If you are new to the cyber security field, you have probably heard many people and job postings mention certifications. But there are so many IT and cyber security certifications out there. Let’s take a look at the best cyber security certifications for beginners.
With the serious demand for qualified cyber security professions, it may be time for you to get certified. Here are 7 beginner cyber security certifications that will help launch your career.
Without a doubt, the Security+ is one of the most popular entry level cyber security certifications. We have covered just how important the Security+ is in numerous blog articles and these all can be seen under our Security+ blog category.
The Security+ provides the student with a great foundation of cyber security topics. The certification is “a mile wide and an inch deep” but when you’re just getting into the field, that’s exactly what you need! Having the Security+ on your resume will help it get noticed and will help land you that cyber security job!
If you are interested in taking the Security+, we have created the ultimate guide for you. Our guide covers strategies to pass the Security+ on your first attempt, the best security+ study material, common questions, and at the end we layout a success timeline to help you stay on track.
The Security+ has no prerequisites. If you are brand new to IT and Security, we recommend that you take the Network+ or the A+ first depending on your level of comfort with the material.
The Network+ is another foundational exam that is provided by CompTIA. If you are a beginner to IT and cyber security this is one of the first certifications we recommend.
While there are no prerequisites for the Security+, we recommend taking the Network+ first. Having a solid understanding of networking will make the Security+ a lot easier.
The Network+ covers basic computer networking concepts, such as routers, switches, and common protocols. The Network+ also touches some security concepts, such as cyber-attacks and systems hardening concepts.
If you can’t decide whether you should take the Network+ or the Security+, check out our comparison of these entry level CompTIA certifications.
As with the Security+, the Network+ has no prerequisites. If you are brand new to IT and Security, we recommend that you take the CompTIA A+ first.
GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
GIAC is one of the most reputable and high-quality certification providers out there. I am currently pursuing the GDAT that is provided by them. SANS training is not cheap but it is absolutely worth the money with the information that you learn and the weight that these certifications hold.
The GSEC is a 400-level sans course (SEC401). Sans courses range from 300-level to 600-level in difficulty. You may ask, “should I take the 300 level sans course?” We recommend jumping into the GSEC certification instead of going for the lower level GIAC Information Security Fundamentals (GISF) because these certifications are not cheap and the GSEC will hold the best value for you.
The SANS GSEC is an ideal entry-level certification and it does not have any prerequisites. The best way to prepare for this exam is to take the accompanying SANS 401 course.
ElearnSecurity Junior Penetration Tester (eJPT)
The eJPT may be a surprise on this list for many. ELearnSecurity is a certification/training company that is steadily gaining traction in the market. Whenever a new company or new certification hits the market, there is usually a large time gap until the recruiters understand and trust the company and the certifications they provide.
What is the eJPT? The eJPT is a 100% hands-on certification on penetration testing and information security essentials. Instead of answering multiple-choice on exams like the Pentest+ and the CEH, the eJPT is purely hands-on and aims to replicate a real-world scenario.
eJPT Knowledge Domains:
- Good knowledge of TCP/IP
- Good knowledge of IP routing
- Good knowledge of LAN protocols and devices
- Good knowledge of HTTP and web techologies
- Essential penetration testing processes and methodologies
- Basic Vulnerability Assessment of Networks
- Basic Vulnerability Assessment of Web Applications
- Exploitation with Metasploit
- Simple Web application Manual exploitation
- Basic Information Gathering and Reconnaissance
- Simple Scanning and Profiling the target
What is the eJPT Exam Like?
The eJPT exam is hosted in Hera Lab, this lab environment mimics a real works network with realistic targets. Test takers will be provided VPN access and that’s all they need!
Who Should Take the eJPT?
If you are looking to transition into penetration testing and want a more practical exam than the Pentest+ or the CEH, then the eJPT is the right exam for you. The eJPT serves as a great introductory exam to the OSCP, or the other more advanced certifications that ELearnSecurity offers.
Does The eJPT Have Any Prerequisites?
Anyone can attempt the eJPT exam! We do recommend that you consider these skills that ELearnSecurity has announced are relevant to the exam.
- Deep understanding of networking concepts
- Simple manual web application security assessment and exploitation
- Performing basic vulnerability assessment of networks
- Using Metasploit for performing simple attacks
- Web application Manual exploitation, by using common attack vectors
- Ability to perform protocol analysis of a traffic capture
- Understanding of information gathering techniques
- Understanding of the penetration testing process
ISC2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
The (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) is an entry-level information security certification. It serves as the ideal precursor for the highly sought after Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
According to ISC2 the SSCP certification demonstrates you have the advanced technical skills and knowledge to implement, monitor, and administer IT infrastructure using security best practices, policies, and procedures established by the cybersecurity experts at (ISC)².
There are some experience requirements for the SSCP. Candidates must have a minimum of one-year cumulative paid work experience in one or more of the seven domains of the SSCP CBK. Work experience must fall within one of the following domains.
- Domain 1. Access Controls
- Domain 2. Security Operations and Administration
- Domain 3. Risk identification, Monitoring, and Analysis
- Domain 4. Incident Response and Recovery
- Domain 5. Cryptography
- Domain 6. Network and Communications Security
- Domain 7. Systems and Application Security
Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate
According to Cisco, The Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate certification validates your skills and knowledge in security concepts, security monitoring, host-based analysis, network intrusion analysis, and security policies and procedures.
This is ideal for those who are looking to get into a Security Operations Center (SOC) position.
CCNA Certified CyberOps Associate Prerequisites
There are no prerequisites for the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate but we do recommend that you review the exam blueprint before taking on this exam.
Certified Ethical Hacker
The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a popular entry-level penetration testing certification. The average salary of a Certified Ethical Hacker is $71,331. Having the CEH will help your resume get read, and will help you get your first job as a penetration tester.
We have an in-depth analysis of whether the CEH is worth it, but we will provide some of the main points here.
The CEH certification will open you up to many lucrative job positions. Below are some of the roles you can get into with a CEH and the corresponding salaries provided by Infosecinstitute.com
- Information security analyst: $70,721
- Penetration tester: $80,334
- Information security manager: $108,352
- Security engineer: $88,062
- Cyber security analyst: $74,360
- Information security engineer: $91,075
While the CEH is a great certification, we really only recommend taking it if the specific job you are applying for is looking for CEH certified candidates. While there are a lot of employers seeking certified ethical hackers, the certification itself isn’t the best bang for your buck considering the alternatives.
Do you need the A+, Network+, and Security+?
The A+, Network+, and Security+ are without a doubt the most popular, entry-level CompTIA exams. Many people ask whether they need all three or if they can get a smaller subset of these exams for a career in cyber security. Check out our article which will help you decide which exams are right for you given your unique situation.
Out of all 7 of these certifications, which is the best for beginners to start out with?
Out of all of the certifications that we cover in this article, we recommend that most beginners start with the Security+. If you want more Security+ content, we have an entire Security+ blog category on our site devoted to just that.
Hopefully, through reading this article, you have identified the perfect certification for you to pursue. We have covered many of these exams in separate, more in-depth blog posts.
If you want more, you can check our Certifications category, this is where we post all the most recent information and updates to our certification content. Best of luck in your certification journey!