Certificate Pathways to Cyber Security

Certificate Pathways to Cyber Security

Cyber Security certificates to jump start your career


If you are reading this article it means you are already interested in cybersecurity. That’s the first symptom of becoming obsessed with this fascinating IT discipline. You might have heard about all these cyber attacks, data breaches, system vulnerabilities at least a few times a week. If you are an IT professional already, you might be aware of how fast the cybersecurity industry is booming and governments and companies are struggling to find the right talent and keep up with the growing demand. It doesn’t matter if you are either already into IT or a total beginner. If you want to uplift your life for the better, then you have come to the right place.

Is Cyber Security Really in Demand?

If you are having any doubts, first check the below image provided by cybserseek, which shows cybersecurity job openings in the USA.

Demand of cyber security jobs (originally from https://www.cyberseek.org/heatmap.html)

I couldn’t recall another career path that gathered the attention of this degree in recent years as cybersecurity. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected job growth for information security professionals is around 31% between 2019 to 2029 which is much faster than other IT-related occupations. Most of the recent researches say that the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals won’t go down in the foreseeable future.

When thinking about the current IT industry, those statistics don’t surprise me.
There aren’t enough people with the required analytical and innovative skills to tackle the growing threats in the digital world.

So from where all these opportunities are coming from? What cybersecurity jobs have more demand and changes than others?

Let’s have a look at the most in-demand cybersecurity career pathways in brief.

reference: https://www.cyberdegrees.org/jobs/

Full Disclosure: this post might have some affiliate links.

Career Pathways in Cyber Security

Information Security Analyst

If we put it in simple words, the main responsibility of a Security Analyst is to protect an organization’s data from malicious attacks.
An Information Security Analyst monitors the system for potential security breaches. Apart from that, the main job duties might include:

  • Developing organization security policies
  • Informing and training employees regarding security measurements, new applications, and hardware
  • Conducting penetration testings
  • Installing software tools to secure the environment, etc.

It doesn’t sound like an easy job. So it’s no wonder why Security Analysts are in such high demand.

Ethical Hacker

Becoming an Ethical Hacker or White Hat Hacker might be one of the best things that can happen to your life. It’s such an interesting job but not meant for everyone. Ethical hackers are certified security professionals who are authorized by the employer or a hiring organization to penetrate their system and find existing and potential system vulnerabilities. They use the same techniques as Black Hat Hackers do, but for a better purpose. Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker don’t end from finding vulnerabilities. In most cases, they have to find a way to patch the exposed vulnerability and prevent malicious attackers from using them.

Penetration Tester

Penetration testing is a subset of the broad responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker. However, I’m listing it separately since it’s one of the most demanded jobs currently in the world. Organizations are eager to find Penetration Testers with correct skills. The responsibility of Penetration Testers is mainly to identify system vulnerabilities. But Penetration Testers are focused on a specific area defined for testing whereas Ethical Hackers work on a wider range. Penetration is one of the functions of Ethical Hackers that have to be carried out while searching for vulnerabilities. And yet Penetration Testers are still in high demand and being recruited separately from Ethical Hackers.

Secure Software Developer

The Secure Software Development is for those who are passionate about programming as well as the security aspects of it. Secure Software Developers have to focus on developing secure applications by integrating security best practices and protocols. Becoming a Secure Software Developer, you have to understand every aspect of software development based on the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). They should have specialized knowledge of software design, software security, computer systems and networks, and programming. The knowledge on software-based security strategies categorizes Secure Software Developers apart from traditional programmers.

Digital Forensic Analyst

Digital Forensic Analysts specially trained to retrieve digital evidence from various digital assets used in cybercrimes. In some cases, you will see they work with law enforcement agencies to expand investigations into the digital world. Their role is to provide consultant and technical support whenever necessary. Within an organization, Digital Forensics is involved with securing sensitive data, educating employees about cybersecurity issues, identifying data breaches and weaknesses, and many more.

Digital Forensic Analysts are often hired by government agencies, corporations, law firms, etc. If you are interested in stuff like investigating crimes, following digital fingerprints then this might be for you. You will never know unless you give a try.

