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Cybersecurity Certifications

Top 10 Cybersecurity Certifications For Your IT Career

Jan 09, 202217 mins readAmit Masih
Top 10 Cybersecurity Certifications For Your IT Career

Cybersecurity is a rewarding field with numerous opportunities for growth and advancement. Many cybersecurity professionals earn salaries above six figures, and the field is always evolving as hackers develop new ways to compromise systems. Cybersecurity can be challenging and dynamic, making it an exciting and never-boring career choice.

With a wide range of cybersecurity certifications, it can be challenging to determine the best one for your career goals. To help you make an informed decision, we have compiled a guide featuring 12 cybersecurity certifications that can help you get hired or promoted.

Need for IT security certifications

Having IT security certifications can open up job opportunities and make getting promoted and negotiating a higher salary easier. The IT security field is constantly evolving, and obtaining or maintaining certification helps individuals stay up-to-date on the latest developments and trends. This exposure can be valuable in maintaining and advancing a career in IT security.

Is a cybersecurity certification worth it?

Obtaining a cybersecurity certification can be a valuable investment for professionals working in or seeking to enter the field. Certification can demonstrate knowledge and expertise in the field, which can be attractive to employers and potentially lead to increased job opportunities and a higher salary.

According to a survey conducted by (ISC)², 70% of cybersecurity professionals in the US are required by their employers to hold a certification. This same study also found that having a security certification can increase one's salary by $18,000. In addition, having the appropriate credential can make an individual more appealing to recruiters and hiring managers.

10 best cybersecurity certifications

1) CompTIA Security+

CompTIA Security+ is a great option for IT professionals seeking practical, hands-on cybersecurity skills. With a focus on the latest techniques and compliance standards, this entry-level certification covers various crucial topics, including risk assessment and management, enterprise network and cloud operations, and core cybersecurity knowledge. If you already have CompTIA Network+ and two years of experience in IT administration, or if you work as an IT auditor, project manager, cloud engineer, security analyst, or systems administrator, earning your Security+ certification could be a valuable step in your career. This certification covers various domains, including attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities; architecture and design; implementation, operations, and incident response; and governance, risk, and compliance.

Exam Cost: 392 USD

Exam Format: The CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 exam consists of a maximum of 90 questions and is 90 minutes long. The passing score is 750 out of a range of 100-900.

Exam Prerequisites: At least two years of systems administration experience

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities
  • Architecture and Design
  • Implementation
  • Operations and Incident Response
  • Governance, Risk, and Compliance

2) CSA Certificate of Cloud Auditing Knowledge (CCAK)

The Cloud Security Alliance CCAK is the first global cloud auditing credential for industry professionals to demonstrate their expertise in the essential principles of cloud computing system auditing. This credential, developed in collaboration with the Cloud Security Alliance's cloud expertise and ISACA's audit expertise, helps to provide the most comprehensive solution for cloud auditing education. Compared to other IT audit certifications, the CCAK certification recognizes that organizations using cloud computing often follow a different path to satisfy control objectives and require a broader range of security controls that traditional IT auditors may need to be more familiar with. This certification is suitable for a wide range of professionals, including internal and external assessors and auditors, compliance managers, CISOs and information security officers, third-party assessors and auditors, chief privacy officers, data protection officers, program managers, procurement officers, security and privacy consultants, and sales and solutions architects who wish to enhance their career prospects. The CCAK exam covers various topics, including assessment, evaluation, governance, compliance, internal security, and continuous monitoring. While there are no official prerequisites for this exam, it is assumed that candidates possess experience as cloud security professionals.

Exam Cost: 900 USD

Exam Format: The CCAK exam is a multiple-choice, proctored test taken online. It consists of 76 questions and has a duration of two hours. A passing score on the CCAK exam is 70%.

