Cyber Security Certifications are Critical for IT Professionals
CybersecurityScience and Technology

Cyber Security Certifications are Critical for IT Professionals




In today’s digital world, cyber security has become more important than ever before. As more companies shift their operations online and data breaches become increasingly common, there is a growing need for cyber security professionals who can help protect sensitive information. For those looking to break into this field, obtaining cyber security certifications can provide a competitive edge.

Why are Cyber Security Certifications Valuable?

There are several reasons why cyber security certifications are so valuable for IT professionals:

  • Prove your skills: Certifications validate that you have mastered specific cyber security skills and concepts. They show employers that you have the necessary expertise for the job.
  • Increase hireability: Many companies now require cyber security certifications for certain roles. Obtaining relevant certifications makes you more hireable for these positions.
  • Higher salaries: On average, IT professionals with cyber security certifications earn higher salaries than those without. Certain high-level certs can boost salaries significantly.
  • Advance your career: Like degrees and experience, certifications can help you move up the career ladder more quickly to higher positions with more responsibility.

Top 5 Must-Have Cyber Security Certifications

While there are well over 250 cyber security certifications to choose from, not all carry the same weight or have the same level of recognition across the industry. Here are 5 of the top cyber security certifications that are worth earning:

1. CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional

The CISSP certification offered by (ISC)2 is often called the “gold standard” in cybersecurity certifications. Some key facts:

  • Validates advanced knowledge of security architecture, controls, operations, administration, and governance
  • Requires 5 years experience in multiple cyber security domains
  • Globally-recognized across industries
  • Often required for senior-level positions like CISO or Director of Cybersecurity

2. CISM – Certified Information Security Manager

Key details on the CISM certification from ISACA:

  • Tailored for IT professionals moving into cybersecurity management roles
  • Focuses on design, implementation, managing and controlling information security systems
  • Requires 5 years of experience managing infosec systems and personnel
  • Ideal for IT managers, security directors, project leads, and consultants

3. CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker

Important points about the CEH cert by EC-Council:

  • Tests hacking skills and how well you can find weaknesses and exploit them
  • Uses hacking simulations and exposing you to hundreds of real-world threats
  • No required prerequisites or experience
  • Preps you for roles like penetration tester, vulnerability assessor, analyst, auditor

4. Security+

Overview of the CompTIA Security+ certification:

  • Vendor-neutral cert covering essential principles for network security and risk management
  • Strong focus on threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, tools, forensics, policies, procedures
  • Considered an entry-level cybersecurity cert with no experience requirements
  • DOD approved, meets baseline standards for DoD IT jobs
  • Also covers compliance/operational security and top emerging attacks

5. GSEC – GIAC Security Essentials Certification

Why earn the GSEC credential from GIAC:

  • Solid understanding of key areas like access control, cryptography, vulnerabilities, attacks
  • Open to cyber pros with any infosec background or experience level
  • Valid for 4 years and requires earning continuing education credits for renewal
  • Over 35 specialized infosec certs offered by GIAC as well

Steps to Earn a Top Cyber Security Certification

The process for obtaining a leading cyber security certification generally includes:

  1. Review certification requirements
  • Ensure you meet experience, skills, and educational prerequisites
  • Check if you must take a training course
  • Understand certification exam details – cost, format, # of questions, length, etc.
  1. Study extensively
  • Purchase exam vouchers and study materials
  • Take notes, use flashcards, and take practice tests
  • Focus on your weak domains and don’t cut corners
  1. Schedule and take the exam
  • Allow plenty of quiet time to take the exam thoughtfully
  • Read questions carefully – don’t make assumptions
  • Flag questions to come back to if unsure or short on time
  1. Apply for certification
  • Submit exam results and credential application
  • Provide documentation validating prerequisites met
  • Pay certification fees
  1. Maintain your certification
  • Some certs require ongoing education credits and renewal fees
  • Keep certificates updated and active for maximum career benefit

Are Cyber Security Certifications Worth It?

While earning cyber security certifications requires significant effort through study and exam preparation, the career and salary benefits typically outweigh the costs for those working in IT.

Benefits of cyber security certifications include:

  • Increased skills, credibility, and professional opportunities
  • Ability to showcase expertise to employers
  • Higher salary potential and more bargaining power
  • Validation of your commitment to the infosec field

Multiple studies have shown that employees gain over $500,000 extra in lifetime income as a result of holding just one certification.

For intermediate and advanced cybersecurity roles, certifications should be considered mandatory for career advancement and maintaining competitive expertise in the field.

Even for entry-level positions, relevant certs will improve marketability and job prospects.

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Conclusion – Invest in Advancing Your Cyber Security Skills

With data breaches on the rise and a major talent gap in the cybersecurity workforce, the need for certified professionals continues to grow. Organizations are desperate to hire people who can help defend their critical systems and sensitive data.

Obtaining credentials in cyber security signals to employers that you have the required expertise to properly handle these pressing security challenges. The certifications above allow infosec pros to stand out and open up opportunities in this high-paying and fast-growing career field.

Rather than being complacent, cybersecurity pros should continue enhancing their skills through certifications, specializations, and hands-on experience. Employers give preference to applicants who demonstrate initiative and commitment through professional training.

Advancing technical skills and cyber security knowledge should be viewed as an ongoing journey. Learning cannot stop at the first or second certification. There are always new attack methods, technologies, compliance demands, and risks emerging. Commit to continually expanding expertise throughout your career – the next top certification awaits!


  1. Tittel, Ed and Stewart, James Michael. CISSP Cert Guide. Pearson IT Certification, 2019.
  2. “CISM Certification.” ISACA,
  3. “CEH Certification | Certified Ethical Hacker.” EC-Council,
  4. “Security+.” CompTIA,
  5. “GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC).” GIAC,


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