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Data breaches are growing in number, size and criticality, the cybersecurity talent gap is widening, and the security unemployment rate is at zero. A recent survey of IT decision makers across the U.S., Europe and Asia shows most firms are aware and worried about vacant cyber security posts and feel vulnerable to attack.
All of these signs are indicative that cyber security and InfoSec skills are in remarkably high demand and are a good place to start for anyone looking to begin or advance a successful IT career path. Whether you're seeking to land an exciting - and well-paying - job or are looking to serve the greater good and make our online lives safer, here are 10 certifications that will provide you with the right credentials to kickstart a successful IT security career in 2017 and beyond.
Cyber security skills fall into different categories such as secure coding, vulnerability and penetration testing, breach detection, and attack mitigation, which you can choose based on your background, interests, and current skill set. Each of the following cyber security certifications covers the tools, techniques and best practices in one or more of these sought-after categories.
The test involves 250 questions, takes an average of six hours to complete and has been designed for professionals with a minimum of three to five years of experience. You will be challenged in a number of cyber security domains, including security management practices, access control, cryptography, security models and architecture, telecommunications and networking.
A CISSP is in many ways the crown jewel of cyber-sec certifications, and it's a definite must have if you want to become a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). But it is also a huge boon in other IT security job titles such as analyst, systems engineer, consultant and manager.
The salary depends on the job role, location and experience, but the average annual pay for CISSP certificate holders in $109,000.
CISA applicants must have a minimum of five years professional experience and score above 450 on the 200-800 point test in order to be approved for this certification. The topics of the exam will be focused on information systems disciplines including acquisition, development, implementation, operations, maintenance, and auditing. It will also assess your skills in IT management and governance and the protection of information assets.
A globally accepted certification, CISA is a main requirement for security auditing positions. The annual salary of CISA certificate holders is $110,000.
Applicants must have a verified five-year experience before registering for the exam, and the certification is a big plus for anyone inclined in organizational security and looking for a lucrative InfoSec management or consulting job.
You can expect your CISM certificate to rake in an average of $115,000 annually.
GSEC is for people with hands-on information security experience beyond knowledge and terminology. That's why there's no prerequisites or previous training required, and practical experience and a healthy dose of confidence will be your best friends when taking the five-hour, 180-question-long exam. This can be a good place to start if you have a clean sheet and possess no other cyber security certification.
The average salary for the GSEC cert holder is $77,000.
CRISC is a program often endorsed as a necessity for c-suite executives as well as chief compliance, risk and privacy officers. The exam will focus on the four areas of risk identification, assessment, response, and monitoring & reporting, and requires a minimum of three years of relevant experience to apply.
Given the top tier positions that some CRISC certificate holders occupy, the median salary is $111,000.
Certified Ethical Hackers are professionals who use the same tools as their malicious counterparts to pinpoint weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems in order to assess the security and help plug the holes. Savvy businesses proactively protect their networks by hiring the services of CEHs in order to beat hackers at their own game. In order to be eligible for the 125 question CEH exam, you must have 2 years of verifiable experience.
The median salary of Certified Ethical Hackers is $96,000.
The ECSA is focused on helping security professionals and penetration testers validate the analytical phase of ethical hacking by being able to precisely measure and assess the outcome of hacking tools and technologies. ECSA professionals use improved methods and techniques to identify and mitigate risks to information security and network infrastructures across the enterprise.
The ECSA certificate is a suitable document to hold when applying for job titles such as network server administrator, firewall administrator, info security tester, system administrator and risk assessment professional.
The average annual pay for an ECSA certification holder is $88,000.
The GPEN doesn't require any prior certifications or verifiable work experience and anyone can apply for the 115 question exam.
The average pay for the entry-level GPEN certification holder is $72,000 per year.
Security+ certification is a globally-recognized benchmark for the best practices in IT security and covers the essentials of network security and risk management, cryptography, identity management, security systems and organizational systems. This is an important stepping stone for individuals who want to get started on an IT security career track.
There are no prerequisites for the Security+, though CompTIA recommends at least 2 years of IT administration experience and earning its Network+ credential before taking the exam.
The average salary for jobs you can land with the Security+ is $94,000.
SSCP is a competitor to the popular CompTIA Security+ certificate. SSCP holders are qualified for security engineering, monitoring and implementation positions, where they serve in a hands-on security capacity.
The average salary for jobs you can land with a fresh SSCP certification is $70,000.
As we wrap up 2016 and get ready for 2017, the trends show that cyber threats will further escalate and the need for skilled and certified cyber security personnel will become more prominent than ever before. Earning certification(s) to validate your cyber security expertise can be an important asset to help you make a successful application for the next stop in your IT career path.