If you’re looking to get ahead in 2017, getting certified is one of the best ways to do it. However, there are a lot of security certifications out there, so where should you start? We’ve taken a look at some of the best security certifications that can help to boost your career.
Choosing the right security certification for you depends on a number of factors, mostly relating the area or specialism within cyber security that you want to work in. Some qualifications are great if you want to move into general security consulting, or security management, and there are also more specific certificates if you want to move into ethical hacking, network security, PCI or policy auditing, etc.
If you’re interested in studying toward any of the certifications below, you can view all of the latest discounts and deals on security training courses on our homepage, as we have a number of special offers available from our different training partners.
There are also links to our exclusive training discounts for some of the certifications listed below.
Whether you are getting started in cyber security, or looking to advance your career, here are 11 certifications that will provide you with the right credentials to kick-start a successful IT security career in 2017 and beyond.
1. CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional
The CISSP is an advanced-level certification from ISC2 and is considered by many to be the gold standard in information security qualifications. It consistently tops lists of the best security certifications due to the wide-ranging nature of the course material. To become fully CISSP qualified, you must sit an exam which consists of 250 questions and takes an average of 6 hours to complete, and have at least 5 years of relevant experience. On top of that, you need to keep your knowledge up to date by obtaining CPE learning credits by attending related events.
The CISSP qualification is specifically designed for professionals with a minimum of 3 to 5 years of experience in the industry (you can be a CISSP associate while you build up your experience if you pass the exam). The exam covers all of the main cyber security domains, such as access control, security management practices, security models and architecture, cryptography, telecommunications and networking. If you want to become a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), CISSP is a must. In addition, you will also be qualified to handle other job titles, such as Systems Engineer, Analyst, Consultant and Manager. The average annual salary for CISSP holders is $121,000 but it may vary depending on the job role, experience and location.
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2. CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker
The CEH from EC-Council is a must for IT professionals pursuing a career in ethical hacking. Holders of the CEH certificate possess the skills, knowledge and hacking techniques required to beat their malicious counterparts in various areas, such as scanning networks, foot-printing and reconnaissance, system hacking, enumeration, worms & viruses, denial-of-service attacks, Trojans, social engineering, hacking web servers, session hijacking, web applications, cryptography, wireless networks, firewalls, penetration testing, honeypots and IDS/IPS.
The CEH exam lasts 4 hours and contains around 125 multiple choice questions. In order to be eligible for the CEH exam, you need to have at least 2 years work experience. The average annual salary of Certified Ethical Hackers is approximately $103,000.
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3. CCISO – Certified Chief Information Security Officer
The CCISO certification program from EC-Council is the first-of-its-kind training program aimed at producing top-level IT security executives. The focus of the CCISO is not solely on technical knowledge but on the application of information security management principles.
It’s been created by CISOs for CISOs, and is therefore one of the best security certifications if you want to move into senior level security positions. The program covers 5 security domains:
● IS Management Controls and Auditing Management
● Management – Projects and Operations
● Information Security Core Competencies
● Strategic Planning and Finance
Current, as well as aspiring CISOs can hugely benefit from this certification program. To be eligible for the CCISO exam, individuals need to have 5 years of IS management experience in any 3 of the 5 CCISO domains.
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4. CISM – Certified Information Security Manager
CISM is a certification program focused on information security management and is a big plus point for those looking for a lucrative InfoSec management or consultant jobs. It is one of the top credentials for IT professionals responsible for developing the best organisational security practices. Those involved in managing, developing and overseeing information security systems in enterprise-level applications can also benefit from this program.
Holders of the CISM credential possess advanced skills and knowledge in program development and management, security risk management, incident management, governance and response. To be eligible for this certification program, you need to have 5 years of verifiable experience.
5. CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Security+ almost always appears in lists of the best security certifications as it is a vendor-neutral security certification and a globally-recognized benchmark for the best practices in IT security. This certification program covers all the essentials of security systems, network security and risk management, identity management, cryptography and organisational systems. If you want to have a successful career in IT security, this certification is a great place to start.
Even though Security+ is an entry-level certification, candidates should possess a minimum of 2 years’ experience in network security. To really boost your IT security career, it would be beneficial to first obtain the CompTIA Network+ certification, followed by the Security+ certificate. Security+ credential holders can look forward to landing a job with an average annual salary of $94,000.
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6. CCSP – Certified Cloud Security Professional
The CCSP certification program from ISC2 is becoming more popular with the spread of cloud computing systems. It is specifically designed for information security professionals with a minimum of 5 years work experience, including a minimum of 1 year of cloud security experience and 3 years of information security experience.
