February 4, 2023

No matter how long you have been in the tech field, we still learn new things every day. There are millions of people discovering and trying new stuff and every second these trials add new ways to make our lives easier, so you need to have the concept of continuous education in your mind.

There is no single defined path that everybody can take and reach the exact same results, it depends on who you are and what is your goal. Also, we can see different people coming from different paths reaching the same positions.

Cybersecurity is one of the most crucial areas for ensuring a business’s success and longevity. With cyberattacks growing in sophistication, it’s essential for business owners to protect their companies by hiring qualified cybersecurity experts to manage this aspect of their business. The best candidates will have a certification in information security and cybersecurity. This guide breaks down the top certifications and other guidance you’ll need to make the right hire for your company. It’s also a great primer for individuals who are embarking on a cybersecurity career.

Getting a certificate is important in the industry as it proves your skills for companies and keeps you updated with the latest new techniques. It is not too easy to choose a suitable certificate to take which is why in the following article, we will discuss the requirements to start your first certificate. The below article is just a roadmap based on my personal experience and perception. I am sure this will get huge traction with others’ views.

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Benefits of earning the certification

  • Learn or upgrade your knowledge.
  • Increase employment probability.
  • To become an SME in the field
  • To get higher salary packages

Why are Cybersecurity talents required?

  • Increase in the sophistication of cyberattacks. As businesses increasingly rely on digital systems, threat actors are finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities.
  • Rise of data breaches. No organization is immune from the risk of a data breach, from small businesses to major corporations. Since Data is the intellectual property of every business, it needs to be protected.
  • Cybersecurity industry keeps evolving, so people working in Cyberworld constantly stay updated on the latest threats and solutions.

Essentials before getting into the certification journey

Since the cyber world is enormous and for breaking into it, aspirants need to have knowledge in a few areas. Yes, as I said above no one will have the same path, same experience, and same knowledge, and it depends on each one’s background. Below are some of the essentials that need to be known.

Operating Systems

Linux

Linux operating system is an open-source operating system and has dozens of distributions, it is an operating system like Windows and macOS, but it is easier to use, and most tools, frameworks, and courses are using it. Also, networks will come across will most probably have Linux machines, so familiarity with this OS flavour is essential. A basic course that is available “Linux Basics for Hackers: Getting Started with Networking, Scripting, and Security in Kali”

Windows

Like Linux, Windows is also one of the most used operating systems across the world and it has the major share of usage due to its vast usage, it is also prone to attacks and threat actors are in love with this flavor and try to exploit its weakness on a larger note. A basic course is available “Windows Operating System Fundamentals” to learn the functionality.

Mac OS

To an extent,  just basics – Since the crooks started to exploit it.

Networks

What, where, and how you begin is not important but learning networks is a fundamental thing whatever the specialization you will go through, CompTIA network+ certificate is beginner-friendly and will help you understand how the networks work. CompTIA A+ also one good certificate to start with. It contains all the basics you need as a beginner. As a cybersecurity enthusiast, most of your work will be against network testing vulnerabilities so you need to be comfortable with the basic concepts of networks. CCNA will be in depth that can be acquired in the later part of the certification journey.

Scripting and Programming

It’s too important to have the knowledge and be comfortable with at least one programming language, python and bash are recommended. Their syntax is easy to understand and will help you write your own tools. Basics of web development languages (i.e.: HTML, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL) to understand the web application you are going to test.

Given all the specializations within this industry and the number of available credentials, choosing the one that best fits your career needs and aspirations might seem daunting. Below are some of the best options for rewarding career paths, learning new skills, and enhancing your ability to strengthen network defenses and digital assets against various threats.

Source : Beyond

Here  certifications are listed from a basic level to an advanced level

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Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certification

For cybersecurity analysts, entry-level cyber security certification will boost their resume and help to make their knowledge stronger in their domain. The following certifications will help entry-level enthusiasts gain perfect expertise.

CompTIA Security+

CompTIA Security+ is an entry-level cybersecurity certification provided by CompTIA, and its highly recommended. The Security+ certification covers many topics such as network security, IT risk management, system administrator, network administrator, and security administrator.