Exam Prerequisites: The CCAK exam does not require any prerequisites. To pursue the CCAK, you should earn the Certification of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK), as it assumes you are familiar with best practices in cloud security.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • An overview of cloud governance, frameworks, and cloud governance tools
  • Cloud compliance program: designing and building
  • CCM and CAIQ Goals, Objectives, & Structure
  • A Threat Analysis Methodology For Cloud using CCM
  • Evaluating a Cloud Compliance Program
  • Cloud Auditing
  • CCM: Auditing Controls
  • Continuous Assurance and Compliance, including DevSecOps
  • STAR Program

3) Microsoft Technology Associate Security Fundamentals

The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Security Fundamentals certification is a great choice for IT professionals who work with Windows Server or are interested in security. This certification is suitable for those looking to take their IT career in a new direction, as it can be a stepping stone to more advanced certifications such as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA). The MTA Security Fundamentals exam tests your basic understanding of security concepts and technologies, including Windows Server, Windows-based networking, Active Directory, anti-malware products, firewalls, network topologies and devices, and network ports. It covers core security knowledge and skills in the following domains: understanding security layers, operating system security, network security, and understanding security software. To prepare for this exam, it is recommended that candidates take relevant training courses to familiarize themselves with the material. Earning an MTA Security Fundamentals certification can provide various benefits in various professional situations.

Exam Cost: 127 USD

Exam Format: The MTA 98-367 is a multiple-choice, proctored online test. It consists of 40-60 questions and lasts 45 minutes. A passing score on the MTA Security Fundamentals exam is 70%.

Exam Prerequisites: To be eligible for the MTA Security Fundamentals exam, candidates should have practical experience working with Windows Server, firewalls, and networking in a Windows environment, as well as familiarity with a range of security products.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Understand security layers
  • Understand operating system security
  • Understand network security
  • Understand security software

4) Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA)

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Security certification is a comprehensive exam that covers a wide range of fundamental technologies, software development knowledge, and job roles. Under the new CCNA certification program, you will specialize at the CCNP level rather than the CCNA level. The CCNA certification covers a range of specific areas, including cloud, collaboration, data center, industrial, routing and switching, security, service provider, and wireless. It replaces the CCDA (Cisco Certified Design Associate) certification. While there are no official prerequisites for the online exam, one must have at least one year of work experience with computer networking and Cisco equipment and a thorough understanding of network fundamentals. The new CCNA certification covers the following modules: network fundamentals, IP connectivity, IP services, security fundamentals, network access, and automation and programmability. The topics removed from the exam include network fundamentals, LAN switching, routing, and WAN.

Exam Cost: 300 USD

Exam Format: The CCNA (200-301) exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within two hours. To pass the exam, candidates must score 825 out of 1000 points.

Exam Prerequisites: To be eligible to take the CCNA 200-301 exam, it is recommended but not required to have experience working in an IT network environment. This type of experience can help you understand the material covered on the exam and better prepare for the test. However, it is not a requirement to sit for the exam.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Network Fundamentals
  • Network Access
  • IP Connectivity
  • IP Services
  • Security Fundamentals
  • Automation and Programmability

5) Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

The Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) certification is a globally recognized ISO certification for professionals with technical skills and hands-on experience in operational IT roles. By obtaining your SSCP certification, you demonstrate your expertise in implementing, monitoring, and managing operational IT roles and your ability to protect business assets. This certification is ideal for professionals working as systems and security analysts, administrators, engineers, consultants, and network analysts. It provides a wide range of industry-specific strategies to secure business activities, opening the door to high-paying job opportunities globally. The SSCP certification covers seven domains: access controls, security operations and administration, risk identification, monitoring and analysis, incident response and recovery, cryptography, network, and communications security, and systems and application security.

Exam Cost: 249 USD

Exam Format: The SSCP exam consists of 125 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within three hours. To pass the exam, candidates must score 700 out of 1000 points.

