Looking for an objective list of the top 10 best cybersecurity certifications in 2021? You have found it! We asked thousands of cyber security professionals to rank their favourite cyber security courses. See the results below!
About the Top 10 Online CyberSecurity Certifications – Introduction
We asked ISCN’s community of over 90,000 information security professionals on LinkedIn over 20 questions about 50 of the leading cybersecurity certifications. In this blog post, we have compiled their answers to provide a definitive list of the top 10 best cybersecurity certifications in 2021.
The Top 10 Best CyberSecurity Certifications in 2021 are…
10. Penetration Testing Courses by SANS
Starting in reverse order, just making it into the top 10 this year, is the Penetration Testing Courses offered by SANS. These courses, in particular, ranked well for helping participants increase their pay grade. Indeed, although not paid as much as other positions, those in possession of this certificate still often earn in 6 figures.
9. University Degree
In 9th place is a University Degree specific to cyber security. Although most cyber security professionals did not rate this option highly in terms of ‘real world’ experience, they do however recommend it for those considering management positions. This, perhaps, is understandable, as having a formal degree certificate from a recognized university certainly looks good on a resume.
However, as with most university degrees, the university itself matters. Not sure which university to choose? This 2019 guide provides a list of the top universities offering computer science degrees.
8. CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional)
The 8th best cybersecurity certification is the CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional) certification program. Despite dropping a couple places from last year, it remains popular among survey respondents with 15% of them stating their intention to complete the course within the next 12-24 months.
CCSP from ISC2 is becoming more popular with the spread of cloud computing systems. Creators of the course designed it 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
According to PayScale, the average annual salary for CCSP certificate holders is currently $119,000.
7. CompTIA Security+
In 7th place this year is the CompTIA Security+ Course. Although ranking lower than in last year’s survey, it remains in the top 10 with with 26% of survey respondents praising its relevance to real world scenarios.
For people interested in making their first steps toward a career in cyber security, the CompaTIA Security+ Certification is a great start. It is one of the best introductory qualifications and a great way into the cybersecurity sector. By gaining the Security+ certification, you will be qualified to deal with a wide range of considerations that need to be taken into account to implement successful security strategies.
6. CCISO – Certified Chief Information Security Officer – from EC-Council
In 6th place, and with its debut in the top 10 this year, we have the CCISO Certification from EC-Council. For those looking to get promoted to managerial positions, this could be the best cybersecurity certification for you. 33% of cyber security professionals stated that this course is one of the best for equipping participants to succeed in managerial positions. Todd Fitzgerald, below, answers a few questions about the certificate and its relevance to management within cyber security, among other factors.
CCISO’s managerial qualities are no doubt related to its industry-leading CISO training program. It recognizes the variety and depth of real-world experience that is required to succeed at Executive level in information security. Although a few years ago, this course was even listed above the CISSP online course as one of the certifications held by top earners in Certification Magazine’s ‘Salary Survey 2015: An All-New Salary Survey 75’.
5. Cisco – CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional)
5th on our list is the Cisco CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) certification. 26% of cyber professionals surveyed stated that this course provides you with skills which are directly transferable to the real world. It also ranked highly in terms of courses which are in-demand by employers, with 23% of respondents providing this course in their answer.
4. EC-Council – Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
NOTE: Discount available using our CEH Coupon Code.
In 4th place is EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) qualification. This course consistently ranked near the top of the survey’s respondents. For example, in response to the question about which qualification is most in-demand by employers, 25% of all respondents gave CEH as an answer.
And it looks like the popularity of CEH is set to increase with 21% (in second place) of respondents stating that they intend to take this course within the next 12-24 months, as shown in Figure 1.1. below.
Figure 1.1. Which certification(s) are you thinking about studying for in the next 12-24 months?
Source: ISCN’s 2021 Survey
The CEH online training course covers 18 of the most up to date and important security domains you will need to consider as an ethical hacker. The course will help you to prepare your organization against attacks and improve information security policies through identifying potential weaknesses. Taking you through 18 modules, it comprehensively covers over 270 attack methods and technologies which cyber criminals and hackers commonly use.
3. ISACA – CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)
The third best cybersecurity certification (according to the survey results) is the ISACA – CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) course. This course ranked high among survey respondents in terms of the management qualities which accompany it. For example, the course came in second place (after CISSP) in terms of equipping someone to succeed in a management position (as can be seen in Figure 1.2, below).
Figure 1.2. Which certification(s) would you say are best for equipping someone to succeed in a management position?
Source: ISCN’s 2021 Survey
But management skills are not the only benefit of the CISM certification. According to a study by Forbes regarding the certifications which lead to the highest salaries, this course came in 3rd place with an impressive annual salary of $148,622 in 2020.
The course is designed for managers and has a strong focus on strategy and policies. As such, this one is not one of the best cybersecurity certifications for beginners. You require a minimum of 5 years experience in Information Security before you are permitted to take the course. Plus this cannot be 5 years back in high school – the experience must be relevant from within the last 10 years.
