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Best Cybersecurity Certifications for You

Best Cybersecurity Certifications for You

Our increasing reliance on digital infrastructure for communication, data access, and financial transactions makes robust cybersecurity essential. Vital services like power, utilities, and transportation depend on secure digital systems.

By 2026, it is predicted that over 70% of cybersecurity job postings will require at least one certification. The average salary for certified cybersecurity professionals is expected to increase by 5-10% annually, reflecting the growing importance and complexity of cybersecurity roles​.

Consequently, the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals has never been higher. Obtaining cybersecurity certifications is crucial for those seeking to enhance their career prospects and ensure the security of critical systems. 

In this article, we explore the best cybersecurity certifications, from those suitable for beginners to those that offer the highest salaries.

The 5-Day Cybersecurity Job Challenge with the seasoned expert Tolulope Michael is an opportunity for you to understand the most effective method of landing a six-figure cybersecurity job.

Top Cybersecurity Certifications: Comparison Table

CertificationProviderFocus AreaIdeal ForEligibility RequirementsAverage Salary
CompTIA Security+CompTIAFundamental CybersecurityBeginnersRecommended: Network+ and 2 years IT experience$65,000 – $85,000
Google Cybersecurity CertificationGoogleCloud SecurityCloud Security BeginnersExperience with Google Cloud (recommended)$75,000 – $95,000
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – ProAmazon Web ServicesCloud ArchitectureExperienced Cloud Professionals2+ years designing/deploying AWS cloud architecture$130,000 – $150,000
Google Cloud – Professional Cloud ArchGoogleCloud ArchitectureExperienced Cloud Professionals3+ years industry experience (1+ year Google Cloud)$135,000 – $160,000
CISSP(ISC)²Advanced CybersecurityMid/Senior Professionals5 years relevant work experience$110,000 – $150,000
CISMISACASecurity ManagementMid/Senior Managers5 years information security management experience$120,000 – $140,000
CISAISACAInformation Systems AuditingAuditors/Compliance Professionals5 years professional work experience$100,000 – $130,000
CRISCISACARisk ManagementRisk Management Professionals3 years work experience in 2+ CRISC domains$110,000 – $140,000
Top Cybersecurity Certifications: Comparison Table

RELATED: Google Cybersecurity Certification: A Complete Guide

Why Pursue Cybersecurity Certifications?

Best Cybersecurity Certifications for You

Cybersecurity certifications validate an individual’s skills and knowledge in protecting digital infrastructure against various threats. These certifications are essential for professionals seeking to advance their careers in cybersecurity, as they demonstrate a commitment to the field and an understanding of current security practices.

There are two main types of cybersecurity certifications: professional and academic. Professional certifications are designed for individuals already working in the field or related IT and networking roles. 

They focus on practical skills and knowledge required to detect, prevent, and combat cybersecurity issues. Examples include the CompTIA Security+ and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). 

On the other hand, academic certifications are often part of degree programs and provide a more comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity concepts, suitable for those looking to enter the field or enhance their theoretical knowledge.

Cybersecurity certifications are crucial in the job market. Many employers require them as a prerequisite for hiring, as they ensure that candidates possess the necessary skills to handle cybersecurity challenges. 

Certifications also help professionals stay updated with the latest tools, technologies, and best practices, which is vital in this rapidly evolving field.

ALSO READ: MDR Vs XDR Cybersecurity (MDR Vs EDR Cybersecurity): A Complete Analysis

Roadmap to Cybersecurity Certifications

Roadmap to Cybersecurity Certifications
Top Cybersecurity Threats

Choosing the right cybersecurity certification can be daunting, especially given the wide range of options available. Here’s a roadmap to help guide you through the process of selecting and progressing through cybersecurity certifications based on your career goals.

Step 1: Identify Your Career Goals

  • Determine the specific area of cybersecurity you are interested in, such as network security, cloud security, penetration testing, or risk management.
  • Research job descriptions and requirements in your desired field to understand which certifications are most valued by employers.

