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Getting an IT Security Certification isn’t the easiest decision to make. 

The best training courses and certifications typically come at a cost, and the time commitment to completing these courses can span several months. All these can quickly add up and make you wonder: is this even worth it?

Well, the answer is arguably “yes!” It’s no coincidence that 91% of IT professionals worldwide hold at least one certification, and 89% of them highly recommend pursuing one. 

This article will cover some benefits of IT certifications that might convince you of their value. Plus, if you’re currently a cybersecurity expert or aspiring to be one, stay tuned for five certification programs that can boost your professional credibility.

Benefits of IT certifications

Without further ado, here are four compelling benefits of IT Security Certifications that you shouldn’t overlook: 

1. Enhances skill set

IT is an industry where you risk falling behind if you don’t keep up because new technologies emerge constantly. For instance, there are technology companies that already use AIOps to automate tasks like root cause analysis and signal extraction. 

So, for your skill sets to remain relevant, you must align with the current work realities and obtain the right certifications such as what the DevOps Institute AIOps Foundation offers. Professional certifications guide you step by step through a carefully designed learning path. This ensures that you acquire technical knowledge in both emerging and essential existing technologies. The result is that you navigate your career path with confidence and direction. 

Learning path

Apart from helping you build your technical skills, many of these IT certifications also focus on developing your soft skills. For instance, some security certifications for beginners, like CompTIA Security+, include performance-based questions to sharpen your problem-solving abilities. That’s a valuable skill that will benefit your future career endeavors.

For the best learning results, why not complement your training certifications by self-studying? There are many free resources that can supplement what you learn during your training. Whether it’s a video tutorial on programming or a guide to generative AI, you can easily do a quick Google search and find it online.  

2. Improves job opportunities

When you possess the right skill set, validated by your certification, you naturally become a more sought-after candidate for various companies. You can potentially bring over $10,000 in added value for them as a certified professional. That’s why companies aren’t likely to ignore your resume. 

Furthermore, many organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter job candidate applications. These systems scan resumes for specific keywords and qualifications, which may include certain IT certifications. Having the right certifications on your resume in the first place can ensure it stands out and passes the initial hiring process.

You can also upload your IT certifications on professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. This is a smart move because it increases your visibility to hiring managers. According to LinkedIn, you become 27 times more discoverable to recruiters when you showcase your skills and certifications on the platform. Sometimes, hiring managers might even reach out to you for job opportunities you never applied for

3. Increases earning potential

Before pursuing any certification, one question that pops up is: how much can this improve my income? 

Well, consider this: 37% of those who obtain IT Security Certification receive a pay raise of over 20%, and 83% of them achieve this within six months. In some cases, this increase can even go beyond 51%. To put it in context, the average merit pay increase for IT professionals in 2022 was only 5.61%. The summary is that your certification is a worthwhile investment.

That aside, when you can present professional certifications that validate your skills, potential employers perceive you as more valuable. This gives you stronger leverage to negotiate a higher salary or additional benefits.

4. Provides job security

Over the years, we’ve seen many companies resort to employee layoffs as a cost-cutting measure. Certification is a proactive way to solidify your position within the organization during these uncertain times.

When organizations make layoff decisions, certified individuals are often viewed as valuable assets the company aims to retain. Besides the monetary value you bring in, 81% of certified employees produce higher-quality work, and 77% are more innovative, according to the same Pearson Vue study mentioned above.

These are the skills companies need to navigate their financial hurdles. So, you’re more likely to keep your job than those without certification.

5. Popular cybersecurity certifications

If you’re just getting started in cybersecurity or simply looking to build your credentials, here are five technical certifications to consider: 

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

CISSP, offered by ISC2, is an advanced certification for cybersecurity experts. Earning CISSP shows that you have in-depth knowledge of: 

IT Security Certifications makes it easier for you to transition into advanced-level roles like Chief Information Security Officer and Senior Security Consultant.

To qualify for CISSP, you typically need a minimum of five years of work experience in at least two of the eight ISC2 domains shown below. It’s worth noting that if you have a four-year computer science degree, it automatically counts as one year of experience. 

The certification exam is based on these eight domains and often takes around four hours to complete. You must answer approximately 125 to 175 multiple-choice questions and achieve a minimum score of 700 out of 1000 to pass.

Note:

Currently, obtaining a CISSP certification costs $749. However, bear in mind that CISSP requires you to retake the exam every three years to keep your certification active. The recertification exams cost $125. 

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Suppose you’re a mid-level IT auditing, control, and assurance professional, aiming to advance to roles like audit manager or IT security manager. Consider obtaining a CISA. Issued by ISACA, CISA certifies you in five domains, including:

Before applying, ensure you have at least five years of work experience in any of these five domains. However, a four-year degree in computer science can substitute for two years of experience, and a two-year degree can substitute for one year.

Like the CISSP, this exam lasts four hours and assesses your knowledge in the modules mentioned above. You’ll need to answer a total of 150 questions, and the scores for the CISA exam range from 200 to 800. To pass, you must score above 450.

If you’re an ISACA member, you can enjoy a discounted certification fee of $575. The next ISACA membership application is available for 2024 and currently costs $145. However, the certification cost can go up to $760 for non-members.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

CISM is another certification offered by ISACA, but it focuses more on management-oriented areas, including:

  • Program development 
  • Security governance
  • Incident management
  • Risk management

This certification is a great pick for mid-level IT professionals looking to transition into managerial roles, such as a data governance manager or information risk consultant. The cost is the same as CISA.

Just like CISA, you also need to answer 150 questions within four hours. 

Regarding the requirements, you must have five years of full-time work experience in security management before you’re eligible for the certification exam.

CompTIA Security+

For entry-level cybersecurity professionals aiming to advance to mid-level roles, such as security administrators, CompTIA Security+ is an excellent choice. 

This 90-minute exam includes around 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions that evaluate your foundational knowledge in:

This certification also assesses your understanding of basic regulations related to risks and compliance. The pass mark of the exam is 750 on a scale of 100 to 900. 

CompTIA Security+ doesn’t have strict requirements. But, it’s advisable to get yourself familiar with enterprise-level networking before pursuing CompTIA Security+. Examples of certifications to consider for this include CompTIA Network+ or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). That’s because understanding networking concepts will make it easier to navigate security-related topics. 

Finally, this certification costs approximately $219. 

Certified ethical hacker (CEH)

CEH is a certification primarily designed for ethical hackers (white hat hackers). It offers a gamified five-day training course with 20 modules focused on ethical hacking and real-life problem-solving. This costs $850. 

However, you can skip the training and directly apply for the industry certification exam. Just make sure you have two years of relevant IT work experience and proficiency in:

  • Detecting attacks and vectors
  • Penetration testing
  • Preventing attacks

The exam consists of two parts. The first is a knowledge exam, testing your theoretical understanding with about 125 questions in four hours. The second is a practical exam lasting six hours to demonstrate your skills. 

The CEH certification costs typically range from $950 to $1200, depending on your location.

This is your sign to obtain those IT Security Certifications!

From improved skill sets and higher pay to increased opportunities and job security, there are several benefits of IT certifications to enjoy.

Focus on certifications that align with your skill set to make the most of these benefits. For example, as a cybersecurity expert, you might consider CISSP, CISM, CEH, CISA, or CompTIA certifications. Your choice should also align with your current professional level and development goals.

Good luck!

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