Cybersecurity training is important for those who wish to pursue a career in cyber security. Whether you are transitioning from another technology field or just completed your undergraduate studies, you can select from numerous types of training programs. This article will cover the various types of training programs including cybersecurity courses, cybersecurity certification programs, cybersecurity bootcamps, and cyber security degrees.

Cyber Security Certification Programs

Are cybersecurity certification programs and courses worth it? Many ask this question when considering the next steps towards a career in cybersecurity. The answer is not as simple as one might think, but in general, these certifications are valuable in a cybersecurity career, but you also need to gain the relevant experience to complement your certifications in order to strengthen your case as a job applicant.

Having a cybersecurity certification can set you apart from other candidates competing for the same position. Certification takes time and persistence; therefore, holding a certificate is an indication to employers that you are committed to a career in cyber or information security.

Most employers also hold these certifications in high esteem, especially if the certificate is tied to relevant cyber security skills required for a given role such as ethical hacking or cyber crime. Employers such as the Department of Defense value candidates who have pursued accredited certifications when applying for jobs in the federal government.

Obtaining a certification can often place you in a better position to negotiate a salary increase or a promotion certification. Another advantage of earning a cybersecurity certificate is the flexibility these programs offer to full-time cyber security professionals. With more accredited institutions creating online courses you can likely pursue a certification, bachelor's, or [graduate degree](/programs/no-gre/) without the need to travel to the institution or change your working schedule.

Types of Cybersecurity Certifications

Cybersecurity professionals have diverse training options including pursuing an academic degree, certification, or cybersecurity boot camp. The best choice of training option depends on personal preferences, skill levels, and career goals.

Cybersecurity certifications come in different varieties, from those designed for beginners to those designed for [advanced professionals](/programs/graduate-certificate-in-cyber-security/). In other cases, the certifications may be themed depending on different areas of cybersecurity.

The common types of cybersecurity certifications include:

  • Network security

  • Cyber threats and security

  • Cyber investigations and forensics

  • Governance and compliance

  • Cloud privacy and security

A network security certification demonstrates that you have the skills and knowledge that you need to become an effective professional in network and cybersecurity. A network security certification communicates that you are qualified to help businesses and organizations set policies and processes to protect their computer systems.

Information security professionals can pursue one of many certifications from different institutions and education providers to gain the relevant skills and knowledge to help you get started or advance in your cybersecurity career. For instance, cyber security certifications allow you to work with data, which can position you as an ideal candidate to help businesses with marketing analytics by analyzing data and developing strategies to grow a business.

Some of these network security certifications include:

  • Network+ is an entry-level certification from CompTIA. The certification introduces you to the key areas of network security, network management, network maintenance, and the design and deployment of functional networks.

  • Security+ is a network security certification by CompTIA targeted at entry-level cybersecurity professionals. The certification introduces you to the basics of cryptography, threat identification, and working with network components.

Other cybersecurity certifications you can explore, include:

  • Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate Certification, which trains security operations personnel the skills necessary for detecting and responding to cyber threats. The certification covers security concepts, security policies and procedures, network intrusion analysis, security monitoring, and host-based analysis.

  • (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner Certification provides advanced knowledge of security best practices and technical skills that cybersecurity professionals require to perform their duties. The certification covers topics such as security operations and administration, incident response and recovery, cryptography, and systems and application security.

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

  • Certified Information Security Manager

Cyber Security Degree Programs

As more businesses recognize the need for protecting their systems and data, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has grown. In response, universities and other learning institutions are creating programs that provide the necessary education and training to prepare students for a career in cybersecurity.

As academic institutions create these programs, accreditation bodies have come together to develop standards for these programs to ensure that students who enroll in these cyber security training programs are ready to handle their responsibilities in the cybersecurity industry.

The National Security Agency, the National Centers for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) are among the institutions that evaluate and accredit different programs that meet high standards.

Schools that offer cybersecurity programs also seek accreditation from these bodies to gain authority and a reputation for offering high-quality education that meets high professional standards. Programs that are CAE-accredited for example, meet standards that prepare cybersecurity professionals to work within the United States government.

Whether or not it is required to obtain an undergraduate degree to work as a cybersecurity professional is a question with no definitive answer. In most cases, the skills, network, and personal aptitude you possess are more important than the undergraduate degree you hold. Reputation of your undergraduate institution is likely always a factor but that is for a separate article.

However, due to the sensitive nature of an organization's systems and networks, companies are more inclined to hire professionals with at least a bachelor's degree. Advancing to higher cybersecurity positions requires additional training and preferably, a master's degree or reputable certifications that show you meet the educational requirements.

Having these certifications, even without a degree, communicates to potential employers that you are actively building your skills and knowledge.

Best Online Cybersecurity Training Programs

Thanks to the Internet, venture capitalists, and education technology innovators, it is now possible to learn cybersecurity through various training programs from academic institutions, professional bodies, cybersecurity software providers and consultancies, and even cybersecurity professionals who manage their own online cyber security courses. In 2021, it is now possible to access traditional training programs such 100% online or as in-person and online hybrid experiences. Cyber security bachelor's degree, cybersecurity certifications, free and paid courses, and even cybersecurity bootcamp offerings are available to students around the World.

Online cybersecurity programs allow you to learn at your own pace and convenience. Learning cybersecurity skills online can work well if you are looking to master specific skills, for instance, penetration testing or cyber attack prevention. If online cybersecurity training is the right path for you, we recommend that you pick a focus area based on your interests or current skill sets. Previous certifications such as a data mining certificate could lead you to a career in digital forensics or security analysis where you work with data to identify cybersecurity threats or vulnerabilities.

Once you narrow down your subjects or skills of interest, you can begin to explore different online cybersecurity training options. Picking the best certifications or courses should not be a complicated process though it can be tricky to identify schools with a strong reputation. Start by seeking out accredited institutions and ask their staff about graduation outcomes and reputation with organizations such as Better Business Bureau.

To get you started in finding the best cybersecurity courses and certifications for you, we've curated a few training programs to consider adding to your list:

  • Radford University in Virginia offers the IMPACT program targeted towards working professionals and allows learners to pace themselves throughout the program. Their IMPACT program meets the standards of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

  • Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania offers a certificate in digital forensics making it ideal for people who want to learn cybersecurity and work with the federal government. The program is MSCHE-accredited and prepares you for licensing as a digital forensic examiner in most states.

  • The University of Colorado offers a Cybersecurity Training for Business course which is designed to equip learners with practical skills in computer security, threat identification, and mitigation of cyber risks. The program, which is hosted on Coursera, includes four courses; introduction to cybersecurity for business, detecting and mitigating cyber threats and attacks, cyber threats and attack vectors, and proactive computer security.

  • New York University (Tandon School of Engineering) offers a cybersecurity certification designed to equip learners with skills they will need in their cybersecurity profession.

  • IBM hosts a Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera.

  • University of Maryland (College Park) hosts a Cybersecurity Certificate Program on Coursera.

Final word

Cybersecurity is a growing field, which the BLS projects will grow at a faster rate compared to other information technology and computer science sectors. Careers are also rewarding given the increasing importance of protecting data and networks. If you are looking to grow in this career path, then training and certifications go a long way in demonstrating your skill and knowledge in different areas of cybersecurity.

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