Step 2: Start with Entry-Level Certifications

  • For beginners, start with foundational certifications that cover basic cybersecurity concepts. The CompTIA Security+ is an excellent choice for those new to the field, providing a broad overview of essential security principles.

Step 3: Gain Practical Experience

  • Hands-on experience is crucial in cybersecurity. Look for internships, entry-level positions, or volunteer opportunities to apply what you’ve learned in real-world settings.

Step 4: Advance to Intermediate Certifications

  • Once you have some experience, consider certifications that focus on specific areas of interest. For example, if you’re interested in cloud security, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional and Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect are excellent choices.

Step 5: Pursue Advanced Certifications

  • For seasoned professionals, advanced certifications like the CISSP, Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) can significantly enhance your credentials and open doors to senior positions.

Step 6: Continuous Learning and Renewal

  • Cybersecurity is a dynamic field that constantly evolves. Stay updated with the latest developments by pursuing continuous education, attending workshops, and renewing your certifications as required.

Importance of Continuous Learning

  • The cybersecurity landscape is ever-changing, with new threats and technologies emerging regularly. Continuous learning ensures that you stay ahead of the curve and are well-equipped to tackle current and future cybersecurity challenges.

This roadmap provides a structured approach to achieving and advancing cybersecurity certifications, aligning with your career goals and the evolving demands of the field.

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Best Cybersecurity Certifications for Beginners

Importance of Google Cybersecurity Certification
Importance of Google Cybersecurity Certification

Starting a career in cybersecurity can be challenging, but obtaining the right certification can provide a strong foundation. Here are some of the best cybersecurity certifications for beginners:

CompTIA Security+

  • Overview and Key Features: CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized certification that covers essential cybersecurity topics, including network security, cryptography, risk management, and compliance.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: The certification exam consists of up to 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions. While there are no formal prerequisites, CompTIA recommends having the CompTIA Network+ certification and two years of experience in IT administration with a security focus.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: The average salary for CompTIA Security+ certified professionals ranges from $65,000 to $85,000 per year.

Google Cybersecurity Certification

  • Overview and Key Features: Google’s cybersecurity certification is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity principles and practices, focusing on cloud security. It covers topics such as threat detection, incident response, and security management in Google Cloud environments.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: The certification exam consists of multiple-choice questions and requires candidates to demonstrate practical skills. There are no strict prerequisites, but having some experience with Google Cloud and cybersecurity concepts is beneficial.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: The average salary for professionals with Google Cybersecurity Certification is approximately $75,000 to $95,000 per year.

CompTIA Security+ vs Google Cybersecurity Certification

  • Focus and Content: CompTIA Security+ provides a broad overview of fundamental cybersecurity concepts applicable across various platforms, making it ideal for beginners. Google Cybersecurity Certification focuses more on cloud security, particularly within Google Cloud environments.
  • Industry Recognition: Both certifications are well-regarded, but CompTIA Security+ is more widely recognized and accepted across different industries

, whereas Google Cybersecurity Certification is particularly valued by organizations leveraging Google Cloud services.

  • Pros and Cons for Beginners:
    • CompTIA Security+: Pros include its broad applicability and foundational coverage of essential cybersecurity topics, making it a versatile choice for various entry-level roles. Cons include the need for some prior IT knowledge or experience to fully grasp the concepts.
    • Google Cybersecurity Certification: Pros include its focus on cloud security, which is increasingly relevant as more organizations move to cloud-based infrastructures. Cons include its narrower focus, which might limit its applicability outside Google Cloud environments.

These certifications provide a solid starting point for those new to the field, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to begin a successful career in cybersecurity.

