A Guide to Cyber Security Certifications

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Female cyber security professional works alongside team on a row of desktop computers.

Career fields with zero unemployment are rare. The cyber security industry, however, may be one such field. Cybercrime, cybertheft, ransomware and other hacking mechanisms are growing as retail, finance, health care, infrastructure and manufacturing industries become increasingly reliant on computer and networking technologies, increasing demand for cyber security experts.

In fact, according to Steve Morgan, editor-in-chief of Cybersecurity Ventures, this growing industry is expected to have 3.5 million job vacancies by the year 2021. Many of these positions, though, will be overseas. In the U.S., the most sought-after jobs will still be highly competitive, requiring impressive resumes and credentials.

Those resumes, according to information security authority Daniel Miessler’s article, “How to Build a Cybersecurity Career [2019 Update],” should include as many of these items as possible: experience in a related field, coding and bounty projects (active personal GitHub, Twitter, RSS feed accounts), and certifications.

Is a master’s in cyber security worth it? Of course. A graduate degree can spruce up a cyber security resume and garner notice from potential employers. Earning an online cyber security master’s degree and obtaining relevant technical certifications can help IT professionals take advantage of the rising demand for cyber security experts.

Popular Certifications Relating to Cyber Security

The term “cyber security” encompasses a broad range of disciplines that relate to different aspects of information safeguarding, from programming secure mobile apps and games to ethically hacking business systems in search of vulnerabilities.

Those who work in this field specialize in areas ranging from Internet of Things (IoT) development to autonomous systems, software engineering, data security, cryptography, cloud computing, database management and insider threat analysis. So, depending on the type of job cyber security grads set their sights on, some of these certifications may be more valuable than others:

  • Network+ – A fairly basic certification program, Network+ ascertains knowledge in networking concepts, operations, security, infrastructure and troubleshooting. In Springboard.com’s “5 Cybersecurity Certifications that Will Get You Hired,” tech writer T.J. DeGroat explains, “While it is not necessary for most jobs in cybersecurity, it does provide a great foundation on how computers and networks communicate with each other as well as some cybersecurity best practices.”
  • Security+ – DeGroat calls Security+ “arguably the most important cybersecurity certification.” Proficiencies tested by Security+ include risk, identity and access management; network architecture and design; cryptography; and common threats, attacks and vulnerabilities. Cyber security professionals across the board will deal with most of the covered material in this certification.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – Many businesses regularly employ “ethical hackers” who attempt to hack into the businesses’ secure servers in order to discover vulnerabilities and suggest improvements. In BusinessNewsDaily.com’s “Best Information Security Certifications 2019,” Ed Tittel and Kim Lindros write, “CEH credential holders possess skills and knowledge on hacking practices in areas such as…penetration testing, evading IDS, firewalls, and honeypots.”
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – CISM personnel are responsible for the bigger cyber security picture. Tittel and Lindros point out that those who obtain this certification are prepared to manage, develop and oversee information security systems. Other proficiencies include developing best security practices, security risk management, governance and incident response.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – This certification requires at least five years’ experience in at least two of CISSP’s eight Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) domains and a college degree, according to Tittel and Lindros. CBKs include “security and risk management, asset security, security architecture and engineering…and software development security.” Professionals with a CISSP certification often serve as decision-makers and develop security standards, policies and procedures.
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – CISA certification tests how students manage IT departments, audit information systems and protect asset information. “The CISA certification focuses on information auditing,” explains career-training organization NewHorizons.com in “The Best Cybersecurity Certifications to Boost Your Career in 2019.” “As an IT professional, being CISA-certified demonstrates that you have rigorous audit experience and are capable of managing vulnerabilities and instituting controls at an enterprise level.”
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) – According to NewHorizons.com, 84% of organizations utilize traditional security solutions. The CCSP certification process guides candidates to expanded expertise in cloud architecture and design, cloud data security, platform and infrastructure security, cloud operations, and compliance topics. Architects, engineers and managers of cloud-based enterprises benefit from becoming certified in CCSP.
  • Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) – Nearly 4,000 ransomware attacks occur every day, according to NewHorizons.com and the FBI. All of them need to be investigated. Someone who is certified in CHFI will be proficient in recovering deleted, encrypted or damaged files; analyzing and reporting computer-based evidence; and responding to incidents.

Cyber security professionals should be familiar with the various types of cyber security certifications. Earning certifications as well as a master’s degree can make candidates attractive to potential employers.

University of North Dakota’s Master of Science in Cyber Security Program

Choosing the right online cyber security master’s program is a decision that should not be taken lightly. The best programs will offer courses that keep current with today’s cyber security issues and concerns.

UND’s Higher Learning Commission-accredited online cyber security master’s degree program is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Top 25 Most Innovative Schools (2018), alongside such prestigious institutions as Stanford, Harvard and MIT.

UND prepares students for careers in cyber security with concentrations in Autonomous Systems Cyber Security, Cyber Security and Behavior, Data Security and General Cyber Security.

For more information on UND’s MSCS online program, visit the program’s website today.


Cybersecurity Talent Crunch to Create 3.5 Million Unfilled Jobs Globally by 2021 – CybersecurityVentures.com

How to Build a Cybersecurity Career [2019 Update] – DanielMiessler.com

5 Cybersecurity Certifications That Will Get You Hired – Springboard.com

Best Information Security Certifications 2019 – BusinessNewsDaily.com

The Best Cybersecurity Certifications to Boost Your Career in 2019 – NewHorizons.com