It’s no secret that cybersecurity is constantly evolving, which means to ensure their organizations are protected, cybersecurity professionals must stay one step ahead of emerging threats.
One of the best ways to do this — whether you’re just starting out in cybersecurity or you want to advance your career — is by obtaining a cybersecurity certification. However, since so many cybersecurity certifications are available, selecting the one that’s right for you can seem daunting.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 cybersecurity certifications to help you determine which fits best with your career path.
Top 10 Cybersecurity Certifications to Boost Your Career in 2024
The CompTIA Security+ certification validates that you have the basic skills necessary for any cybersecurity role, particularly if you’re a new or aspiring cybersecurity professional. Achieving this certification will demonstrate to employers that you can assess the organization’s security, understand laws and regulations related to risk and compliance, identify and respond to security incidents, and monitor and secure Internet of Things, mobile, and cloud environments.
The recommended experience for the CompTIA Security+ exam is having the CompTIA Network+ certification and two years of experience in IT administration with a focus on security or two years of experience working in a security/systems administrator role.
Systems Security Certified Practitioner
The Systems Security Certified Practitioner, an intermediate security certification from ISC2, validates that you possess the advanced technical skills to implement, monitor, and administer your organization’s IT infrastructure. The SSCP certification is aimed at IT professionals working hands-on with their companies’ security systems or assets.
A prerequisite for this exam is one year of paid work experience in IT security. However, you can also qualify for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, cybersecurity, information technology, computer systems engineering, or management information systems.
GIAC Security Essentials
The GIAC Security Essentials certification is an entry-level credential for individuals with some networking and information systems background. This certification demonstrates that you can work in hands-on IT systems security roles. It validates your knowledge of information security “beyond simple terminology and concepts.”
If you want to take the GIAC Security Essentials certification exam, you must have completed the GIAC Security Essentials course or have equivalent information security knowledge and experience. GIAC recommends having at least two years of experience in information security (IS) or a related field before you take the exam.
Cost: Practitioner Certifications, $949; Applied Knowledge Certifications, $1,299
Certified Information Systems Security Professional
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional is an advanced certification from ISC2 designed for experienced security managers, practitioners, and executives. This certification confirms that you can effectively create, deploy, and manage a cybersecurity program.
To qualify for this certification, you must have five or more years of cumulative paid work experience in at least two of these cybersecurity areas: 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.
However, suppose you don’t have the full five years’ experience. In that case, you can satisfy one year of work experience with a four-year computer science degree or an additional credential from the ISC2-approved list. Part-time work experience and paid or unpaid internships are also acceptable.
Certified Information Systems Auditor
The Certified Information Systems Auditor certification from the ISACA helps external and internal cybersecurity auditors demonstrate their proficiency in evaluating security vulnerabilities, designing and deploying controls, and reporting on compliance. This certification is best if you’re a professional security engineer moving into auditing or a dedicated auditor wanting to become certified.
You need five or more years of experience in information security auditing, control, security, or assurance. You can substitute a two-year degree for one year of experience and a four-year degree for two years of experience.
Cost: $575 for members; $760 for non-members
Certified Ethical Hacker
The Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) certification offered by the EC-Council validates your skills in attack detection, vectors, penetration testing, and prevention. As a candidate for this certification, you’ll learn about the most up-to-date hacking techniques and tools and how to hack an organization legally and uncover security flaws. You must attend official training or have at least two years of experience in information security.
This certification is an excellent place to start if you’re a security professional looking to gain practical knowledge in ethical hacking and pen testing before progressing to more advanced certifications.
Cost: From $950 to $1,119, depending on how and where you complete the exam.
Certified Information Security Manager
The Certified Information Security Manager certification from ISACA validates your proficiency in risk assessment, governance, and incident response as an information security manager. This advanced certification demonstrates that you have the knowledge and experience to establish and manage an information security program. It’s designed for cybersecurity pros who want to move into team leader positions.
If you want to take this exam, you’ll need at least five years of professional experience in information security management. Up to two years of this requirement can be waived if you have general information security experience, another active certification, or a graduate degree in a field related to information security.
Cost: $575 for members; $760 for non-members
Systems Security Certified Practitioner
The System Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) certification is an intermediate security credential from ISC2. It demonstrates that you have the skills to implement, monitor, and administer a secure IT infrastructure. The exam tests your proficiency in security operations and administration, access controls, risk identification, monitoring and analysis, incident response and recovery, cryptography, network and communications security, and systems and application security. This certification is designed for IT pros working hands-on with their companies’ security systems or assets.
To take this exam, you’ll need at least one year of work experience in at least one of the testing areas. You can also meet this requirement with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in a cybersecurity program.
CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner
The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification is designed for experienced cybersecurity professionals, i.e., security architects and senior security engineers, who aren’t yet managers but are tasked with leading and improving their organizations’ cybersecurity readiness. This certification demonstrates your ability to design and implement the solutions necessary to prepare your enterprise for every cyberattack.
The exam covers advanced topics, including security architecture, operations, governance, risk and compliance, security engineering, and cryptography.
CompTIA recommends ten or more years of general hands-on IT experience, with at least five years of broad hands-on security experience.
GIAC Certified Incident Handler
The GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH) certification ensures you have the knowledge, experience, and skills to identify, respond to, and resolve cybersecurity incidents. This certification is essential for anyone working in incident response, including incident handling teams, security practitioners, system admins, security architects, and any security professional who is a first responder during a cyberattack or breach.
The exam covers incident handling and computer crime investigation, computer and network hacker exploits, and hacker tools.
Although no formal prerequisites exist to take the GCIH exam, practical work experience is encouraged.
Cybersecurity certifications are worth the effort and cost, but only if you select the proper certification. These certifications are necessary because they offer employers tangible evidence of your knowledge and skills in the field of cybersecurity.
A cybersecurity certification can help you rise above other candidates in the job market or advance your career in your current company.