Best Cybersecurity Certifications

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Given the increasing rate of cyber crimes, cybersecurity professionals are in demand. Here are the best cybersecurity certifications that can help forward your career.

What is a Cybersecurity Certification?

Organizations are increasingly employing cybersecurity professionals to fight against the continually evolving cyber threat landscape. According to research, cyber criminal activity is expected to cost $10.5 trillion on an annual basis by 2025.

While hiring a cybersecurity expert sets up an organization to better fight against cyber threats, it does not guarantee the eradication of cyber crime. If you want to ensure your company is well-protected against cyber threats, we recommend hiring a professional who has obtained a cybersecurity certification.

A cybersecurity certification also plays a key role in employment and career advancement. These certifications serve two purposes. The first is to train entry-level professionals to use specific technologies and tools. And the second is to provide a path for seasoned professionals to verify and showcase their skills.

Also read: Top Computer Networking Jobs & Salaries 2022

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) v11

screenshot of Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) v11

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) v11 is a cybersecurity certification course provided by the EC-Council that will teach you the latest enterprise-level hacking methodologies, techniques, and tools used by information security professionals and hackers to lawfully hack an enterprise.

Key Differentiators

  • The CEH v11 cybersecurity certification course consists of 20 modules, including vulnerability analysis, system hacking, malware threats, sniffing, session hijacking, hacking web servers, hacking web applications, SQL injections, IoT hacking, and cryptography.
  • The course exposes you to the potential damages and business risks that can occur due to negligence. 
  • You will be able to make well-informed decisions regarding the level of risk an organization can face if it decides to address a security issue.
  • The highlights of the course include mapping to NICE 2.0; a greater focus on emerging attack vendors; modern exploit technologies exposure; hands-on hacking challenges; real-world case studies and current events; enhanced focus on malware detection; cloud and IoT; live Cyber Range; and thousands of hacking tools, tricks, and techniques.   
  • To commence the EC-Council-certified ethical hacking course, you can select and pay for your training method and package constituents—whether on-demand or instructor-led— via the CEH v11 certification course page. 
  • You can partake in the Web Application Hacking and Security certification course for free if you register for the CEH v11 certification course.
  • The certification course is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and French.

Pricing: CEH v11 with on-demand training starts at $718. CEH v11 with instructor-led training starts at $3,499.

Potential jobs: Cybersecurity auditor, system security administrator, IT security administrator, cyber defense analyst, vulnerability assessment analyst, warning analyst, information security analyst, cybersecurity consultant, manual ethical hacker, junior penetration tester, and more.

Explore course work on becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

screenshot of Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) is an ISACA certification that indicates expertise in risk management, incident management, program development and management, and information security governance.

Key Differentiators

  • The CISM certification is ideal for those who have technical expertise and experience in IT security and want to progress from team player to manager. 
  • ISACA’s CISM certification adds confidence and credibility to your interactions with regulators, peers, and stakeholders.
  • The cybersecurity certification validates your team’s commitment to increasing customer retention, integrity, security, and compliance.
  • You can take the CISM exam in-person at a testing center or online with remote proctoring.
  • Visit ISACA’s official website, register for the CISM exam, and make the payment to schedule and take the exam.
  • You can download (and pay for) exam preparation material for additional guidance.  
  • The exam is available in English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Turkish.
  • Once you have cleared the CISM exam, you must apply for certification.

Pricing: The CISM certification exam starts at $575.

Potential jobs: Information security governance, information risk management, information security program development and management, and information security incident management.

Explore course work on becoming a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

CompTIA Security+ 

screenshot of CompTIA Security+

CompTIA Security+ is a top cybersecurity certification that validates the skills required to perform key security functions and pursue a career in IT security.

