Best Cyber Security Professional Certifications in 2021

The best cyber security certifications can open doors in the industry. You might have the right combination of education, experience, and skills, but still not be getting attention from recruiting teams. This is where professional certifications come in.

The only thing standing between you and a job promotion or a raise might just be a certification. This article discusses why cyber security professional certifications are an important step toward career advancement.

What Is a Cyber Security Professional Certification?

A professional cyber security certification validates cyber security practitioners’ skills and knowledge. These certifications are necessary for professionals to upskill in specific areas. These areas include but aren’t limited to digital forensics, computer security, and cryptographic methods.

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Some of the top organizations that issue cyber security certifications are CompTIA, ISACA, and GIAC. These bodies are known to authenticate cyber security skills the world over.

If you want to take the next step in your cyber security career, a certification can help. Different certifications bring forth different opportunities. You should decide whether you want to become a cyber security engineer, an analyst, or something else before pursuing a particular certification. Keep reading to find out the right certification for you.

Professional Certification vs Certificate Program

Certificate programs and professional certifications have very different purposes and outcomes. The major difference is that a certificate is proof of education in a specific area, whereas certification is a professional credential.

Once you finish a certificate program, you will receive a non-renewable certificate from an education vendor. This certificate will showcase that you have undergone training, but it is seldom sufficient to qualify you for a job.

By contrast, a certification is often a required rung on the career ladder. Third-party organizations set industry standards and issue certifications to anyone who can prove they have the skills and knowledge to meet the standard. As standards change, you may have to renew your certification. Go for the certification if your goal is professional credibility.

Cyber Security Skills: What’s Demand Like in 2021?

With Internet use at an all-time high, employers need cyber security professionals with a particular set of skills to safeguard their data. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a 31 percent projected job growth for information security analysts. The reason growth is so high is that companies have a need to prevent hacking.

Cyber security professionals compete with each other for cutting-edge education and skills. You must have prowess in risk management, cloud security, application security, compliance, and access management. While certificate programs, degrees, and cyber security bootcamps can teach you these skills, only a certification can prove your expertise.

Importance of Cyber Security Certification

Cyber security certifications are essential in a highly technological world. Employers rely on them during recruitment to measure the skill level of candidates. They are keener to employ professionals with refined skills than those with extensive work experience.

Top 10 Cyber Security Certifications

Top 10 Cyber Security Certifications

Now that you know how a cyber security certification can impact your career, we will take a look at the top options. Below are the 10 best industry-recognized cyber security certifications out there.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Cost: $1,199

Validity: 3 years

Delivered by EC-Council, this is one of the most respected certifications in the industry. It will take you through modern hacking tools and methodologies used by cyber criminals and information security professionals. The entire curriculum is based on modern case studies and current events.

CEH is especially good for professionals focusing on malware analysis. You will go through emerging attack vectors such as web shells, web APIs, and targeted ransomware. In addition, you will learn cloud computing technology, hardware reverse engineering, enumeration, malware hearts, cryptography, and SQL injections.

You will be awarded the certification upon passing a 125-question practical exam. You can take advantage of EC-Council training options to cover all the major topics. You can choose to study at your own pace, through live online classes, or in person.

A CEH-certified professional has plenty of career opportunities. You will have increased chances of becoming an information security analyst, a network engineer, a penetration tester, a cyber defense analyst, or an IT security administrator.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Cost: $575 for members, $760 for non-members

Validity: 3 years

ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification validates professional expertise in information governance, program development and management, risk management, and incident management. It’s an exceptional certification for IT managers.

To be eligible to take the CISM exam, you must have at least five years of experience in information security management. The exam itself can be taken online or in person. If you cannot take the exam at your scheduled time, you can easily reschedule within 48 hours. The exam is available in four different languages.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Cost: $699

Validity: 1 year

Becoming a certified information systems security professional (CISSP) is necessary for proving your skills in designing, implementing, and managing a cyber security program.

The CISSP exam will assess your knowledge and skills in security and risk management, asset security, security operations, and software development security. You can prepare by attending the CISSP training, which is quite popular among professionals in the field. You will receive study guides, textbooks, and full practice tests to help you get exam-ready.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Cost: $575 for members, $760 for non-members

Validity: 1 year

If you would like to validate your skills in information technology systems, this is the certification for you. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, the CISA certification builds a solid foundation in IT and gives your resume extra credibility.

To earn the certification, you need to pass the CISA examination, which you can take either online or in person, and in one of several different languages. You must also have relevant job experience to get certified. If you want to maintain your certification, you must meet continuing professional education (CPE) requirements.

Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)

Cost: $395

Validity: 2 years

The CCSK certificate is the gold standard for cloud-savvy professionals. It will help you learn the best practices when it comes to cloud governance, technical security controls, and securing data in the cloud. The most popular way to prepare for the CCSK exam is the instructor-led training course.

This certification is highly recommended for information security professionals, cyber security managers, security architects, and consultants.

Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA Security)

Cost: $330

Validity: 3 years

The CCNA certification is an exquisite add-on to your resume. The accreditation is popular due to the foundation it provides for IT professionals.

If you want to take the CCNA exam, you will need one year of experience in administering Cisco solutions. You must also have some understanding of IP addressing and network fundamentals. To prepare for the exams, you can join self-study groups or webinars sponsored by Cisco.


Cost: $370

Validity: 3 years

The CySA+ certification will validate your knowledge and skills in identifying, preventing, and combating cyber security threats. It will also show that you can analyze and interpret data proficiently. It is a popular certification among application security analysts, compliance analysts, and threat intelligence analysts.

