The Best Certifications for Cyber Security Careers

Certifications for Cyber Security Careers

Certifications for Cyber Security Careers: Has your dream job always been in cybersecurity but you don’t know where to start? You’re not alone. With new threats emerging daily, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is skyrocketing. Landing an entry-level position or advancing your career requires certain certifications, but with hundreds of options it’s tough to know which ones carry the most weight. I’ll walk you through the top certs that will grab a hiring manager’s attention and launch your cybersecurity career.

Whether you’re new to the field or ready to move up, you’ll learn the gold standard certifications that open doors at leading companies. Equipped with the credentials that matter most, you’ll be ready to join the ranks of cyber defenders securing our digital world. This practical roadmap steers you to certs that boost your skills and employability, helping you reach your cybersecurity career goals.

Overview of Cyber Security Careers

Certifications for Cyber Security Careers

Cyber security is one of the fastest growing and highest paying fields in tech. As our world becomes increasingly connected, the demand for cyber security professionals is skyrocketing. If you’re technically inclined and want an exciting, impactful career, cyber security could be perfect for you.

Certifications to Launch Your Career

One of the best ways to break into cyber security is to earn an industry-recognized certification. The CompTIA Security+ is a great place to start. This certification covers essential security concepts and helps you develop the skills to identify and address security risks. With a Security+, you’ll have a solid foundation to land an entry-level job as a security specialist or consultant.

Mid-Level Jobs: Where the Action Is

Once you have a few years of experience under your belt, you can move on to more advanced roles like security architect, engineer or analyst. Security architects design and build secure systems and networks. Security engineers focus on protecting systems and networks, conducting tests to identify vulnerabilities. Security analysts monitor networks for security risks and investigate any breaches that occur. These positions typically require certifications like the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).

Advanced Careers for Seasoned Pros

At the highest levels, you’ll find roles like Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and penetration tester (or “pen tester”). CISOs oversee entire security programs, developing strategies to protect their organization. Pen testers systematically attempt to hack into networks and systems to uncover vulnerabilities so they can be addressed. These jobs usually call for years of hands-on experience and certifications like the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).

The cyber security field offers rewarding, challenging work and near-limitless opportunities for growth. With the right certifications and experience, you can build a successful career keeping information safe and secure. The demand has never been greater, so now is the perfect time to jump in!

Top Certifications for Cyber Security

One of the best ways to launch your career as an cyber security professional is by earning respected certifications. These certifications prove to employers that you have the knowledge and skills to get the job done. Some of the top options to consider include:

CompTIA Security+

This is one of the most widely recognized certifications for entry-level cyber security professionals. It covers essential security concepts like network security, compliance and operational security, threats and vulnerabilities, application, data and host security, access control and identity management. If you’re just getting started, Security+ is a great place to begin.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

For those interested in penetration testing, the CEH certification is a must-have. This certification proves you have the knowledge and skills to find and fix vulnerabilities in networks and systems. CEH training focuses on hacking techniques and tools so you can think like a hacker in order to better protect systems and networks. This is an advanced certification that requires at least two years of relevant experience.


The Certified Information Systems Security Professional or CISSP certification is considered the gold standard for cyber security professionals. This certification proves you have the knowledge and experience to design, engineer, implement and manage the overall security posture of an organization. To qualify, you need at least five years of relevant work experience in two or more of the CISSP domains. This is an advanced certification, but it will open many doors in terms of career opportunities.

There are many other valuable certifications for cyber security, but these are some of the most prestigious. Earning the right certifications for your experience level and career goals will help fast track your success as an cyber security professional. Keep learning and expanding your knowledge, and the sky’s the limit!

CompTIA Security+

Get Certified

One of the most well-known and respected cyber security certifications is CompTIA Security+. This certification confirms your knowledge of network security, compliance and operational security, threats and vulnerabilities, application and data security, and identity and access management.

To earn Security+, you need to pass the SY0-601 exam. This exam covers topics like authentication, access control, cryptography, and disaster recovery. It’s a great way to prove your skills in areas critical for any cybersecurity role.

Build Your Foundation

Security+ establishes a solid foundation in information security concepts and principles. It covers the essentials you need to become an entry-level cybersecurity professional. With this certification, you’ll have the knowledge to implement infrastructure security, understand how attacks work, support organizational security policies, and identify and address common vulnerabilities.

Open Doors

Security+ is recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and can help you meet the DoD 8570 compliance requirements. It’s also approved by the U.S. Federal government for cybersecurity education and awareness training. This wide acceptance makes Security+ ideal if you want to work in the government sector.

Move into Mid-level Roles

While Security+ is good for entry-level positions, it can also help you move into mid-level roles like security specialist, security consultant or information security analyst. Many cybersecurity employers prefer or even require Security+ certification. Adding this credential to your resume is a great way to stand out and open up more advanced job opportunities.

