Cyber attacks are malicious assaults where cybercriminals steal confidential data, take over a computer to launch other attacks, or disable entire computer systems, resulting in catastrophic damage.
Terrifyingly, hacker attacks occur as often as every 39 seconds. Moreover, job postings for qualified cybersecurity professionals are up by ¾ over five years. While more than 300,000 cybersecurity jobs in America are ripe for the taking, getting a cybersecurity certification is the best way to advance your cybersecurity career and do your part in protecting online safety.
Many certifications are available, but not all represent your qualifications equally to head hunters and hiring managers. Not to fret; below, you’ll find the eight best cybersecurity certifications that’ll make your resume stand out and have you navigating multiple offers.
Best 8 Cybersecurity Certifications
When hiring managers or headhunters look for qualified cybersecurity professionals, they seek out those with the best qualifications, credentials, and work performance.
Discover the most in-demand cybersecurity certifications with the eight best cybersecurity certifications below from renowned and accredited institutions. With any of these eight cybersecurity credentials, you can negotiate a higher-paying salary or promotion and perform work tasks more efficiently.
Remember, most certifications require a computer science degree, and all require a passion for cybersecurity. Let’s get started!
1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
A CISSP certification is a highly respected credential to have for cybersecurity professionals that can set your resume apart from the rest. This certification is from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)².
A CISSP certification validates intense training and deep knowledge of all things regarding internet security, including risk management, security engineering, software development security, and much more.
Experienced security practitioners, executives, and managers taking the CISSP exam must score at least 700 out of 1,000 total points to pass the exam, so taking a preparation course is the best way to score well when it matters the most.
While passing the exam is a major milestone toward a CISSP certification, you also must have five cumulative years of experience working within at least two domains of the (ISC)² CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).
The CISSP certification course from the highly-respected (ISC)² teaches security professionals like directors of security, IT managers, security analysts, network architects, and more how to design, implement, and manage an exceptional cybersecurity program.
Some of the ways this in-depth course prepares students for the CISSP exam include modules on the following topics:
- Risk management
- Asset security
- Communications and network security
- Software development security
- Access and Identity management
- Security testing and assessments
- Security operations
Remember, you’ll need a minimum of five years of consecutive work experience to qualify for this highly-renowned certification.
- Highly renowned certification that a hiring manager and headhunter seeks
- Starting salary of $120,000
- Online instructor-led courses, group classrooms, private in-person training, and self-paced course options are available.
- Teaches fundamental concepts and builds for better understanding depending on your experience level
- Learner support and peer-to-peer discussions
A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) can earn around a starting salary of ~$120,000 annually in the United States. With this renowned and hard-to-get certification under your belt, you’ll join the small percentage of highly sought-after security experts.
2. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
A Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is one of the best cybersecurity certifications that is now a prerequisite for many hiring managers. With this certification, you show that you have five years of work experience in the IT auditing, security, or control domains and have passed the CISA exam.
This globally-recognized credential is an easy way to succinctly say you have expertise in IS/IT auditing, assessing vulnerabilities, and implementing IT controls and cybersecurity in an enterprise.
Students must score a minimum of 450 out of 800 total points to pass the CISA exam. You can take the exam at any point in your five years of work experience. Once you’ve passed the test and worked five years in the IT industry, you can apply for your CISA Certification.
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) organizes the CISA exam and offers various resources to help prepare for the CISA test. However, the NICCS offers an exceptional four-day CISA training course with a certified ISACA instructor to deepen understanding and cement the knowledge.
In this intense training course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of everything necessary to pass the exam, including the following:
- Information systems auditing processes
- IT governance and IT management
- Information systems development, acquisitions, and implementation
- IS operations and business resilience
- Asset and information security
The NICCS CISA training course is a must-take before the exam because it’s packed with practical information and helpful study tips.
- Globally-recognized credential of IT excellence
- Starting salary of $149,000
- Deepen and update your knowledge of cybersecurity
- Improve job performance
- 56.25% required to pass
- Expensive exam fee: $760 for non-ISACA members and $575 for ISACA members
With a CISA certification, you can travel anywhere in the world and find cybersecurity jobs. With starting salaries of around $149,000, this certification is a worthwhile pursuit for anyone that wants to grow with an enterprise.
3. CompTIA Security+ Certification (Secuity+)
A CompTIA Security+ certification gives beginners in the IT and cybersecurity field the skills needed for baseline operations at any business. With up-to-date information about the latest cybersecurity protocols, Security+ certified professionals are ready for the job the moment they pass the exam.