Key Differentiators

  • The certification is aligned to the latest techniques and trends in security controls, hybrid/cloud operations, enterprise networks, forensics, incident response, and risk assessment and management.
  • The certification establishes knowledge of the baseline skills any cybersecurity professional should know and increases opportunities for intermediate-level IT security jobs.
  • The certification prioritizes the practical skills required to assess the security posture of an organization’s IT infrastructure; monitor and secure hybrid environments; operate in accordance with policies and laws; and identify, analyze, and respond to security incidents and events.
  • The skills you will learn include compliance to regulations and risk management; operations and incident management; implementation of end-to-end security; a deep understanding of IT architecture and design; and mitigation of vulnerabilities, threats, and attacks.
  • Visit CompTIA’s website to register for the CompTIA Security+ SYO-601 certification exam. 
  • The certification exam is available in five languages: English, Japanese, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and Thai. 
  • You can take an online proctored certification exam or visit an affiliated testing center.
  • To prepare for the certification exam, you can make use of eLearning materials, study guides, instructor-led training, etc. These come at an additional cost.

Pricing: The CompTIA Security+ SYO-601 certification exam starts at $381.

Potential jobs: Security administrator, helpdesk manager/analyst, security engineer/analyst, IT auditor, system administrator, network/cloud engineer, DevOps/software developer, and IT project manager.

Explore course work on becoming a CompTIA Security+

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) 

Screenshot of Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) by (ISC)² is a cybersecurity certification that verifies the ability of an IT professional to efficiently design, implement, and maintain an enterprise-class cybersecurity program.

Key Differentiators

  • With the CISSP certification, you validate your cybersecurity expertise and become an (ISC)² member, unlocking peer-to-peer networking opportunities, educational tools, and numerous exclusive resources. 
  • The certification is ideal for security executives, managers, and practitioners.  
  • To continue as an (ISC)² member, upon the first anniversary of acquiring a CISSP certification, you must pay an annual maintenance fee of $125. 
  • To register for the CISSP certification exam, create a Pearson VUE account, select the CISSP certification option, and schedule your certification exam and testing center.
  • Download the free CISSP Ultimate Guide to learn about all certification exam policies and processes. 
  • At an additional cost, you can gain access to self-study tools, online self-paced training, and online instructor-led training.
  • Available languages include English, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German, and French.

Pricing: The CISSP certification exam starts at $749.

Potential jobs: Network architect, security consultant, security architect, security auditor, security manager, security analyst, security systems engineer, IT director/manager, director of security, chief information officer, and chief information security officer.

Explore course work on becoming a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Also read: Establishing Server Security Best Practices

GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

screenshot of GIAC Security Essentials

GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) validates a cybersecurity professional’s knowledge of information security and hands-on information security task expertise.

Key Differentiators

  • Areas covered include access control and password management, AWS fundamentals and security, container and macOS security, cryptography, data loss prevention and mobile device security, defense in depth, endpoint security, incident handling and response, LINUX fundamentals, and malicious code and exploit mitigation.
  • GIAC developed CyberLive to test the skills, understanding, and knowledge of candidates using virtual machines (VMs), actual code, and actual programs. 
  • Candidates are asked questions that mimic real-world tasks in cybersecurity. 
  • The GSEC certification exam offers remote and onsite, web-based proctoring options.
  • Self-paced study or college-level courses may help you prepare for the GSEC certification exam. Training resources are available as well at an additional cost.
  • Visit the GSEC official page to register and pay for the GSEC certification exam.

Pricing: A fee of $2,499 covers the GSEC certification exam and two practice tests.

Potential jobs: Security auditor, penetration tester, forensic analyst, security administrator, IT engineer, IT supervisor, security analyst, security manager, security architect, and security consultant.

Explore course work on becoming a GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)

Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT)

screenshot of Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT)

EC-Council’s Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT) is a user-driven certification course that teaches you how to execute a successful penetration test in an enterprise-level environment that must be defended, evaded, exploited, and attacked. 

