About 86% of IT recruiters consider professional credentials when evaluating applicants for employment. The place of IT security professionals is becoming increasingly indispensable in business as cybersecurity threats grow.
Businesses take a proactive approach to reduce their vulnerability to cyber-attacks, and need to hire and train IT security professionals. A lot of organizations are bolstering their knowledge through certificate programs. There are lots of third-party organizations offering certifications, but only a few IT security certifications command great respect in the field.
IT professionals have a wide array of job opportunities at their disposal. They can fit into different industries including manufacturing, non-governmental establishments and government parastatal. They often help companies or organizations to manage their software, hardware and networking problems, especially keeping them safe from cyber-attacks.
To qualify as an IT security professional, you need credentials. Some of the certifications are basic. The more credentials you have, the higher your chance of standing out in the crowd of growing IT security professionals. Below is a list of credentials IT security professionals must have in 2017 and beyond.
1. A Bachelor’s Degree
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) maintains that a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is the first step to becoming an IT security specialist. The relevant fields include software engineering and computer science. These courses expose you to the nitty-gritty of numerical analysis, programming languages, and data management.
Many schools that offer these courses have sophisticated computer laboratories. The resources will offer you hands-on experience with software and programs. You also get a hint of how computer viruses and cyber-criminals operate, which equips you for the road ahead.
2. CompTIA Security+
The CompTIA Security+ certificate indicates that the IT professional has the requisite skills to keep a corporate network secure, as well as keep hackers at bay. The global business community has a tremendous amount of stored corporate data. A breach of some of the data can mean doom for some businesses.
CompTIA Security+ is accepted globally, and is offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association. It covers essentials of risk management and network security, identity management, cryptography, organizational systems and security systems. Any individual aspiring to the path of IT security should see this certification as an important stepping stone.
The CompTIA Security+ certification deals with, among other things, risk management and essential principles for network security. CompTIA Security+ certificate has global recognition, and is regarded as the standard for securing data transmitted or stored on any given network.
3. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
The adoption of advanced technologies by different enterprises means there is a need to properly monitor, configure, secure and support their networks from external interference. There is also the need to understand common security threats to devices that operate on Cisco, as well as on other networks.
The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) equips the IT security professional with the principles of Cisco CCNA routing and switching, wireless certifications, and security. This encompasses the following knowledge areas; access control lists, system and network management, IP services and security, common layer 2 attacks, WLAN security and maintenance.
4. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEHv9) EC Council
For an IT professional to be able to secure a network, they need to be able to sniff out vulnerabilities. The Certified Ethical Hacker certification is a demonstration that the IT professional has a clear understanding of what it takes to spot weaknesses in the target system.
In this case, the IT professional employs the same tools as the hackers, but in a lawful manner to gain access to the security of a target system(s), and plug the loopholes before those with criminal intent find them. The Certified Ethical Hacker credential certifies the individual from a vendor-neutral point of view.
The CEH certification was the flagship course from the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants. This professional organization now has an array of highly esteemed IT security certifications. 2 years verifiable experience is a prerequisite for being eligible for the 125 CEH exam questions.
5. Certified Information System Auditor (CISA)
Previously called Information Systems Audit and Control Association, Certified Information System Auditor (CISA) is an ISACA certification. The CISA certification is necessary for those that audit, control, access and monitor business and IT systems.
The certificate is only awarded to those who demonstrate strong auditing skills and the ability to assess vulnerabilities, gain control and report their findings in line with the laid down procedure of the enterprise. Financial institutions normally give preference to applicants with this certification during any recruitment process.
Applicants for CISA certification must have a minimum of 5 years professional experience. The student must score above 450 to get the certificate. The exam covers a wide range of topics including development, acquisition, implementation, maintenance, operations, and auditing of information systems. CISA certificate holders earn as much as $110,000 annually.
6. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is awarded by a nonprofit organization known as the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium. They specialize in certification and education on security. The exam is an indication the student has mastered the required knowledge to effectively handle the network and data security of different companies.
CISSP takes care of 8 central IT domains, namely identity and access management, asset security, security assessment and testing, communications and network security, security operations, security engineering, software development security, security, and risk assessment, and security operations.
The 250 question test requires an average of six hours to complete. The questions are designed by professionals with 3 to 5 years’ experience in data and network security. In many ways, CISSP is the summit of cyber-security certifications, and a must have if you are aiming to rise to the level of Chief Information Security Officer. On average, CISSP certificate holders earn as much as $109,000 annually depending on experience, location and job role.
7. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
This advanced certification further broadens the perspective of professionals on the relationship of IT risk to the entire organization. By the time you earn this certificate, you would have developed the skills to understand and manage corporate risk, as well as learn to implement accurate security controls.
CRISC is often mandatory for c-suite executives, as well as risk and privacy offices and chief compliance. The focus of the exam is usually in four areas, namely assessment response, risk identification, monitoring, and reporting. To apply for this certificate you need a minimum of three years’ experience in a relevant field.
8. GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)
This is another certification that grooms students to develop the requisite skills to identify security vulnerabilities in a computer network or system. Penetration testing is a sensitive field with a number of legal intricacies.
For this reason, GPEN holders become knowledgeable with non-technical and legal issues surrounding penetration testing. There is no prior certification or experience required to apply to take the 115 exam questions.
As 2017 draws to a close, there is an increasing threat to cyber-security. Projections into 2018 and beyond shows it will further escalate. Organizations, companies, and corporations will continue to scout for IT professionals to deal with these threats. If you want to build a career in IT, the higher certifications will validate your expertise, making you an indispensable asset.
If you are already chasing a career in IT, let us know in the comment box which of the professional certifications is the most important, as it is almost impossible to have all of them.