If you want a cybersecurity job, you must have a Security+ certificate. A CompTIA Security+ Certification is a credential that validates your skills for entry-level cybersecurity positions.
Beginners typically prepare for the test one to three months before the exam, even without previous IT experience, though some previous knowledge is beneficial. For a passing grade on the Security+ exam, students must score at least 750 out of 900 points.
While the Security+ certification is for an entry-level position, it thoroughly tests knowledge of cybersecurity and IT fundamentals, making it worthwhile to study hard. Luckily, CompTIA offers bundles where you can purchase the test and retake it for a discounted price. CompTIA also offers ebook study guides to help students prepare for the exam.
CompTIA offers the best cybersecurity certs for beginners with a variety of courses for students to go to the exam with knowledge in hand and pass the test with flying colors.
The study guides and training courses by CompTIA prepare students with exam knowledge, including the following:
- How to assess an enterprise environment’s security posture
- What security solutions to recommend and when to implement them
- Ways to monitor cybersecurity for cloud, mobile, and IoT
- What cybersecurity laws and policies to know
- Cybersecurity principles of governance, compliance, and risk
- Ways to analyze, identify and promptly respond to security threats
- Hands-on experience with the latest cybersecurity technology
Instructor-led training programs can be one-on-one or in a group. Meanwhile, the self-paced and interactive CertMaster Learn™ allows students to cover the material over a timeline that suits their schedule, making this one of the most popular cyber security certifications for beginners.
- A fast certificate to get entry-level experience
- $390 exam fee with bundle options with a test retake, study book, and online learning feature
- E-learning, instructor-led classes, private classes, interactive labs, exam prep, and study guides are available
- Multiple choice test with 90 minutes to complete
- The Security+ exam pass rate is ~50%
The Security+ certification is a must for anyone wanting to enter the IT field’s door. Entry-level positions for Security+ certified professionals start at ~$71,000 to $115,000 in the United States, making it worthwhile to study hard for the exam with a Security+ training course.
4. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
A Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a good cyber security certification to showcase your offensive security talents. As a Certified Ethical Hacker, you have an in-depth understanding of the five phases of ethical hacking, how security breaches are likely to occur, and how to stop them.
This certification is best for those who have their CompTIA Security+ and want to add more credentials to their resume. Not only will Certified Ethical Hackers gain practical knowledge for day-to-day tasks, but they’ll also have more room to negotiate a higher salary or a promotion.
The CEH exam tests students on their ethical hacking knowledge and techniques, like network scanning, threat vector identification, vulnerability analysis, OS detection, system hacking, and more. To pass, students have four hours to correctly answer 88 out of 125 multiple-choice questions.
Once you pass the exam, register your grades on your EC-Council account and pass a CEH practical exam to become a CEH-certified professional.
The CEH training course from EC-Council is five intense days of training packed into 20 modules with over 3,500 hacking tools. By the end of the course, students will know how to hack multiple operating systems and how to prevent security breaches.
Students will gain access to over 200 labs for hands-on learning and friendly competitions. This course contains the following exam-related information:
- Footprinting and reconnaissance
- Vulnerability analysis
- Session hijacking
- System hacking
- Malware threats
- SQL injection
- Hacking wireless networks, web servers, mobiles, & more
- Live, online, or hybrid learning options are available
- Four hours to take the test
- Remote or in-person testing is available
- 12th generation of the course for up-to-date information on the latest cybersecurity techniques
- Expensive exam and course bundle, starting at $2,199
- Challenging exam
Getting inside the mind of a hacker is the best way to understand how to stop cybersecurity breaches. That’s why headhunters and hiring managers look for a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification on resumes. By adding a CEH certification to your list of credentials, you can negotiate starting salaries of ~$80,500 annually.
5. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
A Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) validates your credentials as an IT professional in a management role.
With a CISM certification, applicants can easily tell employers they have a minimum of five years of expertise in incident and risk management, information security (infosec) governance, program development, and cybersecurity management.
Experienced program managers that want to further their careers with a CISM certification must pass the CISM exam and have at least five years of work experience managing professional information security teams and operations. Once all prerequisites are met, submit your CISM certification application and pay the $50 processing fee.
To keep your CISM certification valid, you must maintain at least 120 CPE hours every three years and 20 hours annually.