2. Offensive Security – PWK OSCP
In 2nd place is the Offensive Security – PWK OSCP Course. As with the CISSP online course, this course consistently ranked high in the survey results. In particular, cyber security professionals believe it to have strong relevance to the ‘real world’, as shown below in Figure 1.3.
Figure 1.3. Which certification(s) would you say are best for learning skills that can be applied in the real world?
Source: ISCN’s 2021 Survey
And this wasn’t the only advantage pointed out by survey respondents. As seen previously in Figure 1.1., cybersecurity professionals also ranked the qualification in second place (behind CISSP) in terms of how ‘in-demand’ it is by employers.
1. CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional – from ISC2
NOTE: 15% CISSP Discount available using our CISSP Promo Code.
Top of our list in 2021 is the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) course. In our survey, most cyber security professionals ranked CISSP as the best all-round cyber security course. In particular, respondents rated it for its relevance to the real world, the earning potential it provides, as well as how in-demand it is by employers.
For example, for the question ‘Which certification(s) would you say are most in demand by employers?’ a whopping 72% of them gave the CISSP certification as their answer (as can be seen in Figure 1.4 below).
Figure 1.4. Which certification(s) would you say are most in demand by employers?
Source: ISCN’s 2021 Survey
As can be seen, the CISSP certification is in-demand. This popularity in workplace is mirrored by a corresponding high salary. Figure 1.2., below, shows how 77% of information security professionals regard CISSP as the highest paid security certification. This is lent support by a study by Forbes in 2020 which likewise found that those possessing this certification enjoy one of the highest salaries within IT ($141,452).
Furthermore, CISSP was voted the best cybersecurity certification in terms of its relevance to the real world, as shown in Figure 1.5 below.
Figure 1.5. Which certification(s) would you say are best for getting into high-paying positions?
Source: ISCN’s 2021 Survey
However, despite being the most popular course, it is not always the right choice for everyone. A few considerations to keep in mind are that it requires paid work experience, as well as regular recertification. Furthermore, it also requires a certain level of prerequisite experience, so for those just starting out in the world of cyber security, it is not a great fit. For these reasons, you may want to consider the other courses listed (above) in our top 10.
Honorable Mentions (not included in our Top 10 Best Information Security Certifications)
The courses below did not make the top 10 best cybersecurity certifications in our survey, but we have picked them out as honorable mentions:
APT – Advanced Penetration Testing – by EC-Council
Similar to OSCP and OSCE, the APT course prepares ethical hackers for real world scenarios. Students have to overcome defenses as well as discover targets, similar to situations you may encounter in ‘the real world’. Not only does the course teach you how to perform a professional security test, but it also shows you how to then present your findings in reports. For IT professionals who are serious about a career in information security, this course is a valuable addition to your skills and qualifications.
The course includes invaluable training about real world penetration issues, including:
- Post Exploitation
- Advanced Techniques
- Data Analysis
Encryption is becoming an increasingly important part of cyber-security. This course will teach you the foundations of modern symmetric and key cryptography, including the details of algorithms such as Feistel Networks, DES, and AES. In terms of practical application, you will learn how to set up a VPN, encrypt a drive, knowledge of steganography and cryptographic algorithms.
EC-Council’s ECES Course is for anyone involved in the selection and implementation of VPNs or digital certificates. It will help you to better understand cryptography and move beyond the marketing hype.
CHFI – Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator – by EC-Council
The CHFI from EC-Council is a computer forensics course that will give you a range of skills to help you identify an intruder’s footprints and teach you how to gather the necessary evidence to prosecute.
You will be taught about many of the top tools used in computer forensics, including hardware, software, and specialized techniques.
It is no longer a matter of “will your organization be comprised (hacked)?” but, rather, “when?”
Make sure you’re ready by completing this online training course and getting certified as a Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator.
CND – Certified Network Defender – by EC-Council
The CND course from EC-Council is the most advanced Certified Network Defense course with 14 of the most current network security domains any individuals will ever want to know when they are planning to protect, detect, and respond to the network attacks. Using the CND coupon code (“INFOSEC15”) allows you to obtain this qualification with a 15% discount.
Who took part in the survey?
In order to determine which are the best cybersecurity certifications, the survey was sent to thousands of cybersecurity professionals, including over 90,000 members of the Information Security Careers Network LinkedIn Group. Despite being united by their profession (of cybersecurity), they come from a range of backgrounds.
In terms of earning power, 35% of respondents earn above $100,000, with 7% earning even above $200,000.
In terms of location, the majority (41.5%) of survey participants are situated in North America, while 28.3% are in Asia, and 20.8% in Europe (as shown below in Figure 1.6).
Figure 1.6. Location of survey participants
Source: ISCN’s 2021 Survey
Save on the best CyberSecurity Certifications through ISCN
Many of these training courses are available through our partners at discounted rates for the ISCN community (which you are already a part of if you’re using this site). You can view the full list of our current training discounts on our homepage.
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