certification on laptop

Our previous blog series was an in-depth look into the world of the Certified Ethical Hacker and we highly recommend it for anyone with interest into diving into that world. Now our focus shifts to a series of articles that will compare different industry related certifications. Within the realm of cybersecurity, there are endless educational opportunities, this includes companies offering a variety of certifications. For this type of industry, having such a heavy emphasis on certifications makes a lot of sense. Depending on your particular field of interest, your expertise, and the skills developed along the way, the job different types of job opportunities available to you could be limitless.

This is the reason we have so many different types of certifications. When companies are looking to hire, they need to know the person they are hiring has the unique skills to do the foundational requirements for that particular job. Having a degree is a fantastic way to show your educational background around generalized cybersecurity concepts, but it won’t highlight your ability to handle those particular job skills. That’s why companies like CompTIA, EC-Council, ISACA, ISC2, and now even Google are creating certifications in this space. They have the ability to validate your foundational understanding of key concepts, which can help ensure you are ready to take on particular job responsibilities when stepping into those roles.

This is precisely why we have seen such a rise in the power of cybersecurity certifications. These incredible credentials have the ability to position you in the best possible spot to obtain that next step in the career you have been desiring. The big question becomes…which entry-level certification should I focus on?

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Table of Contents

  1. What is Considered an Entry-Level Certification? (jump to section)
  2. Which Cybersecurity Certification is Best? (jump to section)
  3. ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity (jump to section)
  4. Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate (jump to section)
  5. EC-Council Certified Cybersecurity Technician (jump to section)
  6. CompTIA Security+ (jump to section)
  7. Choosing the Right Certification (jump to section)
  8. Contact Phishbuster Academy (jump to section)

What is Considered an Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certification?

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An entry-level cybersecurity certification serves as a foundational credential for professionals entering the cybersecurity domain. These certifications validate essential skills and knowledge required to kickstart a career in the field. Typically designed for beginners, these certifications cover fundamental concepts such as network security, risk management, and incident response. These are normally utilized by organizations that are trying to hire someone with minimal experience in the cybersecurity realm, making their knowledge on these foundational concepts paramount.

These certifications provide a structured pathway for individuals with varying backgrounds to gain a solid understanding of cybersecurity principles. By obtaining an entry-level certification, candidates demonstrate their commitment to developing expertise in securing digital assets. Employers often view these certifications as indicators of a candidate’s capability to handle basic cybersecurity tasks, making them an essential steppingstone for those seeking to establish themselves in the cybersecurity landscape.

Which Cybersecurity Certification is Best?

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This question tends to be followed by vague answers, because it is highly based on situational career paths. Within the realm of cybersecurity, there are so many different types of job roles and career paths, creating a varying number of certifications to validate skills in those areas. So instead of asking yourself which certification is the best, the better question is to ask yourself what area of cybersecurity interests you the most? By answering that question, we can then dive into the different types of certifications to design a certification pathway to help you on your way.

This may not always be an easy route to figure out, as many times, you will learn what interests you as you gain more experience in the field. So to help with at least getting things moving, we are going to give you the pros and cons of the following entry-level cybersecurity certifications:

  • ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity
  • Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate
  • EC-Council Certified Cybersecurity Technician
  • CompTIA Security+

What is the ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity?

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What is it?

The ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity (ISC2 CCSP) stands as a pinnacle in the realm of cybersecurity certifications. Developed by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, this credential is a testament to one’s proficiency in a comprehensive array of cybersecurity domains. Covering vital aspects such as security and risk management, it not only serves as a validation of one’s expertise but also emphasizes the significance of ethical conduct in the cybersecurity profession. For professionals seeking a globally recognized certification that goes beyond technical skills, the ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity is a compelling choice.

What does the ISC2 CC Certification Cost?

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When exploring the costs associated with obtaining a cybersecurity certification, you have to break it down into three categories – preparation, exam voucher, and maintenance costs. Almost all certifications will have some sort of cost associated with preparation and taking the exam, some will require an ongoing fee to keep that certification. These costs go beyond the investment in time, which should be expected when trying to further your education in any arena. So, it’s extremely important to be informed on what to expect from an investment standpoint.

