Professional development

7 top security certifications you should have in 2024

Graeme Messina
September 30, 2023 by
Graeme Messina

Navigating the branching pathways of the IT industry can be a daunting task. However, acquiring top cybersecurity certifications can significantly bolster your career trajectory. 

To help create your own training roadmap, we’ve curated a list of the best cyber certifications to aim for in 2024, ranging in skill levels from beginner to experienced professionals. Before we get into the details of each one, here is a snapshot of the certifications we will be discussing: 

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The value of these certifications was evaluated based on the following criteria: job outlook, salary outlook and, most importantly, popularity with employers doing the hiring (based on Infosec data).

Now, let’s look deeper at the seven top cybersecurity certifications you can earn in 2024 and what makes them the most sought-after in the industry. Hopefully, you’ll learn how to evaluate a certification program and find one that fits your career goals and skill set.

1. CompTIA Security+ 

The CompTIA Security+ certification was updated in November 2023 (the previous SY0-601 version will be retired in July 2024), and it serves as a baseline of knowledge for newcomers in the cybersecurity landscape. It is particularly beneficial for those with some IT experience who aim to carve out a career in the cybersecurity field. 

This security certification emphasizes foundational knowledge in dealing with cyber threats, leveraging technologies and tools effectively, and understanding security architecture and design. 

  • Prerequisites: None; however, CompTIA recommends a Network+ certification (or equivalent knowledge) and one to two years of experience working in an IT or security admin role.
  • Exam: Maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions over 90 minutes. The passing score is 750 on a scale of 100 to 900.
  • Exam cost: $392 registration fee (cost included in the Infosec boot camp).

Embarking on the Security+ certification journey can be a lucrative start to your cybersecurity certifications roadmap. It's also the most popular cybersecurity certification in the world, with well over 700,000 certification holders. It showcases your capabilities to potential employers, ensuring you have a competitive edge with demonstrable hands-on skills in security protocols. 

The certification paves the way for roles like Systems Administrator, Network Administrator or Information Security Analyst, one of the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. — with a median pay of $112,000. Security+ also meets ISO 17024 standards and the Department of Defense’s Directive 8570.01-M requirements, allowing candidates to land jobs supporting the DoD and government contractors. 

For more on the Security+ certification, view ourSecurity+ certification hub. 

2. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) 

This entry-level security certification emphasizes a practical approach to network security and threat management, preparing professionals for roles such as Security Analyst and Penetration Tester. It is one of the best penetration testing certifications for security professionals and a cornerstone of many cybersecurity certification roadmaps, particularly for those who want to get started in the offensive security side of cybersecurity.

  • Prerequisites: No experience is required if you attend an approved training like Infosec's CEH courses. However, the EC-Council requires two years of previous information security experience if you want to take the exam without approved training.
  • Exam: 125 multiple-choice questions with four hours to complete; the exact passing scores vary (from 65-85%) depending on the questions you get.
  • Exam cost: A voucher from the EC-Council costs $950. Vouchers from Pearson VUE vouchers cost $1,199 (cost is included in the Infosec boot camp).

The CEH certification is also a DoD-approved 8140/8570 certification. Salaries for CEH holders vary depending on the job role, location and industry, but the average CEH salary for 2024 is around $102,078.

For more on the EC-Council CEH certification, view our CEH certification hub. 

3. ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) 

The CISSP certification covers a broad range of cybersecurity domains such as security and risk management, asset security, security operations and software development security, offering an exhaustive curriculum for professionals seeking to bolster their credentials in the cybersecurity field. The exam was updated in April 2024; however, the changes were minor.

  • Prerequisites: CISSP requires five years of experience in two or more of the CISSP domains. However, some CISSP experience waivers are available.
  • Exam: 125 to 175 multiple-choice and advanced innovative items and up to four hours for the English CAT version; the passing score is 700 out of 1000 points.
  • Exam cost: $749 for the U.S. (cost included in the Infosec boot camp).

The CISSP is the most requested cybersecurity certification in job openings. This top cybersecurity certification can help open the door to more lucrative positions, with roles such as IT director, security manager or chief information security officer within their reach. The forecast for job growth in this sector indicates a promising surge of about 15% from 2022 to 2032, highlighting the ever-increasing demand for management professionals with this credential. 

Salaries in this segment are notably competitive, with an average U.S. salary of $140,131 for 2024. However, salaries can vary greatly depending on the job role. As the data on job listings indicates, the CISSP certification has become an easy way for hiring professionals to validate the experience and skills of the cybersecurity professionals they're evaluating. It also meets DOD 8570/8140 certification requirements.

For more on the CISSP certification, view our CISSP certification hub. 

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What should you learn next?

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4. ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) 

ISACA’s CISM certification is one of the best information security management certifications and a top cybersecurity certification, particularly for those eyeing managerial positions in the information security sector. The certification focuses on the organizational and governance sides of information security, enhancing your skills in information security governance, information risk management, information security program development and information security incident management. 