Key Differentiators

  • The certification is a web-based, remotely proctored practical certification exam available for both individuals and corporations. 
  • You can undertake the 40-hour CPENT Training Course before you take the certification exam or tackle the certification exam directly by registering for the CPENT Challenge Edition package.
  • The CPENT Training Course consists of 14 modules that will teach you everything you should know about enterprise-level penetration testing.
  • Visit EC-Council’s CPENT page to register and pay for the CPENT certification exam of your choice.
  • If you score over 70%, you will receive the CPENT certification. If you score over 90%, you will earn the sought-after LPT (Master) credential.
  • The practical certification exam will test your ability to perform advanced Windows attacks, IoT system attacks, exploit writing, bypass a filtered network, penetration test operational technology (OT), pivot through hidden networks, write professional reports, weaponized exploits, attack automation with scripts, and more. 

Pricing: The CPENT certification exam starts from $999.

Potential jobs: Cybersecurity forensic analyst, penetration tester, cyber threat analyst, cyber threat intelligence analyst, technical operations network engineer, IT security administrator, information security analyst, security engineer, cybersecurity engineer, information security engineer, application security analyst, network security information analyst, and more.

GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)

Screenshot of GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)

GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) is another prestigious penetration testing certification that tests a cybersecurity professional’s ability to conduct a successful penetration test using best practice methodologies and techniques.

Key Differentiators

  • Areas covered include web application penetration testing, password attacks, pivoting, post-exploitation, scanning and exploitation, reconnaissance, scoping, and penetration planning.
  • CyberLive creates a lab environment that tests the skills, knowledge, and understanding of penetration testing candidates.
  • Candidates are asked real-world questions that require them to perform tasks that mirror enterprise-level job roles.
  • The certification exam is web-based and proctored onsite or remotely.  
  • Visit GIAC’s GPEN page to register and pay for the GPEN certification exam.
  • Additional resources for certification exam preparation are available at an extra cost.

Pricing: A fee of $849 covers the GPEN and two practice tests.

Potential jobs: Penetration tester, IT analyst, penetration testing engineer (red team), penetration testing engineer (blue team), ethical hacker, security auditor, cybersecurity specialist, IoT security engineer, and more.

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

screenshot of Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

The Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) certification by (ISC)² validates the knowledge and advanced technical skills required of a cybersecurity professional to administer, monitor, and implement IT infrastructure using enterprise-class security procedures, policies, and practices established by (ISC)² IT security professionals.

Key Differentiators

  • By obtaining an SSCP certification, you demonstrate your skills, potentially advance your career, and become an (ISC)² member, thereby gaining the support of cybersecurity professionals who will guide you through your career.
  • It should be noted that you will have to pay an annual fee of $125 to continue as an (ISC)² member, upon the first anniversary of obtaining an SSCP certification.
  • The cybersecurity certification is ideally suited to network security professionals and IT administrators, managers, and directors.  
  • Register for the SSCP certification exam by creating a Pearson VUE account, selecting the CISSP certification option, scheduling your certification exam, and selecting your preferred testing center.
  • Download the Free SSCP Ultimate Guide to learn all you should know about the certification exam and the value of the SSCP certification.
  • You can gain access to SSCP certification exam preparation material for an additional cost.
  • Available languages are English, Japanese, and Brazilian Portuguese.

Pricing: The SSCP certification exam costs $249.

Potential jobs: Network security engineer, security consultant, security specialist, system administrator, security administrator, security analyst, systems analyst, network analyst, systems engineer, and database administrator.

Explore course work on becoming a Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

Choosing Cybersecurity Certifications

Billions of people are connected to the internet, and no one is safe from the threat of cyber crime. Cyber crime has cost organizations billions of dollars over the years, and the need to employ cyber crime experts is paramount. The cybersecurity certifications discussed in this guide are the best cybersecurity certifications available today.

These certifications should help advance your career and salary, as they are sought after by human resource (HR) professionals. Select a certification that best meets your needs and acquire it at the earliest.

Read next: Best Network Security Software & Tools

Surajdeep Singh
Surajdeep Singh
Surajdeep Singh has been working as an IT and blockchain journalist since 2018. He is a contributor to publications including IT Business Edge, Enterprise Networking Planet & Smart Billions and works as a consultant at Drofa Communications Agency.

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