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) manages the CISM exam. Like the CISA certification, ISACA offers many helpful resources and CISM training courses to help experienced program managers prep for the challenging CISM exam, which tests some of the following:
- Information security governance
- Risk assessment and analysis
- Information security strategy
- Vulnerability and control deficiency analysis
- Information security risk management
- Incident management
- Information security programming
- Globally-recognized credential of expertise in cybersecurity management
- Shift into a management role with the credentials to back your career advancement
- Negotiate a higher-paying salary
- Deepen and refresh your knowledge with the latest cybersecurity and infosec management data
- Network with other CISM-certified professionals
- Expensive exam fee: $760 for non-ISACA members and $575 for ISACA members
- The CISA exam pass rate for first-time test takers is between 50% to 60%
- Additional $50 processing fee for certification application
A CISM certification is one of the best cybersecurity certifications to have on your resume because it succinctly states years of industry experience in two major positions, IT and management.
Starting salaries, depending on your state in the US, with a CISM certification range between ~$90,000 to $140,000, making the CISM one of the most valuable cyber security certifications.
6. GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
Getting a GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC) shows that you are qualified with hands-on experience in cybersecurity IT roles beyond the qualifications for a Security+ credential.
This mid-level certification develops and teaches in-depth security defenses, cryptography, AWS fundamentals, network security, data loss prevention, forensics, and more.
The GSEC exam consists of 106 to 180 questions, with students having four to five hours to complete the test. Score 73% or higher for a passing grade and a GSEC certification.
SANS has a GSEC training course to help students understand concepts and correctly answer questions on the GSEC exam.
This course features lessons that teach the following:
- How to address security problems
- Cloud computing and ways to choose the best cloud provider
- How to build a network visibility map
- Ways to reduce a company’s attack surface
- Multi-factor authentication & more
With course books, labs, reference guides, and audio files of course lectures, students taking the SANS GSEC training course will have all the resources needed to ace the exam.
- Globally-recognized credential for above entry-level cybersecurity positions
- Improve and update knowledge about current cybersecurity protocols and techniques
- Helps justify your claim for a higher salary or a promotion
- Network with other GSEC-certified professionals
- The GSEC exam pass rate is around 40%
- Expensive exam fee of $949
Getting a GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC) is an exceptional way to attract headhunters and hiring managers because the exam is challenging, meaning those who get their certification know their cybersecurity stuff. That’s why GSEC-certified professionals have starting salaries of ~$93,000 annually.
7. Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
A Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) credential is another badge of honor from (ISC)². The SSCP is a highly-recognized certification for IT security professionals with advanced technical skills for managing, implementing, and administering cybersecurity infrastructure.
You can advance your cybersecurity career as a systems engineer, security or database administrator, penetration tester, and cybersecurity analyst with an SSCP certification.
SSCP certifications are for experienced IT professionals with at least one year of experience and advanced skills in cybersecurity. Students have four hours to correctly answer 105 of 150 multiple-choice questions or get 700 out of 1000 points.
To get your SSCP certification, you must have a minimum of one year of cumulative work experience in one of the (ISC)² SSCP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).
(ISC)² offers SSCP training courses that cover everything found on the SSCP exam. The SSCP tests experts on security operations and administration, access controls, incident response and recovery, cryptography, risk identification, access management, networking and communications security, penetration testing, and more.
The SSCP exam is challenging, so taking an SSCP training course from a certified training institute is the best way to prepare for the exam and get your certification on the first try. The (ISC)² SSCP training course offers the following:
- How to apply security best practices
- How to maintain functional security controls
- Understand global legal and regulatory concerns
- Participate in hands-on security assessment labs and vulnerability management activities
- How to apply cryptography concepts in various scenarios
- Methods of implementing hacker-proof security protocols
- One of the highest qualifications in the industry for entry-level and starter cybersecurity jobs
- Globally recognized as validation of expertise
- Improve your skills and eligibility for a promotion or salary increase
- Affordable exam fee of $249
- Four hours to take the test
- $125 annual maintenance fee
A Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) is one of the best cybersecurity certifications for IT professionals looking to advance their cybersecurity careers and deepen their understanding of their field. SSCP-certified professionals can negotiate starting salaries of around $50,000 to $90,000.
8. CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)
The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) certification is among the highest honors in the IT security industry. The CASP+ certification showcases a job applicant’s advanced skills and high-level competency in risk management, enterprise security architecture, integration of security protocols, collaboration, and research.
The CompTIA CASP+ certification course and exam are for advanced professionals, including security engineers, technical lead analysts, security architects, and application security engineers.
