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Top Cybersecurity Certifications to Enhance Your Career

Oct. 04, 2019
Ryan Day

Throughout IT, no area affords more opportunity than cybersecurity. It is the most challenging hiring area for IT decision-makers—there is a severe shortage of cyber professionals around the globe.

According to (ISC)2, roughly 2.93 million cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled, with nearly 500,000 in North America.1

Also, the salaries associated with cybersecurity certifications far exceed the worldwide average.

Managers are in dire need of cyber professionals with specific skills. Make it easier for them to identify the skills you have by achieving the relevant certifications.

If you’re looking to advance your career, or transfer into the cybersecurity field, here are the cybersecurity certifications, by provider, you should consider. This list is based on survey responses from the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report, feedback from subject matter experts and the most popular courses aligned with security certifications.


Top Cybersecurity Certifications

Juniper Networks
Palo Alto Networks



AWS Certified Security – Specialty

As more organizations migrate to the AWS cloud, the need for cloud security specialists has skyrocketed. While AWS’s cloud certifications are some of the most widely-held and respected in the industry, their lone security credential is quickly growing in popularity.

This cloud security credential is the third most pursued cybersecurity certification of 2019. It also has the second highest average salary of all cyber certifications (minimum 30 North American respondents).

The certification exam validates the ability to secure the AWS cloud. Two or more years of hands-on experience using AWS services and features is recommended before certification.

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CompTIA’s vendor-neutral certification is the second most popular cybersecurity certification. Sixty-seven percent of North American security professionals have their Security+. It demonstrates competency in a wide array of foundational security topics, including data, application, host, network, physical and operational security.

Four percent of all North American IT professionals, not just security specialists, pursuing a certification this year have Security+ in their plans. Many organizations consider it to be the minimum level of certification to be considered for all positions beyond entry-level.

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CySA+ – Cybersecurity Analyst+

CySA+ is an intermediate-level certification designed for the defensive side of cybersecurity. This exam focuses on topics related to preventing, detecting and combating cybersecurity threats by applying behavioral analytics to networks and devices.

While there is no official prerequisite, CySA+ is intended to follow Security+ or equivalent experience.

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CASP+ – Advanced Security Practitioner

CASP+ is CompTIA’s highest certification. According to CompTIA, this exam specifically targets “technical professionals who wish to remain immersed in technology as opposed to managing cybersecurity policy and frameworks.”

Those looking to validate advanced security knowledge should pursue this credential. It’s the eighth most widely-held cybersecurity certification and is associated with the second highest salaries among all CompTIA certifications ($104,794).

While there are no official prerequisites, CASP+ is intended to follow Security+ and CySA+.

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CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker

Enter the mind of a hacker with EC-Council’s CEH certification. This vendor-neutral credential is designed for IT professionals who are concerned with the integrity of network infrastructure. It also covers threats to the cloud, which is a growing challenge that needs to be addressed immediately by all organizations.

Given the growing number of cyberattacks and increasing volume of personal data at risk, plus the potential legal liabilities, the need for Certified Ethical Hackers is quite high.

CEH is the fifth most pursued security certification of 2019. It also makes our list of top-paying certifications this year.

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CHFI – Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator

This certification is part of EC-Council’s Cyber Forensics certification track and validates knowledge of the forensic process, including evidence gathering, data recovery and analysis.

CHFI is ideal for law enforcement personnel, system administrators, security officers, defense and military personnel, legal professionals, bankers, security professionals and individuals focused on network security.

According to the IT Skills and Salary Report, 85% of professionals who have their CHFI certification have also earned their CEH.

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CISM – Certified Information Security Manager

This management-focused credential is aimed at professionals who build and manage an enterprise’s information security. CISM is an essential certification for individuals looking to make the move from security technologist to security manager.

CISM demonstrates a deep understanding of the relationship between information security programs and broader business goals and objectives. CISM-certified professionals have the ability to navigate complex security management issues that can severely impact organizational success.

CISM is associated with the second highest IT salaries in North America, with an annual average of $132,919. It’s the highest-paying cybersecurity certification in the 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report.

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CRISC – Certified in Risk and Information Systems

When it comes to risk management proficiency, CRISC is the truest evaluation there is. CRISC-certified professionals help organizations understand business risk, and possess the skills to implement, develop and maintain information systems controls.

CRISC-holders can be relied on to make effective risk-based decisions and prioritize areas that are most at risk.

CRISC is one of the most popular cybersecurity certifications—it’s fifth among the most held and sixth among the most pursued in 2019.

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CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor

CISA proves competency and experience in providing assurance that critical business assets are secured and available. Popular job roles for CISA-certified professionals are IT auditor, compliance manager, risk manager and CISO.

More respondents to our IT Skills and Salary Report have their CISA certification than any other ISACA credential. It’s the third most widely held certification in North America

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CGEIT – Certified in Governance of Enterprise IT

This certification is designed for those who manage, advise or provide assurance services around enterprise IT governance. CGEIT covers the basic framework for governance and strategic management (aligning the business and IT), making sure that IT investments are managed in an optimal way.

CGEIT-holders tend to be more tenured and are compensated well. Five years of experience is required in at least three of the five areas that the certification covers, including at least one year in the IT governance framework area.



CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional

CISSP is one of the five most popular IT certifications for 2019. CISSP is so highly regarded that it’s been referred to as a master’s degree for IT security.

CISSP validates years of cybersecurity experience. The exam covers eight domains:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Security Architecture and Engineering
  • Communications and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security

CISSP-certified employees are trusted to define the architecture, design, management and controls to enhance an organization’s security. There’s a lot riding on their success. Experienced security professionals are needed to protect valuable information, and CISSPs are often viewed as the best people to handle the job.

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CCSP – Certified Cloud Security Professional

(ISC)2’s cloud security credential validates deep understanding and hands-on experience with cloud security architecture, design, operations and service orchestration. If you’re looking to establish yourself as your organization’s authority on cloud security, this is the certification for you.

This credential also shows off a level of versatility, as it demonstrates an expertise in a variety of cloud platforms.

Candidates must have a minimum of five years of full-time IT experience, with at least three in security. Those who have already earned their CISSP can substitute the CCSP experience requirement.

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Juniper Networks


JNCIS-SEC – Juniper Networks Certified Internet Specialist

This certification, designed for experienced networking professionals, demonstrates expertise with Juniper Networks security technology. Gain hands-on experience configuring the Junos OS and monitoring device operations of Junos security devices.

Network architects, security architects and network administrators are likely to pursue this certification.

JNCIS-SEC is also a prerequisite for those seeking more advanced Juniper security skills with the Juniper Networks Certified Internet Professional (JNCIP-SEC) certification.

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Palo Alto Networks


PCNSE – Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer

IT professionals with their PCNSE have the skills to protect their networks from cyber threats. This credential validates the ability to design, deploy, configure, maintain and troubleshoot Palo Alto Networks firewalls.

The PCNSE exam covers the following topics:

  • Plan
  • Deploy and Configure
  • Operate
  • Configuration Troubleshooting
  • Core Concepts

In addition to security engineers, this certification is ideal for penetration testers, security administrators and network engineers.

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SNSA – SonicWall Network Security Administrator

The SNSA corroborates familiarity and expertise in SonicWall network security technologies. It validates the skills to successfully implement and configure SonicWall firewall appliances and security services.

This certification is recommended for networking professionals responsible for daily operation of one or more security appliances.

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Related resources



1. Cybersecurity Skills Shortage Soars, Nearing 3 Million, (ISC)2, Oct. 18, 2018.