Currently, ISC2 is offering a program that would provide access to an online, self-paced program and the exam voucher for free. This can be a tough thing to pass up if you have the time to pursue this certification. There is no current timeframe that would suggest how long this will last. If you are the type of person who would like to explore an instructor-led course, they do offer those as well for $804. The final cost associated with this certification is their membership fee, which is an annual maintenance cost of $50.

Pros of the ISC2 CC

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Industry Recognition: ISC2 certifications, including the Certified in Cybersecurity, carry substantial weight in the cybersecurity community, earning recognition from employers globally. This recognition enhances professional credibility and can open doors to a variety of career opportunities. Few organizations within this industry are as well known as ISC2.

Comprehensive Body of Knowledge: The certification’s expansive coverage ensures that certified individuals have a deep understanding of crucial cybersecurity domains, equipping them with a holistic approach to tackling complex security challenges.

Professional Community: ISC2 fosters a robust professional community, connecting certified individuals worldwide. This network provides valuable opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and staying updated on the latest industry trends.

Cons of the ISC2 CC

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Maintenance Fees: Pursuing and maintaining an ISC2 certification comes with associated costs, including exam fees and annual maintenance fees. These financial considerations should be factored into the decision to pursue this certification. Unlike many other certifications on this list, the annual maintenance/membership fees is something to keep in mind when deciding which route you want to follow.

CPE Credits Requirement: To keep the certification active, professionals must earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. ISC2 is one of the few certification organizations that require these CPE credits in order to maintain an active certification status. This ongoing commitment to learning and skill development may be challenging for individuals with busy schedules.

Not an Ideal Starting Point: The ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity may not be the most suitable starting point for those new to the field, as it often requires a higher amount of work experience. Beginners may find other entry-level certifications more accessible if they are just starting out in cybersecurity.

What is the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate?

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security certificate

The Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate is a testament to Google’s commitment to fostering cybersecurity expertise. As a global tech leader, Google provides an accessible and practical entry point for individuals looking to embark on a cybersecurity journey. This certification, designed with both beginners and career-changers in mind, aligns with Google’s reputation for innovation and excellence in the tech industry.

What does the Google Cybersecurity Certification Cost?

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Whereas most certification organizations provide training options, or outsource to different independent training centers, Google took a different approach. Googles Cybersecurity Professional Certificate training is only offered by one company, Coursera. This company offers access to the course at a monthly rate of $49 each month. They have created an 8-course series that is aimed at preparing you for the CompTIA Security+ certification exam. Upon completing this series, you will be awarded the certificate and a direct path into preparing for your next certification course.

Although this sounds appealing, don’t let the simplicity of this approach fool you. This course is expected to take roughly 170 hours to complete. That time is just for instruction videos and activities, it doesn’t include additional study time needed for any areas that are more difficult. With a variety of important topics being covered, a very fair assessment is that it could take around 6 months to complete if you focused around 10-15 hours each week.

Pros of Google Cybersecurity Certificate

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Google Brand Recognition: Google’s name is obviously one of the most well-known brands on the face of the earth. This certification carries the weight of the Google brand, adding a significant layer of prestige to your credentials. Google’s recognition can enhance the credibility of certificate holders in the eyes of potential employers.

Practical Skills Development: One of the strengths of this program is its emphasis on hands-on, practical skills. Learners not only acquire theoretical knowledge but also gain the ability to apply cybersecurity principles in real-world scenarios.

Career Support: Google goes beyond the certification itself by providing additional career resources and support. This includes a job platform designed to connect certificate holders with potential employers, offering valuable opportunities for career advancement. This can be a game-changer for many professionals looking for a platform that can help jumpstart their career.

Cons of Google Cybersecurity Certificate

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Industry Recognition: While the Google brand is widely recognized, the industry recognition of this specific certificate may not be as universal as some established cybersecurity certifications. As employers lean on these certifications as reliable sources for vetting potential candidates, industry recognition is vital. Employers may prioritize certifications with broader industry acknowledgment, making this something to consider.

