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Best Cybersecurity Certifications for Upcoming Professionals

February 8, 2023 - Emily Newton

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Upcoming professionals in IT and cybersecurity don’t have mile-long resumes with decades of experience. They need to set themselves apart in other ways, namely through valuable certifications. Here are seven of the best cybersecurity certifications for aspiring young workers that instill real-world skills and prepare them for high-level positions.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The CISSP is the most sought-after certification from the organization (ISC)². Employers use the CISSP as a benchmark in the hiring process for upper-level positions. 

Passing the exam shows that you know the fundamentals of IT security and can be trusted to design and monitor a cybersecurity program. For that reason, this prestigious certification has high standards for people who want to earn it. You must have/do the following:

  • At least five years of experience in two or more (ISC)² Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) domains.
  • Choose one of three CISSP concentrations: architecture, engineering, or management.
  • Agree to the CISSP code of ethics.
  • Pay an exam fee of $699 and a CISSP concentration fee of $599 ($1298 total).
  • Retake the certification test every three years.
  • Maintain the CISSP credential with an annual fee of $85.

The exam has 250 multiple choice questions, each worth four points. You must score at least 70% within a three-hour time limit to pass.

The CISSP is, for lack of a better phrase, a rite of passage for aspiring cybersecurity professionals. It’s a long-term financial and educational commitment. If you’re serious about a career in cybersecurity, the CISSP should be high on your to-do list.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

One of the best cybersecurity certifications from the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC Council) tests your skills with ethical hacking, also known as white hat hacking or penetration testing. 

Ethical hacking involves legally breaching organizations’ security measures to find any bugs or vulnerabilities before real cyber attackers find them. To take the CEH, you must have/do the following:

  • Two years of work experience in IS or official EC Council training.
  • Non-refundable application fee of $100.
  • $1,199 fee for the v11 exam, the latest version of the CEH.
  • Submit an exam eligibility form.
  • Renew the certification every three years with an $80 annual fee.

The CEH is one of the most challenging exams an IT professional can take, with 125 questions and a required passing score of 70%. You have four hours to complete the exam.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The CISM is another certification from ISACA that tests your managerial potential in a variety of IS subcategories, including governance, program development and risk management. If you want to advance into a high-ranking management position, the CISM is the test for you. Here are the prerequisites:

  • Five years of experience in IS, with at least three years in a low-level management role.
  • $575 fee for ISACA members
  • $760 fee for non-members
  • Agree to ISACA’s code of ethics

The exam consists of 200 questions and has a time limit of four hours. You can score anywhere between 200 and 800, with 450 being the lowest passing mark.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

This certification comes from the IT organization ISACA that specializes in cybersecurity auditing. The CISA is primarily used for mid-level IT workers looking to take the next career step. Passing the test demonstrates your ability to notice/fix security vulnerabilities and design controls that improve security.

Like the CISSP, this certification also has some requirements:

  • At least five years of experience in IT security or IS audit, control, security or assurance.
  • $575 fee for ISACA members.
  • $760 fee for non-members.
  • Agree to ISACA’s code of ethics.
  • Renew certification every three years with an $85 fee.

The CISA allows some leeway for experience and education. A two-year Associate’s degree can replace one year of experience, and a four-year Bachelor’s degree replaces two years of experience. It has 150 questions, and you must reach a score of 450 out of 800 to pass within the four-hour time limit.

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

This cloud security certification marks the transition from intermediate to advanced for IT employees. If you want to prove your skills in cloud security architecture, design and service, the CCSP is a popular stepping stone. Here’s what you need to take this exam:

  • Five years of experience, including three years in IS and one year in a CCSP CBK domain.
  • $549 fee for each attempt
  • Agree to CCSP’s code of ethics
  • Receive an endorsement from an (ICS) professional
  • Renew certification every three years, with an annual fee of $100.

This test has 125 questions and a four-hour limit. You must score at least 700 out of 1000 points to pass. Anything related to cloud security is one of the best cybersecurity certifications you can invest in right now.

CompTIA Security+ (SY0-601)

If you’ve been looking for an entry-level certification, the Security+ is the exam for you. It covers many subjects in IT and is often the first step towards attaining more advanced certifications. Still, it has some prerequisites:

  • CompTIA Network+ credentials preferred but not required.
  • Two years of experience in systems management is preferred but not required.
  • Exam fee of $339 or less with an SY0-601 voucher.
  • Renew certification every three years with continued education or an online course.

Security+ is the most popular cybersecurity certification in the entire world with over 600,000 holders, so this exam is a good start in putting yourself among the world’s most skilled professionals.

GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

The GSEC is another entry-level certification covering a wide range of skills, from active defense to network security to incident response. It’s also great for people with a background in IT who want to move into cybersecurity. 

There are no education or experience requirements for the GSEC, but you have to pay an expensive fee of $2499 for two practice tests and the actual third test. You also take the exam under a proctor’s supervision, unlike the other tests on this list. It has 180 questions, takes five hours and the lowest passing grade is 73%.

Take Your Cybersecurity Career to the Next Level

If you feel stuck in your current job, one of these best cybersecurity certifications can bolster your resume and give you the confidence to pursue a better position. However, these exams are challenging commitments. Make sure you set aside the funds and take enough time out of your schedule to complete them without jeopardizing your career.

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Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She manages the sites publishing schedule, SEO optimization and content strategy. Emily enjoys writing and researching articles about how technology is changing every industry. When she isn't working, Emily enjoys playing video games or curling up with a good book.

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