  • The CompTIA Security+ exam costs $381 USD
  • Certification validity is 3 years from the date of earning
  • The exam length is 90 minutes with a passing score of 750.
  • CompTIA Security+ annual fees of $50 USD and 50 CEUs over three years of the cycle to maintain your certification.
  • The average salary of a certified CompTIA Security+ professional is $115,170 in the U.S., and in India average salary for a security analyst is 5.3 Lakh rupees per annum.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Certified Ethical Hacker or CEH is provided by EC-Council. CEH is in demand globally because it gives various cybersecurity job roles like Network Security Engineer, SOC Analyst, Junior Penetration Tester, Cybersecurity consultant, Senior SOC analyst, Infosec Security Administrator, and many more. Look at the CEH exam guide from The CyberThrone, published earlier

  • CEH exam costs $1,199 USD with $100 USD for application.
  • Certification validity is 3 years from the date of earning
  • CEH exam is a Multiple-Choice Question type composed of 125 questions, and its passing criteria differ. You can also give CEH Practical which has 20 questions; its passing criteria is 70%.
  • Annual membership fees of $80 USD and earn 120 ECE (EC-Council Continuation Education) in the cycle of 3 years to renew CEH certification, 40 ECE in each year of 3 years of the cycle.
  • The average salary for a CEH certified is $82,966 USD for a year, and for India, it is 3.5 Lakh rupees yearly
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EJPT

EJPT – eLearn Security Junior Penetration Tester. It is provided by eLearn Security. It is a full practical-based certification of penetration testing on the corporate network based on real-world scenarios. It covers the skills like TCP/IP, IP Routing, Basic vulnerability assessment of networks, simple web application manual exploitation, simple scanning of the target, penetration testing methodologies, and many more.

  • eJPT exam voucher costs $200 USD.
  • The eJPT certification doesn’t requires any renewal. Once acquired, will be active throughout the lifetime
  • eJPT is a full practical-based examination for 72 hours
  • The average salary of a Penetration tester is $97,874/ year in the USA and in India average salary is 4.97 Lakh/year.

Certified in Cybersecurity (CC)

ISC² developed the Certified in Cybersecurity (CC) credential for newcomers to the field, to recognize the growing trend of people entering the cybersecurity workforce without direct IT experience. Getting Certified in Cybersecurity provides employers with the confidence that you have a solid grasp of the right technical concepts, and a demonstrated aptitude to learn on the job. It covers areas like Security Principles, Incident Response, Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) Concepts, Access Controls Concepts, Network Security, Security Operations

  • The CC exam voucher costs $200 USD and pledged 1 million free certifications
  • The exam contains multiple choice questions, and the length of the exam is 2 hours with passing marks of 700.
  • Upon passing the exam, completing the application form, and payment of your $50 AMF, you’ll become a certified member of (ISC)²
  • Annual dues of U.S. $50 will be due at the end of your first year of (ISC)² Candidate status.

SSCP (System Security Certified Practitioner)- Next to CC this can be taken

The SSCP or System Security Certified Practitioner is a certification provided by (ISC)2, and it is for cybersecurity practitioners to monitor cybersecurity incidents and respond to them. Aspirants can get jobs like Network Analyst, System Administrator, Security Analyst, and Security Engineer. It covers many different topics like Cryptography, Risk identification-monitoring and analysis, Incident response and recovery, System and application security, and Access Control.

  • The SSCP exam voucher costs $249 USD
  • This certification is valid for 3 years from the date it was earned.
  • The exam contains multiple choice questions, and the length of the exam is 3 hours with passing marks of 700.
  • To maintain SSCP credentials, first, one must pay Annual Maintenance Fees (AMF) of $65 USD then earn and register a minimum of 60 CPE (Continuing Professional Education) credits within three years of the certification loop.
  • A certified SSCP’s average salary is $76,500 – $108,000/year in the U.S., and in India average salary is around 7.3 Lakh rupees per annum.
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Mid-Level Certification

Mid-level cybersecurity certification is one level above the entry-level certification that requires some prior knowledge and experience. A minimum of 3 to 4 years of hands-on experience in IT or related fields will be good to go. Some of the certifications are as follows:

CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst+ (CySA+)

CompTIA CySA+ or CompTIA Cyber Security Analyst certification evaluates the skills to analyze the network and keep the industry safe and secure. The certification focuses on analysis. It covers tools such as packet sniffers, Intrusion detection systems, and security information and event management systems.  It covers the skills required for cyber security analysts and threat intelligence analysts, and it gives us some skills like Analysing and interpreting data, suggesting some precautions for security, being safe from attacks, and if we get attacks, how to recover from it.

  • The exam voucher costs $381 USD
  • Certification validity is 3 years from the date of earning
  • The exam contains multiple-choice and performance-based questions.
  • Maximum of 85 questions with a duration of 165 minutes and a passing score of 750.
  • It requires $50 USD for renewal, recertification exam, and to qualify for higher CompTIA certification, or bypassing the latest release of the CySA+ exam.
  • Average salary is $75,000 – $120,000 per year. In India, the average salary for a cybersecurity analyst is 5.3 Lakh rupees per annum.

