The Top Cybersecurity Certifications That Employers Are Looking For

The Top Cybersecurity Certifications That Employers Are Looking For

Cybersecurity is a rapidly-growing, lucrative field. If you're interested in starting a career in cybersecurity, there are many certification options available. The sheer number of different certifications can be overwhelming, and you may be wondering if they're worth it and which one you should get. In this article, we'll go over whether it's worth getting certified, the most popular certifications available, and which ones are good if you're just getting started. 

Are Cybersecurity Certifications Worth It?

Cybersecurity certifications can open many doors when you're starting or trying to advance your career. Because they're standardized, cybersecurity certifications prove you have the skills to do the job. Many organizations require industry-standard credentials before they'll hire you, even prioritizing them over college degrees. 

The current shortage of cybersecurity experts has led to higher salaries and better benefits for those in the field. Now is an excellent time to launch a career in cybersecurity, and the easiest way to get hired is by obtaining a standardized certification. 

Are There Any Prerequisites for a Cybersecurity Certification?

Some certifications require prerequisites, but many beginner-level certifications do not. CompTIA Security+, CEH, and CCNA are entry-level credentials, and a midlevel certification like the SSCP requires only a year of experience. Advanced-level certifications such as CISSP, CISA, and CISM require up to five years of experience before you can take the exam.

What Cybersecurity Certification Should I Get First?

CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized certification that proves you have a wide range of knowledge about basic security functions. It's a good starting point for a career in cybersecurity and network and computer systems administration. These jobs have a median salary of $81,000 and are expected to grow much faster than average. 

List of Top Cybersecurity Certifications

There are many cybersecurity certifications. The following are widely recognized and respected in the cybersecurity industry:

Beginner Certifications

These entry-level certifications don't require any previous experience or specialized knowledge, and they're the place to start if you're looking to change careers or just starting out.

CompTIA Security+

This is a global certification that covers the core knowledge of any security role, including basic security functions and duties of an IT security professional. It ensures you have the skills for risk assessment and management, incident response, forensics, enterprise networks, cloud operations, and security control. 

Some jobs that use this certification include: 

  • Security administrator

  • Help desk manager

  • Help desk analyst

  • Security engineer

  • Security analyst

  • IT auditor

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

This certification proves you know how to look for vulnerabilities and weaknesses in computer systems with the tools and methods used by malicious actors. Organizations employ Certified Ethical Hackers to find and fix any problems in their security systems. 

Jobs that require a CEH certification include: 

  • Penetration tester

  • Network security specialist

  • Ethical hacker

  • Security consultant

  • Site administrator

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

CCNA is an IT certification that proves your knowledge of networking fundamentals, IP services, security fundamentals, automation, and programmability. This is an entry-level certification that qualifies you for jobs such as: 

  • Entry-level network engineer

  • Help desk technician

  • Network administrator

  • Network support technician

Mid Level Certifications 

These certifications require some previous knowledge. They're for professionals with some experience who want to level up in their careers.

GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

The GSEC is an entry-level cybersecurity certification that demonstrates your technical proficiency in cybersecurity defense. The GSEC doesn't have an experience prerequisite but focuses on technical expertise. Some jobs that you may qualify for with GSEC certification include: 

  • Information security analyst

  • Cybersecurity engineer

  • Security analyst

  • Information security manager

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

This cybersecurity certification requires only one year of experience and is a good option for people who hope to obtain the better-known and more rigorous CISSP eventually. Some job titles that require this certification include: 

  • Information security specialist

  • Security architect 

  • Cybersecurity analyst

  • Security engineer

Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT)

This credential certifies that you can perform penetration testing to find and exploit vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a computer system. This is the next step after CEH certification. The following jobs use this credential: 

  • Chief information security officer 

  • Licensed penetration tester

  • Senior security consultant

  • IT team leader 

Advanced Certifications

These certifications are for professionals with a good deal of experience. If you're an experienced technician ready to head a department or move into another managerial role, these certifications can help. 

Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP)

This credential certifies security professionals in ten different areas, including access control systems, physical security, operations, telecommunications, and network security. Some jobs that require a CISSP certification are: 

  • Cybersecurity specialist

  • Security manager

  • Security consultant

  • Security analyst

  • Cybersecurity architect

  • Chief information security officer

  • Security auditor

  • Cybersecurity engineer

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) provides this certification to candidates with at least five years of experience in information security management. They must prove they have the hands-on knowledge to develop, manage, and implement an information security program for a business or other organization. 

People in the following roles use this certification: 

  • Information system security officer

  • Information risk consultant

  • Information security manager 

  • Privacy risk consultant

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

This certification is issued by Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and is the global standard for professionals in auditing, control, and security in information systems. Prerequisites for the CISA certification include either five years of experience or a combination of experience and education. The CISA certification is used in the following jobs: 

  • IT auditor

  • Senior IT auditor

  • Information technology manager

  • Information security auditor or manager

  • Internal auditing manager

  • Information systems auditor

  • Internal audit director.

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

This certification is the global standard in cloud security. Obtaining it shows you can design, manage, and secure data, applications, and infrastructure in cloud-based systems following the standards set by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium. Jobs that require this credential include:

  • Cloud engineer

  • Cloud security analyst

  • Professional cloud developer

  • Cloud architect

  • Cloud consultant

  • Cloud administrator 

Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)

For professionals with at least one year of managing Linux, Unix, and Windows systems, this certification will prove you know how to lead incident response and cyber investigations using current forensic technologies. Jobs that use this certification are: 

  • Cybersecurity analyst

  • Cybersecurity engineer

  • Information security manager

  • Security engineer

  • Security analyst

  • Penetration tester


The most effective way to prove your knowledge and skills in cybersecurity is by obtaining certifications. For people just getting started, a certification can help you get your first job and gain valuable experience. For professionals already working in the field, a certification will help you advance your career and move to higher responsibility and authority positions.

Boot camps like the University of South Florida Cybersecurity Bootcamp can teach you the skills you need to know to obtain certification. You'll learn the in-demand skills to prepare for the CompTIA Security+ certification test. This six-month course covers learning resources, practice exercises, practical labs, and career-related coursework. 

The three course units cover cybersecurity fundamentals, identity and access management, and security assessment and training. The program is entirely online so that you can learn at your own pace, but you'll never be alone. You'll get the support you need to achieve your goals with one-on-one mentor support.