Security Architect

Security Architects design, plan and supervise systems and networks that will prevent security threats. They identify the strengths and weaknesses of their organization’s systems and networks and take necessary measurements accordingly. It’s an exciting job role which often needs to be researching new technologies to make things more secure and better in performance. Security Architects possess an in-depth knowledge of software and hardware design, computer networks, computer programming, and risk management. A well experienced Security Architect often has strong analytical and problem-solving skills which highlight them apart from other cybersecurity professionals.

How to get in?

Well, it wasn’t easy to isolate and list down the career and responsibilities of this field with vast variety. But we did our research and identified positions which might help you most. Apart from what we have mentioned here, there are several other positions in the industry which are coming with a handsome salary. Also, you might see in other places that the aforementioned job roles and responsibilities have been mentioned under different job titles.
Cybersecurity is a vast field with a variety of specializations. Many governments are trying to gather these specializations under one umbrella called Cybersecurity. So there can be some mismatches between how each job role is titled by two people. But we suppose that you already have the picture to get a basic idea.

So how can we get into this booming industry?
Indeed, having an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in Cybersecurity or a relevant area will put you one step ahead. What about others? Everyone deserves to be a part of this if he or she has the interest and keen to learn. We are living in a generation where our life is not getting decided by just a university degree. Companies like to hire higher candidates with the correct technical skills, mindset, and the potential to achieve greater things.

But how do we prove them we are the people they were looking for? How do we prove we have the knowledge and qualifications to deliver value to their organization?

That’s when cybersecurity professional certificates are coming into the play.

Cybersecurity Professional Certificates

Unlike other IT disciplines, Cybersecurity has a well known set of professional certificates for anyone with the hunger to learn more and achieve more. You may not have a 4 years university degree, but you have been given the opportunity to develop your career via these certificates.

It’s up to you how far you wish to go and in which direction. But if you have the characteristics that I was mentioning, then following certificates will give you a fair chance to land on a job in cybersecurity.

  • CompTIA Linux+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (ECH)
  • System Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

Let’s have a deeper look at each and every one of the above.

CompTIA Linux+

If you are at the beginner level, completing the Linux+ will come in handy for sure.

Copmtia linux plus

Kali Linux is known to be the most loved Linux distro among Cybersecurity professionals. We suppose that it will remain the same in the foreseeable future as well.

The Linux+ has been designed to provide you with the fundamental but essential skills to work in the Linux environment. The certification will test your abilities on Linux commands, maintenance tasks, installing and configuring workstations, and networking.

It’s guaranteed that this certificate will provide you with a confidence boost and more importantly a kick start to the career in Cybersecurity.

Linux+ Udemy course


CompTIA Network+

CompTIA Network+ is a well known entry-level certificate provided by CompTIA.

Copmtia network plus

It will provide you with an in-depth understanding of:

  • Networking technologies and devices
  • Network security practices
  • Network security policies
  • Network security threats
  • Defense mechanisms
  • Damage recovery

and other relevant knowledge areas regarding both wired and wireless networks. Networking is an essential aspect to gain the required skills which play a vital role in information security and policies. No company would like to make headlines for a critical data breach. It will tear apart their reputation to a state that cannot be rebuilt. So companies tend to invest more and more in ensuring their data and information security in each passing day. Due to these reasons Network+ has become one of the major certificates that any employer considers during an interview.

TOTAL: CompTIA Network+ Certification


CompTIA Security+

The CompTIA Security+ is another great entry-level certificate and according to most professionals, it’s the best certificate to be followed at this level. The Security+ is a vendor-neutral qualification that has been approved by the US Department of Defence and employees around the globe.

This certificate has been designed to cover a wide range of security-related skills, use case simulations, and technical knowledge. You have to gain knowledge on a variety of security threats, vulnerabilities, security tools, risk management, secure application development, and many relevant areas.

Copmtia security plus

Once you have the Security+ under your belt, it will open the doorway to more advanced careers such as:

  • Network Security Engineer
  • Network Security Administrator
  • Security Analyst
  • Senior Technical Support Engineer

It’s totally up to you how to unitize the broad knowledge gathered for this certificate program. You will be able to build your future career upon it.

