Top 10 Best Cybersecurity Certifications to Boost Your Career in 2024

Cybersecurity is a fast-changing field that requires certifications to prove your competence and give you an advantage over others, similar to having a Master’s Degree.

These certifications are suitable for anyone from novices to experts, and they encompass a variety of skills from stopping intrusions to managing cloud systems.

Our in-depth guide is created to clarify the many choices you have, from Certified Ethical Hacker to Information Security Manager.

Whether you’re beginning your journey or looking to progress further, this guide will assist you in finding and choosing the best cybersecurity certification that matches your career aspirations. Jump in to carve your way in cybersecurity!

What Is A Cybersecurity Certification?

Cybersecurity certifications are professional credentials that validate your knowledge and skills in a specific area of information security. They demonstrate to employers that you have the expertise to protect their critical data and systems from cyberattacks.

There are two main types of cybersecurity certifications:

Cybersecurity Certifications

CompTIA Security+

The CompTIA Security+ certification is a well-known credential in the cybersecurity industry, even for those just starting their journey. It’s recognized as a leading certification for beginners and aspiring security professionals, as it confirms your ability to handle entry-level cybersecurity roles. The examination encompasses areas such as:

Best For

Ideal For It’s suggested that candidates for the CompTIA Security+ examination should have successfully completed the CompTIA Network+ and have two years of IT administration experience under their belt. Specialized online courses or cybersecurity bootcamps with curriculums tailored to the certification exam are also available for focused study.

How To Get It

Acquisition Process The CompTIA Security+ exam can be taken at a specific testing center, or you can register to take it online. The examination consists of a mix of multiple-choice and performance-based questions, and it’s available in languages like English, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, or Portuguese. The examination fee is $392.

GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)

The Security Essentials exam is the first of many cybersecurity certifications offered by GIAC. CyberLive is a unique platform that GIAC uses to test candidates on their actual programs, code, and virtual machines. It measures the candidates’ practical skills and verifies their ability to work in a cybersecurity role.

The exam includes topics such as:

Best For

The GSEC is suitable for security professionals and managers, operations staff, IT engineers, security administrators, forensic experts, penetration testers, and auditors. The GIAC provides practice tests to help you prepare for the certification exam and links to various online and in-person training courses tailored for the certification.

How To Get It

The exam has 106-180 questions, which are administered through web-based testing software. You have four to five hours to complete the exam, and you can opt to take it online or in person. You can start the process of booking an exam by creating a GIAC account.

CyberSecurity Fundamentals Certificate (ISACA)

The ISACA Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate provides an online course and a study guide, both authored by international industry leaders. Additionally, the Fundamentals Lab Package is offered, which equips learners with a virtual training environment filled with labs that are relevant to the exam.

The examination encompasses the following areas:

Although numerous resources are accessible, you can also directly register for the exam if you have completed your preparation elsewhere.

Ideal Candidates This certification is ideal for students, recent graduates, emerging IT professionals, and individuals or teams seeking to enhance their skills. The certification validates that the holder has grasped the fundamentals of cybersecurity. The organization also offers on-site team training sessions as a corporate solution.

Procedure to Obtain It By registering at ISACA.org, candidates can access the paid resources and initiate a 12-month eligibility period for the exam. In essence, if you register prior to commencing your education, you have a year to acquire all the knowledge necessary to pass the exam. The exam fee is $120 for members and $150 for non-members.

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) by (ISC)²

The SSCP is a mid-level cybersecurity certification. To be eligible for the exam, candidates need a year of professional experience in an IT security-related role. However, this requirement can be waived for those who have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree in cybersecurity. Both part-time employment and internships can contribute to the required work experience.

Candidates are also required to endorse the ISC² Code of Ethics and pay a yearly maintenance fee once they have obtained the certification. The exam encompasses several domains, including:

This certification is ideal for individuals who have already started their cybersecurity careers, have relevant work experience, and are prepared to pay an annual maintenance fee of $125.

