How to Choose the Right Security-Related Certifications

By Lawrence C. Miller, Peter H. Gregory

Regularly, technology and security professionals ask which certifications they should earn next. Your decision depends on where you are now and where you want your career to go. There is no single “right” certification for everyone — determining which certification you should seek is a very individual thing.

When considering other certifications, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where am I in my career right now? Are you more focused on technology, policy, operations, development, or management?
  • Where do I want my career to go in the future? If (for example) you’re stuck in operations but you want to be focusing on policy, let that goal be your guide.
  • What qualifications for certifications do I possess right now? Some people tackle certifications based on the skills they already possess, and they use those newly earned certifications to climb the career ladder.
  • What do I need to do in my career to earn more qualifications? You need to consider not only what certifications you may be qualified to earn right now, but also what experience you must develop in order to earn future certifications.

If you’re honest with yourself, answering these questions should help you discern what certifications are right for you. Take time every few years to do some long-term career planning; most people will find that the answers to the questions listed here will change.

You might even find that one or more of the certifications you have no longer reflect your career direction. If so, give yourself permission to let those certifications lapse. No sense hanging on to old certifications that no longer exhibit (or help you attain) your career objectives.