Cybersecurity certifications are part of the broad IT preparation measures for anyone looking to advance their career in cybersecurity. Employers also use certifications as a guide when hiring new employees or making promotions. However, like other facets of cybersecurity education, passing your cybersecurity certification isn’t an easy task. The guide below provides some preparation tips for cybersecurity certification.

Why Attempt Cybersecurity Certification?

Certifications are overly advantageous to employees and businesses alike. A study done by CompTIA found that most employers believe that workers with certifications have an edge over other employees.

So to say, an estimated 91% of hiring managers consider certification during the hiring process and prefer such candidates. Succeeding in a cybersecurity certification makes you stand out in the current competitive job arena and opens up other career opportunities.

  • Approximately $6 trillion is expected to be spent globally on cybersecurity by the end of 2021.
  • More than 77% of organizations do not have a Cyber Security Incident Response plan.

While basic technical knowledge is required, most cybersecurity certification exam require extensive technology or undergraduate college training and decent Cybersecurity skills as a prerequisite. However, the field has recently opened up to accepting individuals without traditional computer science or programming background.

This is because the cybersecurity field has several specializations, ranging from cybercrime investigators, cybersecurity architects, penetration testing, and many more. Therefore, you will find appropriate certifications regardless of your professional background.

Considering the above facts and figures, a career in cybersecurity can be a win-win situation for you.  

Cybersecurity engineers are some of the highest-paid positions worldwide. Unfilled cybersecurity Job roles worldwide are already over 4 million.

As companies large and small struggle to counter the increasing cyber threats, jobs in the cybersecurity field are growing fast.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts’ jobs will grow by 31% through 2029.

Check out: Cybersecurity- The Beginners Guide 

Preparation Tips for Common Cybersecurity Certifications

There is a wide range of topics and skills covered by cybersecurity certifications. Below are some popular certifications;

1.Microsoft Technology Associate Security Fundamentals

The MTA is an entry-level cybersecurity certification that can be done by high school, college graduates, or those who want to change their careers. Therefore, while MTA certification acknowledges that the student knows the fundamental concepts of network security, operating systems, and software, it doesn’t delve much into the details.

Nonetheless, Microsoft recommends that those who want to sit for MTA certification should take some cybersecurity training courses to familiarize themselves with the basic concepts and gain experience with Active Directory, Windows-Based Networking, and Windows Server.

Candidates should have some practical knowledge of firewalls, anti-malware options, network ports, and network topologies.

The examination costs $127 and is only done from Microsoft’s website with a passing mark of 700 out of the possible 1000 marks. Therefore, you should prepare adequately by taking several online preparation courses, such as Udemy’s MTA prep course, Edusum’s, and Certiology online MTA test prep materials.

Check out: SC-900 Study Guide

Microsoft Security, Compliance and Identity Fundamentals

2.CompTIA Security +

CompTIA Security + is another entry-level certification covering a wide range of cybersecurity topics, ranging from network security, access controls, system threats, and vulnerabilities to cryptography.

The certification surpasses the U.S Department of Defense standards, thus bet suits anyone who wants to work in the Federal Governments’ IT Department. It also focuses on the latest concepts of risk management and threat mitigation. 

In comparison to other cybersecurity certifications, CompTIA Security+ does not require any major experience and it is only recommended that a test-taker shall have at least two years of working experience in the field of security and networking so as to raise the chances of clearing the exam.

The certification costs $349 and has 90 questions and a pass mark of 750 out of the possible 900.

The perks of getting this certification – as getting this certification not only get recognition respect but also higher pay in comparison to non-certified practitioners. It is expected that the annual average salary of a CompTIA Security+ practitioner could touch $77,000.

Fortunately, CompTIA provides online exam prep materials, which include videos and other resources. You can also take advantage of other preparation resources from Udemy and Pluralsight. While these prep materials aren’t free, they are worth the cost and improve your chances of passing the test.

3.Certified Information Systems Security Professional -CISSP

As the name suggests, CISSP certification majorly targets cybersecurity analysts, who are the majority of any organization’s cybersecurity team.

The certification was designed by ISC2 and aims at teaching cybersecurity experts the industry standards. Despite its popularity, it isn’t best for beginners since passing this exam requires extensive knowledge and cybersecurity experience.

The exam costs $699, but the cost varies depending on the providing entity. Being an advanced level of certification, you should have a minimum of 5 years of work experience in the following fields;

  • Security engineering
  • Asset security
  • Security and risk management
  • Identity and access management
  • Software development security
  • Security operations
  • Security assessment and testing

CISSP is a 6-hour exam with 250 MCQs and other advanced questions.

It is a difficult test with a pass mark of 700 out of the possible 1000 marks. However, you can prepare by taking online advanced training courses from ISC2, Udemy, CISSP.com, and PocketPrep.

4.Certified Ethical Hacker

You should complete a course on the basics of ethical hacking to pass this certification comfortably. In the course, you will learn the basics of evaluating organizational network vulnerabilities and other infrastructures. Ethical hacker certification is the first of three courses that helps cybersecurity professionals in mastering the concepts of penetration testing.

The test costs $1119 and taking a retake costs $450.

Evidently, this is an expensive test that you should prepare adequately to avoid failing. For this, EC Council provides free online test preps and a comprehensive blueprint that covers the topics in the test. That aside, you should also use other online training resources from GoCertify, PocketPrep, and Udemy.

Check out: The 5 Most In-Demand Areas for 2021 certifications 

The Bottom Line

Cybersecurity certifications are important as they can help you pass a hiring test and advance your cybersecurity career. However, from the figures mentioned above, it is evident that these certifications are quite pricey. Fortunately, you can apply for scholarships from various companies looking for personnel with these certifications. Veterans can use their benefits to take courses for a discount or for free.

Author: This post is authored by ElevenFifty.org. Eleven Fifty Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit technology academy. 

Read next: What Matters More, Skills or Degrees?

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