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2/21/2017
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Kelly Sheridan
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8 Valuable Security Certifications For 2017

A security credential could be the step towards your next job title. But which one to get?
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(Image: wk1003mike via Shutterstock)

(Image: wk1003mike via Shutterstock)

Security certifications aren't mandatory for all industry experts, but they can make a difference in applying for new roles. (ISC)² CEO David Shearer says they're a "must-have" when looking at candidates on paper.

"Statistically, someone who goes through the formal [certification] process tends to be a candidate with more educational experience," he says, and certifications give professionals the "deep dive" expertise they need to drive their careers.

There are definitely people who learn from experience and fall outside the rule, however. "There are always exceptions; people who don't have certifications who are fantastic at what they do," Shearer notes.

But a certification gives you broader knowledge, he says. "You need to think broad and you need to think deep," he says of building security expertise.

This depth is what separates security certificates from certifications, which "have a different bar you have to go through compared with a certificate," he says, citing a report from the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. Certificates typically don't evaluate experiential performance. "There's a lot more rigor that goes into a credential as opposed to a certificate."

While the distinction doesn't necessarily mean certificates are bad, it's simply something to bear in mind because they are designed to evaluate different things and therefore have a different structure.

It's important for businesses to recognize the difference between certificates and certification programs, says Shearer. People commonly use "certificate" and "certification" as synonymous terms.

Businesses who want professionals to demonstrate established knowledge or skills should focus on certification programs, which aim to validate competency through a structured assessment system. Certificate programs provide instruction so participants acquire skills in a specific area. While certification content is typically broad in scope; certificate content is much narrower.

Here's a look at some of the key certifications for security experts today. Do you have any of these certifications? Thinking about them? Feel free to share your thoughts and keep the conversation going in the comments.

 

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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3pred
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3pred,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2017 | 2:43:57 PM
Re: Are you kidding?
I was not familiar with the CSX.  I will add that to my list of certs that I recommend people getting started. Seems like the training would be much more engaging.
3pred
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3pred,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2017 | 2:43:42 PM
Re: Are you kidding?
I was not familiar with the CSX.  I will add that to my list of certs that I recommend people getting started. Seems like the training would be much more engaging.
cruzerkk
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cruzerkk,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/4/2017 | 11:13:21 PM
CompTIA CSA+
CompTIA have started their new CyberSecurity certification CSA+ from mid February. Anyone with any reviews on that ? Is it worth my time and money ?
utsec12
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utsec12,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/3/2017 | 12:56:48 PM
Its time for InfoSec convergence
All good Certs, as many others are to the feild (CCNP, CEH), but with all of the splintered technologies exponentially growing there is not enought time, or money for anyone to earn that more than a few of them.  Even though companies today want you to know a bit of ALL of them, for under 100k/yr???  Good article though.
alf1955
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alf1955,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/3/2017 | 11:11:14 AM
Are you kidding?
Kelly, when you wrote this article, you really should have taken longer than the 90 seconds, or less, you apparently spent on your research and analysis of this topic.  GSEC, Security+, CWSP... really?! :-(  How about CRISC, CSX, CCFP along with a myriad of other much better certs?!  Well, I guess everyone's entitled to one dud, Kelly...  ;-)

  I sincerely hope that your future efforts will be more in line with the quality and value I had come to expect from you through the articles that I have greatly enjoyed from you in the past...  :-)
wait for it...
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wait for it...,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/3/2017 | 9:45:46 AM
Re: Missing Qualifications??
This article is on certifications, not education. A Master's would definitely be good, but takes a few years. (If I am understanding correctly what you meant.)
tbrit
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tbrit,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/23/2017 | 9:55:59 AM
Missing Qualifications??
I know Dark Reading is primarily a US based entity, but how about MSc Cyber security?

I am currently going through mine and a large number of my cohort have done the CISSP as something to do between Modules.

There are a few who have tried to do the same with OSCP however have found that it takes up a lot more spare time to complete.

Surely it would be worth more than many of these certs as it encompasses the whole range of IT security.
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