It’s true that the CompTIA Security+ sounds complex and will need a lot more training to gain the required knowledge and experience in these areas. But the effort you put to complete the certificate will be worth it for sure.


Comptia Security+ on Udemy

CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker

Here comes some interesting stuff. Hacking!

The CEH certificate is mainly designed for those who are interested in hacking. It’s the most well-known certificate that will clear the path of becoming an ethical hacker. Even though doing ethical or unethical stuff is totally up to you, this certificate will provide you with the foundation knowledge of the world of hacking.

Hacking is a double-edged sword. It can be used for both good and bad purposes. The CEH certificate covers the knowledge required to become a White Hat hacker. A White Hat hacker uses the same tools and techniques as a malicious attacker to identify vulnerabilities and enhance the organization’s security.

You might already have found this certificate interesting. But we don’t recommend you to jump straight into this. The CEH is not considered as an entry-level certificate. It’s more likely an intermediate certificate that allows security professionals to get into a more specific job category of ethical hackers or penetration testers.

Ethical Hacker

The CEH is not an easy certificate to collect. It covers a wide range of skills and knowledge on different attacking methodologies and prevention techniques relevant to:

  • Network scanning
  • Social engineering
  • DoS attacks
  • SQL injections
  • Session hijacking
  • Viruses and Trojans
  • Cryptography

And much more.

Once you become a certified ethical hacker, you will be able to work on the aforementioned cyber attacks, identifying vulnerabilities, plan and implement defense strategies for your organization.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH 10) A to Z Course


System Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

The SSCP is another globally recognized certificate that is offered by (ISC)2. As the name indicates, SSCP mainly focuses on technical aspects of system security. In order to earn the SSCP, you might have to have practical knowledge of security over the theoretical part.

System Security Certified Practitioner

A few of the widely covered areas of this certificate are:

  • Access and management control
  • Risk analysis and identification
  • Incident response and recovery
  • Network and system security
  • Security operations and administration
  • Cryptography

If you are still at the beginner level, unfortunately, this might not be the certificate for you. The SSCP is more of an intermediate certificate for those who are having the experience of a couple of years in the cyber securing or networking fields.

However, if you are already having a few years of experience and planning to move into positions such as:

  • Network security engineer
  • Network administrator
  • Security analyst
  • System engineer

and other similar roles then SSCP would be the ideal certificate to earn. It will give you the required qualifications to follow your passion in one of the aforementioned areas.

SSCP Certification


Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

The OSCP is solely designed for those who are wishing to become penetration testers. Becoming a penetration tester is a wonderful career choice which most cybersecurity professionals dream of having. It’s the dream job of many cybersecurity professionals due to its fascinating job role.

Offensive Security Certified Professional

The OSCP is provided by the Offensive Security organization who is the founder of beloved OS, Kali Linux. So you know OSCP is worth considering. Many employers consider the OSCP is the foundation certification for a pen testing job role. It will cover topics such as:

  • Active and passive information gathering
  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Web application attacks
  • Client-side attacks
  • Buffer overflows
  • Privilege escalations And more.

The OSCP is not an easy certificate to achieve. It includes heavy pen-testing practicals which need much more time and effort to practice than for other certificates. Even though the certificate content is comparatively difficult, the end result will be highly rewarding.


Is that All?

These are only a few of the important certificates which will guide you from the beginner level to the more advanced level. The CompTIA has published its own pathway into cyber security which suits people at different levels of their careers.

Comptia pathway into cyber security

The EC-Council, who issued the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certificate has its own certification path to become ethical hackers, security analysts and penetration testers.

If you are really passionate about cyber security and looking for a way to get into it, this is the correct time than ever before. You won’t need university degrees any more. You have more than enough resources available at your doorstep. There are plenty of opportunities currently available for those who are with the right mind set.

However, it won’t be not an easy path. You have to work hard and spend most of your time achieving your passion. After all, cyber security is for hardworking and passionate people. You should be always ready to run the extra mile.

If you feel like cyber security is for you, don’t be afraid to follow these certificates and build your career step by step. It will be hard for you at first. You will feel like quitting. However, if you love the process and keep pushing yourself, you will be able to land on your dream job in cyber security most certainly.