To get your CASP+ certification, IT cybersecurity professionals must have a minimum of 10 years of experience as IT administrators, with five of those years as hands-on technical security experts.
The CompTIA CASP+ certification course is the best way to pass the CASP+ exam and ensure you have a deep understanding of how to apply the course knowledge to the workforce.
CompTIA has over 20 years of experience developing and updating training courses and certification exams for Linux development, cybersecurity, networking, and more.
With this highly-reviewed CASP+ certification course, students gain an understanding of the following topics:
- How to manage risks and leverage the latest technology to support enterprise security needs
- Ways to integrate advanced authentication techniques for superior safety
- How to implement cryptography techniques, security controls, and network security
- When and how to integrate hosts, applications, and cloud technologies securely
- Methods of conducting security assessments
- Best practices for responding and recovering from security attacks
With in-depth courses that suit any schedule, getting your CASP+ certification fits into the work-life balance of any IT professional.
- Globally-recognized validation of 10 years of industry experience and advanced cybersecurity knowledge
- Exhibits advanced performance, understanding, and technical mastery
- Helps negotiate a higher paying salary or a promotion
- 165 minutes to take the 90-question exam
- $466 exam fee
- Pass/Fail grading, with a ~80% to 85% score required to pass
- Only suited for advanced IT professionals with 10+ years of experience
The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) is hands down one of the best cybersecurity certifications to have to your name. With this impressive credential on your resume, CASP-certified professionals can negotiate starting salaries of around $80,000 to $120,000 annually.
General Exam Information
All of the best cybersecurity certifications require students first to pass an exam to test their knowledge and ensure they can hang their certification with pride.
Most cybersecurity certification exams are multiple-choice tests with around 100 to 200 questions. The practical exam typically takes between 90 minutes to four hours, depending on the certificate you’re testing for.
Many exams must be proctored and taken in person. However, others are available online, with some exams allowing students to open Google on another tab.
That said, all cybersecurity certification exams are challenging and require a deep and thorough understanding of course materials to pass. Luckily, the best cybersecurity certifications offer courses and training materials to help students succeed.
Cybersecurity Certification Buyer’s Guide
There are several things to consider before purchasing an exam voucher for one of the best cybersecurity certifications or paying for a training course. We’ll discuss everything you need to consider before buying in detail below.
Many cybersecurity certification courses come with added perks alongside valuable training resources and study materials. Some courses include the exam cost within the course fee, while others offer to pay retake fees if you fail the test on your first attempt.
Other perks include downloadable study guides, practice tests, 24/7 student support, and more.
Purchase Certifications Suited to Your Goals
While it’s tempting to dive into study guides for the CISA certification to get access to starting salaries in the $140,000, you have to start at your level and purchase certifications suited to your career goals.
Begin with the CompTIA Security+ certification to first get your foot in the door. As you gain experience in the cybersecurity and IT industry, you can select which cybersecurity certifications will suit you best as you advance in your career.
Ask For Tuition Reimbursement
Companies get tax benefits for paying their employee’s tuition, so let your HR department know your plans to continue your education. You could be eligible for tuition reimbursement for some of the best cybersecurity certifications, which could save you the expensive costs of exam fees or training courses.
Read Reviews & Course Syllabi
When shopping around, a great way to gauge the quality of a training course for the best cybersecurity certifications is to read the reviews and the course syllabus.
Reviews will share students’ experiences and give insight into how satisfied they were with the course. Meanwhile, the syllabus will share details about what’s covered in the course so you can compare it to what’s on the exam.
Now that you know the best cybersecurity certifications, you’re ready to advance your cybersecurity career with the educational tools needed to pass any exam you tackle.
Sign up for any of the training courses linked above and get ready to add the best certs for cyber security to your resume, advance in your career, and gain insight from the highest-paid cyber security certification courses.
Learn more about the best cyber certification programs and how to pass your exam with answers to frequently asked questions below.
You must study the required training materials to pass a cybersecurity certification exam like the CISSP, CompTIA Secuity+, CISM, CASP, or others. Typically, cybersecurity certification exams require a score of ~60% to 80% to pass.
Cybersecurity certification exams like the CISA, CEH, GSEC, and others range in cost from ~$350 to upwards of $2,000. Students can often purchase exam vouchers with a training course as a bundle, raising the total price higher than the standard exam cost.
Cybersecurity certification exams are challenging and rigorous. From the entry-level CompTIA Security+ certification to the professional CASP credential, exam pass rates range from 40% to 60% for first-time test takers.