The Best Information Security Certifications for Practitioners

August 28, 2018 by Mahwish Khan

The information technology (IT) and cybersecurity fields are a great choice for those whose assets lie within technology but are not seeking a typical desk job where it’s all routine all day. There are some IT careers that hold a more managerial focus, but the practitioners those managers delegate are the individuals working hands-on with equipment and directly applying the technicalities they’ve learned thus far.

Rewarding IT jobs that will keep you on the move include:

  • IT field technician
  • Network administrator
  • IT consultant
  • IT auditor

Does this lifestyle sound good to you? Those seeking a career as a security practitioner should have an academic background including a high school diploma and bachelor’s or associate degree in information technology or a related field. However, a college education alone will be less likely to land you the job you want. Relevant experience within the IT domain is always sought after when companies are considering candidates for this career, but possessing such experience still places you in conjunction with many other hopefuls wishing for the same career path.

Where individuals get ahead of the curve is by acquiring every post-secondary IT certification they can find. There are many beneficial information security-related certifications; however, there are a select few that are particularly valuable to those who wish to explore the more hands-on side of security. Nearly 50% of information security professionals see a raise in salary after acquiring relevant certifications in less than a year.

CompTIA Security+

The first certification you should consider pursuing while beginning your IT career is the CompTIA Security+ certification. It’s great for establishing a baseline of skills to perform core functions within an IT security-related job. Unlike most colleges’ structure, the CompTIA Security+ certification will allow you to exercise hands-on practical skills that will expand on what you’ve learned from other schooling.

Recommended Experience

CompTIA Network+ and two years of experience in a related field


  • 90 or fewer questions
  • 90 minutes to complete
  • Multiple-choice and performance-based
  • 750 out of 900 points to pass
  • $330 USD


CompTIA offers study guides, exam prep material, and classroom training available through their website. For a more in-depth approach, online boot camps such as InfoSec Institute provide more assurance and structure than more traditional means of preparation.

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP)

The CASP certification by CompTIA is catered toward cybersecurity practitioners and does not dwell on topics important to those working at a management level. While there is a number of certifications valuable to an IT manager, the CASP certification increases one’s ability to implement solutions for managers’ policies and frameworks.

Topics you will gain mastery of upon completion of the CASP program include risk management, research and collaboration and the integration of enterprise security.

Recommended Experience

  • 10 years of experience in InfoTech administration (5 years of hands-on security experience)


  • 90 questions
  • 2 hours, 5 minutes to complete
  • Pass/Fail (60%)
  • $439 USD


CompTIA offers a free trial of their CertMaster learning program, supplementary ebooks and classroom training.

ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

If your niche in cybersecurity is within audit control and assurance, becoming CISA-certified will give you a great advantage in your career. It is a globally-recognized achievement that proves you have an expert level of competence in the auditing field. Developing a network of professionals with the addition of the knowledge and skills emphasized in the course will take you to the next level and allow you to achieve your aspirations.


  • Adhere to ISACA Code of Ethics
  • Adhere to ISACA Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Program
  • Work at least 5 years within the IT auditing field


  • 4 hours to complete
  • Multiple choice
  • 150 questions
  • Score 450 points out of an 800-point scale
  • $575-760, depending on whether you are an ISACA member


First, familiarize yourself with the exam structure and important details by reading the ISACA Exam Candidate Information Guide. The ISACA also shares other study materials such as an online review course and instructor-led training courses online.

If you prefer studying with more structure and peace of mind, consider InfoSec Institute’s Award-Winning CISA Boot Camp that leads the industry with a 95% pass rate and an exam pass guarantee.

(ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The CISSP certification is a versatile achievement that can be used to display exemplary performance on the operations side of information security that will benefit both practitioners and managers. CISSP-certified individuals are faster at responding to threats and have a deeper understanding of the technicalities of information security.

This education path is perfect for network architects, consultants, analysts and engineers. Many top CISOs are CISSP certificate holders. The network of CISSP-certified professionals receives the second-highest average salary in information security, behind the CISM certification.


  • Minimum three years paid full-time work experience, within two of the eight domains in the CISSP (Asset Security, Security Architecture and Engineering, Security and Risk Management, Identity and Access Management, Software Development Security, Communication and Network Security, Security Assessment and Training, Security Operations).
    • Note: A four-year college degree or other CISSP-approved credential (CAEIAE degree or (ISC)2-approved certification such as CompTIA Security+, CISA, or MCSE titles) fulfills up to one year of required experience but cannot be combined for more than one hour
  • Acquire an endorsement from a practicing (ISC)2 credential holder.
  • Adhere to the (ISC)2 Code of Ethics.
  • Acquire 120 continuing professional education credits within three years. 80 credits must be Type A credits


  • 3 Hours
  • 100-150 questions
  • Multiple choice and advanced questions
  • 700 out of 1000 points to pass
  • $700 USD


The(ISC)2 offers a fair amount of self-study tools such as a downloadable study guide that covers the contents of the exam and practice tests, but for those that prefer a more engaging way to prepare that is broken down into lessons to ensure you have properly allotted your time before test day, be sure to check out InfoSec Institute’s CISSP Training Bootcamp.

(ISC)2 Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

Cloud security is only becoming more widespread, which consequently leads to more challenges in keeping those systems secure. Having the skill to stay current on new threats can be learned and proven by acquiring the CCSP certification. You will be taught everything from cloud security design to architecture, service orchestration and operations.


  • Adhere to the (ISC)2 Code of Ethics
  • Five years’ working experience in a relevant field, of which three years must be in IT and one encompassing the CCSP Common Body of Knowledge


  • 4 hours to complete
  • 125 questions
  • Multiple choice and advanced questions
  • Score 700 out of 1000 points
  • $549 USD


Much like the CISSP and most of the (ISC)2 courses, self-study tools can be found in the (ISC)2) website, but InfoSec Institute also offers a course for the for those that prefer a more engaging way of preparation that is broken down into lessons.

(ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

The SSCP is a great certification to consider acquiring if you work hands-on with IT infrastructure. It is geared toward operational IT roles or those still building experience within the information security realm that want to expand their skills.

Becoming an SSCP certificate holder shows potential employers that you’re serious about your career and are well-versed in the protection of the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data.

Required Experience

  • One year of paid work experience in a related field OR cybersecurity degree


  • 3 hours to complete
  • 125 questions
  • Multiple Choice
  • Must score 700 out of 1000 points
  • $250 USD


The (ISC)2 self-study tools are available for any (ISC)2 certification, and specific to the SSCP, they offer an official study guide available for purchase.

Accelerate Your Career

While post-secondary certifications are an excellent way to expand your knowledge within your trade and move up in your career, it is important to be able to differentiate between what certifications prove most valuable to practitioners and which are geared more toward management.

No matter the certification you are trying to achieve, InfoSec Institute has a boot camp specifically catering to your needs. If you need more information before you decide to become a certain certificate holder, check out our other blog posts to learn more about information security exams, as varying topics on the subject.


CompTIA Security+, CompTIA

5 Hands-On IT Jobs That Won’t Break Your Back, Rasmussen


Posted: August 28, 2018
Articles Author
Mahwish Khan
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Mahwish Khan is a Pharm-D graduate from The University of Faisalabad. She is experienced in technical writing. She currently works for a university as a technical trainer and documentation specialist. In the past, she has taught university writing courses and worked in two university writing centers, both as a consultant and administrator.

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