Cloud Security Certification

What Degree Do You Need for Cybersecurity
What Degree Do You Need for Cybersecurity-1

As more organizations migrate their infrastructure to the cloud, the demand for skilled professionals who can secure cloud environments has surged. Cloud security certifications validate expertise in designing, managing, and securing cloud-based applications and systems. Here are some of the key certifications in this area:

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

  • Overview and Key Features: This certification from Amazon Web Services (AWS) demonstrates proficiency in designing and deploying scalable systems on AWS. It covers a wide range of topics, including advanced networking, cost optimization, and data storage.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: The exam consists of 75 multiple-choice or multiple-response questions. Candidates should have two or more years of hands-on experience designing and deploying cloud architecture on AWS.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: The average salary for an AWS Certified Solutions Architect–Professional is between $130,000 and $150,000 per year.

Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect

  • Overview and Key Features: Google’s Professional Cloud Architect certification validates the ability to design, develop, and manage secure, scalable cloud solutions. It emphasizes cloud solution architecture, cloud security, and compliance.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: The certification exam includes 50-60 multiple-choice and multiple-select questions. While there are no formal prerequisites, it is recommended that candidates have at least three years of industry experience, including one year or more of experience with Google Cloud.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: The average salary for Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect ranges from $135,000 to $160,000 per year.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional vs Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect

  • Focus and Content: Both certifications cover cloud architecture and security, but AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional has a broader focus on AWS services and best practices, while Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect emphasizes Google Cloud’s specific tools and technologies.
  • Industry Recognition: Both certifications are highly respected in the industry. AWS certification is widely recognized due to AWS’s significant market share, while Google Cloud certification is increasingly valued as Google Cloud gains traction.
  • Pros and Cons:
    • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional: Pros include its broad recognition and comprehensive coverage of AWS services. Cons may include the need for extensive hands-on experience with AWS.
    • Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect: Pros include its relevance for roles focused on Google Cloud and its emphasis on secure cloud design. Cons include its narrower focus compared to AWS.

Highest Paying Cybersecurity Certifications

cloud security certification training
cloud security certification training

Obtaining advanced cybersecurity certifications can significantly boost your earning potential. Here are some of the highest-paying cybersecurity certifications and their respective details:

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

  • Overview and Key Features: CISSP is a globally recognized certification for experienced cybersecurity professionals. It covers a broad range of topics, including security and risk management, asset security, security engineering, communication and network security, and identity and access management.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: The exam consists of 100-150 multiple-choice and advanced innovative questions. Candidates must have at least five years of paid, full-time work experience in two or more of the eight CISSP domains.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: The average salary for CISSP-certified professionals ranges from $110,000 to $150,000 per year.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

  • Overview and Key Features: CISM is aimed at management professionals who design and manage an enterprise’s information security program. It covers topics such as information security governance, risk management, and incident management.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must have at least five years of information security management experience.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: The average salary for CISM-certified professionals is between $120,000 and $140,000 per year.

READ MORE: Google Cybersecurity Certification Cost

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

  • Overview and Key Features: CISA certification is intended for professionals who audit, control, monitor, and assess an organization’s information technology and business systems. It covers auditing processes, IT governance, and protection of information assets.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must have five years of professional work experience in information systems auditing, control, or security.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: The average salary for CISA-certified professionals is approximately $100,000 to $130,000 per year.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

  • Overview and Key Features: CRISC focuses on risk management and the establishment of risk-based information system controls. It covers risk identification, assessment, and mitigation.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must have at least three years of work experience in at least two of the four CRISC domains.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: The average salary for CRISC-certified professionals ranges from $110,000 to $140,000 per year.

Google Cybersecurity Certification vs. IBM Cybersecurity Certification

When considering which cybersecurity certification to pursue, it’s essential to compare the offerings from major providers. Google and IBM both provide highly regarded cybersecurity certifications, each with its unique focus and advantages.

