Demystifying Security Certifications: A Beginner's Guide

As technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, security concerns have become more pressing than ever before. Even with advancements in cybersecurity, the number of data breaches and cyberattacks seems to be on the rise. These incidents can have a devastating effect on the businesses and individuals involved. That is why it's essential for organizations to take security seriously and for individuals to gain certification in various security practices.

But what is a security certification, and why is it so important? In this article, we will explore the different types of security certifications that exist, why they are valuable, and what you can do to obtain one.

What is a Security Certification?

A security certification is a credential received by an individual who has demonstrated a certain level of competence in a particular set of skills and knowledge related to security. In other words, it is a verification that an individual has achieved a level of proficiency in security best practices.

There are dozens of security certifications available, and each is tailored to a specific area of expertise. These certifications are often industry-recognized validation of a person's skills and knowledge in the field of security.

Some of the most well-known security certifications include:

- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- CompTIA Security+
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

While each of these certifications has a different focus, they all share the goal of providing a level of confidence concerning an individual's skills and knowledge in the area of cybersecurity.

Why Are Security Certifications Valuable?

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Security certifications are valuable for multiple reasons. Firstly, they provide recognition of skill and knowledge, increasing the likelihood of obtaining a higher-paying job. According to Glassdoor, a CISSP certification can lead to an average salary of $121,000 per year. Even someone starting in the IT industry with a CompTIA Security+ certification can expect an average salary of $72,000 per year.

Additionally, security certifications show employers that an individual is committed to their profession. The process of obtaining a security certification can be quite rigorous, requiring a certain amount of professional experience, educational requirements, and passing an exam.

Moreover, these certifications help professionals stay up-to-date with the latest security trends. The world of cybersecurity is ever-evolving, and what was once considered best practice may no longer be effective. Obtaining a security certification ensures that professionals are always knowledgeable about the latest industry trends and best practices, allowing them to make informed decisions and mitigate potential cyber threats effectively.

Types of Security Certifications

As previously mentioned, there are dozens of security certifications available. In this section, we'll take a closer look at the most common types of security certifications and what they entail.


The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential is one of the most well-known and respected certifications in the field of information security. The certification demonstrates an individual's knowledge of network and system security, asset security, and communications and network security. Holding a CISSP certification can lead to senior-level positions in the IT industry, such as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

CompTIA Security+

The CompTIA Security+ certification is an excellent starting point for individuals starting their careers in the IT industry. The certification verifies an individual's foundational knowledge of network security, risk management, and cryptography, among other topics.

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The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification is aimed at individuals whose job responsibilities include investigating and detecting potential threats and vulnerabilities. The certification focuses on in-depth knowledge of network infrastructure, web-based attacks, and the latest hacking techniques.


The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification is targeted towards individuals who are responsible for managing, designing, and assessing security controls and policies using industry standards. Obtaining this certification demonstrates an individual's managerial skills, such as risk assessment and governance.


The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification is targeted towards individuals who are responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining information systems risk management programs. The certification focuses on topics such as risk assessment, impact analysis, and risk response.

Receiving a Security Certification

Obtaining a security certification is a rigorous process that varies depending on the certification. The majority of certifications require a combination of professional experience and passing an exam. The exam is often multiple-choice and can be completed either in-person or remotely.

To be eligible for the exam, professional experience is typically required. For example, to be eligible for the CISSP exam, you need to have at least five years of full-time professional work experience in at least two of the eight domains of the (ISC)² CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Upon passing the exam, the certification will be granted to you.


In summary, a security certification is an industry-recognized credential that validates an individual's knowledge and skills in a particular area of cybersecurity. These certifications provide recognition of skills and commitment to the profession, leading to higher-paying jobs. Obtaining a security certification requires a combination of professional experience and passing an exam and ensures that professionals stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices.

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Whether you are just starting in the IT industry or are a seasoned professional, obtaining a security certification is an essential step in advancing your career and staying ahead of the curve in the ever-changing world of cybersecurity.

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