Cybersecurity Certifications: What to Know

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Category: Value of Education

By Matt Rowley
Posted on

If you're interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career, you're probably aware of how much of a growing industry it is. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of information security analysts is projected to increase by 35% between 2021 and 2031.

As the industry continues to expand, so do the specialized areas. One of the ways you can advance your career in cybersecurity is to obtain certifications. In this article, we explore four of the most common cybersecurity certifications for beginners and seasoned professionals.

Cybersecurity Certifications

While many cybersecurity professionals have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, employers also seek candidates who have professional certifications. Hundreds of certification programs are available, including vendor-specific, entry-level, and advanced.

Before you enroll in any type of cybersecurity certification program, you should determine which one will be the best fit for your career goals. Here are four of the most popular certification programs.


The CISSP certification – which stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional – is offered by (ISC)² and considered one of the premier certifications across the globe for cybersecurity. The CISSP was the most popular certification in a 2021 survey of cybersecurity professionals conducted by Statista, with 38% of the 4,753 respondents holding it.

Earning the CISSP states that you can design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program. The requirements include at least five years of full-time work experience in two of the eight domains the certification covers. If you don't have enough years of experience, you can instead become an Associate of (ISC)², setting yourself up to receive the CISSP once you’ve logged enough experience.


The Certified Information Systems Auditor designation offered by ISACA is world-renowned and signals that you are qualified to audit, control, monitor, and assess a company's business and information technology systems. To sit for the exam, you need at least five years of experience in information systems auditing, control, or security work. However, if you don't have the requisite number of years of experience, you can take the exam early and then wait until you meet the experience requirement.


Completing the Certified Information Security Manager program offered by ISACA certifies that you have expertise in program development and management, information security governance, risk management, and incident management. You need at least five years of experience working in professional information security management, and for many, it’s the next logical step after earning your CISA.

4. Security+

The entry-level Security+ certification offered by CompTIA is typically one of the first you'll complete in your cybersecurity certification path. It focuses on hands-on and practical skills in several sectors, such as cyberattacks, architecture and design, implementation, incident response, and compliance. To sit for this exam, there aren’t any formal requirements, but it's recommended that you have at least two years of experience in IT administration with a focus on security.

Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

To expand your knowledge, skills, and personal development, you may also want to consider a cybersecurity certificate program offered by an educational institution. Certificate programs are taught by qualified faculty members and typically require between 12 to 18 credit hours of undergraduate or graduate level coursework. Some of the courses you complete for a certificate may also count toward degree programs.

Here at Columbia Southern University, our Undergraduate Certificate in Cybersecurity requires a minimum of 12 semester hours and includes the following four courses:

  1. Cybersecurity and Crime: This course introduces you to different types of security fraud, breaches, crime, and other network penetrations. You learn about the legal impacts of these crimes.
  2. Principles of Digital Forensics: Once you complete this course, you'll know how to perform digital information gathering and know the legal repercussions of electronic crimes.
  3. Security Application Development: In this course, you begin the initial phase of creating applications while also documenting the security procedures. You gain information on how to secure applications, databases and networks.
  4. IS Disaster Recovery: The coursework for this class includes business continuity documentation for possible operational recovery. You garner information about disaster recovery for information security environments.


Certifications and certificates give you an edge when looking for advancement in your cybersecurity career, but job seekers can also improve their knowledge and their resumes by earning an academic degree.

Here at Columbia Southern University, our online cybersecurity degree programs help students gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by professionals working in the field today. CSU degree programs in cybersecurity are available at the associate and bachelor’s degree levels, and the bachelor’s degree program also includes an Accelerated Path* option and a homeland security concentration.

To learn more about all of our online degree program options in information systems and cybersecurity, visit our website.

Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.

*Eligibility rules apply.