Cybersecurity in the government is a highly essential practice that protects private information and data across various industries and organizations. Transportation systems, financial services, and the vast telecommunications industry all depend on cybersecurity and IT systems to protect and help carry out operational tasks. As these risks grow it is important to keep our nation's cybersecurity defense team certified and trained to keep up with these complicated tasks, which is why the DoD created the 8140 directives, which outlines baseline certification requirements for job roles and specialty areas. More information on the directive and each job role can be found here.
1. CompTIA Network + IAT Level I
The CompTIA Network+ certification will cover the very basic building blocks of cybersecurity and give a great introduction to networking if you have no prior experience. Network + certifies that candidates have the necessary skills to install, operate, and manage corporate networks. It can also help as stepping stone into cybersecurity careers or become part of the vast networking job roles that specialize in operations and supporting networks. The average salary of a Network + recipient was $65,000 in 2019, and jobs like network analysts, information technology specialists and network administrators use networking skills as part of their daily tasks.
This certification falls under the information assurance technician positions which are perfect for those who love the technical work. These positions often deal with sensitive data and ensure that all network systems are running smoothly and up to date. An IAT role is perfect for anyone who is making a career change into cybersecurity or for anyone who is looking to move up quickly within the industry.
- Networking Concepts
- Networking Infrastructure
- Network Operations
- Network Security
- Troubleshooting Networks and Tools
2. CompTIA Security+ IAT Level II and IAM Level I
If you're an IT professional hoping to progress in your career, then you know that the CompTIA Security+ exam is one of the most valuable certifications available. Since its introduction in 2002, over a quarter-million professionals have achieved Security+ certification, itself a springboard to other valuable certifications. This certification is extremely important as it can mark the start of your career in cybersecurity and help guide you into more complicated areas such as ethical hacking or penetration testing.
The Security+ certification is arguably the most popular certification on this list and will serve as the foundation for a solid cybersecurity career. This certification falls under the IAM I or the Information Assurance Management position and it can allow for all the opportunities a management position can offer.
- Threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities
- Technologies and tools
- Architecture and design
- Identity and access management
- Risk management
- Cryptography and PKI
3. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
The Certified Ethical Hacker certification focuses on penetration testing with a large focus on finding and deferring vulnerabilities within networks. Using white hat hacking, the CEH certification validates that candidates know how hackers think and operate. By knowing how hackers operate, cybersecurity professionals can reverse engineer hacking tactics for better cybersecurity processes.
The CEH falls under the CSSP or Cybersecurity Service Provider category of the DoD 8140 directive, which is then broken up into five different areas. Each area has a multitude of jobs and covers a wide array of tasks. Overall, CSSP’s operate on a much larger scale within a company, and they determine policy with senior management to ensure policies become reality.
- CSSP Analyst: Assesses risk and works with a heavy amount of data to determine if there are any vulnerabilities in an organization.
- CSSP Infrastructure Support: Dedicated to maintaining, creating, and designing infrastructure systems within an organization.
- CSSP Incident Responder: Works with ongoing cybersecurity threats as they occur and focuses on dealing with past, current, or present intrusion attempts while implementing countermeasures.
- CSSP Auditor: Works with the Risk Management Framework and focuses on detecting, characterizing, countering, and mitigating system vulnerabilities.
4. CompTIA CASP + IASAE I and IASAE II
The CompTIA CASP + or CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner is an advanced level certification that focuses on the technical aspect of the management sector. This certification focuses on helping those who wish to move up within the cybersecurity industry by validating that candidates understand how to operate in a management sense within an organization. While developing management skills the CompTIA CASP+ ensures that candidates are still sharp with their technical understanding of networks.
The CASP+ certification falls under the IASAE I and IASAE II categories and these positions are responsible for the design, development, and implementation of DoD architecture systems. Duties in this role can range from building networks to designing record systems and special purpose environments.
- Risk management
- Enterprise security architecture
- Enterprise security operations
- Technical integration of enterprise security
- Research, development, and collaboration
5. ISC(2) CISSP IAM Level II and IAM Level III
ISC(2) CISSP or Certified Information Systems Security Professional is considered the gold standard when it comes to cybersecurity certifications. This certification is recognized internationally, and just recently, it was given the equivalent status of a master’s degree in the U.K. Since this is an advanced certification, there are many pre-requisites; however, it is all worth it because this certification can help with promotions and salary raises down the line.
The CISSP takes a full management approach to cybersecurity and it validates that candidates can successfully lead and manage a team of cybersecurity professionals. This certification falls under the IAM levels as well, and it is arguably the most important certification on this list just because of the recognition it receives.
- Security and risk management
- Asset security
- Security architecture and engineering
- Communication and network security
- Identity and access management
- Security assessment and training
- Security operations
- Software development security
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