. To earn CCNP Security certification, you need to pass two exams: one that covers security technologies and any other technical area of your focus.
The CCNP Security certification program prepares you for today’s professional-level job roles in security technologies. One of the industry’s most respected certifications, CCNP validates the core knowledge you need while providing the flexibility to choose a focus area.
Visit CISCO website for details on how to earn a CCNP certification.
#10 NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NCSF)
This voluntary Framework consists of standards, guidelines, and best practices to manage cybersecurity risk.
The Online Learning content is broken into a number of small modules. Each module is focused on a separate topic relating to the Cybersecurity Framework. These topics will range from introductory material for new Framework users to implementation guidance for more advanced Framework users.
Visit NIST website below for details on how to get started.
What Experience Do You Get with Cybersecurity Certifications?
A professional cybersecurity certification provides you with a diverse set of skills. Obtaining a cybersecurity certification guarantees that you are properly informed and capable of dealing with the most recent technology, dangers, and issues under the certification.
Furthermore, it gives you a depth of cybersecurity knowledge and expertise. You will gain experience in how to secure computer operating systems, networks, and data from cyber-attacks in addition to monitoring systems and mitigating threats when they happen.
What Jobs Can I Get With A Certification In Cybersecurity?
With the burgeoning increase of cyberthreat in cyberspace, the need for individuals with IT certifications and hardware and software skills is on the rise. Cybersecurity professionals work in virtually every industry
IT professionals and other computer specialists are needed in security roles, such as:
- Chief information security officer (CISO) is the individual who sets up the security program across the organization and oversees the IT security department’s operations.
- Chief security office (CSO) is the executive in charge of the physical and/or cybersecurity of a company.
- Security engineers protect a company’s assets from threats with a focus on quality control within the IT infrastructure.
- Security architects are responsible for planning, analyzing, designing, testing, maintaining, and supporting an enterprise’s critical infrastructure.
- Security analysts have several duties that include planning security measures and controls, protecting digital files, and conducting both internal and external security audits.
- Penetration testers are ethical hackers who test the security of systems, networks, and applications, seeking vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors.
- Threat hunters are threat analysts who aim to uncover vulnerabilities and attacks and mitigate them before they compromise a business.
The benefits of cybersecurity certification are diverse as the demand for skilled IT experts is on the rise. As such, there is a great need to go beyond the normal and obtain IT security certifications that demonstrate your wealth of knowledge and expertise.
- Cisco.com – What is Cybersecurity?
- Cybersecurityguide.org – A guide for understanding cybersecurity certifications
- Kaspersky.com – What is Cyber Security?
- searchsecurity.techtarget.com – Cybersecurity
- Plextrac.com – Are Cybersecurity Certifications Worth the Investment? A Certification Crash Course
- Cybersecurityventures.com – 10 Hot Cybersecurity Certifications For IT Professionals To Pursue
- Helpnetsecurity.com – Exploring The Benefits of Cybersecurity Certification
- Grandviewresearch.com – Industry Analysis of Cybersecurity