CompTIA PenTest+

CompTIA PenTest+ is for cybersecurity professionals like penetrations testers and vulnerability assessment analysts. It mainly focuses on reconnaissance, identifying, exploiting, reporting, and then managing the vulnerability.

It specializes in things like the management of vulnerability, Understanding the legal and compliance requirements, making a report containing the remedies and measures which should be taken to secure the network or domain

  • The exam voucher costs $381 USD
  • Certification validity is 3 years from the date of earning
  • The exam contains multiple-choice and performance-based questions.
  • Maximum of 85 questions with a duration of 165 minutes and a passing score of 750.
  • It requires $50 USD for renewal, recertification exam, and to qualify for higher CompTIA certification, or bypassing the latest release of the CompTIA PenTest+ exam.
  • Average salary is $88,040 as a pen tester per year, $73,747 Network Security Analyst per year and in India average salary of a penetration tester is 7.5 Lakh rupees per annum.
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eCPTXv2

eCPTX – eLearnSecurity Certified Penetration Tester eXtreme. It is one of the advanced penetration testing certifications. By obtaining the eCPTX, the skills that are assessed and certified are Privilege Escalation, Web application manual exploitation, Advanced and latest penetration testing methodologies, network, or traffic manipulation, advanced backdooring, and custom attack vector development.

  • ECPTXv2 certification-only voucher costs $400.
  • The eJPT certification doesn’t requires any renewal. Once acquired, will be active throughout the lifetime
  • The exam has 48 hours for penetration testing once you receive the lab’s credentials, then another 48 hours for report writing. You must perform actual penetration testing on a corporate network that is modeled after a real-world scenario.
  • Average salary for a penetration tester is around $119,578/year in the U.S. and in India average salary is 7.5 Lakhs rupees per annum.

GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE)

To acquire GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE), practitioner must prove adequate skills and knowledge for computer forensic analysis with core skills for investigation on any windows-based system. The certification are email forensics, log analysis, windows forensics, advanced web browsing forensics, cloud storage analysis. This certification is  for those who have deep knowledge of windows forensics and information security and computers.

  • Certification cost is $949 USD.
  • Certification is valid for 4 years from the date of earning.
  • Maximum 115 questions, with the length of the exam as 3 hours, and the passing score is 71%.
  • 36 credits over four years (CPE option) is required to keep the certificate active.
  • The average salary for GCFE is $75,018 USD, and in India average salary for a Forensic Analyst is 4.2 Lakh rupees per annum.
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CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional)

CCSP helps candidates demonstrate proficiency in cloud architecture as well as day-to-day operations, application security considerations and much more. Anyone looking for a role in a cloud-based environment will be well served with a CCSP certification. This credential assures employers that the candidate has the advanced technical knowledge and skills to design, manage and secure data, applications, and infrastructures in the cloud.

  • Exam costs $550 USD
  • Certification is valid for 3 years from the date it was earned.
  • The exam is consisting of 150 MCQ questions and it includes 25 are pre-test questions and 4 hours of exam time and 700 out of 100 required to pass the exam
  • To maintain CCSP credentials, first, one must pay Annual Maintenance Fees of $85 USD then earn and register a minimum of 120 CPE credits within three years of the certification loop, but 40 CPEs annually is required.
  • Average salary is $80,717 USD per year (globally) in the U.S. In India the average salary ranges between 19 Lakh -23 lakh rupees per annum

CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor)

ISACA’s globally recognized CISA certification is the gold standard for IT workers seeking to practice in information security, audit control and assurance. Ideal candidates can identify and assess organizational threats and vulnerabilities, assess compliance, and provide guidance and organizational security controls. CISA-certified professionals demonstrate knowledge and skill across the CISA job practice areas of auditing, governance and management, acquisition, development and implementation, maintenance and service management, and asset protection.

  • Exam costs $575 (members); $760 (non-members) USD
  • Credentials should be obtained within 5 years of exam pass
  • The exam contains 150 questions and four hours given to complete it
  • Candidates must possess at least five years of experience working with information systems. Some substitutions for education and experience with auditing are permitted
  • To maintain the CISA certification, candidates must earn 120 CPE credits over a three-year period, with a minimum of 20 CPE credits earned annually
  • Annual maintenance fee of $45 (ISACA members) or $85 (non-members)
  • Average salary is $107,453 USD per year (globally) in the U.S.
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Advanced-Level Cybersecurity Certification

Advanced-level cybersecurity certifications is for highly skilled and experienced in this domain and most time also those who have certain certifications already, but to prove their professionalism, they must do higher certifications like as follows:

CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)

CISSP  is the best certification in the market. But the surprise is that it is not a technical certification. CISSP is made for senior cybersecurity professionals who are intended to design and implement a security program in an organization. It is in demand because those who want to become security architects or security managers can go for CISSP. Even if you want to become a Chief Information Security Officer, this certification is very helpful. CISSP is also great for those who are looking to work in defense because as U.S. military requires CISSP certification for some job roles.