  • Prerequisites: To earn the CISM credential, you need five years of work experience in information security with at least three years in information security management in three or more job practice analysis areas. However, an experience waiver is available to cover a portion of the requirement.
  • Exam: The test contains 150 multiple-choice questions and you have up to four hours to complete. The score margin ranges from 200 to 800, with 450 being the passing mark. The exam covers four job practice areas, referred to as knowledge areas or domains. The examination is available online with remote proctoring or in person at a testing center.
  • Exam cost: $575 for ISACA members and $760 for non-ISACA members (cost included in the Infosec boot camp).

This security certification is common for those pursuing roles such as information security manager or security consultant. The salary prospects are attractive, with the average salary for CISM professionals of $129,000, but again, salaries can vary quite a bit depending on the industry and role. CISM is also DOD 8570/8140 approved.

For more on the CISM certification, view our CISM certification hub. 

5. ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) 

The CISA certification stands as a beacon of excellence in the IT audit domain, having established its authority and recognition in audit, control and assurance. The security certification highlights a professional’s ability to manage vulnerabilities, ensure compliance and institute controls within an enterprise. 

  • Prerequisites: To earn the CISA credential, you need five years of experience in auditing, control, security or assurance. Like the ISACA CISM certification, an experience waiver is available.
  • Exam: The 150-multiple-choice-question test takes four hours to complete. The score margin ranges from 200 to 800, with a 450 score being the exam's passing mark.
  • Exam cost: $575 for ISACA members and $760 for non-ISACA members (cost included in the Infosec boot camp).

After receiving this security certification, potential job positions include roles such as IT auditor, internal auditor, public accounting auditor and information risk analyst with an annual salary averaging around $106,233 in 2024. Of the certifications on the list, the CISA is the most aligned with the lucrative and in-demand career track in auditing, risk management and compliance. It also meets DOD 8570/8140 requirements.

For more on the CISA certification, view our CISA certification hub. 

6. ISC2 Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

Understanding cloud security is essential for a variety of roles, and ISC2’s CCSP certification assures employers that you have the advanced technical knowledge and skills to design, manage and secure data, applications and infrastructures in the cloud. Other vendor-specific cloud certifications focus on platforms like Microsoft Azure or AWS, but the CCSP is one of the best options to ensure a broad understanding of cloud security best practices.

  • Prerequisites: Candidates must have at least five years of full-time experience in IT, of which three years must be in information security and one year in one or more of the six domains of the CCSP CBK. Like the CISSP, an experience waiver is available to cover a portion of the requirement.
  • Exam: The 150-multiple-choice-question exam has a four-hour time limit. The passing grade is 700 out of 1000 points. 
  • Exam cost: $599 for the U.S. (cost included in the Infosec boot camp).

This certification helps candidates demonstrate proficiency in cloud architecture as well as day-to-day operations, application security considerations and much more. Over the past decade, cloud security has grown in importance, leading to a surge in popularity for the CCSP and other vendor-specific cloud certifications that support roles like cloud security engineer. With an average salary of $128,886, those looking for a role in a cloud-based environment will be well served with a CCSP certification. The certification also meets DOD 8570/8140 requirements.

For more on the CCSP certification, view our CCSP certification hub.

What should you learn next?

What should you learn next?

From SOC Analyst to Secure Coder to Security Manager — our team of experts has 12 free training plans to help you hit your goals. Get your free copy now.

7. CompTIA CASP+

The CompTIA Advanced Security Practioner (CASP+) certification is an excellent option for cybersecurity professionals who want to remain practitioners and not move into managerial roles. It's the culmination of the CompTIA cybersecurity career roadmap, which starts with the Security+ certification mentioned above and follows Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) and PenTest+, which cover cybersecurity's defensive and offensive sides.

  • Prerequisites: None; however, CompTIA recommends ten years of general hands-on IT experience, with at least five years of broad hands-on security experience.
  • Exam: Maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions over 165 minutes. Unlike other CompTIA exams, no scaled score is provided to exam takers, only if they pass or fail.
  • Exam cost: $494 registration fee (cost included in the Infosec boot camp).

As the capstone of CompTIA certifications, the CASP+ certification validates your advanced-level cybersecurity skills and can open doors to lucrative positions. Certification holders have a wide range of roles, from Enterprise Security Architect to Security Operations Manager to Information Assurance Analyst. Like all the certifications on this list, it also meets the DoD 8570/8140 certification requirements.

For more on the CASP+ certification, view ourCASP+ certification hub. 

Graeme Messina
Graeme Messina

Graeme is an IT professional with a special interest in computer forensics and computer security. When not building networks and researching the latest developments in network security, he can be found writing technical articles and blog posts at InfoSec Resources and elsewhere.