Security Professionals are in high demand in today’s IT world. When it comes to hiring, employers are increasingly looking for IT security certifications as an essential measurement of one’s excellence and commitment to the field. Here are India’s six top IT security certifications, along with their expected salary ranges and job designations.
This is the probably the most well-known, vendor-neutral, entry-level security certification one can have. Because it is from CompTIA, it’s widely accepted as the gold-standard entry-level cert for security pros. Although not required, two years of prior work experience in security is recommended. It’s also recommended that candidates have their Network+ certification from CompTIA+ before taking the exam.
Security+ certification holders have a solid foundation in cryptography, identity management, security systems, organizational systems, security risk identification and mitigation, network access control, and security infrastructure. Credentialed individuals are typically employed as security analysts, senior software engineers, Network security administrators and other security related position.
The Security+ exam is a single exam consisting of 90 multiple-choice questions (MCQs). Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the exam and a clearing score of 75 percent is required.
Credentialed individuals can expect, based on their experience and job position, to command a salary between 6 lakh and 20 lakh per year ($9,234 U.S. to $30,780 U.S.).
GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
Another popular entry-level security certification is from the SANS Institute. The holder of this certificate will possess essential knowledge and practical hands-on expertise in security roles. Areas of expertise include Wi-Fi protocols, preventing wireless attacks and access controls, network mapping and a host of other security aspects.
Although prior training isn’t required to sit for the exam, candidates may benefit from a boot camp to refresh their skills and knowledge. The exam is a brutal five hours in duration and consists of 180 MCQs. A clearing score is 73 percent. GSEC certification must be renewed every four years and candidates must accumulate 36 Continuing Professional Education credits (CPEs).
GSEC-certified individuals primarily work as information security managers, senior security analysts, Information security analysts, and in other similar positions. The expected annual salary range for GSEC certified holders is 6 lakh to 15 lakh ($9,234 U.S. to $23,100 U.S.).
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Individuals who claim this cert are also known as “White Hat Hackers.” The CEH is the most widely known and popular security certification in India, and the world. This certification is maintained by EC-Council. Certified individuals possess demonstrable knowledge of ethical hacking. Official certification is a must for individuals interested in pursuing a career in ethical hacking.
The requirements to earning a CEH certification can be fairly onerous — two years of work experience in the field of information security if one chooses not to attend an accredited training course. The exam consists of 125 MCQs with a clearing score of 70 percent.
CEH holders can expect to fill IT positions as penetration testers, ethical hackers, and information security specialists. On average CEH certified professional can expect to command salaries ranging from 3 to 15 lakh ($9,234 U.S. to $23,100 U.S.) per year.
Certified Penetration Testing Engineer (CPTE)
This internationally recognized security cert is administered by Mile2 and focuses primarily on penetration testing, enumeration, data forensics, data exploitations, and so forth. CPTE is considered one of the five core cybersecurity certs in the Industry, and is one of several information assurance certifications recognized by government information and security agencies in the United States.
Achieving this certification is no light matter. Candidates must prove proficiency and knowledge in penetration testing, data collection, scanning, enumeration, and exploitation and reporting. The CPTE exam has a duration of two hours and consists of 100 MCQs. Clearing the CPTE exam requires a score of 75 percent.
Certified individuals are qualified to work in a wide array of security positions: as penetration testing consultants, security analyst/consultants, security architect, chief information security officers, and security auditors. Annual salaries for current CPTE holders aren’t as high as for some of the other certifications, ranging from 1.5 to 10 lakh ($2,400 U.S. to $15,490 U.S.) depending on experience and position.
Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA Security)
If you want to work in network security, one of the best entry-level certifications you can have is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Security. This is one of India’s most popular network security certifications. CCNA Security holders are able to demonstrate knowledge in cryptography, VOPI security, IPS/IDS management, Firewall security, among other areas as well.
Candidates wishing to sit for the exam are required to have any valid Cisco CCENT, CCNA Routing and Switching, or any CCIE certification. The 640-554 IINS exam is being phased out as of November 30, 2015. Candidates will still be able to take the 210-260 IINS exam. If you are sitting for the 210-260 exam it is recommended that you complete training in Implementing Cisco Network Security (IINS). The CCNA Security exam consists of between 56 and 65 questions with a duration of 90 minutes. A clearing score of 85 percent is required.
Certificate holders are qualified to work as network administrators, network engineers, senior network engineers, and system administrators. The expected salary payout annually for the CCNA security holders is comparable to a CPTE: around 1.5 k to 10 lakh ($2,400 U.S. – $15,490 U.S.).
CISSP is the industry leader for advanced-level certification in the security field. The certification is offered by (ISC)2. CISSP is consistently rated as one of the top 10 security certifications in the Industry.
The cert is vendor-neutral and a perfect way for credential holders to demonstrate advanced technical and managerial skills and experience in security. What makes this cert so valuable, according to (ISC)2, is that it “draws from a comprehensive, up-to-date, global common body of knowledge that ensures security leaders have a deep knowledge and understanding of new threats, technologies, regulations, standards, and practices.”
CISSP is not in any way a quick and easy certification — prerequisites are demanding. Candidates must have five years of experience in at least two of (ISC)2‘s eight common body of knowledge (CBK) domains or four years of experience in at least two of the (ISC)2′s CBK domains and a four year college degree, or regional equivalent.
The certification exam tests competence in eight domains:
- Security and Risk Management
- Asset Security
- Security Engineering
- Communications and Network Security
- Identity and Access Management
- Security Assessment and Testing
- Security Operations
- Software Development Security
The exam is a brutally long six hours, and consists of 250 questions. The question formats include MCQ and drag-and-drop and hotspots. For more information on the question formats, click here.
CISSP professionals generally works as information security consultants, senior information security managers, architects and auditors. The annual starting salary, depending on experience and the positon, ranges from 10 to 35 lakhs ($15,490 U.S. to $54,000 U.S.).
Cybersecurity is on everyone’s minds lately. Clearly a career in this field offers lots of opportunity and financial reward. If you have the desire and ability to earn a security certification, you won’t regret it.