Exam Prerequisites: To be eligible to take the SSCP exam, candidates must have a minimum of one year of cumulative work experience in at least one of the seven domains of the SSCP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Alternatively, a one-year prerequisite pathway will be granted to candidates who have obtained a bachelor's or master's degree in a cybersecurity program. This requirement is designed to ensure that candidates have the knowledge and experience to understand the material covered on the exam.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Security Operations and Administration
  • Access Controls
  • Risk Identification, Monitoring, and Analysis
  • Incident Response and Recovery
  • Cryptography
  • Network and Communications Security
  • Systems and Application Security

6) Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is a highly recognized and respected certification in the field of cybersecurity. It demonstrates your expertise in designing, implementing, and supervising cybersecurity programs, making it a valuable asset for your cybersecurity career and increasing your market value. This certification suits experienced professionals such as chief information security officers, IT and security managers, architects, consultants, auditors, analysts, and engineers. However, not all cybersecurity professionals need to pursue this certification. It is important to consider your career goals carefully and determine if the CISSP is the right fit. The CISSP exam covers eight domains: security and risk management, asset security, security architecture, and engineering, communications and network security, identity and access management, security assessment and testing, security operations, and software development security.

Exam Cost: 699 USD

Exam Format: The CISSP exam consists of 125-175 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within four hours. To pass the exam, candidates must score 700 out of a possible 1000 points, which represents 70% of the total score.

Exam Prerequisites: To be eligible for the CISSP exam, candidates must have at least five years of cumulative paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Alternatively, earning a four-year college degree or an equivalent qualification or obtaining an additional credential from the (ISC)² approved list will satisfy one year of the required experience. Note that education credit can only be used to fulfill one year of the experience requirement.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Security Architecture and Engineering
  • Communication and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security

7) EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

The EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification is designed to validate a candidate's expertise in using ethical hacking techniques to analyze network infrastructure and identify security vulnerabilities that malicious hackers could exploit. Ethical hackers, also known as white-hat hackers, carry out these activities with the owner's permission. If you work in a role such as security officer, security professional, auditor, site administrator, or in a field related to network infrastructure, earning your CEH certification can help you secure high-paying jobs as an ethical hacker or security analyst. EC-Council offers two exams for this certification, and you can take one or both depending on your desired level of qualification. Most job positions only require knowledge-based CEH certification. The CEH certification covers the following domains: background, analysis, security, tools and systems, methodology, regulation policy, and ethics. Each domain is further divided into several subdomains. This intermediate to advanced level certification suits cybersecurity professionals who want to become ethical hackers.

Exam Cost: 1199 USD

Exam Format: The CEH exam consists of 125 questions that must be completed within four hours. To pass the exam, candidates must score at least 70% on the test.

Exam Prerequisites: To sit for the CEH certification exam, candidates must either attend an official training program offered by the EC-Council or have at least two years of professional experience working in the field of information security.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Introduction to Ethical Hacking
  • Foot Printing and Reconnaissance
  • Scanning Networks
  • Enumeration
  • Vulnerability Analysis
  • System Hacking
  • Malware Threats
  • Sniffing
  • Social Engineering
  • Denial-of-Service
  • Session Hijacking
  • Evading IDS, Firewalls, and Honeypots
  • Hacking Web Servers
  • Hacking Web Applications
  • SQL Injection
  • Hacking Wireless Networks
  • Hacking Mobile Platforms
  • IoT and OT Hacking
  • Cloud Computing
  • Cryptography

8) Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification is a highly respected and sought-after credential in cybersecurity. It focuses on management-based security practices and helps you develop the skills to design, supervise, and assess an organization's information security systems. By earning your CISM certification, you will know to implement security in your organization in line with its business goals. There is currently a high demand for information security management professionals, making this a valuable certification. If you work as a security or IT manager, security systems auditor or engineer, IT consultant, chief compliance officer, or information security officer, obtaining your CISM certification can make you a highly sought-after candidate in India and abroad. The CISM exam covers the following domains: information security governance, risk management, security program development and management, and security incident management.

Exam Cost: 575 USD (ISACA Members), 760 USD (Non-ISACA members).

Exam Format: The CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) exam consists of 150 questions that must be completed within four hours. The exam is scored on a scale of 200 to 800, with a passing mark of 450.