To take the CySA+ examination, you will need at least three years of experience in information security. It is a 165-minute examination, and you can take it in English, Japanese, or Chinese. It is available either online or in person.

To help you prepare, CompTIA offers virtual labs, video training, study guides, and instructor-led training. The training focuses on incident response plans, software and system security, vulnerability management, and security operations.

CompTIA Security+

Cost: $370

Validity: 3 years

This certification is the gold standard for cyber security professionals. The CompTIA Security+ exam assesses your problem-solving skills by testing your ability to monitor, secure, and respond to cyber security issues in a real-world environment. It also establishes your proficiency in risk management and compliance.

This certification is a good choice if you are a security administrator, cyber security engineer, systems administrator, or software developer. It is also highly recommended for beginners in the industry.

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

Cost: $466

Validity: 3 years

The CASP+ exam covers all the bases of information security. You should expect questions on enterprise security, enterprise risk architecture, cloud and virtualization technologies, cryptographic techniques, and risk analysis.

CASP+ professionals must have a minimum of 10 years of experience in IT administration and at least five years of experience in technical security. This certification is most popular among security architects, security engineers, cyber security analysts, and application security engineers.

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

Cost: $125

Validity: 1 year

By attaining this certification, you can become a globally recognized systems security practitioner. The SSCP certification demonstrates professionals’ ability to implement, monitor, and administer IT infrastructure, all while using the best practices in the field.

To qualify for the SSCP certification, you must have one year of experience in any of its seven domains. You also need to have an in-person or online Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security and pass the SSCP exam. Finally, you must adhere to the (ISC)² Code of Ethics.

How to Choose the Right Certification

How to Choose the Right Certification

You should pick a certification that aligns with your career prospects. It can be quite difficult for a newcomer to choose the best cyber security certification for their specific career goals, so let’s take a look at some factors to consider.

Career Prospects

Always go for a certification that will bring more career opportunities. You can ask your colleagues or your bosses which cyber security certifications they have. Getting a certification might help you nudge your way to a better-paying position.


Choose a certification that sparks your interest. Your career path should reflect your passions. If you’re not sure what interests you most, a certification presents a great opportunity to narrow down and refine your skills.


There’s no need to pursue a certification that no longer serves current market needs. Certifications are meant to validate in-demand skills in cyber security. You should determine the relevance of a particular certification before pursuing it.

Top Courses to Prepare for Certifications

Many cyber security courses cover certification exam topics. We’ve narrowed the list down to the five most useful online courses.

TOTAL: CompTIA Security+ Certification | Udemy

Cost: $12.99 (subject to change)

Duration: 19 hours

Format: Self-paced

Outcome: Certificate

This Udemy course will help you develop a solid foundation in information security. You will cover risk management, cryptography, and how to secure everything, from wireless networks to cloud databases to mobile devices.

This is a highly recommended course for professionals interested in the CompTIA Security+ certification. The final exam of the course is in line with the CompTIA Security+ exam.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional | Udemy

Cost: $13.99

Duration: 3 hours, 58 minutes

Format: Instructor-led

Outcome: Certificate

You will need a minimum of five years of experience in information technology before taking this course. Three of the five years should be in the CCSP Common Body of Knowledge. These requirements are necessary as the complexity of the course can be overwhelming to novices.

The course covers major topics in information security. You will cover architectural concepts, cloud data security, cloud application security, and compliance. It’s an exceptional course to master the data life cycle and homomorphic encryption.

Ethical Hacking - CEH Prep 2018 | Pluralsight

Cost: Free

Duration: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Format: Self-paced

Outcome: Certificate

Pluralsight designed this training course to help you prepare for the CEH certification. You will develop the right techniques and practices needed to pass the exam. You will learn the difference between hacking and ethical hacking, how to defend against attacks, and the five phases of ethical hacking.

The major topics in this course are penetration testing, incident response, malware analysis, and vulnerability management. You will also cover the installation and development of desktop virtual machines and the building of secure labs. Additionally, you will learn information security controls, attack types, and hacking phases.

The Complete Cyber Security Course: Hackers Exposed | Udemy

Cost: $12.99

Duration: 12 hours, 54 minutes

Format: Self-paced

Outcome: Certificate

The instructors designed this Udemy course to help those studying for certification exams understand major topics in cyber security.

It’s an exceptional course to learn how to secure operating systems. You will also build extensive skills in defending against phishing, vishing, and identity theft. By the time you complete the classes, you will have a deep understanding of the dark market.

Introduction to Cyber Security | Coursera

Cost: Free

Duration: 4 months

Format: Self-paced

Outcome: Certificate

If you want to gain skills in cyber defense, cryptography, risk assessment, and information security, Coursera offers this top-tier training program in cyber security. The introductory program is exceptional at helping students gain a deeper understanding of cyber security. It’s a highly recommended course for anyone with an interest in the industry.

The course has a very hands-on approach to learning. To earn your certificate of completion, you will need to complete a hands-on project. You will also complete a series of quizzes and programming assignments. These will be instrumental in your success.

Is a Cyber Security Certification Worth It in 2021?

Yes, a cyber security certification is worth it in 2021. There is a growing demand for certified cyber security professionals, all of whom make good money due to their specialized ability to handle particular tasks with excellence.

If you want to give your resume a facelift, a cyber security certification is the best course of action. These certifications will give you the upper hand you need to beat other applicants. Any of the certifications named above can land you a fantastic cyber security job.

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