Each CISSP concentration exam is $599, and credential seekers must currently possess a valid CISSP.

  • Exam costs $749 USD
  • Certification is valid for 3 years from the date it was earned.
  • The exam is an adaptive linear exam, and the questions count varies from candidate to candidate. Some might have got 100 questions; some may get 125, 150, 175 respectively and it includes 25 are pre-test questions.
  • To maintain CISSP credentials, first, one must pay Annual Maintenance Fees of $85 USD then earn and register a minimum of 120 CPE credits within three years of the certification loop, but 40 CPEs annually is required.
  • Average salary is $92,639 USD per year (globally) in the U.S.

(ISC)2 also offers three CISSP concentrations targeting specific areas of interest in IT security:

  • Architecture (CISSP-ISSAP)
  • Engineering (CISSP-ISSEP)
  • Management (CISSP-ISSMP)

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

CASP+ is an advanced-level certification for cyber-security professionals, which includes technical skills of security architecture and senior security engineering in traditional, cloud, and hybrid environments etc. The knowledge that an aspirant acquire will be in the areas of Security Architecture, Security Operations, Cryptography, and security engineering. They can monitor, identify, and analyze the ongoing operations on security in an enterprise environment. One can become ,architect, engineer and make use of secure solutions across multiple environments to support the domain.

  • Exam voucher costs $480 USD
  • Certification is valid for 3 years from the date it was earned.
  • The exam contains multiple choice and performance-based questions with 90 questions, and the length of the examination is 165 minutes.
  • It requires $50 USD for renewal by taking the recertification exam, qualifies higher CompTIA certification, or bypassing the latest release of the CompTIA PenTest+ exam.
  • The average salary is $84,901 USD and has 1-4 years of experience.
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Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

OSCP is an ethical hacking certificate offered by Offensive Security. The certification validates that they have professional knowledge and skills of penetration testing methodologies in Kali Linux. For those who are preparing for OSCP certification, it is compulsory for them to attend Offensive Security inhouse training. More recognised certificate in the field of cybersecurity

  • Penetration Testing with Kali Linux (PwK) is a course offered by offensive security which is self-paced and online material whose costs starts from $1,499. The PwK course consists of PDFs, video, 90 days lab access and one exam voucher. The retake fee is $249
  • This certification doesn’t have any expiry date. This is a lifetime certification.
  • The exam is of total of 48 hours in which first 24 hours is for penetration testing on the labs they will provide us with the credentials. Then next 24 hours for making PoC (Proof of Concept) or report.
  • This certification doesn’t require any annual credit points, recertification or any annual fees.
  • Average salary is $93,464 in U.S. In India the average salary is ranging for from 14 Lakh – 25 Lakh rupees per annum.

CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)

The CISM certification is a top credential for IT professionals who are responsible for managing, developing, and overseeing information security systems in enterprise-level applications or for developing organizational security best practices. The CISM credential was introduced to security professionals in 2003 by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA).

This certification is specifically geared toward IT professionals who are interested in the highest-quality standards with respect to the auditing, control, and security of information systems. The CISM credential targets the needs of IT security professionals with enterprise-level security management responsibilities. Credential holders possess advanced and proven skills in security risk management, program development and management, governance, and incident management and response.

  • Exam costs $575 (members); $760 (non-members) USD
  • Credentials should be obtained within 5 years of exam pass
  • The exam contains 150 questions and four hours given to complete it
  • Candidates must possess at least five years of experience working with information systems. Some substitutions for education and experience with auditing are permitted
  • To maintain the CISA certification, candidates must earn 120 CPE credits over a three-year period, with a minimum of 20 CPE credits earned annually
  • Annual maintenance fee of $45 (ISACA members) or $85 (non-members)
  • Average salary is $107,453 USD per year (globally) in the U.S.
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Conclusion

Cybersecurity is not easy and is not always about money. Most people will say that certification is not that important, only skills matter. No, certifications are important it will give you plus point in any job or internship interview. The above-mentioned certifications will make your career bright, and they will also strengthen your knowledge and makes you different from the rest of the others.

Certification is  an effective way to validate your skills and show a current or prospective employer that you’re qualified and properly trained. If you’re a business owner, hiring certified professionals and skilled IT managers can help prevent cyberattacks and provide confidence that your company’s security is in the right hands. In the meantime, review our quick cybersecurity tips to improve your company’s protection.

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