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Last year saw a rise in cybersecurity breaches with most of them suffered by major entities like Facebook, which had over 80 million records breached. These breaches not only lead to massive losses, but they also create opportunities for IT security professionals. 

A report by Cyber Seek shows that there are over 700,000 cybersecurity professionals in today's workforce. Moreover, the cybersecurity job opening is over 300,000 in the U.S. The number is expected to hit 500,000 by 2021.

Employers often go through certification when evaluating potential InfoSec candidates. Getting the right certification acts as a commitment to quality and measure of excellence. Certifications help you learn and understand the field while considering your career options. 

In this article, we look at what cybersecurity is, and what are the best cybersecurity certifications you need to have on your resume.

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber Security is an IT security that helps to protect the data and secure the system. The technology handles the safety of the system. Cybersecurity experts spearhead the effort to protect networks and devices. 

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Why Should You Pursue a Cyber Security Certification?

Human error is a threat to cybersecurity. Getting cybersecurity training comes with various benefits like: 

An Excellent Way to Expand Your Knowledge

Being a subject matter expert makes you a valuable asset in the job market. Specializing in cybersecurity makes you stand out from other IT professionals.

Show Interest and Commitment 

An employer is looking for a potential employee who has an interest in and commitment to the job. Getting certified demonstrates your commitment to pursue further education and grow in the cybersecurity industry. 

Save Time

Cybersecurity certifications help you to save time by giving you skills on how to implement valuable, comprehensive, and repeatable processes particular to your role and to the company you’ll work. After the certification, you’ll have the confidence to implement an information security program that can handle any cyber threats.

The 16 Best Cyber Security Certifications 

You can now have access to different cybersecurity certifications if you’re looking to advance your skills and gain knowledge in specific areas. Depending on your experience and career goals, you may find one or more courses ideal for career growth. Some of the best cybersecurity certifications to pursue include:

Security +

Security+ is a beginner level certification ideal for those interested in joining the cybersecurity industry. The course by CompTIA covers the basics in cybersecurity with a focus on trends in threat management, risk management, and mitigation.

However, you need to have at least two years of experience in network security and pass an exam to get the certification. 

NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NCSF)

NCSF comes as a founder and practitioner certification. The course offers you an overview and skills necessary for management cybersecurity threats at every level in the organization. You can expect to learn the challenges organizations face, and how to mitigate risks with the foundation course.

The practitioner certification is ideal for operations professionals or cybersecurity engineers who need a detailed knowledge of the NCSF. 

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification is an advanced course for information security professionals. Security professionals with this certification are in high demand in any industry. 

With this certification, you learn how to design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program. CISSP also showcases your expertise and allows you to become an ISC member. The membership helps you unlock exclusive resources, peer2peer networking opportunities, and access educational tools. 

However, you need to have a minimum of five years’ experience before pursuing this course. Two of those need to be in the CISSP standard body of knowledge domains and the rest a four-year degree.

Also, it takes three years to be certified. You must earn 120 CPE credits during the three years. Nonetheless, after the three years, you’ll now have the skills to direct an IS framework. 

CISSP covers asset security, security operations, software development security, and security & risk management. It also focuses on security assessment &testing, security architecture &engineering, and communication & risk management. 

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

You need to pursue a CISM if you plan to work as a government or an enterprise-level security management professional. 

To sit for this exam, you need to have at least five years in the Information Security sector, with three of those in management, position in ISACA approved practice areas. The course recognizes the person who manages, design, and oversees an enterprise’s information security. Professionals with this course can align their initiatives with broad business goals. 

It’s also an ideal certification if you plan to move into a CISO role. The course covers information risk management, information security governance, and information security incident management. Moreover, you’ll get to learn about information security program development and management. 

Systems Security Certified Practitioner

The Systems Security Certified Practitioner certification is an entry-level course for those interested in joining the cybersecurity industry. The ISC2 recognized certification is a requirement for CISSP certification.

You can expect to cover security operations, networks, access controls, cryptography, coding, and analysis. The only requirement is to pass the SSCP exam to earn this certification. What’s more, you can apply for jobs in security engineering, monitoring, and implementation positions. 

Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA)

The Certified Information Security course is another ISACA certification that focuses on information system controls and monitoring skills. Pursuing this certification shows that you’re competent enough to secure vital business assets.

Cybersecurity experts need to demonstrate their skills to identify risk and apply the best practices to mitigate any threats. Getting the CISA certification tells employers that you have the experience, but also a professional who can handle security issues.

CISA focuses on information systems acquisition, development and implementation, management of IT, IS operations, maintenance, management, and Auditing Information Systems.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

A certificate in Risk and Information Systems Control shows potential employers that you can identify and assess IT risks, to help organizations meet their objectives. You’ll get the right skills to plan and implement the proper measures to mitigate risk. 

