Sep 13, 2022

10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications [2022 Updated]

 Cybersecurity (sometimes called computer security or information security) is the practice of protecting computers, networks, and data from theft, damage, loss, or unauthorized access.

As our interconnectivity increases, so do the opportunities for bad actors to steal, damage, or disrupt. A rise in cybercrime has fueled a demand for cybersecurity professionals. Job outlook is expected to grow by 35 percent between 2021 and 2031 [1].

10 Cybersecurity certifications companies are hiring for
1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
2. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
3. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
4. CompTIA Security+
5. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
6. GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
7. Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
8. CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)
9. GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
10. Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

While most cybersecurity professionals have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, many companies prefer candidates who also have a certification to validate knowledge of best practices. There are hundreds of certifications available, from general to vendor-specific, entry-level to advanced. 

Before you spend your money and time on a certification, it’s important to find one that will give you a competitive advantage in your career. Here are the number of US job listings across three job sites that require these cybersecurity certifications.

The CISSP certification from the cybersecurity professional organization (ISC)² ranks among the most sought-after credentials in the industry. Earning your CISSP demonstrates that you’re experienced in IT security and capable of designing, implementing, and monitoring a cybersecurity program.

This advanced certification is for experienced security professionals looking to advance their careers in roles like:

  • Chief information security officer - $181,529

  • Security administrator - $61,655

  • IT security engineer - $99,946

  • Senior security consultant - $108,379

  • Information assurance analyst - $85,083

Requirements: To qualify to take the CISSP exam, you’ll need five or more years of cumulative work experience in at least two of eight cybersecurity domains. These include 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.

A four-year degree in computer science satisfies one year of the work requirement. Part-time work and paid internships also count.

Cost (US): $749

This credential from IT professional association ISACA helps demonstrate your expertise in assessing security vulnerabilities, designing and implementing controls, and reporting on compliance. It’s among the most recognized certifications for careers in cybersecurity auditing.

The CISA is designed for mid-level IT professionals looking to advance into jobs like:

  • IT audit manager - $109,050

  • Cybersecurity auditor - $77,583

  • Information security analyst - $83,109

  • IT security engineer - $99,946

  • IT project manager - $94,137

  • Compliance program manager - $91,915

Requirements: You need at least five years of experience in IT or IS audit, control, security, or assurance. A two or four-year degree can be substituted for one or two years of experience, respectively.

Cost: $575 for members, $760 for non-members

With the CISM certification, also from ISACA, you can validate your expertise in the management side of information security, including topics like governance, program development, and program, incident, and risk management.

If you’re looking to pivot from the technical to the managerial side of cybersecurity, earning your CISM could be a good choice. Jobs that use the CISM include:

  • IT manager - $105,134

  • Information systems security officer - $80,751

  • Information risk consultant - $79,429

  • Director of information security - $153,898

  • Data governance manager - $107,126

Requirements: To take the CISM exam, you need at least five years of experience in information security management. Satisfy up to two years of this requirement with general information security experience. You can also waive one or two years with another certification in good standing or a graduate degree in an information security-related field.

Cost: $575 for members, $760 for non-members

CompTIA Security+ is an entry-level security certification that validates the core skills needed in any cybersecurity role. With this certification, demonstrate your ability to assess the security of an organization, monitor and secure cloud, mobile, and internet of things (IoT) environments, understand laws and regulations related to risk and compliance, and identify and respond to security incidents.

Earning your Security+ certification can help you in roles such as:

Requirements: While there are no strict requirements for taking the Security+ exam, you’re encouraged to earn your Network+ certification first and gain at least two years of IT experience with a security focus.

Cost: $370

Ethical hacking, also known as white hat hacking, penetration testing, or red team, involves lawfully hacking organizations to try and uncover vulnerabilities before malicious players do. The EC-Council offers the CEH Certified Ethical Hacker certification. Earn it to demonstrate your skills in penetration testing, attack detection, vectors, and prevention.

