Best Cyber Security Certification Path For a Great Career

The past few years have made our reliance on the internet greater. And with that increased reliance also increased the number of security breaches. The explosion in cyber crimes and security breaches has significantly increased the requirement for different cyber security specialists, making it a lucrative career path for people. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, worldwide cybersecurity jobs grew 350% from 2013 to 2021. And there’s no doubt that the demand will only grow higher.  

Cyber Security refers to protecting data, technologies, devices, and the cloud from malicious attacks or cyber-attacks. In this blog, we have discussed the best cyber security certification path you can take. These courses can help you increase your knowledge, increase your chances of getting a job, and make you a specialist in your field.

Best cyber security certification paths

The certification courses can be divided based on their level of expertise: entry-level, intermediate-level, and advanced-level.

First, let’s discuss the best cyber security certifications for beginners who want to gain expertise and more knowledge. 

  1. CompTIA Security+

comptia security+ is one of the most popular entry-level cyber security certifications. offered by comptia, the course is perfect for beginners looking to start their careers in the cyber security industry. with a hands-on approach, security+ certifications give you practical experience and train you to handle complex problems. it covers multiple technical skills, such as risk assessment and management, security controls, cloud operations, architecture, design, etc. 

The roles you can opt for after doing the course are:

  • Systems or Security Administrator

  • IT Auditors

  • IT Project Manager

  • Security Engineer 

  • Senior Analyst

  • Helpdesk Manager

  • Software Developer

  • Cloud Engineer

To complete this course successfully, you need a fantastic knowledge of networks. If you have some basic understanding of networks, this course would be challenging but not too hard. 

while there’s no minimum experience requirement, comptia recommends two years of experience in it administration with exposure in the security field. it also recommends doing the comptia network+ certification course. 

Related: 15 Common Types of Cyber Attacks You Should Be Aware in 2022

  1. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

provided by ec council , the certified ethical hacker course teaches ethical hacking across 20 domains. ethical hacking is lawful hacking done to test for vulnerabilities in the system. it provides the latest exploit technologies, live cyber range, and hands-on lab and teaches over 500 different attack techniques. the course makes you conduct a real-world ethical hacking experiment and has more than 3500 hacking tools like cloud computing, web api hacking, malware reverse engineering, etc.

Some of the roles you can choose after this certification are:

  • Cyber Security Consultant

  • Network Security Engineer

  • SOC Analyst

  • Infosec Security Administrator 

  • Junior Penetration Tester 

  • Cloud Security Architect

EC Council recommends people either have at least 2 years of IT security experience or take their Cyber Security Essentials series before beginning this course. 

  1. System Security Certified Practitioner(SSCP)

The System Security Certified Practitioner certification course is designed by ISC2 for people who want to learn advanced technical skills to implement and monitor IT infrastructure. It teaches topics like access control, cryptography, system and application security, security operations and administrations, etc. It is best for IT administrators, network security professionals, database administrators, and security consultants.  

With this certification, you can secure jobs like:

  • Network analyst

  • Security engineers

  • System administrator

  • Security analyst

However, the certification requires at least 1-year experience in any of the seven domains offered by the course. If you do not have the relevant experience, you can choose to finish the certification first and then get professional experience. You will only be given the full certification upon completing the professional experience.

Best intermediate-level cyber security certification paths

Now, let’s move on to the intermediate-level certification courses. For these courses, you need some prior knowledge and some minimum experience.

  1. CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst or CySA+ is an intermediate-level certification focused on analytics. It uses behavioral analytics and constant security monitoring to prevent, detect, and fight cybersecurity threats. You will gain skills such as threat and vulnerability management, compliance and assessment, incident response, software and systems security, and security operating and monitoring from the course. The certification also uses tools like an event management system, packet sniffer, and IDS. 

You can take the following jobs on successful completion of the course:

  • Application Security Analyst

  • Compliance Analyst

  • Threat Intelligence Analyst

  • Threat Hunter

  • Incident Handler

CompTIA recommends having at least 4 years of experience in information security and knowledge equivalent to Security+ and Network+.

  1. eCPTXv2

eLearnSecurity Certified Penetration Tester eXtreme, or eCPTXv2, is provided by eLearnSecurity and is aimed at developing advanced penetration testing skills. The certification focuses on PowerShell scripting, Privilege Escalation, the latest penetration testing methods, advanced backdooring, etc. 

