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15 Best Cybersecurity Certifications for 2024

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Cybersecurity certifications are important because they offer employers' tangible evidence of your knowledge and skills in the field of cybersecurity. They also help you rise above other candidates in the job market or advance your current cyber career. We take a look at 15 certificates that can kick-start or improve your career.

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 are available, selecting the one that’s right for you can seem daunting.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the Top 15 to help you determine what are the best cybersecurity certifications that fit your needs — whether you are new to the industry or a seasoned pro.

Key Takeaways

  • Cybersecurity certifications are important because they offer employers tangible evidence of your knowledge and skills in the field of cybersecurity.
  • They also help you rise above other candidates in the job market or advance your current cyber career.
  • We take a look at 15 certificates that can kick-start or improve your career.

Best 15 Cybersecurity Certifications to Boost Your Career in 2024

CompTIA Security+

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.

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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.

Cost: $392

ISACA Cybersecurity Fundamentals

The ISACA Cybersecurity Fundamentals certification ensures that you comprehend cybersecurity principles as well as the key role cybersecurity professionals play in ensuring their organizations’ infrastructures and data are protected. This certification is ideal for students/recent graduates, IT professionals, teams, and others who want a better understanding of the principles of cybersecurity. ISACA also offers online, on-demand group training that organizations can customize to meet the needs and goals of their teams.

There are no prerequisites for the exam, which covers how to secure assets, the fundamentals of information security, the threat landscape, and security operations and response.

Cost: $160 for members and $220 for non-members

GIAC Security Essentials

The GIAC Security Essentials certification is one of the best cybersecurity certifications for beginners — great 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

AWS Certified Security – Specialty

The AWS Certified Security – Specialty certification is a specialized credential that verifies proficiency in designing and implementing security solutions within the AWS cloud environment, and to our mind is one of the top cybersecurity certifications.

Holders of this certification demonstrate their expertise in managing security aspects specific to AWS, including the shared responsibility model, security controls, and strategies for logging and monitoring. They also know about securing AWS workloads using third-party tools like encryption, backup systems, and identity management.

While there are no formal prerequisites, Amazon recommends candidates have a minimum of five years of IT security experience, with at least two years of hands-on experience with AWS. It is also suggested that individuals pursue the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional or AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certifications before attempting the AWS Certified Security – Specialty exam. This certification is ideal for security architects and professionals aiming to enhance their skills in securing AWS workloads and specialized data classifications, as well as understanding AWS’s data protection measures and secure internet protocols implementation within the AWS Cloud.

Cost: $300

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.

Cost: $749

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 Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

The Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification, offered by (ISC)², focuses on cloud security, requiring IT professionals to have at least five years of experience in information technology, including three years in information security and one year in CCSP domains. These domains cover cloud concepts, architecture, data security, platform and infrastructure security, application security, security operations, and legal compliance.

Full-time, part-time, or internships count toward experience, and CISSP holders can substitute their expertise. The CCSP exam comprises 125 questions, with a passing score of 700 out of 1,000. It opens doors to roles like cloud architect and security analyst, with a vendor-neutral approach applicable in diverse cloud environments, enhancing career prospects in cloud security.

Cost: $599

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 is one of the best certifications for cybersecurity 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

Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certification is a prestigious credential designed for individuals seeking to establish their expertise in penetration testing. Developed and administered by Offensive Security, this certification assesses practical skills in penetration testing by requiring candidates to successfully attack and compromise various live machines within a controlled lab environment.

Notably, the OSCP exam is practical, requiring candidates to execute vulnerability exploits on target systems. While there are no strict prerequisites, candidates are encouraged to know equivalent to that of a Certified Information Security Professional (CISSP), a solid foundation in security, programming skills in languages like Java, C, and Python, and the ability to research, verify, and demonstrate patience and concentration while tackling various tasks within a 48-hour timeframe.

OSCP certification is recognized as a gold standard for penetration testing professionals. It can open doors to a wide range of roles in the cybersecurity field, including security analyst, penetration tester, malware analyst, and more. It sets individuals apart by demonstrating their practical knowledge of offensive techniques and ability to identify vulnerabilities and develop solutions effectively.

Cost: $799

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification benefits mid-career individuals in IT/IS audit, risk management, and cybersecurity. This certification empowers professionals with essential skills for effectively managing information security risks.

Candidates must adhere to a Code of Professional Ethics and the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) policy. The CPE policy mandates that CRISC-certified professionals earn at least 20 contact hours annually and 120 contacts over three years to maintain their certification. CRISC certification can significantly enhance career prospects, with certified professionals often earning over $146,000 annually, making it a valuable credential in IT risk management and information systems control.

Cost: $595

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.

Cost: $249

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.

Cost: $494

Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate

The Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate certification is tailored for security analysts working in security operations centers (SOCs) within large companies and organizations. This certification program is designed to validate the day-to-day tactical knowledge and skills that SOC teams can effectively detect and respond to cybersecurity threats.

It covers various aspects, including security concepts, security monitoring, host-based analysis, network intrusion analysis, and security policies and procedures. While there are no strict prerequisites for the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate exam, candidates are encouraged to have a solid understanding of networking fundamentals, making it suitable for new and experienced security analysts. The certification helps individuals enhance their cybersecurity expertise and is particularly valuable for those aiming to excel in SOC environments.

Cost: $300

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.

Cost: $949

The Bottom Line

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.

FAQs

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Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area, with expertise ranging from AI and machine learning to cybersecurity and DevOps. She has been covering IT topics since 1999 as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area. Before joining Techopedia in 2022, her articles have appeared in TechTarget, MSDynamicsworld.com, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. She also writes white papers, case studies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients, interviewing key players, including CIOs, CISOs, and other C-suite execs.