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The Best Certifications for CyberSecurity Jobs

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By: Shelby Welty

October 21, 2020

Breaking it Down: The Best Certifications for Cybersecurity Jobs

You’re looking for a cybersecurity job. You’re in luck — information security professionals are now in high demand as companies move to shore up existing security controls, build better infrastructure, and develop policies and procedures that help future-proof key systems against attack.

To help meet their cybersecurity goals, organizations are seeking the best of the best; IT professionals with the skills and talent necessary to handle complex, ever-changing infosec requirements. As a result, certifications have become the new cybersecurity currency — the right combination of qualifications and in-situ experience can open career doors and help you land the job you’ve always wanted.

However, with so many qualifications now available to IT pros, where should you start? Let’s break it down with a look at five of the best certifications for cybersecurity jobs.

CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

While it’s always worth your time to start with the entry-level CompTIA Security+, infosec professionals with some experience in the industry should also consider the company’s CySA+ certification. This qualification focuses on developing and applying risk mitigation strategies by leveraging critical data assets and advanced behavior analysis tools.

CySA+ focuses on developing the skills of infosec pros to proactively monitor, capture, and act on network findings across the security operations center (SOC). CySA+ certified professionals are often found in key roles such as:

  • Security analysts
  • Threat intelligence analysts
  • Threat hunters
  • Incident responders
  • Compliance analysts

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Hackers will use whatever techniques work to compromise corporate systems and gain network access. This includes sophisticated attack vectors such as advanced ransomware and keylogging tools along with more straightforward efforts such as phishing emails and account compromise.

What’s the result? Companies are now facing threats from all sides as malicious actors recognize the value of digital data and work to uncover potential weak points. CEH certification is designed to give IT professionals the tools and training they need to think and act like cyber attackers. By compromising corporate systems with the intention of finding and fixing vulnerabilities, CEH-trained professionals can help companies secure their networks at scale and implement proactive prevention policies.

To help improve the penetration testing abilities of infosec pros, CEH certification focuses on common hacker techniques, including:

  • System hacking
  • Social engineering
  • Denial of service
  • Session hijacking
  • SQL injection
  • Firewalls and honeypots
  • IoT

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Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

Networks matter. From internal LAN and WAN configurations to wireless and mobile network infrastructures, the interconnected nature of network technologies make them a prime target for attackers.

The CCNA certification equips cyber security pros with the knowledge they need to manage the Cisco-driven networks used by many SMBs and large-scale enterprises. With a focus on operating, installing, configuring and defending these Cisco networks, security pros gain the ability to understand and address network issues no matter where they occur along the infrastructure stack.

Common careers for CCNA-certified staff include:

  • Network engineers
  • System engineers
  • Network administrators
  • Field technicians
  • Help desk support specialists
  • Wireless network technicians

AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

Cloud computing is everywhere. From small, private cloud deployments to large-scale public and hybrid solutions, companies are making the move to distributed computing to both boost performance and reduce total costs.

However, the adoption of popular cloud environments — such as Microsoft Azure — also increases overall risk as companies look to scale up compute operations while simultaneously managing access and security. Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification showcases the ability of IT staff to deploy, manage, and secure these cloud environments without negatively impacting operational performance.

Key knowledge areas include:

  • Benefits and challenges of cloud services
  • Differences between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS
  • Core Azure elements
  • Security, compliance, and privacy controls

What’s another great choice? The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. For cybersecurity pros looking to increase their employability, it’s not so much about the cloud type you choose but your ability to secure cloud solutions at scale — no matter how they’re adopted or applied by organizations.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Last, but certainly not least, is the PMP certification. While focus of this qualification is on initiating, planning, and managing projects across an organization, the designation also offers significant benefits for cybersecurity professionals with training on risk analysis, project monitoring, and cost control.

This certification is ideal for intermediate-level cybersecurity professionals looking to take on more responsibility — such as the end-to-end deployment and implementation of new security frameworks. Critical concepts covered by PMP training include:

  • Scope and time analysis
  • Cost control
  • Quality management
  • Risk analysis and mitigation

Best of the Best

While there’s no single certification that will open every door or help land every job, the qualifications listed above are some of the best in the business — designations that are in-demand across industries as enterprises look to improve security analytics, boost hacking defense, enhance network protection, secure clouds at scale, and ensure security projects are completed on-time and on-budget.

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