Google Cybersecurity Certification

  • Overview and Key Features: Google’s cybersecurity certifications, such as the Professional Cloud Architect, focus on cloud security and infrastructure. These certifications validate skills in designing, managing, and securing cloud-based systems and applications using Google Cloud technologies.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: Google’s exams typically consist of multiple-choice and multiple-select questions, requiring candidates to demonstrate practical skills. While there are no strict prerequisites, relevant experience with Google Cloud and cybersecurity concepts is recommended.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: Professionals with Google Cybersecurity Certification can expect an average salary ranging from $75,000 to $95,000 per year.

IBM Cybersecurity Certification

  • Overview and Key Features: IBM offers certifications such as the IBM Certified Associate Analyst – Security QRadar SIEM V7.3.2, which focuses on security information and event management (SIEM). These certifications emphasize skills in identifying, managing, and responding to security incidents using IBM’s QRadar platform.
  • Exam Details and Eligibility Requirements: IBM’s certification exams typically include multiple-choice questions. Candidates are expected to have hands-on experience with IBM security products and a solid understanding of security principles.
  • Average Salary for Certified Professionals: Professionals with IBM Cybersecurity Certification can expect an average salary ranging from $85,000 to $110,000 per year.

Google Cybersecurity and IBM Certification

  • Focus and Content: Google’s certifications primarily focus on cloud security and the implementation of security measures in Google Cloud environments. IBM’s certifications, however, are more oriented towards security management and incident response, particularly using IBM’s proprietary tools.
  • Industry Recognition: Both certifications are well-respected, though they serve different niches. Google certifications are particularly valued in organizations that utilize Google Cloud services, while IBM certifications are recognized for their emphasis on SIEM and security management.
  • Pros and Cons:
    • Google Cybersecurity Certification: Pros include a strong focus on cloud security, which is increasingly critical as more businesses migrate to the cloud. Cons include a narrower focus limited to Google Cloud environments.
    • IBM Cybersecurity Certification: Pros include comprehensive training in incident management and the use of SIEM tools, making it ideal for roles focused on security monitoring and response. Cons include its specialized focus on IBM tools, which might not be as widely applicable outside IBM environments.

Cybersecurity Certifications Roadmap

Getting a Cybersecurity Certificate Online
Getting a Cybersecurity Certificate Online

Creating a roadmap for cybersecurity certifications can help professionals navigate their career paths effectively. Here’s a suggested pathway for different career goals within cybersecurity, highlighting key certifications at various stages.

1. Entry-Level Certifications

  • CompTIA Security+: This is an excellent starting point for beginners, providing a solid foundation in essential cybersecurity concepts.
  • Google Cybersecurity Certification: For those interested in cloud security, this certification offers a practical introduction to securing Google Cloud environments.

2. Intermediate-Level Certifications

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): Ideal for professionals looking to specialize in auditing and compliance, CISA validates skills in auditing, control, and assurance.
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): Suitable for those aiming to manage and design enterprise-level security programs, CISM covers risk management and incident response.

3. Advanced-Level Certifications

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): Aimed at experienced professionals, CISSP is one of the most respected certifications in the industry, covering a broad range of advanced security topics.
  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC): Focused on risk management, CRISC is ideal for professionals looking to specialize in identifying and mitigating risks within IT systems.

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Specialized Pathways

For Penetration Testers:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): This certification focuses on identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities ethically.
  • GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN): GPEN validates advanced skills in penetration testing, including network and application testing.

For Security Analysts:

  • GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC): An intermediate-level certification that covers essential security skills, including incident handling and response.
  • CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+): Focuses on behavioral analytics to identify and combat cybersecurity threats.

For Cloud Security Experts:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional: Validates advanced skills in designing and deploying secure applications on AWS.
  • Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect: Certifies expertise in managing and securing Google Cloud environments.

Importance of Continuous Learning and Renewal

  • Cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field. Staying updated with the latest technologies, threats, and best practices is crucial.
  • Many certifications require renewal every few years, often involving continuing education or re-examination, ensuring professionals remain proficient in current cybersecurity standards.

