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Interested in a Career in Cyber? Certifications Can Create Opportunities

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

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One of the strengths of Indiana is that we bring together a variety of perspectives from the plethora of areas that touch the field of cyber, especially through the colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education throughout our state. Hence the name, “Perspectives From The Campus Series”, we invite experts – immersed in the pursuit of educating their students – to offer their knowledge for finding solutions in cybersecurity that benefit all Hoosiers. 

In the latest installment of this series, David Dungan, who serves as the Executive Director at the Center for Security Services and Cyber Defense at Anderson University, discusses the significance of certifications in pursuing (or advancing in) a career in cybersecurity.

By David Dungan

Cybersecurity is one of the largest growing industries in the United States today. According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cybersecurity employment for positions like information security analysts is projected to grow by 32 percent by 2032.

Add to that, there are more than 570,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S.  If you’re wondering as to how that measures up, it’s important to recognize, in 2022, the demand for cybersecurity professionals grew at a rate that was twice as fast as the workforce.

After all, it could be said that we’ve gotten to a point – with technology and all of the cyber threats and incidents that we’ve experienced - you could say that there is not a staff, company, or industry that wouldn’t benefit by having an extra person or a team to protect its data and keep its critical systems safer and more secure.

Not only is cybersecurity offering great opportunities, but there are also many different pathways for finding a job in the field. And there’s one thing you can do – as a candidate – that’ll help you stand out – certifications.

Obtaining a certification is a great way to gain the skills, knowledge, and experience to advance your career. Many companies and organizations also prefer candidates who’ve completed a certification to validate the level of knowledge someone possesses about best practices.

When comparing prices and reputation of certifications, some of the most essential entry-level cybersecurity certifications include programs, such as: CompTIA Security+, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals, and ISACA Cybersecurity fundamentals.

  • CompTIA Security+-This is one of the most well-known entry-level certifications in the industry and is often a requirement or highly recommended asset for entry level jobs. The certification covers many topics such as network security and IT risk management.
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)- This certification focuses on network security. Topics covered include network access, IP services, automation, interpreting components of a routing table, and configuration source NAT using static and pools.
  • Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals- This certification is the most entry-level, yet still useful certification today. It is aimed at students and business users and helps grow baseline knowledge of a broad array of cybersecurity topics, focusing mostly on their use within Microsoft 365 and Azure environments.
  • ISACA Cybersecurity Fundamentals- This is another cybersecurity certification which builds on the entry-level niche for people wanting to get into cybersecurity. The certificate covers four cybersecurity related domains- threat landscape, information security fundamentals, securing access, and security operations and response.

In addition to the advantages that are gained by earning a degree in cybersecurity at a college or university, certifications are also available for job seekers, who are more experienced.

Overall, obtaining certifications in addition to a degree might seem like a daunting task, but taking the extra initiative to pick up these certifications will improve your knowledge of the field you’re working in, as well as your professional standing within the industry.

For more information about a career in cyber, visit the Indiana Cyber Hub, ISC2, or the NICCS Interactive Cybersecurity Career Map.