  1. CompTIA PenTest+

CompTIA PenTest+ is for professionals working in penetration testing and vulnerability management domains. Its primary focus is on reconnaissance, vulnerability scanning, reporting, tools and code analysis, and different attacks and exploits.

Some of the career options after CompTIA PenTest+ helps in are:

  • Web App Penetration Tester

  • Network and Security Specialist

  • Cloud Penetration Tester

  • Security Consultant

  • Penetration Tester

PenTest+ technically comes after CompTIA Security+ certification, but you don’t have to necessarily do it to get this certification. However, you must have 3-4 years of professional experience in information security. 

  1. GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE)

Provided by Sans Institute, GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner, or GCFE, covers windows forensics, email forensics, advanced web browser forensics, window registry forensics, and more. Whoever gets the certifications typically can conduct incident investigations such as evidence acquisitions, browser forensics, and e-Discovery. 

According to GIAC, GCFE certification is for people with a deep understanding of Windows forensics and information systems/security background. Media exploitation analysts, incident response team managers, and information security professionals can also get this certification.

Best advanced level cyber security certification paths

For people who are already highly experienced and experts in their domains and are looking to expand their horizons, these are some advanced-level courses they can do.

  1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The most sought-after and challenging cyber security certification path in the entire industry is Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP in short, from ISP2. It is designed for senior cybersecurity professionals and validates that they can design, implement, and monitor cybersecurity programs. CISSP is also one of the top network security certifications.

With CISSP, you can further your career and get the following jobs:

  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

  • IT Director/Manager

  • Chief Information Officer

  • Security Systems Engineer

  • Director Of Security

  • Security Consultant

  • Network Architect

  • Security Auditor

The certification covers eight domains, including security and risk management, identity and access management, security operations, and communication and network security. The requirements to get this certification are clear. You need at least five years of cumulative experience in at least two of the eight domains taught in the certification. 

  1. Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

Provided by Offensive Security, Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) is the most popular certification among penetration testers. The exam is one of the most difficult and respected technical exams as it lasts for 24 hours. The certification is for infosec professionals, network administrators, and pen-testers and covers topics such as Kali Linux, vulnerability scanning, antivirus evasion, buffer overflows, etc.

The career paths after OSCP includes:

  • Penetration tester

  • Application security analyst

  • Ethical hacker

  • Threat researcher

Offensive Security recommends that candidates must have a deep understanding of IP networking, Windows and Linux administration experience, and basic Python understanding. 

  1. CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

Most suitable for senior security engineers and security architects, CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification is the highest level of security certification CompTIA offers. It covers topics such as enterprise security domain, virtualization technologies, security operations, security engineering and cryptography, etc.

CASP+ certification can open the following career paths:

  • Security Architect

  • Application Security Engineer

  • Technical Lead Analyst

  • SOC Manager

  • Vulnerability Analyst

The candidates applying for this course must have at least ten years of IT administration experience, including at least five years of technical security experience.

How to choose which certification suits you the best?

Now that we’ve covered the best cyber security certification courses, how do you decide which one you want to do?

The first thing you need to know is your interest. What are you interested in? Do you want to be a part of the red team or the blue team? For those who don’t know, the red team is the offensive team. The professionals in the red team are experts in attacking and breaking systems. The blue team, on the other hand, is the defensive team. It is focused on protecting and checking the effectiveness of security systems. So they do risk analysis, incident response, and check vulnerabilities in the system. Make your cyber security career roadmap before choosing the certification. 

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Other factors you can consider are:

Experience: Choose the course that matches your level of experience. If you are barely beginning in the industry, go for entry-level certifications. They will boost your resume and give you the required knowledge to move forward.

Cost: Most of these courses cost hundreds of dollars and then even more money to maintain the certification. Decide your interest and only then pick the course. 

Cyber security is an easy field to enter, at least on the surface. But the deeper you go, the more you realize how lucrative yet difficult the field is. But, the best part of it is the ample amount of opportunities available. These certifications listed above can help you tap into those opportunities and succeed in the cybersecurity industry.

Armin Vans
Archer Charles has top education industry knowledge with 4 years of experience. Being a passionate blogger also does blogging on the technology niche.

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