According to ISACA reports, most CRISC holders can work as CIOs, CEOs. CFOs, CISOs, or as security executives in enterprises. 

CRISC covers risk identification, risk response, and risk monitoring. You’ll also learn about risk assessment and evaluation. Other notable topic areas include Information Systems control monitoring & maintenance and Information Systems Control Design and Implementation. 

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

CCNA or Cisco Certified Network Associate certification gives you the skills to recognize threats and vulnerabilities, come up with security infrastructure, and implement the best practices to handle security threats.

CISCO asserts that the course provides the right foundation for roles like network security support, network security technicians, and administrators. Certified professionals can secure devices and data with the latest CISCO security hardware and software solutions.

Some of the areas you can expect to cover are Cisco advance malware protection, SIEM technology, Identity Services Engine, and 802.1x authentication. The course also covers cloud &virtual network topologies and Cisco FirePOWER next-generation IPS. 

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

The CCNP course is ideal for Cisco network security engineers who have the task of securing routers, networking devices, appliances, and switches. Also, you should pursue this course if you support and troubleshoot IPS/IDS solutions and VPNs. 

A report by Cisco shows that the need for network security professionals will double by 2020. The course is broad and covers Cisco security devices, management services on Cisco devices, threat defense, and threat defense architectures. 

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

The Certified Ethical Hacker course is perfect for people interested in ethical hacking. The certification helps to identify weakness and vulnerabilities in security systems. Most cybersecurity practices, governments, and fortune 500 companies seek professionals with the CEH certification. 

Some of the areas you’ll cover in this course include ethics, security in regards to threat modeling, cryptography, firewalls, and the regulations. Also, you can expect to learn data analysis, programming languages, and a background in malware operations, protocols, networking technologies, etc. 

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)

Taking a CCIE certification helps you attain the necessary skills to implement, support, and maintain Cisco network security solutions using modern technologies and industry’s best practices. Candidates need to take a written exam and complete an eight-hour lab exam that tests their ability to secure the network in a timed manner.

You need to attempt the lab exam within a year and a half of passing the written exam. CCIE topic areas include evolving technologies, secure connectivity, advanced threat protection, virtualization, and intrusion prevention. 

GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)

The certification gives an IT professional the skills to detect and resolve computer security cases. Certified Incident Handlers can demonstrate various handling skills. It’s also an ideal course for security architects and system administrators looking to understand how cybercriminals crack passwords and infiltrate networks. 

The course covers incident handling, password attacks, network attacks, client attacks, and web application attacks. You can also expect to learn about cache poisoning, denial of service attacks, and covering tracks in systems and networks. 

CompTIA Security +

CompTIA Security + is an entry-level certification that provides you with technical skills and expertise in different security-related disciplines. Although it’s a beginner course, you need to have two years of experience working in network security.

The certification covers topics like security risk identification, identity management, threat management, network access control, security infrastructure, and cryptography. Another added advantage is that the U.S. Department of Defense approves the certification. 

You’ll need to take a single exam to get certified. However, you should note that those who took the Security + certification before January 2011 get the certificate for life, but if you take it after that date, you need to renew the license every three years.

The renewal involves taking 50 CEUs or take a CertMaster CE online course. 

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

The CCSP course is ideal for anyone who would like to show his or her skills in data security and cloud computing. Also, the certification demonstrates your proficiency in cloud architecture and application in security considerations. 

The ISC2 approved course if ideal for system architects, security administrations, systems engineers, security consultants, and security managers. 

Nonetheless, for you to be eligible for this course, you need to have at least five years of work experience, three of which need to be in information security and a year in CSSP standard body of knowledge.

Alternatively, you can substitute the CISSP credential for CCSP experience. Moreover, you need to pass the exam and subscribe to the code of ethics for you to get an endorsement.

Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT)

The Licensed Penetration Tester is a course by the EC-council. With this expert-level certification, you can demonstrate to potential employers your cybersecurity techniques. For you to be eligible for the exam, you need to have at least two years of experience and hold the EC-council security analyst certification.

Furthermore, you need to have an industry-equivalent certification like the offensive security certified professional or the GIAC penetration tester.

You can expect to cover SSH tunneling, OS exploits, multi-level pivoting, and privilege escalation. 

Certified Protection Professional (CPP)

The Certified Protection Professional course is not an ordinary certification, as it’s advanced enough and one of the requirements most organizations look for when they want to hire a CISO.

You need to have at least nine years of security experience, three of which needs to be in a security function. 


Choosing the best cybersecurity certification depends on where you are in your career and what you're looking to achieve. As a beginner in cybersecurity, you can opt to start with Security + or Network+ to gain skills necessary to land a job and increase your experience.

After some years of experience, you can get hacker or CISSP certification to enhance your chances for a new role or promotion. 


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About Diane Turner

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