Cybersecurity Certificate vs Certification: What’s the Difference?

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The cybersecurity industry is growing now more than ever. However, that doesn’t mean that jobs in the industry are easy to acquire. Most positions now require a cybersecurity certificate or cybersecurity certification for consideration. 

If they don’t require either of these, both the certificate and the certification help to give cybersecurity professionals an edge amongst other job candidates. Many professionals are unsure of which to pursue. A common misconception is that both programs are the same. While they do sound the same, they are very different in the skillsets they cover and what job opportunities become available to you after completing them. 

What is a Cybersecurity Certificate?

A certificate in cybersecurity is usually earned at an educational institution. They are available at the undergraduate and graduate level and can be earned as part of a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or computer science or precede a degree program. Typically, the certificate requires you to take one or a few classes, some also may require a final project. 

Many people already working in the cybersecurity field decide to enroll in a certificate program for a promotion consideration or to use the credits toward another degree. Receiving a certificate in cybersecurity could also benefit professionals in other fields such as Human Resources, Web Development, or Business. This certificate will provide them with the necessary knowledge to brush up on their cybersecurity skills without making a long-term or expensive commitment. If you think this route would be a good fit for you, here are some things to consider when pursuing a cybersecurity certificate.

What is a Cybersecurity Certification?

You acquire a cybersecurity certification without taking an educational class. Certification is typically issued by trade/industry/professional associations who certify a candidate’s level of skill after passing one or multiple exams. Certifications can be beneficial because they help job candidates to stand out. Receiving a cybersecurity certification demonstrates hard work, drive, and helps you get recognized by employers. According to Coursera, there are 10 most popular cybersecurity certifications that a professional can receive. Let’s learn more about a few of them below.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is one of the most popular certifications among cybersecurity professionals. Most likely because it is one of the highest paying certifications in the industry. To get the certification, cybersecurity professionals need at least 5 years of experience working as a security analyst in the field. Having this certification opens the door to job opportunities such as a Chief Information Security Officer or Security Architect.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

A Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is another high paying certification in the cybersecurity industry. It is also the most popular certification for professionals in the field to get. By passing the exam certification, it proves that the professional has demonstrated knowledge in stopping fraud, reviewing audits, and issues of non-compliance.

CompTIA Security+

The CompTIA Security+ certification is one of the other most popular cybersecurity certifications in the industry. This certification proves that the professional has demonstrated the ability to help an employer combat a cybersecurity attack. For someone interested in a job role of a Systems Administrator or Security Consultant, this makes for an ideal certification. It is also one of the beginner certifications in the industry. Most often after receiving this certification, many cybersecurity professionals go on to receive additional certifications afterwards. This builds upon their experience.

Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certificate is a good program for cybersecurity professionals already in an IT security position. Ideal candidates could be working in positions such as Penetration Testers, Cybersecurity Engineers, or Network Administrators. It’s important to note that any cybersecurity professional interested in pursuing this certification should have a solid understanding of Linux, Python and other common program languages. 

Do employers place value on these qualifications?

Yes. Both cybersecurity certificates and certifications are worth acquiring. Here are 7 reasons why cyber certifications are worth it. They can help differentiate you against other job candidates. It can also help your chances in receiving a promotion in your current company. Or your chances to negotiate a pay rise down the line. In fact, some cybersecurity positions now require you to have either a cybersecurity certificate or cybersecurity certification for consideration. 

If you are looking to change positions within the cybersecurity industry, receive a promotion within your current company, or negotiate a pay raise, a cybersecurity certificate or cybersecurity certification will help you to stand out. Review the differences of each program and decide which avenue will help provide you with the skills necessary to get you in your ideal cybersecurity position.

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