This certification program is suitable for mid to advanced-level professionals involved with information security, IT architecture, governance, web and cloud security engineering, risk and compliance, as well as IT auditing. CCSP credential holders are competent in the 6 CCSP domains mentioned below:
● Architectural Concepts and Design Requirements
● Cloud Data Security
● Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Security
● Cloud Application Security
● Legal and Compliance
The average annual salary for CCSP certificate holders is currently $81, 374.
7. GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
If you are interested in demonstrating your skills in securing IT systems, you can enroll for the GSEC exam. This certification exam is offered by GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification). GIAC is a body which is recognized globally for its state-of-the-art cyber security certifications.
GSEC is an entry-level certification offering hands-on security experience beyond terminology and knowledge, and is another good all-round certification that a lot of employers look for. GSEC credential holders possess technical skills and knowledge in areas such as password management, identification and prevention of common and wireless attacks, DNS, authentication, IPv6, Linux, cryptography fundamentals, network mapping, ICMP and network protocols. This certification has to be renewed every 4 years. You can expect an average annual salary of $77,000.
8. CRISC – Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control
If you want to develop a better understanding of how IT risks are related to the overall functioning and working of an organisation, then the CRISC certification program is one of the best security certifications. This program will help you in developing the technical skills required to understand and manage the corporate risks and implement the right controls to prevent a security breach.
The CRISC certificate is often a necessity for c-suite executives, as well as risk & privacy officers and chief compliance officers. To apply for this certification program, you need a minimum experience of 3 years. The average annual salary for top-tier CRISC credential holders is $122,954.
9. PCI DSS QSA – Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards Qualified Security Assessor
If you are an InfoSec professional and currently handling the responsibilities of a compliance officer or are a part of the internal audit team, or if you tackle business operations and security infrastructure relating to payment card details, PCI-QSA is definitely one of the best security certifications you can have.
To be eligible for the PCI-DSS QSA certification, you need to have sound IT security knowledge and a strong IT and Networking background. The certification program aims to provide applicants with a general understanding of the working of the credit card industry and in-depth knowledge of security and IT applications, databases or servers and network configurations. Expertise in PCI gives individuals an edge to pursue multiple job roles within their organisation. PCI-QSA certificate holders along with PA-QSA (Payment Application Qualified Security Assessors) are often in demand on either a permanent or contract basis as companies are increasingly looking for candidates with a broader range of expertise and specialized talent.
10. GIAC Security Expert (GSE) – Global Information Assurance Certificate
The GSE certification from GIAC can be considered one of the best security certifications – it is certainly one of the most advanced and respected. It’s at a much higher level than the more common GSEC information security certificate by GIAC, and is aimed at those seeking in-depth knowledge in all areas of information security.
Being GSE certified demonstrates that the holder is not only fully proficient and competent in a wide variety of skills required for top-level Infosec jobs, but has actually mastered them and is at the top of their game – joining the elite practitioners in their field.
The baseline requirements for the GSE certification are that you must already have passed a combination of some of the other GIAC certifications (GSEC, GCIH, GCIA, GCWN, GCUX, GCIH) or other higher level certifications, along with previous experience in the subject areas.
The GSE exam tests the ability of applicants in general security, incident handling and intrusion detection and analysis, and has 2 parts: a 3-hour multiple choice exam and a 2-day hands-on lab. The certification must be renewed every 4 years by taking the latest version of the multiple choice exam (unlike other certs, CPEs cannot be used to renew the qualification).
11. SSCP – Systems Security Certified Practitioner
SSCP from ISC2 is a first-rate entry-level IT security certification and is the perfect precursor to the much favored CISSP certification. If you are hoping to land a job as a Network Security Engineer, Security Analyst, Database Administrator, Security Administrator, Systems Engineer, Security Consultant or Network/Systems Analyst, SSCP certification is one of the best security certifications to start with. The SSCP exam lasts 3 hours and includes 125 multiple choice questions.
SSCP certificate holders demonstrate the ability and technical skills required for tackling the operational responsibilities and demands of security practitioners, focusing on the following CBK domains:
• Access Controls
• Security Operations and Administration
• Risk Identification, Monitoring, and Analysis
• Incident Response and Recovery
• Network and Communications Security
• Systems and Application Security
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What are your thoughts on the list above? Do you agree with us that these are the best security certifications, or are there any others that you think should also be included? Add your comments below.