Focused on Google Tools: The curriculum’s emphasis on Google Cloud Platform tools and services may limit the scope of knowledge for individuals seeking a more comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity beyond Google’s ecosystem. For those wanting a career outside of this platform, having a neutral program that covers more vendors may be a better option.

No Exam Only Option: Unlike most certifications that offer a standalone exam option, completion of the entire course is required to earn the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate. This lack of flexibility in assessment methods may be a consideration for some learners. Additionally, whereas most certification companies have an array of partners that offer training options, this limits your study/preparation options to just one…the program offered by Google.

What is the Certified Cybersecurity Technician?

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EC-Council accredited training center

The EC-Council Certified Cybersecurity Technician (CCT) certification stands as a testament to the hands-on expertise required in the dynamic field of cybersecurity. Tailored for cybersecurity technicians, this certification provides specialized knowledge and skills essential for safeguarding systems and networks. With a focus on practical application, the CCT certification is designed to validate the real-world proficiency of cybersecurity professionals.

What does the CCT Certification Cost?

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EC-Council is an industry leader when it comes to designing their certifications. Their programs are highly focused on hands-on learning environments to help ensure the information is retained. In a previous article, we thoroughly covered the costs associated with obtaining the CCT certification. The blog dives deep into the different costs, training options, and can truly help analyze the cost vs value aspect of the certification.

The typical cost of just the exam voucher is $499, which tends to be on the higher end of certifications. Outside of that cost, the main thing to explore is your desired approach for preparation. You can get a book for roughly $99 to go the self-paced route, or you can look into instructor-led courses that can cost up to $2700. Although that may sound exceptionally expensive, that cost usually includes things like the exam voucher, hands-on labs, and practice exams. One last thing to consider, EC-Council is currently offering a program that will get you the exam voucher and access to e-courseware for $199.

Pros of the CCT

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Practical Skills Validation: The CCT certification places a strong emphasis on practical skills. This ensures that certified individuals possess the technical know-how to address cybersecurity challenges effectively in real-world scenarios. Making this an appealing certification for many new professionals.

Global Recognition: EC-Council certifications hold global recognition within the cybersecurity community. EC-Council is one of the most well-known brands around the world, and for good reason. This recognition enhances the credibility of certified professionals, facilitating opportunities for career advancement on a global scale.

Specialized Expertise: Tailored for cybersecurity technicians, the CCT certification provides a specialized focus on the skills and knowledge required for tasks related to system security, network security, and troubleshooting. Professionals with a desire to pursue this area of cybersecurity can rely on this certification as a great starting point in their career pathway.

Cons of the CCT

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Industry Recognition: Similar to the Google certification, the CCT falls short in industry recognition as a certification. While EC-Council certifications are well-regarded, some employers may prioritize more widely recognized certifications, potentially impacting the perceived value of the CCT in certain job markets.

Resource Intensive: EC-Council prides themselves on creating robust programs that dive deep into important domains. Their intensive approach puts you in a position to market your skills. But pursuing EC-Council certifications, including the CCT, may require a significant investment of time and financial resources for exam preparation and training.

Potential Overlap: Within cybersecurity, professionals are often pursuing varying certifications to fill their career needs as they need them. With the broad coverage of some of the CCT domains, professionals with a diverse range of certifications might find some overlap in the content of the CCT. This could limit its appeal for those seeking a broader skill set.

What is the Security+ Certification?

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Comp TIA authorized partner

CompTIA Security+ stands as a foundational pillar in the realm of cybersecurity certifications, offering a comprehensive and vendor-neutral approach. Recognized across industries, this certification caters to both aspiring cybersecurity professionals and seasoned experts. It is widely considered one of the most sought-after credentials in cybersecurity and has been used by organizations around the world to validate an employee’s ability to complete foundational cybersecurity job functions.

What Does the Security+ Certification Cost?

