With the increasing threat of cybercrimes and attacks around the world, it is understandable why the demand for various IT security certifications is increasing right along with it year after year. Among the extensive list of certifications available, quite few IT professionals have decided to take the path toward obtaining their Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification (CISSP certification) or the Certified Ethical Hacker certification (CEH certification.)
Which path is more valuable than the other? If you are interested in exploring either of these career paths, here are some points that you should consider when it comes to calculating which is the most lucrative path.
Should You Become a CEH?
What exactly does a Certified Ethical Hacker do in the first place? As a CEH, you will essentially be a certified hacker. This educational path allows you to learn everything you need to know about the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of targeted IT infrastructures and systems. You will basically use the same resources, tool and acquired knowledge that malicious hackers use to cause data breaches and other cybercrimes. It is essentially as if you use an IT criminal mind to stop IT criminals in their tracks before they can successfully compromise a company’s data. The common approach is to get you to start thinking like a hacker in order to effectively stop actual hackers.
A solid foundation in IT knowledge is imperative to successfully obtain this particular certification. It is not required to have existing technical knowledge, but that type of foundation would be very helpful. For instance, it would be much easier for a current systems administrator or server manager to obtain his or her CEH certification based on the cornerstones of their existing knowledge and skillset.
Should You Become a CISSP?
If you are not interested in becoming a certified hacker, you could explore the path that leads toward obtaining a CISSP certification instead. To become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, you are essentially agreeing to become professionally governed by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium – which is a globally recognized organization.
The examination that candidates are required to pass to obtain this particular certification is much more challenging than you might think. However, the nature of the actual certification is very broad and can be applied to a vast number of job opportunities and career paths within the expanding workforce of IT security positions. Chances are that if you want to apply for any high-level IT security job that entails some aspect of management responsibilities and duties, it will be a requirement (or a high preference) for you to pursue or already have a certification as a CISSP.
Short-Term vs Long-Term IT Career Goals
The value of your chosen IT professional or selected career path should be primarily based on the longevity of your vision. Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? What are your short-term and long-term goals in this industry? Some people are only interested in the short-term scale – perhaps using additional IT security certifications to boost their marketability and value within their existing line of work.
On the other hand, there are more ambitious IT professionals that want to unlock new career opportunities (or even business opportunities) with this type of certification. Which certification you decide to choose between CISSP and CEH paths should be based on your short-term and long-term goals as well as your overall motive for obtaining this type of education and training in the first place.
Knowledge and Experience are Vital
In addition to the knowledge, you must also have the experience – especially if you want to lock the high-level, high-paying job opportunities that exist within the realm of IT security. Having the credentials and documentation from passed examinations is a huge first step. However, it is imperative for you to realize that it is not the only step. Prospective employers want to know more than just your educational history and list of acquired certifications. A prospective employer will want to examine your level of experience and acquired knowledge as well.
This is why it is best to consider entry-level IT opportunities that will allow you to get your foot in the door – especially if you have limited experience within this particular industry. Taking that first step will properly introduce you to the IT workforce, but also allow your name to start circulating among like minded professionals for networking purposes.
Follow the Path of High Demand
As mentioned earlier, the wonderful world of IT security jobs is based on a foundation of high demand and low supply. The demand for IT professionals is at an all-time high, but the available “supply” of certified professionals is much lower than you might think – especially when it comes to the number of IT professionals with the high-level IT security certifications needed to generate quality results.
What exactly are the most in-demand fields of IT securities that are looking for entry, mid and high-level IT professionals? Studies have shown that the following fields are your most viable options to consider at the top of your list:
Mobile security and access management
IT audits and preventative strategy development
Big Data and data analytics reporting/management
Penetration/breach testing and certified hacking
Either the CEH or CISSP certification could potentially make a big impact in the IT fields listed above. However, as mentioned above, you need to make sure that you have the knowledge, training, skillset and experience to accompany the selected certification.
The Bottom Line: Which is More Valuable?
Which certification is more valuable – CISSP or CEH? The bottom line is that either path – a CEH certification or CISSP certification – is a valuable option that can possibly lead to lucrative career and business opportunities. The value of the certification comes from the person who is using it. How you decide to use the knowledge that you have acquired along the way, the skills you have mastered and the experience that you have gained will determine the short-term and long-term value that you obtain from your certification.