As the world moves further into the digital age, the importance of cybersecurity has become paramount to organizations, opening up job opportunities. CyberSeek reports that as of 2023, a total of 32% of U.S. cybersecurity positions are open. Companies are looking to fill these spots with qualified talent, with 55% requiring vendor-neutral and 38% requiring vendor-specific cybersecurity certifications, according to a 2022 study from ISC2.
Certifications validate expertise and competence in specific areas of cybersecurity. They’re tangible evidence of knowledge and skills, instilling confidence in employers, colleagues, and clients. For those seeking career advancement, certifications showcase a commitment to professional development and can help professionals stand out among their peers.
Complementing certifications with an advanced degree in cybersecurity can be a game changer for those aspiring to elevate their cybersecurity career. While certifications validate practical skills and specialized knowledge, professionals may also find value in an advanced degree in cybersecurity that offers a comprehensive understanding of the field, encompassing a curriculum that teaches leadership and technical expertise.
Cybersecurity Certification Benefits
Earning a cybersecurity certification offers numerous advantages for individuals aspiring to excel in the field. For example, these certifications can provide a solid foundation and an in-depth understanding of various cybersecurity concepts, tools, and techniques, ultimately equipping individuals with the necessary skills to advance in their roles.
Another significant benefit of earning a cybersecurity certification is the advancement of career opportunities. Certifications increase employability and could open the door to a broader range of job prospects, as they indicate a specific level of objective knowledge that employers consider when making hiring decisions. Employers often value candidates with industry-recognized certifications because they’re tangible evidence of their competence and commitment to professional growth.
As they often help holders secure higher-level positions, they can also help increase earning potential and improve job security. The cybersecurity job outlook is also positive, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting job growth of 35% between 2021 and 2031, based on the increasing frequency of cybersecurity attacks on organizations. Certifications also signify a dedication to ongoing professional development, which is beneficial in a field that demands continuous learning and adaptation.
Benefits of Advanced Education
While certifications demonstrate practical skills and knowledge in specific areas of cybersecurity, a comprehensive education can provide a broader understanding of foundational aspects of cybersecurity. A master’s degree may not be required for every position, but it can help indicate to employers a level of knowledge that helps a job candidate stand out and can therefore help individuals who work in cybersecurity advance their careers.
Some certifications may require individuals to possess relevant work experience or a degree to qualify, and many of those certifications allow for the experience earned during a degree program to act as a substitute for work experience. Pursuing a Master of Science (MS) in Cybersecurity can be instrumental in preparing students for certification success by establishing the foundational knowledge that certifications can build upon.
Earning an MS in Cybersecurity can equip individuals with a holistic understanding of the discipline, allowing them to tackle complex challenges and think critically in real-world scenarios. Additionally, a master’s degree program often incorporates hands-on projects, research opportunities, and collaboration with industry experts, further enhancing practical skills and problem-solving abilities.
By pursuing a master’s degree, individuals can gain a competitive edge in the job market and increase their chances of earning valuable certifications. Advanced education has also become more of the norm in cybersecurity. The 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study from ISC2 shows that 43% of cybersecurity professionals hold a master’s degree.
Helping with career advancement can also increase earning potential as MS in Cybersecurity salaries tend to be higher than entry-level position salaries. The median annual salary for a cybersecurity analyst was around $102,600 as of May 2021, according to the BLS. Higher-level positions that typically require advanced education, such as chief cybersecurity officer, can earn around $173,100 as of March 2023, according to Payscale.
What Certifications Do I Need for Cybersecurity?
When considering how to advance a career with a cybersecurity certification, understanding the range of certifications available and their specific focus areas is important. Each certification offers unique benefits and caters to different job specialties, and by choosing the right one, professionals can better tailor their knowledge to specific career goals. Furthermore, considering the cost associated with each certification can help prospective professionals make informed decisions.
Consider a few popular cybersecurity certifications.
Microsoft Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals
The Microsoft Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals certification helps validate foundational knowledge in security, compliance, and identity (SCI) related to securing Microsoft platforms and services, such as Microsoft 365 and Azure. This certification also serves as an excellent starting point for those looking to gain a solid understanding of fundamental areas, such as networking and cloud systems.
Microsoft Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals Cybersecurity Certification Cost
The Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals certification can be completed by taking one exam, which costs $99 per attempt. Microsoft also offers free practice assessments to help ensure adequate preparedness. This certification also has no expiration date, so no annual or repeat cost is required to maintain this certification.
ISACA Cybersecurity Fundamentals
The ISACA Cybersecurity Fundamentals certification delivers a comprehensive understanding of entry-level cybersecurity concepts: the cyber threat landscape, secure administrative access, standard security operations, and cyber threat responses, to name just a few. Because it primarily covers entry-level cybersecurity concepts, this certification benefits individuals seeking general field knowledge.
ISACA Cybersecurity Fundamentals Cost
The ISACA Cybersecurity Fundamentals certification exam costs $199 per attempt. For those who become ISACA members, it’s discounted to $150. This certification also doesn’t expire or require recertification, making it a potentially valuable long-term investment.
The CompTIA Security+ certification is an entry-level certification that covers essential cybersecurity skills and knowledge. It validates the ability to perform core security functions and demonstrates competency in network security, threats and vulnerabilities, identity management, and cryptography. For those looking to build general and foundational cybersecurity knowledge, the CompTIA Security+ certification can be an excellent choice in opening up cybersecurity opportunities in the industry.
CompTIA Security+ Cybersecurity Certification Cost
The cost to take the CompTIA Security+ exam is $392, making it one of the more expensive options for certification. This certification also lasts only three years before expiring and will require renewal through recertification.
Advance Your Career in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity certifications have substantial benefits in helping you better understand specific concepts and can showcase specific areas of expertise to employers. Similarly, those looking to advance their careers and who are considering certification may also benefit from advanced education, such as The University of Tulsa’s online MS in Cybersecurity.
This program offers a curriculum covering the theory, concepts, and techniques to help prepare an organization’s networks against cyber threats, protect private data, and strengthen the digital infrastructure to remain relevant in the digital age. Additionally, as an online degree program, it allows professionals to continue their careers while completing the program in as little as 20 months. Discover what cybersecurity skills you can master with TU.