A lock placed over a map of the world meant to signify cybersecurity

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so what better topic to talk about than cybersecurity! Cybersecurity is defined as the state of being protected against the criminal or unauthorized use of electronic data, or the measures taken to achieve this, and careers in cybersecurity can be found in nearly every industry. In the world of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity professionals – people trained to search for vulnerabilities and risks in hardware and software – have never been in higher demand. In fact, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is three times higher than any other IT field (not to mention, they earn, on average, 9% more than their counterparts).

So, with that said, we’d like to take a harder look at the type of education and background needed to break into a cybersecurity career as well as take note of five cybersecurity certifications that’ll help further a career in the discipline.

Education/Background Needed

While it’s possible to break into the field with an associate degree, most employers are searching for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a related field such as information technology or the much more popular computer science.

The coursework in these programs, which includes programming and statistics combined with classes in ethics and computer forensics, helps to prepare students with the technological and analytical skills required for a successful career in cybersecurity.

Once the education requirement is taken care of, it’s time to get certified.

Cybersecurity Certifications and the Jobs They’ll Lead To

There are a variety of certifications that can be earned by cybersecurity professionals. Choosing the most effective depends on an individual’s specific interest/goals and job requirements.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the more popular, and yearned for, cybersecurity certificates.

Network+ Certification

Earned through CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association, a non-profit trade association that issues professional certifications for the IT industry), the Network+ certification provides a great foundation on how computers and networks communicate with each other while also reviewing cybersecurity best practices.

In order to receive this certification, you must understand: Networking Concepts; Infrastructure; Networking Operations; Network Security; and Network Troubleshooting and Tools.

Job Options: System Administrator, IT Manager, Network Administrator

Security+ Certification

Also earned through CompTIA, the Security+ certification is arguably the most important cybersecurity certification. This certification will prove you understand the proper way to install and configure systems as well as secure devices, applications, and networks.

In order to pass this exam, you will need to have a thorough understanding of: Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities; Identity and Access Management; Risk Management; Network Architecture and Design; and Cryptography and KPI.

Job Options: Cybersecurity Analyst, Security Engineer, Security Consultant

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Also known as the Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA) for government employees, this certification is obtained through the EC-Council (The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants). Unlike the previous two certifications, this one requires participants to have at least two years of experience in the IT industry before taking the exam. It’ll teach you how to identify weaknesses in your network so the vulnerabilities can be patched.

In essence, the goal of this certification is to get you thinking like a hacker so you can thwart attacks against your employer.

Job Options: Advanced Threat Analyst, Information Security Assessor, Penetration Tester

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Obtained through the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)², this certification comes with a couple of prerequisites:

  • The individual must have at least five years of relevant industry experience
  • The individual must be knowledgeable in at least two of the eight Common Body of Knowledge domains (Security and Risk Management; Asset Security; Security Engineering; Communications and Network Security; Identity and Access Management; Security Assessment and Testing; Security Operations; and Software Development Security).

As one of the top, and most sought after, professional-level cybersecurity certifications, the CISSP covers vulnerability mitigation in web-based systems, cryptography concepts, investigations, and professional ethics.

Job Options: Information Security Analyst, Information Security Manager, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT) Certification

The Licensed Penetration Tester certification is overseen by the EC-Council and is an expert-level/prestigious designation given only to those who have mastered cybersecurity techniques. In order to be eligible for the exam, applicants must fulfill at least one of the following requirements:

  • Have a minimum of two years of experience as a penetration tester
  • Hold the EC-Council Security Analyst (ECSA) certification
  • Hold another industry-equivalent certification, such as GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) or Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

As a Licensed Penetration Tester, the individual will be hired to legally hack into companies’ networks, so the certification covers mastery-level cybersecurity concepts, including multi-level pivoting, OS exploits, SSH tunneling, and privilege escalation.

Job Options: Cybersecurity Engineer, Senior Security Consultant, Licensed Penetration Tester

We hope you find this information informative as you ponder whether a career in cybersecurity is for you!


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