Tips for Maintaining and Renewing Certifications

  • Engage in Continuous Education: Attend workshops, webinars, and conferences to stay informed about the latest trends and technologies.
  • Join Professional Organizations: Associations like (ISC)² and ISACA offer resources, networking opportunities, and continuing education programs.
  • Pursue Advanced Certifications: As you gain experience, consider pursuing advanced or specialized certifications to enhance your skill set and career prospects.

Conclusion

Obtaining the right certifications can significantly enhance your career prospects and ensure you have the skills to protect critical digital infrastructure. 

From entry-level certifications like CompTIA Security+ to advanced credentials such as CISSP and specialized certifications in cloud security, each certification offers unique benefits and opportunities for growth.

The cybersecurity field is dynamic, with new threats and technologies emerging regularly. Continuous learning and certification renewal are crucial to staying ahead. Engage with professional organizations, attend industry events, and pursue further certifications to maintain your edge in the cybersecurity domain.

By carefully selecting and pursuing the right cybersecurity certifications, you can build a robust career, contribute to the security of critical systems, and position yourself as a leader in the field.

FAQ

Which cybersecurity certification is best?

The best cybersecurity certification depends on your career goals and experience level. Here are some top recommendations:

For Beginners: CompTIA Security+ is an excellent starting point, providing a solid foundation in essential cybersecurity concepts.

For Cloud Security: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional and Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect are highly regarded for cloud security expertise.

For Advanced Professionals: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is one of the most respected certifications for experienced professionals, covering a wide range of advanced security topics.

Are cybersecurity certifications worth it? 

Cybersecurity certifications are worth it for several reasons:

Career Advancement: Certifications validate your skills and knowledge, making you more attractive to employers and opening up higher-paying job opportunities.

Skill Enhancement: They provide structured learning paths that ensure you stay updated with the latest industry standards and practices.

Job Requirements: Many employers require specific certifications for cybersecurity roles, making them essential for securing certain positions.

Which is the world’s toughest cybersecurity exam?

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam is often considered one of the toughest cybersecurity exams.

It requires extensive knowledge across eight domains of cybersecurity, and candidates must have at least five years of relevant work experience. The rigorous exam has 100-150 questions that test theoretical and practical understanding.

Which cybersecurity course is best? 

The best cybersecurity course depends on your specific interests and career goals. Here are some top recommendations:

For General Cybersecurity Knowledge: The CISSP certification course is highly respected and provides comprehensive coverage of advanced cybersecurity topics.

For Cloud Security: Courses for AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional and Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect are excellent for cloud security expertise.

For Ethical Hacking: The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) course is well-regarded for those interested in penetration testing and offensive security.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your cybersecurity journey? You can do that with an expert beside you to guide you through without having to stress much. Schedule a one-on-one consultation with Tolulope Michael, a cybersecurity professional with over a decade of field experience. This will allow you to gain personalized insights and guidance tailored to your career goals.

Visit tolumichael.com now to book your session. This is your opportunity to embark on your cybersecurity career with confidence.

Tolulope Michael

Tolulope Michael

Tolulope Michael is a multiple six-figure career coach, internationally recognised cybersecurity specialist, author and inspirational speaker.Tolulope has dedicated about 10 years of his life to guiding aspiring cybersecurity professionals towards a fulfilling career and a life of abundance.As the founder, cybersecurity expert, and lead coach of Excelmindcyber, Tolulope teaches students and professionals how to become sought-after cybersecurity experts, earning multiple six figures and having the flexibility to work remotely in roles they prefer.He is a highly accomplished cybersecurity instructor with over 6 years of experience in the field. He is not only well-versed in the latest security techniques and technologies but also a master at imparting this knowledge to others.His passion and dedication to the field is evident in the success of his students, many of whom have gone on to secure jobs in cyber security through his program "The Ultimate Cyber Security Program".

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