ISC² offers a variety of training materials for candidates who meet the certification’s eligibility criteria. These include classroom-based training, online instruction led by an instructor, self-paced online learning, and private on-site options. Official self-study resources such as textbooks, study guides, a study app, and practice tests are also available.

The first step towards obtaining this certification is to join ISC² and check if you meet the eligibility criteria. If you lack the necessary work experience or degree, you can take the exam first and gain the required experience later.

GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)

The GIAC certification is designed to authenticate your abilities as a cybersecurity first responder. It validates that you possess the necessary knowledge and experience to counteract and react to threats whenever they arise.

The examination encompasses a range of subjects, including incident management and computer crime investigation, auditing of information systems, exploits of computers and networks by hackers, and hacker tools. This certification, like the GSEC, employs CyberLive to assess candidates’ technical abilities in a lifelike virtual machine setting that necessitates the accomplishment of tasks akin to those in the real world.

Ideal For

This certification is particularly beneficial for incident handlers, system administrators, security practitioners, and security architects. Nonetheless, it’s also advantageous for any security staff who serve as first responders during an attack or security breach.

Acquisition Process

The examination lasts four hours and consists of 106 questions. It can be taken either on-site or online, and practice tests are available to help you prepare for the actual examination. There are also several training programs available to aid in preparation. Although practical work experience is recommended, it is not a prerequisite.

Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) program, provided by OffSec, is a comprehensive course that concludes with a certification exam. This course, which focuses on penetration testing, features live sessions led by experienced instructors and provides access to labs for hands-on learning. Additionally, students can join an active Discord community for support during their study.

The course and exam cover a range of topics, including:

This course is designed for individuals who are either transitioning to or already pursuing a career in penetration testing, as well as other security professionals. It requires a strong understanding of TCP/IP networking, reasonable experience administering Windows and Linux, and familiarity with Bash or Python.

The course and certification can be purchased together for $1,599, which includes 90 days of lab access and one attempt at the exam. Additional lab access and exam attempts can be purchased separately if needed.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a premier certification for those pursuing ethical hacking. It offers a comprehensive 20-module course that covers the basics of ethical hacking. The modules of the CEH certification encompass:

The certification process involves two exams: a 4-hour theoretical exam consisting of 125 multiple-choice questions, and a 6-hour practical exam with 20 situation-based questions. This rigorous testing process is designed to validate your abilities and demonstrate to potential employers that you are competent for the role.

Ideal For

The skill of ethical hacking is crucial for various security roles. The CEH certification is particularly beneficial for the following positions:

Acquisition Process

Enrollment in this course provides access to the training material, the exams, and two additional phases named “engage” and “compete”. These stages involve undertaking real-world tasks and participating in monthly competitions with other course graduates.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) by ISACA

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification is a globally acknowledged credential that aids cybersecurity experts in advancing to managerial roles. It’s not only recognized worldwide, but it’s also sought after by numerous organizations and government entities. The examination covers the following areas:

Security managers are tasked with ensuring adherence to legal, regulatory, and contractual obligations, as well as spearheading the overarching security strategy. This role often necessitates a different set of skills and knowledge areas compared to being a team member, and this certification validates your readiness for a managerial position.

Ideal For

The CISM certification is targeted at seasoned cybersecurity professionals looking to transition into a leadership role. There are prerequisites in terms of experience for taking the exam and obtaining the certification.

Acquisition Process

There are several paid resources available to assist you in preparing for the exam, including an online course, a question and answer database, and a review manual. A complimentary practice quiz is also available to gauge your readiness for the certification. The exam fee is $575 for members and $760 for non-members, with an additional $50 processing fee. You can purchase courses, schedule an exam, or apply for certification by registering on the ISACA website.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) by (ISC)²

The CISSP is a high-level certification designed for seasoned security professionals, managers, and executives who are keen on software development security. It certifies your proficiency in designing, implementing, and managing a robust cyber-security program, potentially boosting your career progression and income.

