A degree can get your foot-in-the-door, but to progress your career and keep up-to-date with the latest technologies, certifications are key – especially within cyber security.
By achieving properly vetted and industry-recognised certifications you’ll do more than just get a benchmark for your knowledge. Certifications are great tools for cyber security career progression and don’t just build technical skills.
These qualifications will also teach you the value of your own expertise and build communication skills – crucial if you consider moving from a technical to a managerial role.
There are a number of well-regarded certifications that you should be aiming for as a cyber-security professional:
• Certified Ethical Hacker – the Certified Ethical Hacker is a popular entry-level cyber security certification that introduces you to the hacking tools and techniques used by real cyber criminals. By familiarising yourself with how hackers think, you’ll be better at fixing vulnerabilities and flaws you might otherwise miss.
• CISM – there’s growing recognition for the CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) offered by ISACA. As the name suggests, the CISM is designed for security managers. It’s an expert-level certification that proves skills in risk management and enterprise security systems.
• CISSP – the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) is among the most sought-after certifications in security. Achieving the CISSP certification is a career highlight and is aimed at the top-tier of cyber security professionals.
To even sit the exam, you’ll need five years of cyber security work experience. Graduates that begin their career directly after university will be able to achieve this certification sooner.
When progressing your cyber security career, consider additional background qualifications you could earn to broaden your skillset:
• to build security basics – Security+
• to learn about network security – Certified Network Defender
• to build expert cloud security knowledge – CCSP
• for risk management professionals – CRISC.
The value of people skills
People skills and the ability to communicate are key within cyber security. ‘Even if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re at a disadvantage if you can’t explain the importance of the flaw you’ve just uncovered,’ says Richard.
Knowledge of the commercial aspects of the job and of the wider picture outside of IT is also advantageous. These skills can be taught through certifications, like the CISM, which also teaches the language of business.