Exam Prerequisites: To take the CISM exam, candidates must have at least five years of professional experience working in the field of information security, with a minimum of three years of experience in the role of an information security manager.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Information security governance
  • Information security risk management
  • Information security program
  • Incident management

9) Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification is a prestigious exam that demonstrates your ability to audit, control, supervise, and analyze your company's IT and business systems. CISA-certified professionals are responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of an organization's IT and business systems by analyzing the threats faced by IT assets, managing assets, and implementing and auditing threat mitigation strategies. They also ensure that these strategies are aligned with risk management and provide recommendations based on their evaluations. The CISA certification is suitable for IT auditors, audit managers, consultants, and security professionals and is globally recognized by employers when recruiting for IT audit and security information positions. The CISA exam covers the following domains: the information systems auditing process, governance and management of IT, information systems acquisition and implementation, information systems operations, business resilience, and protection of information assets.

Exam Cost: 415 USD (ISACA Members), 545 USD (Non-ISACA members).

Exam Format: To pass the CISA exam, you must answer 150 questions within four hours. The passing mark for this exam is 450, with a score between 200 and 800.

Exam Prerequisites: To take the CISA exam, candidates must have five years of work experience in Information Systems Auditing, Control, Assurance, or InfoSec.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Information systems auditing process
  • Governance and management of IT
  • Information systems Acquisition, development, and implementation
  • Information systems operations and business resilience
  • Protection of information assets

10) Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

The Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification is the most sought-after credential for demonstrating expertise as a cloud security professional who can effectively handle security challenges. As a CCSP-certified professional, you have advanced technical skills and expertise in implementing policies and procedures for designing, managing, and securing cloud data and infrastructure as defined by cybersecurity experts. If you are an experienced IT professional in risk and compliance, information security, governance, security engineering, IT auditing, or architecture, earning your CCSP certification can take your career to the next level. You may be eligible for cloud administrator, architect, and computing analyst positions, and you can expect a significant increase in your salary. The CCSP exam tests your knowledge in the following six domains: cloud concepts, architecture and design, cloud data security, cloud platform and infrastructure security, cloud application security, and cloud security operations and legal, risk, and compliance.

Exam Cost: 599 USD

Exam Format: The CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional) exam consists of 150 questions that must be completed within four hours. To pass the exam, candidates must score at least 700 out of 1000 points.

Exam Prerequisites: IT professionals interested in taking the CCSP exam are expected to have a minimum of five years of experience in information security, including at least three years working in IT.

Exam Modules:

The course contains the following modules:

  • Cloud Concepts, Architecture, and Design
  • Cloud Data Security
  • Cloud Platform & Infrastructure Security
  • Cloud Application Security
  • Cloud Security Operations
  • Legal, Risk, and Compliance

How to choose a cybersecurity certification?

Your career goals and areas of interest:

When choosing a cybersecurity certification, it is important to consider your career goals and areas of interest within the field. Look for certifications that align with your goals and areas of expertise and will help you achieve your desired career objectives.

Relevance and recognition in the industry:

It is essential to research the recognition and value of a cybersecurity certification within the industry before making a decision. Choose the certifications that are widely recognized and respected by employers worldwide.

Required experience and education:

Before deciding on a cybersecurity certification, consider the experience and education requirements, as well as any prerequisites that may be necessary. This can help ensure that you have the necessary qualifications and are prepared to meet the certification requirements.

Cost and time investment:

When choosing a cybersecurity certification, consider the financial and time investment required. Consider the cost of the certification and the time needed to study and prepare for the exam. This can help you determine if the certification is a worthwhile investment for you.

Maintenance requirements:

Some cybersecurity certifications require ongoing maintenance, such as completing continuing education units or passing recertification exams. It is important to consider the ongoing time and financial investment required to maintain the certification before deciding to pursue it.

The final words

Obtaining one of these top cybersecurity certifications can be a valuable asset if you seek to work in a security-related field. These certifications demonstrate a strong understanding of theoretical concepts and validate your practical skills and ability to respond effectively to security incidents.

They can help you develop advanced skills, think like a hacker, and gain expertise in a wide range of domains, leading to numerous job opportunities in networking, infrastructure, and security.

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