Achieving Security+ certification shows you have the skills and dedication to succeed in an exciting cybersecurity career. It provides a strong foundation of essential concepts and practical techniques to help protect organizations from threats. If you’re ready to prove yourself in this fast-growing field, Security+ is the perfect place to start.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Certifications for Cyber Security Careers

The CISSP is considered the “gold standard” of cybersecurity certifications. It’s for those with at least 5 years of experience in security, and covers a wide range of topics. By earning this cert, you’ll prove you have advanced knowledge to design, implement, and manage cybersecurity programs.

To become a CISSP, you need to pass an exam that covers 8 domains: security and risk management, asset security, security architecture and engineering, communication and network security, identity and access management, security assessment and testing, security operations, and software development security. The broad knowledge required for this cert makes CISSP holders highly sought after. Many cybersecurity roles like security architects, security engineers, and security consultants prefer or even require the CISSP.

The CISSP is not easy to get, but the rewards are high. According to the (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, CISSP holders earn over $120,000 a year on average. The certification does require continuing education to maintain, but given the career benefits, it’s worth the investment. If you have the experience and are ready for a leadership role in cybersecurity, the CISSP is your chance to prove your expertise.

Overall, the CISSP is a prestigious certification that can open up leadership opportunities and higher pay. It covers a wide range of security topics so you can demonstrate a strong understanding of information security. The exam is challenging, but with diligent studying and the right experience, you can achieve this highly sought-after certification. If you’re looking for an advanced cybersecurity cert to take your career to the next level, the CISSP is an excellent choice.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification is one of the most well-known cybersecurity certifications. As an ethical hacker, your job is to hack systems and uncover vulnerabilities before malicious hackers can exploit them.

To earn the CEH certification, you must pass an exam that covers tools and techniques used by hackers to infiltrate networks and systems. The certification shows you have a skill set that’s in high demand. Many organizations hire ethical hackers to help strengthen their cyber defenses.

The CEH certification provides practical knowledge and skills to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in networks and systems. You’ll learn techniques used by hackers, such as reconnaissance, scanning, sniffing, and social engineering. You’ll also learn how to use tools like Wireshark, Nmap, and Kali Linux.

With this certification, you can work as a penetration tester, security auditor, security consultant, or security engineer. The average salary for a Certified Ethical Hacker in the U.S. is over $100,000 per year.

To earn the CEH certification, you must have at least two years of experience in information security and pass the CEH exam. The exam covers topics like:

•Network scanning: Identifying live hosts, open ports, services, and vulnerabilities.

•Enumeration: Extracting usernames, machine names, network shares, and SNMP information.

•Sniffing: Analyzing network traffic to extract data, login credentials, and passwords.

•Social engineering: Understanding how hackers trick people into revealing sensitive information or performing actions.

•DoS/DDoS attacks: Implementing and mitigating layer 3, 4, and 7 DoS and DDoS attacks.

•Session hijacking: Stealing authenticated sessions to gain unauthorized access.

•Web server attacks: Exploiting vulnerabilities in web servers and web applications.

•Wireless attacks: Cracking WEP and WPA keys to gain access to wireless networks.

•And much more. The CEH exam covers a wide range of tools, techniques, and scenarios that ethical hackers may encounter.

To prepare for the CEH exam, you should study the official CEH courseware and practice your skills in a virtual lab environment. With the right preparation, you can become a Certified Ethical Hacker.

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

As cloud computing becomes more widespread, the demand for cybersecurity professionals with cloud security skills is also growing. The Certified Cloud Security Professional or CCSP credential verifies your competency in cloud security architecture, design, operations and service orchestration.

To earn the CCSP, you need a minimum of five years of experience in information technology, with three years in information security and one year in cloud security. The CCSP exam covers six domains:

Architectural Concepts and Design Requirements

This includes understanding cloud reference architecture, security controls, and compliance requirements. You’ll need to know concepts like microsegmentation, encryption, key management, and identity and access management.

Cloud Data Security

You’ll be tested on securing data in the cloud, including data classification, access control, encryption, tokenization, masking, and data retention policies.

Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Security

Covers securing the underlying infrastructure of a cloud platform, like hypervisor security, virtual network security, and virtual machine security.

Cloud Application Security

Focuses on securing software and applications in the cloud, including identity and access management, application vulnerability management, and application security best practices.


Includes cloud security operations like incident response, security monitoring, disaster recovery, and business continuity management.

Legal and Compliance

Covers regulatory compliance and legal issues surrounding cloud security like data privacy laws, audits, and service agreements.

The CCSP is a highly-regarded credential for cloud security professionals. Earning it can help open up senior job opportunities as a cloud security architect, analyst, or manager. While the exam is challenging, thorough preparation through coursework and practice questions will set you up for success. With cloud security in high demand, the CCSP is a valuable certification for your career.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Certifications for Cyber Security Careers

The CISM certification is one of the most prestigious credentials for experienced cybersecurity professionals. To qualify for the CISM, you need at least five years of experience in information security management. The exam covers topics like risk management, incident management, and compliance.

