The Top Cybersecurity Certifications Employers Are Looking For

Specialized certifications are a great way to launch a career in cybersecurity or bolster your position within the industry. There are many benefits to cybersecurity certifications, from keeping up with the latest advancements in the industry and honing your skills to negotiating a higher salary.

Since there are certifications for all levels and skill sets, we’ve curated this list to help you decide which cybersecurity certifications will help you take the next step in your cybersecurity career.

Table of Contents:

  • Are Cybersecurity Certifications Worth It?

  • Are There Any Prerequisites for a Cybersecurity Certification?

  • What Cybersecurity Certifications Should I Get First?

  • List of Top Cybersecurity Certifications

  • Cybersecurity Certificates and Cyber Security Bootcamp

Are Cybersecurity Certifications Worth It?

Certifications prove and validate your experience and knowledge in a specific field or skill set. Unlike university degrees, courses, and workshops, certifications often focus on one or a handful of highly-intertwined skills.

Cybersecurity certifications teach you the latest concepts and techniques in a reasonably short time frame and at a lower cost than university and college degrees. Certifications on resumes prove to potential employers that you’re knowledgeable and a lifelong learner, always looking to sharpen your skills and learn new things.

Are There Any Prerequisites for a Cybersecurity Certification?

Cybersecurity certifications vary by level. Certifications geared at medium and high-level professionals tend to require some job experience or an undergraduate degree in a technical field.

Entry-level and beginner-friendly certificates are easier to acquire with little to no prerequisites. While some may require a basic understanding of computer science and common programming languages, others have those skills included in the certification process. For certifications that have these requirements, a bootcamp certificate in cybersecurity, computer science, or programming can help you bridge the knowledge gap.

What Cybersecurity Certification Should I Get First?

It depends. First, you need to consider your level and expertise in the field. If you’re new to cybersecurity or have only an undergraduate degree in a technical field, consider getting a certification covering the fundamentals of cybersecurity, ethical hacking, or information security.

With more experience in the industry, you should have a general idea of the skills and knowledge you’re lacking. Aim for specialized certificates that build on your current skills rather than more generalized certifications.

List of Top Cybersecurity Certifications

Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certifications

1. Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Security Fundamentals

The MTA Security Fundamentals is a beginner-appropriate certificate aimed at high school and college students. It costs $127 and tests core security principles, network and software security, and operating system’s basics.

By acquiring the MTA Security Fundamentals certification, you can work in IT infrastructure as a database manager, network administrator, or software engineer.

2. CompTIA Security+

The Security+ certification is a well-known, entry-level accreditation covering a wide array of security-based knowledge and skills. It is recommended that you have two years of relevant experience—official or not—before taking the exam, which costs $311.

With the Security+ certificate, you can apply for jobs as a security consultant, IT auditor, security and systems administrator, or security specialist.

3. ISCA CSX Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate

The CSX Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate is for recent graduates and those looking to pivot into a cybersecurity career. The examination costs $150 and tests your knowledge and skills in five domains:

  • Architecture principles

  • Network, system, application, and data security

  • Incident detection and response

  • Evolving technology security

The ISCA certificate can lead to multiple career options in cybersecurity, such as security analyst, cybersecurity specialist, or penetration and vulnerability tester.

Intermediate Cybersecurity Certifications

4. CompTIA PenTest+

The CompTIA PenTest+ certification is aimed at individuals with 3-4 years of hands-on experience in cybersecurity. The $349 certificate verifies skills in penetration testing, planning and scoping, attacks and exploits, and reporting.

With the PenTest+ accreditation, you can apply for jobs as a penetration tester, vulnerability tester, application security vulnerability analyst, or network security specialist.

5. GIAC Continuous Monitoring Certification (GMON)

The GMON certification validates your ability to detect and deter cyber intrusions quickly and efficiently. In the exam, which costs $1999, you’ll need to demonstrate knowledge of defending security architectures, network monitoring, and continuous monitoring and diagnosis of networks.

By acquiring the GMON certification, you can work as a technical security manager, CND analyst, SOC analyst, engineer, manager, or security architect.

6. EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Certification (CHFI)

The CHFI certification by EC-Council tests computer forensics and is for individuals with a minimum of two years in the field. The exam, which costs $700, tests your ability to recover data, investigate cybercrimes, and analyze data.

With the EC-Council CHFI certification, you can work alongside law enforcement personnel, IT managers, government agencies, private and public financial institutions, and digital forensics service providers.

Expert Cybersecurity Certifications

7. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The CISM certificate is an ISACA accreditation that tests managerial skills and qualifications for running security programs. The CISM test is geared toward management-level cybersecurity professionals and focuses on security governance, risk management, security program development and management, and security incident management. The exam will set you back $760.

Those with a CISM certification can work as security administrators, security analysts, security architects, cryptanalysts, or cryptographers.

8. Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

The CCSP Certification is a vendor-neutral certification that validates your ability to build applications and secure them in cloud environments. The certificate, which costs $599, is best for established security architects and network security engineers who have a minimum of three years in information security.

By acquiring the CCSP certification, you can apply for jobs as a security engineer, security architect, enterprise architect, systems engineer, or systems architect.

9. CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

The CompTIA CASP+ certificate validates your skills in cryptographic techniques, cloud technology, software vulnerabilities, and risk analysis. The CompTIA CASP+ certification costs $466 and is suitable for senior security professionals with a few years of experience in the field.

The CompTIA CASP+ certificate enables you to work as a cybersecurity risk analyst, senior security architect, Security Operations Center (SOC) manager, or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

Cybersecurity Certificates and Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Certifications and bootcamps don’t have the same offerings, even though they might overlap. For one, certifications don’t include training; they’re simply proof of your knowledge and ability in a specific area. You can study for them online or on your own.

Bootcamps, on the other hand, are training programs designed to take your skills and knowledge from point A to point B. Some reward you with a certificate if you pass a standardized exam. If self-learning isn’t your strong suit, opt for a bootcamp that trains for a specific certification.

Take the First Step Towards Your Career in Cybersecurity

While traditional degrees from colleges and universities are still the norm in the cybersecurity industry, official certifications and bootcamps are the future. By pinpointing your current level and aspirations, you can pick the right certificate to help you achieve the employment of your dreams.

The UMass Global Cyber Security Certification and Bootcamp partners with the CompTIA Security+ certification. It’s globally recognized by leading tech associates and potential employers. The 360-hour, 6-month bootcamp covers everything from cybersecurity fundamentals and vulnerability assessment to security operations and systems and network security. Learn more about the100% online UMass Global Cyber Security Bootcamp including the bootcamp curriculum, 1-on-1 mentorship, and personalized student support.