Technological innovations evolve at varying rates, with some thriving and expanding while others disappear. It can be difficult to predict which technologies will drive change in the future. One thing you can be sure of is the importance of change and adaptation in our increasingly dynamic lives.
The central place of the Internet in our world and the profound societal changes it has brought about have created an opportunity to reinvent all industries. Well-qualified people are essential to this process, as is the implementation of effective business practices.
However, companies and organizations in all industries that depend on employees with relevant IT and security skills are struggling to fill critical positions. This talent shortage is felt around the world, and governments, educational institutions and businesses are taking action to fill it.
Additionally, existing employees who have the discipline and willingness to learn new skills and who have acquired a good working knowledge of computers may find themselves at an advantage in the hiring process. Employers are looking to hire candidates ready for further development via professional certification or higher education to help fill this skills gap. (Also read: Into the Future: The Prospects for Tech Careers.)
If you’re an IT professional looking for a career change or promotion, consider earning a master’s degree in information technology. There are opportunities to hold specialist and senior management positions in the field of information security, such as SOC analysis of cybersecurity, InfoSec management, auditing and many others.
Browse current job postings and you’ll discover many similar roles. Take note of the qualifications required for each role; it is usually: Diploma, CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) or CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor).
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer and information technology fields are expected to grow at a rate of 11% over the next 10 years and the median salary is $91,250, nearly twice the annual salary for all professions.
Why is it important to have a security certificate?
In the world of cybersecurity, it’s not just what you know; it is How? ‘Or’ What you know. Organizations are increasingly using recruiting services to vet potential candidates before offering them a position, using automated processes to screen resumes and reject applicants without the appropriate qualifications. (Also read: Smart HR: How AI is transforming talent acquisition.)
Applicants with a strong academic background and relevant security certifications will be forwarded to hiring managers for further consideration. This ensures that companies can hire the most qualified personnel to fill their key positions, allowing them to maintain a competitive edge as they strive to become more secure in an ever-changing technological world always threatened by threat actors.
What is the difference between CISSP, CISM and CISA?
Each of these certifications is globally recognized and widely regarded as top-tier, with employers actively seeking potential candidates who have completed any of these three certifications. If you already work in a security-related field and have a burning desire to advance your career prospects, earning one of these three certifications will put you in a strong position to take your career to the next level.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional
The CISSP of (ISC)2 is one of the most respected benchmarks in information security and is often referred to as the Gold Standard in cybersecurity. CISSP is designed to provide information security professionals with a solid understanding of industry best practices and how to implement them.
Candidates taking the CISSP exam must have a minimum of five years of cumulative paid work experience in at least two of the eight areas of the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Completion of a four-year university degree, regional equivalent or additional credential will satisfy one year of required experience. Without the experience required to become a CISSP, passing the exam will certify you as an associate. The associate will then have a six-year window to acquire the required five years of work experience.
Certified Information Security Manager
ISACA’s CISM demonstrates proficiency in information security management with practical abilities. This certification is designed for experienced information security managers with the proven ability to design, implement and manage an information security program. CISM holders are well versed in risk identification, assessment, mitigation, policy development, management and regulatory compliance. A 2-year waiver is available if you have completed a CISSP, CISA, or graduate degree in information security or a related field.
Certified Information Systems Auditor
ISACA’s CISA demonstrates the ability to audit and manage information systems. This qualification covers internal controls, information systems, telecommunications and networks. However, CISA candidates should also be well versed in the cybersecurity side of things and understand how security affects overall business controls.
Similar to CISM requirements, a minimum of 5 years of professional experience in information systems auditing, control, or security is required for certification. According to ISACA, substitutions and waivers can be obtained for up to 3 years as follows:
- A maximum of one year of experience in information systems OR one year of experience in non-IS audit can be replaced by one year of experience.
- 60 to 120 completed college semester credit hours (equivalent to a 2- or 4-year degree) not limited by the previous 10-year restriction may be replaced by 1 or 2 years, respectively, of experience.
- A master’s degree in information security or information technology from an accredited university can replace a one-year experience.
How many should a person have, or is one enough?
Suppose you are thinking about how many certifications a person should have. In this case, it should be emphasized that the three certifications complement each other.
Candidates will often take the CISSP first, then CISM and CISA to deepen their understanding of information security.
Also, if you are an auditor with a surety, CISA would be an obvious certification. Similarly, CISM would be a great fit if you have practiced as a security analyst and want to move into a leadership role in information security management to support the organization’s business initiatives.
With technology always on the move, there is always something new to learn.
You can find candidates with a master’s degree in computer science and one or all three certifications discussed working in the roles listed:
- Chief Information Security Officer, Chief Information Officer, Director of Security, IT Director/Manager.
- Security systems engineer, security analyst, security manager, security auditor.
- Security Architect, Security Consultant, Network Architect.
What does obtaining a security certification entail?
There are several study paths to follow, each with advantages and disadvantages – find what works best for your lifestyle and situation. Obtaining any of these certifications requires regular, planned study time. That means setting aside time, turning off the television, and immersing yourself in the world of technology and academic study.
Remember, earning a security certification can earn you an above-average income and provide job stability and a rewarding career opportunity. (Also read: Top 5 highest paying IT certifications and how to get them.)
IT professionals who have earned one of these three certifications, along with a master’s degree in information technology, can use their education to set themselves apart from the competition.
Earning your MSIT degree online at the University of Cincinnati is a convenient option for IT professionals looking to advance their careers.
The program offers flexibility for working professionals with classes scheduled for evenings and weekends, and UC’s online learning environment provides students with a vibrant and interactive community.
Learn more about the UC Online experience and what you can expect from a UC Online course.
Special thanks to UC student Daniel Glover for his help and ideas for this article!