Career Development

10 Best Information Security Certifications to Strengthen Your Career

July 23, 2021

Over the years, companies with a digital presence have learned to employ a proactive approach in relation to information security. Many who have chosen a career in cybersecurity are looking for ways to enhance their credibility through industry certifications. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of earning an information security certification, learn the best certifications to pursue and how to achieve them.

Benefits of earning an information security certification

There are lots of benefits available to those who pursue special certifications related to information security. Besides having a desirable credential on your resume, you will also have the chance to earn a higher salary and build upon your skill set. You'll be more valuable to your employer, which means you'll have the confidence to pursue additional career opportunities.

Related: Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

10 of the best information security certifications

If you're unsure of which information security certifications to pursue, you may want to start by researching these 10 popular choices. Ranging from entry-level to advanced, these certifications will help you achieve success in your career:

  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA PenTest+
  • CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)
  • CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • SANS GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

CompTIA Security+

Having this entry-level designation on your resume tells employers that you possess exceptional technical skills and have a wide range of knowledge in several disciplines related to information security. You don't need any credential-related training, but there are resources available to help you succeed. By possessing this certification, you demonstrate expertise in many areas like cryptography, threat management and network access control.

This is what you will need to achieve the Security+ designation:

  • Possess two years of IT administration experience with a security focus
  • Consider obtaining the Network+ credential
  • Pay exam fee of $339, or less with SYO-501 voucher
  • Pass a 90-question exam in 90 minutes with a score of at least 750
  • Renew your certification every three years through a continuing education program or an online course.

Related: 5 Network Security Certifications That Can Help You Get Hired

CompTIA PenTest+

Professionals who possess one of the newest CompTIA certifications, the CompTIA PenTest+ designation, demonstrate proficiency in five areas of information security. These areas include planning and scoping, pen testing tools, attacks and exploits, information gathering and vulnerabilities identification, plus reporting and communication. You can prepare for this certification through online training or on-site classes coupled with hands-on related experience. Here are the steps you'll need to take to claim a CompTIA PenTest+ designation:

  • Possess three to four years of hands-on experience in security
  • Pay an exam fee of $349, or less with a voucher
  • Pass an 85-question exam of multiple-choice and performance-based questions in 165 minutes
  • Renew your certification every three years through a continuing education program

CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

When businesses need highly skilled security analysts, they seek those with a CySA+ designation. When combined with the PenTest+ certification, professionals with a CySA+ designation receive credentials equivalent to those earned in the CompTIA Security+ exam. Those who are CySA+ proficient excel in system threat detection and data analysis techniques. Their main role is to protect applications and systems from vulnerabilities. But beyond that, they monitor network behavior and analyze results that drive new solutions. You can strengthen your security skills through online training labs in preparation for the exam, though it is not necessary. This is what you'll need:

  • Possess a minimum of three to four years of hands-on security experience
  • Pay an exam fee of $346, or less with a voucher
  • Pass an 85-question exam of multiple-choice and performance-based questions in 165 minutes
  • Renew your certification every three years through a continuing education program

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

If you're considering a career working for the government, a CASP+ certification may be the right choice for you. This prestigious designation for advanced cybersecurity technicians is well respected by government employers and is highly sought after in the IT world. The Casp+ certification for practitioners is the only hands-on designation with an emphasis on performance. To increase your chances of passing the corresponding exam, you may consider purchasing study materials available online and in hard copy. Here is what you'll need to take the exam:

  • Acquire 10 years of experience in IT administration, with at least five years in a practical, technical security position.
  • Buy an exam voucher, valid for 12 months.
  • Pay an exam fee of $379, or less with a voucher.
  • Comply with a code of ethics policy.
  • Renew your certification every three years through a continuing education program.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

CISM professionals create the best security practices for businesses and organizations. In addition, certified employees in charge of enterprise-level applications are responsible for the management and development of these information security systems. Possessing the CIM designation lets employers know that you're an advanced, top-level candidate with the highest level of standards in relation to security risk management, program development and management, governance, and incident management and response. This is what you'll need to take the exam:

  • Possess at least five years of information security work experience, with three years in IS management.
  • Pay the exam fee of $575 to $760.
  • Pass the CISM exam.
  • Agree to the code of ethics.
  • Apply for CISM certification.
  • Maintain the CISM designation every three years with a $45 to $85 fee.
  • Fulfill continuing education requirements.

