Top 11 IT Security Engineer Certifications
This article provides an overview of the top certifications for IT security engineers and covers the benefits of each certification.
Published 18 min read
Certifications are important for IT security engineers in the job market because they demonstrate to potential employers that an individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job. Additionally, certifications provide assurance that an engineer has a certain level of expertise in the IT security field, which can give employers confidence in their abilities to protect their systems and data. Certifications also show potential employers that an engineer is committed to staying up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. Finally, certifications can sometimes be used as a way for engineers to differentiate themselves from other applicants when competing for a job.
This article reviews some of the top certifications for IT Security Engineers and explains how they can help advance an IT Security Engineer's career.
What are IT Security Engineer Certifications?
IT security engineer certification is a certification program designed to certify individuals who have the knowledge and skills necessary to design and implement secure computer systems. The certification typically requires passing an exam that covers topics such as network security, application security, cryptography, risk management, identity and access management, and other related topics.
The goal of IT security engineer certification is to ensure that those who are certified have the skills to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or use. This includes ensuring that systems are configured properly to prevent unauthorized access, monitoring systems for potential vulnerabilities, responding appropriately when security incidents occur, and more. By obtaining this certification, individuals demonstrate their competency in these areas and show employers that they are committed to protecting the company’s data.
Additionally, having IT security engineer certification can help individuals stand out from the competition when applying for jobs or contracts requiring knowledge of secure system design and implementation. It can also help them negotiate higher salaries as employers may be willing to pay more for employees with this type of specialized knowledge and experience. Finally, it can provide a sense of professional satisfaction by demonstrating mastery of an important field within IT security.
Pro Tip: Before pursuing a security engineer certification, make sure to research the requirements and any prerequisites that may be necessary for successful completion. Additionally, it is important to understand the scope of the material covered in the exam and develop a study plan that covers all topics adequately.
Related: What does an IT Security Engineer do?
Top 11 IT Security Engineer Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to IT Security Engineers today.
1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is an internationally recognized certification that validates a professional’s expertise in information security. It is a globally recognized standard of achievement that demonstrates knowledge and experience in designing, implementing, and managing a best-in-class cybersecurity program. The CISSP certification is administered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2.
The CISSP exam consists of 250 multiple choice questions covering 8 domains of information security:
1. Security and Risk Management
2. Asset Security
3. Security Architecture and Engineering
4. Communications and Network Security
5. Identity and Access Management
6. Security Assessment and Testing
7. Security Operations
8. Software Development Security
Candidates must have a minimum of 5 years of cumulative paid full-time work experience in two or more of these domains to be eligible for the exam. Candidates can also substitute one year of additional experience with a college degree or an approved credential from an accredited institution such as the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC).
The CISSP exam takes approximately 6 hours to complete, but it varies depending on the individual’s speed and comprehension level. The cost for the exam varies by region, but typically ranges between $699-$799 USD depending on where you take the exam.
2. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a professional certification offered by the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council). It is designed to help IT professionals identify and mitigate security risks in their networks. The CEH credential is recognized worldwide as the standard for ethical hacking.
The CEH program consists of five days of instruction and hands-on training, followed by an exam. The course covers topics such as network scanning, system hacking, cryptography, malware threats, and more. Upon completion of the course, participants are eligible to take the exam and become certified.
To get certified as a CEH, you must first complete the five-day training program. The cost of the training varies depending on your location and provider; however, it typically ranges from $1,500 to $3,000. After completing the course, you can register for the exam through EC-Council’s website. The cost of the exam is $500 USD.
Once you have passed the exam with a score of 70% or higher, you will be awarded your CEH certification. You will also receive a certificate and wallet card that will serve as proof that you are an officially certified ethical hacker.
3. CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized certification program that validates an individual’s skills and knowledge in the areas of network security, compliance, operational security, threats and vulnerabilities. It is designed to help IT professionals demonstrate their competency in these areas and validate their expertise in the field.
The Security+ certification exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within 90 minutes. The exam covers topics such as network security, cryptography, access control, authentication, disaster recovery and more. To pass the exam, candidates must score a minimum of 750 on a scale from 100-900.
To obtain the CompTIA Security+ certification, individuals must first take and pass the Security+ exam. The cost of the exam varies depending on location but typically ranges from $250 to $350 USD. Additionally, some organizations may require additional training or certifications before taking the exam; this will vary depending on your employer’s requirements.
Once an individual has passed the exam they will receive their official CompTIA Security+ certification which is valid for three years from the date of issue. After three years have passed, individuals must retake and pass the Security+ exam to maintain their certification status.
4. GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC) is a certification program from the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) that validates a professional’s knowledge and skills in information security. It is an entry-level certification for those who are new to the field of information security, or for those who want to demonstrate their knowledge of the basics.
The GSEC exam consists of 125 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as network security, cryptography, system administration, risk management, and incident response. The exam takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken online or at a testing center.
To become certified, you must pass the GSEC exam with a score of 74% or higher. You can register for the exam on GIAC's website and pay the fee of $1,599 USD.
Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your certificate via email within two weeks after passing. The certification is valid for four years from the date of passing.
5. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) is a certification offered by ISACA, an international professional association focused on IT governance. The CISM certification is designed for experienced information security professionals and recognizes their knowledge, experience, and competency in managing enterprise information security.
To get the CISM certification, candidates must have at least five years of cumulative paid work experience in information security management within the past 10 years. Candidates must also pass a four-hour exam that covers topics such as information security governance, risk management and compliance, incident management and response, and disaster recovery planning.
The cost of the CISM exam varies depending on the country you are taking it in but typically ranges from $575 to $750 USD. Additionally, there is an annual fee of $45 to maintain your CISM certification.
6. Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) is a certification program offered by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) to demonstrate an individual’s expertise in cloud security. The CCSP credential is designed to help IT professionals and organizations protect their cloud-based applications, data, and infrastructure from cyber threats. It is one of the most sought-after certifications for cloud security professionals.
The CCSP exam covers topics such as risk management, identity and access management, secure software development, encryption and key management, incident response and forensics, compliance and audit requirements, cloud architecture design principles, and more. To become certified as a CCSP professional, you must pass the five-hour multiple-choice exam administered by the CSA.
It typically takes about two months to complete all of the required coursework for the CCSP certification. You can find training courses online or in person that will help you prepare for the exam. Most courses cost between $500 - $1,000 USD depending on the provider.
In order to take the CCSP exam you must have at least five years of experience in information technology with three years of direct information security experience within the past 10 years prior to taking the exam. Additionally, you must pay a fee of $599 USD when registering for the exam.
Once you have successfully passed your CCSP examination you will receive your official certificate from the CSA which is valid for three years before needing to be renewed.
7. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Security (MCSE:Security)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Security (MCSE:Security) is a certification program designed to validate the skills and knowledge of IT professionals who design, implement, and manage security solutions for Microsoft-based networks. The MCSE: Security certification requires candidates to demonstrate their ability to effectively protect network resources from malicious attacks and ensure compliance with industry standards.
The MCSE: Security certification requires candidates to pass four exams, which cover topics such as Windows Server 2016 security, identity management, threat protection, data access control, and more. The exams are available in both English and Japanese.
To get the MCSE: Security certification, you must first pass all four required exams. The exams can be taken at any authorized Microsoft testing center or online through the Microsoft Learning website. Each exam costs $165 USD per attempt.
The amount of time it takes to get the MCSE: Security certification depends on your experience level and how quickly you can study for and pass each exam. Generally speaking, it could take anywhere from two months to one year or more to complete all four exams and receive your certificate.
8. EC-Council Certified Secure Programmer (ECSP)
The ECSP certification program consists of an online course that takes approximately 8 hours to complete. The course covers topics such as secure coding principles and best practices, application security threats and vulnerabilities, secure coding techniques for different programming languages, and more. After completing the coursework and passing the final exam with a score of 70% or higher, the candidate will receive their ECSP certification.
To obtain the ECSP certification, candidates must first register for the online course through EC-Council's website. The cost of the online course is $299 USD which includes access to all course materials as well as a voucher for taking the final exam. Once registered for the online course and after successfully completing it with a score of 70% or higher on the final exam, candidates will be awarded their ECSP certification from EC-Council.
9. ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is an internationally recognized certification that validates the expertise of IT professionals in the field of information systems auditing, control, and security. It is designed to assess a professional’s ability to audit, control, and monitor an organization’s information systems.
The CISA certification is offered by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), a global non-profit organization that provides education and guidance on information systems auditing, control, and security. The CISA exam tests a candidate's knowledge of the five domains of IS audit: governance and management of IT; acquisition, development, implementation of IT; operations and maintenance of IT; protection of information assets; and business continuity/disaster recovery.
It typically takes about 6 months to prepare for the CISA exam. Candidates must have at least 5 years of professional experience in one or more of the five domains tested on the exam. This experience must be gained within 10 years prior to taking the exam.
