Which Certifications Are Most Important for Cyber Security, IT, & IS jobs? By Andrew Aken, Ph.D

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This week’s opinion piece is written by Andrew Aken, Ph.D., who is a Senior Security, Systems & Infrastructure consultant. With 15 plus years of experience in executive leadership and consulting.

I frequently get asked which certifications are the most beneficial for finding employment in Cyber Security, Information Technology, and Information Systems careers (not necessarily in those words, but with that intent). I have previously done a lot of research into what skills employers are looking for. I had intended to use this research to also identify which certifications were most important in these fields. So, over the past few weeks, I have worked to extract that information from the data I had previously collected.

Since 2007, I have been scraping job ads looking for Computer Science, Management Information Systems, and Information Technology graduates. I then extracted the skills and certifications listed in the job ads (as well as other data) for subsequent analysis.

Of the 4.6 million job ads collected, almost 700K job ads had specific certifications listed in the job description. This table shows the top 25 relative percentages of those certifications within the job ads that had specified any certifications. Unfortunately, some of the certification names and acronyms had multiple meanings and had to be pulled from the analysis results if the alternative meaning was more frequently representing the non-IT certification (e.g., CIA, HAD, CST, etc.).

It was no surprise to me that the certification mentioned most frequently was CISSP. What was surprising to me was the size of the gap between CISSP and the next most frequently mentioned technical certification. Also, the 2nd most frequently mentioned certification is CPA (considering the job ads being analyzed were only those looking for computing degrees). A number of vendor-specific certifications continue to be sought after (MCSE, CCNA, CCNP, CCIE, MCP, MCSA, MCSD, CCDP, MCDBA, CCSP, & RHCE - way to go, Red Hat!). Of course, most of the vendor-neutral certifications relate to cybersecurity (CISSP, CISA, CISM, Security+, CEH, GSEC, SSCP, & GCIH). Of course, PMP certification still maintains prominence in the list. And, although many may consider it superfluous, the CompTIA A+ certification is still in some demand.

An interesting side note is that although the specific certifications included in the analysis only appeared in 15% of the total number of job ads analyzed. The term "certification" appeared in over 18% of all of the job ads collected and almost 24% of the job ads collected in just the last 2 years. This may indicate that certification of any kind is very important and is significantly increasing in importance.

If you're interested in the current skills analysis, you can find that information at http://www.dogs-it.org.

Like this opinion piece? Check out a recent podcast with Andrew right here!

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