Related: 5 Common Security Certifications to Advance Your Career

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

This advanced-level certification is globally recognized for high standards. It attracts the decision-makers of the IT world who enjoy making managing security standards, policies and procedures. Certified professionals are extremely knowledgeable and have strong technical skills that guide the success in their profession. If you want to pursue the CISSP designation, you will need to do the following:

  • Possess at least five years of paid, full-time experience in at least two of eight International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) Common Body of Knowledge domains.
  • Choose between three CISSP concentrations which include architecture, engineering or management.
  • Agree to the code of ethics.
  • Pay an exam fee of $699, with an additional $599 fee per CISSP concentration.
  • Recertify every three years with continuing education.
  • Maintain the CISSP credential annually with an $85 fee.

SANS GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

If you're looking to pursue a hands-on security role in an entry-level capacity, you may consider the GSEC. You'll need to possess a solid understanding of information security terminology and concepts, plus a strong skill set. Professionals with this certification are well-rounded and trained to identify and prevent common wireless attacks, as well as oversee access controls, authentication and password management. Of course, they are involved in a whole lot more regarding information security. Here is what's involved:

  • Consider taking a SANS training course, which includes the cost of the exam.
  • Pay an exam fee of $1,899.
  • Renew certification every four years through continuing education.
  • Pay a maintenance fee of $429 every four years.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Businesses who have suffered the effects of a malicious hacker know the value of hiring a CEH to protect their information systems. Also known as "White Hats," these ethical hackers work for companies looking to combat unethical hackers who try to access and damage their digital platforms. This intermediate-level certification requires knowledge and skills related to hacking practices. Exam training is highly recommended, as the CEH exam is considered to be one of the hardest IT exams to pass. To pursue this certification, consider the following:

  • Possess at least two years of information security experience, plus an IS educational background.
  • Pay a non-refundable application fee of $100.
  • Submit an exam eligibility form before purchasing an exam voucher.
  • Pay an exam fee of $950 to $1,199.
  • Pass the 125-question exam in four hours.
  • Maintain credential through continued education every three years, plus a mandatory renewal fee of $80 annually.

Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

The OSCP designation is an alternate type of ethical hacking certification designed to show a candidate's proficiency in problem-solving, analytical thinking, and penetration testing methodologies. Professionals who enjoy the work associated with finding system vulnerabilities and performing controlled attacks will likely pursue the OSCP credential. Experience with certain software programs, programming methods and frameworks will strengthen the skills needed for this exam. Interested candidates must do the following:

  • Take mandatory Penetration Testing with Kali (PWK) course.
  • Pay an $800 exam fee.
  • Pass a 24-hour hands-on exam.

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

This global credential in Cloud Security is an intermediate to advanced level designation. IT professionals who are information security leaders in cloud security architecture, design and service orchestration typically possess this certification. Here is what you need to do to test for this exam:

  • Possess five years of experience in the industry, with three years in IS and one year in one of the six CCSP domains.
  • Pay exam fee of $549 per attempt.
  • Pass 125-question exam in four hours or less.
  • Abide by the code of ethics.
  • Receive an endorsement by another ISC2 certified professional.
  • Pay an annual maintenance fee of $100.
  • Maintain certification of continued education every three years.

Jobs in information security

If you're interested in a job in information security, there are many options available to you. Here are 10 potential careers in information security for you to consider:

1. Cybersecurity engineer

2. Information security consultant

3. [Cybersecurity analyst](

4. Cybersecurity specialist

5. Cybersecurity administrator

6. Network engineer

7. Cybersecurity architect

8. Chief information security officer (CISO)

9. IT security specialist

10. Penetration tester


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