Thursday, June 30, 2016

Are Security Certifications Useful?

This was the subject line of an email that landed in my Inbox yesterday.

“Are you ready to take your career to new heights?”

Below this subject line was an advertisement suggesting that picking up certifications from the organization that sent the email would be the way to drive a cybersecurity career to new heights.

I wish I could agree with everything that passes by me but I don’t agree at all with the subject of the email I received. Yes, I have a point of view because I work with employers every day who tell me what they want, need and expect in a candidate they're willing to pay a search fee to acquire.

Are Security Certifications Useful for Career Growth?

Certifications are absolutely useful if a person first has a strategic plan for their career growth and the appropriate skills and experience to back up a certification. 

If a person’s passion is hands-on engineering or architecture work, they should consider acquiring the most technical certifications available to complement and validate their hands-on technical skills and experience.

If a person’s strategic plan for career growth points to becoming a CISO or CSO in the future, there are a few certifications that might add value to one’s professional portfolio.  

Since the business is asking for security professionals who understand risk management and business drivers, earning the right MBA could be far more valuable than stacking up additional certifications.

There is not a one size fits all answer to this question.  The answer is as unique as you are.

Many times, I’ve spoken with hiring decision makers who have asked me to deliver candidates who have certifications because they want to see that the candidates I’m delivering are serious about security as a profession. So from a personal packaging and marketing standpoint, a couple of the right kind of certifications based on your personal strategic career plan makes a lot of sense.

Does Everyone Agree With Me?

Absolutely, positively not! Over the years, I’ve encountered many security professionals on both the cyber and physical sides of the security discussion who present arguments against certification.  When I encounter these people, the battle I could have with them is a battle I’ve chosen to not fight.

What’s The Answer?

At any moment, anyone can go to any job board where they’ll find the kinds of jobs that represent the next step in their career.  

Pay attention to the kind of education and the kinds of credentials employers are asking for in the candidates they wish to meet.  

Knowing what the business values and what the business is willing to pay for is always the best answer and you can get it for free.

Jeff Snyder's,, Security Recruiter Blog, 7190.686.8810's Security Recruiter Blog