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Similar to the CCT certification, our article on the CompTIA Security+ certification cost provides a thorough analysis of the costs associated with this amazing program. Being one of the most well-known and sought-after certifications in the industry, there are numerous training options for this certification. Between free video courses, self-paced programs for under $1000, and a variety of bootcamp courses for those who prefer to work with an instructor that range between $1200 up to $2800, there is truly an option for almost every single person who desires this credential.

When approaching this certification, it’s important to do some research on what you are getting for your money. The exam voucher is $392, but outside of that there are labs, course materials, study materials, practice exams, and performance-based quizzes that you can utilize to help ensure you are fully prepared. While you explore different options, be sure to dive into all the tools that are available with the program chosen. Additionally, be cognizant of how long it will take you to prepare. Whereas a self-paced program could take up to 6 months, a bootcamp will have you ready in less than a week.

Pros of Security+

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Vendor-Neutral Certification: CompTIA Security+ is renowned for its vendor-neutral nature, making it versatile across diverse technology landscapes. This characteristic ensures that certified individuals are equipped with skills applicable across various platforms and systems.

Wide Industry Recognition: Security+ holds widespread recognition in the industry, serving as a key qualification for numerous cybersecurity roles. This broad acknowledgment enhances the employability and career prospects of certified professionals on a global scale. This is still one of the top recommended credentials listed on job openings.

Foundational Knowledge: Serving as a cornerstone, Security+ covers fundamental cybersecurity concepts, providing a robust foundation for individuals at the outset of their cybersecurity journey. This makes it an ideal starting point for those seeking to build a solid understanding of key security principles.

Cons of Security+

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choosing direction

Limited Specialization: While Security+ covers a broad spectrum of cybersecurity topics, its scope may be perceived as less specialized compared to more advanced certifications. Professionals seeking in-depth expertise in specific areas may find Security+ to be more generalist in nature.

Renewal Requirements: CompTIA certifications, including Security+, require periodic renewal by retaking the exam. Their certifications are usually reviewed/updated every 3-5 years, and once updated, they will end-date the previous version. This ongoing commitment, though essential for staying current, adds an additional layer of responsibility for certified professionals.

Theory Emphasis: Security+ places a notable emphasis on theoretical knowledge. While this theoretical foundation is valuable, some professionals may prefer certifications that provide a more hands-on and practical approach, particularly for those who learn best through real-world application.

Choosing the Right Cybersecurity Certification for You

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Navigating the diverse landscape of cybersecurity certifications requires a thoughtful consideration of personal and professional goals. As illustrated in our detailed comparison of CompTIA Security+, EC-Council CCT, Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate, and ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity, each certification offers unique advantages catering to specific needs. For those aspiring to specialize in Google Cloud security, the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate provides targeted expertise. If a broad, vendor-neutral foundation is the priority, CompTIA Security+ emerges as a solid choice, offering wide industry recognition and foundational knowledge.

Beyond the technical aspects, career goals play a pivotal role in selecting the right certification. Professionals seeking to delve into the intricacies of network defense may find the EC-Council CCT certification aligning with their aspirations. ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity, with its emphasis on ethical conduct and comprehensive body of knowledge, appeals to those aiming for leadership roles with a strong ethical foundation. It’s crucial for individuals to assess their current experience levels, desired career paths, and the industry’s demand for specific certifications when making this decision.

Ultimately, the best cybersecurity certification is the one that aligns with an individual’s career goals, personal interests, and the skills required by the industry. Whether it’s diving into the specifics of threat intelligence, focusing on a particular vendor’s technologies, or establishing a broad foundation, a well-informed decision ensures that the certification journey becomes a strategic investment in one’s professional growth. As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, choosing the right certification becomes your roadmap for navigating this exciting and ever-changing field.

Contact Phishbuster Academy

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Beyond our articles, the experts at Phishbuster Academy are here to help with any questions you may have. Whether it’s trying to find the first certification to kickstart your career, or one that can elevate you to new levels, we are here to assist. We also have numerous training opportunities coming up for those looking to take those next steps. You can reach our certified trainers from our contact page on our website or by calling 855-GO-PHISH.

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