Cyber Security Certification Path

If you’re looking for a way to demonstrate your cyber security skills to potential employers, then a cyber security certificate may be an option. Cyber security certifications are typically awarded by highly-regarded industry associations, and  show that the holder has a high level of competence with a particular skill.

But certifications are more than just a nice-to-have thing, they can be a useful tool in advancing your career, not to mention a boost to your self-confidence. A certification on your resume communicates your abilities in a specific area to potential employers and may encourage them to take a closer look at you as a job candidate.

The process of studying for a certification exam can also help reinforce many of the concepts you already know and introduce you to new information that you can utilize in a cyber security career.

In this article, you'll learn about cyber security certifications, why they’re important and how to prepare yourself to pursue them as we explore the following sections:

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Do I Need Advanced Cyber Security Qualifications or Certifications?

A cyber security certification can help you prepare to pursue certain entry-level positions in the cyber security field, but more advanced certifications may help you work toward a promotion or move to a different employer. Keep in mind that some jobs in the cyber security field may require applicants to have particular certifications before they can be considered for a position.

Pursuing an advanced certification can also be a useful tool to  help you continue your learning journey for its own sake as you progress through your career. But whatever your personal goals, some of the cyber security certification exams that you may consider pursuing include:

  • CompTIA A+: A certification that speaks to your ability to perform basic IT tasks. Areas covered include networking, hardware, troubleshooting, operating systems and network tests.

  • CompTIA Cloud+: A certification that demonstrates your capability to perform cloud computing tasks. It primarily covers your ability to set up, manage and troubleshoot cloud computing systems.

  • CompTIA LINUX+: A certification that shows that you are capable of utilizing the Linux operating system. It mostly touches on how this operating system interacts with devices.

  • CompTIA NETWORK +: A certification designed to prove your knowledge of emerging technologies such as cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT).

  • CompTIA PenTest+: A cyber security focused certification that verifies a person's ability to test systems by using techniques similar to those a cybercriminal might employ.

  • CompTIA Security+: This is a cyber security certification that proves your ability to perform basic cyber security defense tasks such as testing the strength of a network and system construction capabilities.

  • EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker: Similar to the PenTest+ certification, this credential certifies the holder as an ethical hacker. Ethical hacking is typically used to test system security.

  • EC Council Certified Network Defender: This cyber security certification is the defensive counterpart to the EC Council's Ethical Hacker credential. It proves your ability to set up secure networks and systems. It is one of the more important certifications that a cyber security professional can earn.

Combining one or more of the above certifications with a cyber security-focused degree or undergraduate certificate may increase your chances of standing out to employers by showcasing your collective knowledge and comprehension of the field.

What Can I do to get Ready for a Cyber Security Certification Exam?

While there is no one-size fits-all approach to preparing for a cyber security certification exam. You may want to experiment with a variety of strategies such as diligent studying, taking practice exams or taking  a course.

If you’re just beginning your cyber security education, earning a cyber security certificate through an undergraduate certificate program can help you familiarize yourself with some of the basics of cyber security.

An undergraduate certificate is a non-degree credential that is earned through a program that is shorter and would typically take less time to complete than a full-length degree. However, these kinds of programs cover many of the same basics that one might find in a cyber security associate degree or bachelor's degree program, but with fewer general education course requirements. This makes an undergraduate certificate an excellent choice for anyone who wants to earn a credential and build their skills quickly before entering the workforce.

Earning a certificate can be useful when looking for entry-level opportunities in the cyber security and information technology fields, but it can also be a foundational credential to build on as well, especially if you’re looking to advance your education. At DeVry, our online Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security can help you build your hands-on experience and gain qualifying credits that can apply toward an associate or bachelor's degree1 in a related field, should you continue your education with us.

Do I Need Hands-on Training to Get a Job in Cyber Security?

Hands-on cyber security training can be beneficial for those looking to find a job in the field. This style of training reinforces concepts learned in the classroom and helps prepare you to adapt to the modern workplace. Hands-on learning may also help you more thoroughly grasp many of the concepts that are covered by cyber security certification exams.

You can pursue hands-on learning through several different methods including work experience or education. While you can get hands-on experience in the field, some cyber security programs, such as our Associate Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking or our Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Cyber Security, offer hands-on learning methods built into their curriculum, and teach students through simulations of real-world problems.

Hands-on experience can also help you choose which cyber security certification you want to pursue. If you’re interested in getting hands-on learning before deciding on a cyber security certification, our Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security program includes several hands-on learning opportunities. For instance, our course on network security testing includes a lab element where you'll have the chance to test the security of a real network. Plus, our course on ethical hacking gives you the opportunity to explore and execute ethical hacking programs the way you might in the field.

Do I Need Experience to Go into Cyber Security?

Previous experience in cyber security is certainly useful, but you may not necessarily need an IT background to find an entry-level position. The minimum application requirements for a cyber security job will vary, depending on the employer and the level of the position itself.

Do I Need to be Able to Program before Pursuing a Qualification in Cyber Security?

No, you do not need to be able to program before pursuing a many lower level cyber security certifications. However a program like DeVry’s Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security explores foundational programming elements needed to help you start pursuing higher level industry certifications.

Still, many cyber security jobs require candidates to have competency across a few basic programming languages. Understanding these languages is not only important for finding employment, but also needed to protect customer data. Those looking to pursue a career in cyber security may enroll in a programming essentials course if they so choose.

Build Your Foundation in Cyber Security at DeVry

DeVry's Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security can help you to build your competency and prepare to pursue higher level certifications. This program also stacks with our Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and Networking with a Specialization in Cyber Security1, should you choose to continue your education with us.

Cyber Security Certifications for Beginners

When you earn a cyber security certification, you need to pass a standardized exam. As you begin your preparation, it might help to familiarize yourself with a variety of cyber security concepts. An education is just one way to do that.

Our Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security was designed to help you develop many of the skills that are covered in various cyber security certification exams. 

Some of the courses you'll take as a part of this program include:

  • Introduction to Technology and Information Systems
  • Introduction to Operating Systems
  • Introduction to Programming
  • Introduction to Digital Devices
  • Fundamentals of Information Security
  • Fundamentals of Infrastructure Security
  • Ethical Hacking
  • Principles and Theory of Security Management
  • Network Security Testing with Lab

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in cyber security and want to learn more about the field and the industry’s certifications, check out our article on how to get into cyber security.

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1At the time of application to the next credential level, an evaluation of qualifying transfer credit will occur and the most beneficial outcome will be applied.