Roles such as Chief Information Security Officer, Security Director, IT Manager, and Security Manager can benefit from this certification. The certification exam encompasses eight domains:

Eligibility for this certification requires a minimum of five years of cumulative, paid professional experience in at least two of the eight domains mentioned above. If you lack the full five years of experience, a degree or approved credential can substitute for one year. Candidates must also consent to the ISC² code of ethics and pay an annual maintenance fee of $125.

ISC² provides a variety of training options for the CISSP certification, including online self-paced training and private on-site training. Membership is required to purchase training and apply for the exam.

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) is a credential designed for seasoned cybersecurity experts who have not yet transitioned into managerial roles. It serves to authenticate the high-level abilities required to lead the development and execution of policies and frameworks often prescribed by managers.

CASP+ encompasses both security architecture and engineering, as the capacity to devise appropriate solutions distinguishes less experienced security professionals from their more experienced counterparts. The areas of focus include:

This certification is most beneficial for seasoned engineers aspiring to positions such as SOC manager and chief information security officer. A decade of practical IT experience is suggested. It’s particularly suited for highly skilled security engineers who prefer to continue as individual contributors rather than moving into management.

The examination fee is $494 and can be taken either at Pearson VUE testing centers or online. It is offered in English, Japanese, and Thai. A variety of interactive labs, exam preparation courses, study guides, and instructor-led training courses are available for CASP+, which can be purchased upon becoming a CompTIA member. Once you feel prepared for the exam, you can arrange a test date online.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) qualification is designed for auditors and is appropriate for both internal and external auditing roles. It allows you to demonstrate your proficiency in conducting, planning, and reporting audits.

The certification encompasses a wide range of areas, from audit planning to execution and result reporting. The primary domains covered in the training and examination include:

Ideal Candidates: This qualification is ideal for security professionals transitioning into auditing roles or dedicated auditors seeking certification. Eligibility for the exam requires meeting certain experience prerequisites.

Acquisition Process: Joining ISACA can make the certification process more affordable as members receive discounts on both the exam and all training materials. These resources include study guides, databases, and online courses. When you feel prepared to take the certification exam, you can easily schedule a date online.

Benefits of Earning a Cybersecurity Certification

Obtaining a cybersecurity certification comes with a multitude of advantages such as:

Cybersecurity Certification Path | Roadmap

If you are new to cybersecurity and want to get a certificate, you need to follow a clear plan. Start by learning the basics of IT and networking. A good way to do that is to get the CompTIA Network+ certification, which teaches you the fundamentals of networking.

Then, you can move on to a beginner-level cybersecurity certification like CompTIA Security+. This certification introduces you to the main security concepts and helps you grasp the essentials of cybersecurity.

You should have at least a year of IT experience or similar knowledge before taking this. After Security+, you can choose to specialize in a specific area. Some options are the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) for a leadership role, or the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) for a more practical, technical role.T

These usually require some years of experience in the field. Don’t forget, cybersecurity is a dynamic field that requires constant learning. Keep up with the latest developments and challenges, and think about getting more advanced certifications as you advance in your career.

Certificate vs. Course vs. Certification

The three Cs are common terms in the tech industry, but you need to understand what they mean and how they differ. A certificate is just a paper that shows you finished a course or training. It doesn’t mean you have learned the skills well and any course—whether it is reputable or not—can give you a certificate.

A cybersecurity course is a set of lessons that covers a specific subject. The course itself is not a credential, and it may or may not have tests.

Lastly, a certification is an official acknowledgment that confirms your knowledge in a certain domain. They are given by professional bodies and recognized by employers worldwide as evidence that you meet the industry criteria in a certain field and can become a part of the skilled cybersecurity workforce.

Privacy Hints

PrivacyHints is a team built up of computer security experts, tech reporters, lawyers, and strong privacy supporters from all over the world working together.

As digital leaders, we strongly believe in the importance of personal privacy and the huge potential that comes from having a free but safe internet. We’re not just interested in listing risks; we’re also strongly committed to revealing the hidden threats that threaten our right to privacy and freedom online as a whole.

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