The cybersecurity analyst has become the third most valuable job description in the technology industry. The increasing security incidents to IT infrastructure, the demand for accountability from end-users, and the financial cost of successful breaches are significant reasons enterprises and startups are taking cybersecurity seriously. Ambitious professionals who choose a career in IT security are reaping the benefits of securing operating systems and deployed IT infrastructure.
Cybersecurity experts are handsomely rewarded for their efforts and are in high demand. But in an industry where standardization of skills is often proven, job candidates often must have specific certifications to obtain high-value jobs. Today, cybersecurity certifications play essential roles in highlighting a professional’s critical competencies alongside provable work experiences.
The top five popular certifications include CISSP, CISM, CRISC, AWS Certified Security, and CompTIA Security+ according to the 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report.
The Importance of Certifications in Cybersecurity
A few decades ago, anyone with a bit of understanding of computers and IT systems could label themselves as cybersecurity experts to gain access to jobs. The lack of regulation and little or no means to determine an expert’s core competencies except through informal referrals led to chaos within the industry. The rapid introduction of new threat actors and hacking tools exposed most ‘cybersecurity experts’ as under-qualified individuals with limited hands-on knowledge in dealing with threats.
To eliminate the chaos caused by inadequate validation processes, diverse organizations developed testing criteria to determine an individual’s ability to deal with all kinds of cybersecurity incidents. The testing procedure, which also awarded certifications, has become the top validation tools for enterprises hiring cybersecurity experts or firms.
Today, a cybersecurity certification is essential for different aspects of a professional’s career growth; at the entry-level where individuals with non-existent work experience intend to join the workforce, certifications highlight that the certified individual has the technical knowledge to handle cybersecurity issues. Attaining certifications gives entry-level professionals a foot into the door of a very competitive industry.
Experts who have spent years perfecting the art of identifying and mitigating cyber risks also have a lot to gain with a certification attached to their names. First, a certified expert takes professional development activities seriously. With the validation cybersecurity certifications provide, statistics show that professionals with multiple certifications earn approximately $10,000 more than those with fewer certifications.
The Top 5 Most Popular Cybersecurity Certifications
The International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)²: CISSP Information Systems Security Management Professional – The CISSP is a certification provided by ISC², and it accesses an individual’s ability to design, implement, and manage best-in-class cybersecurity operations for an enterprise. The certification examination process also expects you to have completed some prerequisite courses before taking the exam.
CISSP was developed to validate the skill sets of high-level cybersecurity experts such as Chief information officers and Chief Technical Officers tasked with running the operations of a security center. Certified professionals are expected to recertify in a couple of years, and the certification provides access to leading journals, resources, and tools about cybersecurity.
ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – ISACA is another international non-profit organization that provides certification training and examinations for the IT community. The CISM is a management-focused certification that evaluates a candidate’s understanding of both the technical and business aspects of managing a security operations center or system.
Earning a CISM validates your skill sets in setting up an operations center and managing it, thus supporting your application for management roles within the IT industry. CISM-certified professionals are granted access to cutting-edge security materials and are expected to recertify after a couple of years.
ISACA Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) –Properly managing a company’s exposure to risks from cybersecurity incidents ensures the affected company retains its brand reputation despite security threats. The CRISC certification validates a professional’s ability to manage IT enterprise risks and design risk-based information systems controls.
The CRISC certification is designed for risk and security managers, information control managers, and CIOs interested in validating their risk management abilities. The certification comes with an expiry date, and certified professionals are expected to renew their certifications periodically.
AWS Certified Security – Specialty: The leading provider of cloud-based services offers security certifications targeted at professionals building a career in managing AWS-built infrastructure. The AWS Certified Security certification is designed to evaluate and validate your ability to secure AWS cloud from cyber threat actors. The certification is targeted at risk and security managers, security analysts, and CIOs who intend to secure cloud infrastructure.
The certification program requires a prerequisite qualification, and certified professionals are expected to recertify in a few years. AWS-certified security professionals are in high demand due to Amazon’s dominance of the cloud infrastructure industry.
CompTIA Security+ – The CompTIA examination body is respected globally for designing programs to test the efficiency levels of IT professionals. Its Security+ certification program is designed for entry-level individuals looking to validate their understanding of IT security terminologies, tools, and operations. Thus, a CompTIA Security+ certificate should be viewed as the starting point for anyone interested in a career in IT security.
Prospective candidates do not require any prerequisite certifications to participate in the Security+ certification exam. It is also important to note that this certification fulfills the prerequisite conditions for more advanced certifications.
A cybersecurity certification is an excellent validation tool that confirms your technical and applicable knowledge of cybersecurity tools—getting certified increases your chances of building a career as a cybersecurity professional across every industry where IT infrastructure is deployed.