The CEH certification helps you to think like a hacker and take a more proactive approach to cybersecurity. Consider this certification for jobs like:

  • Penetration tester - $90,673

  • Cyber incident analyst - $62,445

  • Threat intelligence analyst - $101,393

  • Cloud security architect - $125,252

  • Cybersecurity engineer - $91,933

Requirements: You can take the CEH exam if you have two years of work experience in information security or if you complete an official EC-Council training.

Cost: $950 to $1,199, depending on testing location

This certification from the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) is an entry-level security credential for those with some background in information systems and networking. Earning this credential validates your skills in security tasks like active defense, network security, cryptography, incident response, and cloud security.

Consider taking the GSEC exam if you have some background in IT and wish to move into cybersecurity. Job roles that use the skills demonstrated by the GSEC include:

  • IT security manager - $119,246

  • Computer forensic analyst - $76,419

  • Penetration tester - $90,673

  • Security administrator - $61,655

  • IT auditor - $74,108

  • Software development engineer - $128,410

Requirements: There are no specific requirements to take the GSEC exam. Set yourself up for success by gaining some information systems or computer networking experience first.

Cost: $2,499 (includes two practice tests)

With this intermediate security credential from (ISC)², you can show employers that you have the skills to design, implement, and monitor a secure IT infrastructure. The exam tests expertise in access controls, risk identification and analysis, security administration, incident response, cryptography, and network, communications, systems, and application security.

The SSCP is designed for IT professionals working hands-on with an organization’s security systems or assets. This credential is appropriate for positions like:

  • Network security engineer - $107,889

  • System administrator -$78,885

  • Systems engineer - $111,721

  • Security analyst - $83,167

  • Database administrator - $84,034

  • Security consultant - $106,486

Requirements: Candidates for the SSCP need at least one year of paid work experience in one or more of the testing areas. This can also be satisfied with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a cybersecurity-related program.

Cost: $249

The CASP+ is designed for cybersecurity professionals who demonstrate advanced skills but want to continue working in technology (as opposed to management). The exam covers advanced topics like enterprise security domain, risk analysis, software vulnerability, securing cloud and virtualization technologies, and cryptographic techniques.

The CASP+ can open up opportunities for advanced roles in architecture, risk management, and enterprise security integration. Possible job titles include:

  • Security architect - $126,281

  • Security engineer - $92,117

  • Application security engineer - $119,261

  • Technical lead analyst - $101,493

  • Vulnerability analyst - $94,391

Requirements: There’s not a formal prerequisite for taking the CASP+ exam. CompTIA recommends it only for experienced cybersecurity professionals with at least ten years of IT administration experience (including five years of broad hands-on experience with security).

Cost: $466

Earning the GCIH validates your understanding of offensive operations, including common attack techniques and vectors and your ability to detect, respond, and defend against attacks. The certification exam covers incident handling, computer crime investigation, hacker exploits, and hacker tools.

This certification is meant for anyone working in incident response. Job titles might include:

  • Security incident handler - $48,757

  • Security architect - $126,281

  • System administrator - $78,885

Requirements: There are no formal prerequisites for taking the GCIH exam, though it’s a good idea to have an understanding of security principles, networking protocols, and the Windows Command Line.

Cost: $2,499 (includes two practice tests)

The OSCP from Offensive Security has become one of the most sought-after certifications for penetration testers. The exam tests your ability to compromise a series of target machines using multiple exploitation steps and produce detailed penetration test reports for each attack.

The OSCP is a good option for jobs like:

  • Penetration tester - $97,465

  • Ethical hacker -$105,548

  • Threat researcher - $57,612

  • Application security analyst - $96,140

Requirements: There are no formal requirements to take the exam. Offensive Security recommends familiarity with networking, Linux, Bash scripting, Perl or Python, as well as completion of the Penetration Testing with Kali course.

Cost: From $999 (Basic package includes Penetration Testing with Kali Linux (PWK/PEN-200) course, 30 days of lab access, and one exam attempt)

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