Which certifications do you need as a cybersecurity analyst? Which ones are the most in-demand by employers? Which ones should you have on your resume to make yourself a more attractive candidate for these jobs? Which certification will give you an edge over other candidates vying for the same position?
These are all valid questions. Investing time, effort, and money in training and certifying isn’t always an easy decision.
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This blog post will look at five of the top certs requested by employers and what they entail.
The cybersecurity field is growing, with the job position of security analysts expected to grow 31% in the next eight years. With that demand for cybersecurity professionals come more job opportunities.
Why should I get certified?
Certifications are an excellent way to demonstrate technical skills and knowledge, as well as a way to stand out from the crowd, regardless of your background. They also take time – which means you’ll need to invest in yourself if you want an edge over other candidates competing for these jobs.
In the information technology industry, certs represent a standard of achievement. Certifications are a way for employers to see that you have what it takes to succeed in this field, or at least make it through an interview process. Your certificates demonstrate your dedication to your profession and your specific area of expertise.
Suppose you are looking for a new job. In that case, certification is one concrete way to show that you have the cybersecurity skills employers want – without leaving it up to their interpretation or opinion on what skills they think might be needed in this field.
And if you already have a degree, certification exams are an excellent way to showcase your skills, knowledge, and professionalism – especially if you graduated from a school that wasn’t well-known or highly regarded.
Certs can help you get a higher salary, as well as a better job position overall.
Which certifications do I need?
Here are the details of the top five requested certs for cybersecurity analyst jobs.
CISSP is short for “Certified Information Systems Security Professional.” This certification is granted by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium and requires extensive training, education, and experience in information security.
CISSP is one of the most widely recognized cybersecurity certifications, with employers requesting it more than any other certification on this list. CISSP holders can work in security information and incident management, risk assessment, audit planning, and compliance.
CISSP is the gold standard of cybersecurity certifications – but it also requires quite a lot of time investment on your part.
The CISSP certification is geared toward professionals who are in charge or have direct responsibility for Security Operations Centers (SOC) and security systems.
The SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security (SANS) Institute offers various courses that teach cybersecurity professionals the skills they need to safeguard organizations against threats and hacker attacks. These also include GIAC certification courses.
GIAC is short for “Global Information Assurance Certification,” – which means employers internationally recognize GIAC certifications in private and public sectors. SANS happens to be GIAC’s preferred partner for cybersecurity training and certification.
GIAC offers certifications in both cybersecurity and cyber forensics. Since 1999, more than 172,000 GIAC certifications have been issued.
Certified Information Systems Auditor is another ISACA certification (just like the CISSP). CISA certification holders may work in various organizations, including government agencies and other public-sector entities.
CISA is accredited under ISO/IEC 17024 (international standards for quality assurance) and is recognized by professional associations worldwide.
With this credential, you are qualified to work as a security analyst, auditor, or consultant. Your employers can be confident that you have the necessary knowledge and skills in:
- Information systems auditing processes
- Development and implementation of information systems
- Protection of information assets
- Operations and resilience of information systems
- IT governance and security management
The CISA certification should be the first choice for people looking to become an auditor or consultant – while CISSP and CISM (described below) are more geared towards high-level management of information systems.
The third ISACA entity, the Certified Information Systems Manager, is another widely requested certification. CISM is designed for professionals who work with or have responsibility for IT security in organizations that handle sensitive data.
CISM is comparable to the CISSP because it also requires extensive training and hands-on experience in information security – but for managers instead of professionals who work with IT systems directly.
By obtaining the CISM, you will demonstrate exceptional skills in:
- Leading the planning, development, and implementation of information security
- Safeguarding access to sensitive data in an organization’s systems
- Managing compliance with security policies on privacy and protection of personally identifiable information
- Providing risk analysis for critical operations decisions
CISM holders are also eligible to work as chief security officers, chief information officers, and other senior-level job titles.
CompTIA is a non-profit organization that offers vendor-neutral training programs in IT fields. Their Security+ is one such program – and it’s an excellent way to get started with cybersecurity without having to invest too much time or money on training.
It could be argued that the CompTIA Security+ certification has become an industry-standard because of its popularity among employers.
This exam covers the following topics:
- Network security
- Compliance and operational procedures
- Cryptography basics
- Authentication methods
- Access control systems
- Identity management practices
- Network monitoring tools
By completing the Security+ training, you can work as an entry-level cybersecurity professional and cybersecurity analyst.
Which certification is the hardest to obtain?
Answering the question of which of these five certs will be the most challenging to you depends on multiple factors. How much professional experience do you have? Do you already have any certifications under your belt? Which certificates from this list are most relevant to your career goals?
For some people, it might be easier to obtain CISSP credentials than CISM or CISA. It just depends on what you want and where you work.
Some of these certifications have an extensive list of requirements before you can take the exam, such as five years of relevant experience and several certifications that come before them.
In any scenario, it’s a good idea to get certified as soon as possible – because employers will be impressed that you took the initiative and jumped right into cybersecurity. Preparing for any of these exams will likely take a lot of time and effort – but it will be worth the reward.
Which certification should I start with first?
Our recommendation would be to start with the CompTIA Security+. The reason for this is that it will help you get your foot in the door – and is a great way to evaluate what security technologies offer before investing more time.
The CompTIA Security+ certification does not have any prerequisites. So someone with no experience could theoretically walk into this training, pass the exam, and find themselves as an entry-level professional in the IT security field.
However, the CompTIA organization still recommends taking the Network+ beforehand and possibly working at least two years in an IT position with a security focus.
The Security+ certification will provide you with a basic understanding of cybersecurity and information technology, but there are other certs that cover more in-depth topics.
Which one you choose next depends on your career goals – which is something to think about when researching these courses before making a decision. Do you want to become a manager? An independent consultant? Or do you want to work in the cybersecurity department of a large company?
IT certifications have become the norm for cybersecurity professionals, regardless of how seasoned they are.
If you’re looking to get a leg up on your career and stand out from the competition – IT certifications are probably the best way to do that. To increase your chances of becoming a cybersecurity analyst, there are five certs that employers are requesting the most:
- SANS/GIAC certifications
- CompTIA Security+
Which one you choose to start with depends on your future career plans – but all five of these certifications will give you a better understanding of what it takes to work in IT security and eventually become an analyst.
Our advice would be to go for the Security+ first since it is the most basic and will help you get your foot in the door. Which one to take next depends on where you want to go with your career. It’s best to think about that before signing up for any of these courses.
For more help on advancing your cybersecurity career, contact CIBR Warriors. We’d be happy to answer your questions and provide you with the best advice for getting started.