Earning the CISM shows employers you have the knowledge and experience to design, oversee, and assess an enterprise’s information security. CISM holders often work as information security managers, directors or in executive roles. The credential is offered by ISACA, a nonprofit organization focused on IT governance.

To earn your CISM, you must pass a rigorous exam covering four domains: Information Security Governance

This includes establishing and maintaining an information security management program and framework based on industry standards and best practices.

Information Risk Management

You’ll need to demonstrate an understanding of risk management concepts, tools, and methods used to identify, analyze, and evaluate information technology-related risks.

Information Security Program Development and Management

Covers managing information security programs, resources, and relationships to ensure alignment with the organization’s goals and priorities.

Information Security Incident Management

Focuses on establishing and overseeing the processes to detect, respond to, and resolve information security incidents to minimize their impact.

Studying for the CISM exam takes dedication and time. ISACA recommends at least three to five years of work experience as an information security manager and 150 hours of study time. The good news is, with the right preparation, you have an excellent chance of passing. Many find success using the official ISACA study materials along with practice exams and Q&As.

Earning your CISM can open up more advanced job opportunities and higher pay. According to ISACA, CISM holders earn 20% more on average than non-certified peers. The hard work you put into studying will pay off with a respected credential that proves your ability to manage and direct an enterprise’s information security.

GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

The GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) certification verifies that you have the knowledge and skills to design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program. This intermediate-level cert is ideal if you’re looking to break into cybersecurity or take the next step in your career.

To earn the GSEC, you have to pass a single exam covering eight domains like access controls, cryptography, and risk management. The multiple-choice exam is 180 questions and you have four hours to complete it. While challenging, the GSEC is achievable if you have a few years of IT experience and study the official coursework.

Once certified, you’ll be recognized as a cybersecurity pro with a strong foundation in policy, compliance, and architecture. The GSEC opens doors to jobs like security analyst, engineer, or consultant. It also acts as a stepping stone to more advanced GIAC certs.

Compared to other certs, the GSEC is moderately priced. GIAC member fees start around $800, while non-member fees are $1,500. GIAC offers discounts for students, government employees, and groups. They also provide financing options to make the cert more affordable.

The GSEC certification is a respected credential that proves you have real-world cybersecurity skills. If you want to establish yourself as an information security professional, the GSEC is an excellent place to start. You’ll gain knowledge that will benefit you no matter which direction your career takes. And with hard work and experience, you can leverage the GSEC to reach the highest levels of cybersecurity.

Certifications for Cyber Security Careers FAQs

One of the most common questions aspiring cybersecurity professionals have is which certifications they should pursue. With so many options, it can be tough to determine which certs will benefit your career the most. Here are answers to some of the FAQs about the top cybersecurity certifications.

What is the best certification for beginners? If you’re just getting started in cybersecurity, the CompTIA Security+ certification is a great place to begin. This vendor-neutral cert will teach you technical skills in risk assessment, network security, and security management. The exam covers a broad range of essential security topics, making it an excellent entry point into the field.

Which certifications are in the highest demand? Some of the certifications most in demand right now are the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certs. These certs demonstrate your skills in risk management, auditing, and overall information security management. Holding one of these certs can open up more advanced job opportunities and higher pay.

How much do certifications cost? The costs for cybersecurity certifications range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. The specific exam fees depend on the certifying organization and the level of the certification. For example, CompTIA Security+ exam costs around $350, while the CISSP exam is $700. Some certifications also require annual maintenance fees to keep the certification valid. It’s a good idea to budget for any mandatory training courses or materials as well.

Will a certification guarantee me a job? While certifications can help demonstrate your skills and knowledge to employers, they do not guarantee a job. Many factors determine a candidate’s viability, including experience, education, soft skills, and career goals. That said, holding certain certifications, especially those in high demand, can give you a competitive advantage in the job market and help launch or advance your cybersecurity career.

The field of cybersecurity certifications is vast, but focusing on a few of the most well-known and respected certs is a great way to strengthen your resume and open up more career opportunities. With the right certifications, experience, and skills, you’ll be on your way to an exciting and rewarding career as a cybersecurity professional.


You’ve come this far, so don’t stop now! The cybersecurity field needs skilled professionals like yourself to help protect sensitive data. Though the certifications covered take hard work, the rewards will be worth it. You’ll gain the knowledge to excel at a fulfilling career.

Just imagine yourself soon working in an exciting role, using your expertise to face each challenge. The satisfaction of securing critical systems and keeping information safe will make the effort to get certified pay off. Stay persistent and keep learning – you got this! With the right prep and dedication, that cybersecurity certification will be in your hands before you know it.



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