To become certified as a CISA, candidates must pass an exam administered by ISACA. The cost varies depending on your country but usually ranges from $450-$600 USD for members ($750-$900 USD for non-members). After passing the exam, candidates must also agree to abide by ISACA’s Code of Professional Ethics and complete continuing professional education requirements in order to maintain their certification status.
10. Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA)
Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA) is a certification program designed to validate the skills and knowledge of IT professionals in the field of network security. It is offered by Check Point Software Technologies, a leading provider of enterprise-grade network security solutions.
The CCSA certification requires candidates to demonstrate their ability to install, configure, manage, and troubleshoot Check Point's security gateway products. Candidates must also have an understanding of networking protocols such as TCP/IP and be familiar with common security threats and best practices for mitigating those threats.
The CCSA certification exam takes 2 hours to complete and consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must score at least 70% on the exam in order to pass. The exam fee is $250 USD.
In order to become certified, candidates must first register for the CCSA certification program through Check Point's website. After registering, candidates can then purchase an Exam Voucher from Check Point or an authorized reseller. Once registered and with an Exam Voucher in hand, candidates can schedule their exam at a Pearson VUE testing center near them.
11. ISC2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP).
The Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) is a professional certification offered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated an understanding of information security concepts and best practices. The SSCP credential is intended for IT professionals who are responsible for implementing, monitoring, and managing security protocols in their organization.
The SSCP certification requires candidates to pass an exam that covers seven domains: Access Controls, Security Operations and Administration, Risk Identification, Analysis and Mitigation, Incident Response and Recovery, Cryptography, Network and Communications Security, and Systems and Application Security. Candidates must also demonstrate at least one year of relevant work experience or equivalent education in order to qualify for the certification.
It typically takes about three months of study time to prepare for the SSCP exam. Candidates should be familiar with topics such as risk management strategies, access control systems, cryptography principles, incident response procedures, network security technologies, and application security techniques. Additionally, they should have a solid understanding of industry-standard best practices related to these topics.
The cost of the SSCP exam varies depending on location but generally ranges from $400-$600 USD. Candidates can register for the exam through ISC2's website or through Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide. After passing the exam and meeting all other requirements for certification (including work experience), candidates will receive their official SSCP credential from ISC2.
Do You Really Need a IT Security Engineer Certificate?
The short answer to this question is yes. IT security engineer certificates are becoming increasingly important in the current job market due to the rapid growth of cybercrime and the need for organizations to protect their data and systems. Earning an IT security engineer certificate can provide additional expertise and knowledge that will help you stand out from other applicants in the job market.
Having a certificate in IT security engineering can also demonstrate your commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest developments in information technology, as well as your dedication to upholding best practices in protecting sensitive data. This demonstrates not only technical proficiency but also a dedication to ethical principles, which is highly valued by employers.
Earning an IT security engineer certificate also opens up more opportunities for professional development within a company or organization. Companies often look for employees who have received specialized training in areas such as auditing, cryptography, risk management, and incident response. Having certification demonstrates that you have taken the time and effort to acquire these skills and can be an invaluable asset when it comes time for promotions or new positions within the organization.
Finally, having a certificate in IT security engineering shows potential employers that you are serious about your career and have invested the time and energy necessary to become proficient in this field. It shows initiative and commitment on your part, making you more attractive as a candidate for any open positions related to IT security engineering.
In conclusion, earning an IT security engineer certificate is essential if you want to stand out from other candidates in today’s competitive job market. It demonstrates your commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest developments in information technology, as well as your dedication to ethical principles. Additionally, it provides more opportunities for professional development within a company or organization; plus it shows potential employers that you are serious about your career and have invested the necessary time and energy into becoming proficient in this field.
Related: IT Security Engineer Resume Examples
FAQs About IT Security Engineer Certifications
1. What certifications are available for IT security engineers?
Answer: Common certifications include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), CompTIA Security+, GIAC Security Essentials, and ISACA’s CISM and CRISC.
2. What is the difference between a certification and a degree in IT security engineering?
Answer: A certification is typically a short-term program that focuses on specific topics related to IT security engineering, while a degree is a longer-term program that covers the fundamentals of IT security engineering as well as more advanced topics.
3. How much does it cost to get certified in IT security engineering?
Answer: The cost of certifications can vary widely depending on the type of certification and provider, but they generally range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
4. How long does it take to become certified in IT security engineering?
Answer: The length of time required to obtain certification depends on the type of certification and provider, but most certifications require several months or even years of study and preparation before taking the exam.
5. What jobs can I get with an IT security engineer certification?
Answer: With an IT security engineer certification, you may be qualified for positions such as information systems auditor, network engineer, cyber-security analyst, or penetration tester.