Cybersecurity Certifications: In-Depth

To much reading? Check out my shorter version here!

Introduction:

Cybersecurity certifications debated about their worth in the industry. One side of the argument is that they do not actually prove that you can do the day to day security operations once to pass the exam. The other side of the case is that the certifications are an adequate form of representing one’s own skill within the narrow scope the exam covers. However, I take a middle-ground approach. I think cybersecurity certifications are a great resume supplement to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about cybersecurity concepts, regulations, and operational skills that are demanded within a business environment.

Less is More:

Overloading your resume with certifications could backfire. The possibility that you are framing yourself to appear knowledgeable over a vast expanse of different concepts could result in your competition in getting hired. Now that is not to say that you shouldn’t obtain certifications if you want to transition into another domain given that you already have certifications for your current position. My essential point is to not apply for a cybersecurity position with cloud computing, infrastructure management, or other certifications that might not relate to the cybersecurity position you are attempting to land.

All about Studying:

The certifications you desire to get will depend on your experience level and willingness to study for the exam. For example, if you are just starting out to the whole IT/Cybersecurity world, then you may want to look for certifications such as the A+, Network+, or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), to start your career. Alternatively, if your experience is mid-level, then you may want to pursue higher-level certifications such as Security+, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), or GIAC cybersecurity certifications, to advance your current career. Lastly, if you want to exceed mid-level cybersecurity certifications, it would be wise to tackle the Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+), PenTest+, Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+), or a concentration in the CISSP security certification. All the certifications mentioned above can act as a catalyst for career growth, but you will need to put time and effort into them to pass the exam.

Research Exam Structure:

The exams range from many different time limits and number of questions. Be sure to find out what the exact amount of time you have on the exam and prepare around that time limit to ensure you answer all the questions to the best of your ability. Additionally, be sure to notate the various type of questions that may appear on the exam. To find this out, look at the exam objective that is usually posted with the exam. Most certification organizations give the objectives as a roadmap for individuals to study. Studying is the key factor to determine whether you will pass or fail an exam. The amount of studying will depend on your current working knowledge of the material. Be honest with yourself about this because these certifications are not cheap. They range from around $200 to $700 per exam. Failing the exam will result in you not getting a certification and at a loss of X amount of dollars. In short, I would over study for the exam if money is a bit of a concern. However, if money is no issue, then study until you feel confident enough in your ability.

Finding Study Material:

Your ability is reflected in your knowledge of the concepts revealed within the exam. The exam will cover many different topics that will test your capacity to understand cybersecurity concepts. It is best to start early, in terms of studying, to ensure that you pass the first time. Many free online study guides can help you with the exams. Additionally, there are excellent study guides that cost money. The study guides that cost money also offer practice exams and helpful tips and tricks. Use all the resources you can get your hands on to deepen your knowledge on the subject as much as possible.

Good Study Habits:

Practice good study habits to ensure that you are not overloaded with information and thus are fatigued when it is time to the exam. Get plenty of sleep the night before the exam and eat a balanced breakfast to get your gears turning. Create various flashcards on concepts that you are struggling with to take with you before the exam starts. Show up 15 to 20 minutes early to study the flashcards or other studying material. Take a deep breath. Then take the exam. Good luck!

Check out my other blogs on how to start a career in cybersecurity here!

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