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The Value of Certifications

August 21, 2020

Certifications are important in our industry. Research - like Fortinet’s cybersecurity skills survey - has shown that certifications add significant, career-impacting value for both practitioners and employers. Here are a few of the key reasons to get certified:

Job Security. Fortinet’s research revealed that 82% of cybersecurity organizations prefer to hire candidates with certifications. If you’re hoping to find a new role, that means that acquiring the right certifications could be what gets your foot in the door at almost any enterprise. Having the cert on your resume is a signal to HR teams and hiring managers that you have the skills needed for a specific job.

But not only do certifications help you get the job - they also play an important role in helping you keep the job and continuing to progress in your career. More than half of the survey’s respondents believe that their certifications helped them perform their duties more effectively and with confidence, and many also attribute them to faster career growth. Certifications provide you with the assurance that your knowledge and skills are up to par, which translates to being more effective and confident in your workplace – and increased productivity tends to get noticed and rewarded.

Enterprise Security. Keeping organizations secure is critically important, especially in today’s threat environment. We know that bad actors don’t decrease their efforts during a pandemic –in fact, they’ve increased. Certifications provide confirmation of the skills needed to combat breaches and mitigate threats to the enterprise. Research shows that 94% of cybersecurity practitioners believe that their certifications have better prepared them for their current role, allowing them to successfully protect their organization.

Margaret Kauska, a security officer for state government, says, “My GIAC certification and the necessary CPEs to maintain it keeps me current in security, which improves my employer’s security posture, as well as my personal security posture.” Each individual equipped with relevant skills on the front lines help keep our world safe.

Proven Abilities. Anyone can claim they have a certain ability or skill. But the only way to back up those assertions is to demonstrate proof. Certifications are that verification of skill. Especially in infosec, if you have a certification proving you’ve mastered a specific skillset, both employers and your industry peers know that you’ve got what it takes.

Hands-on practical testing, like GIAC’s CyberLive, takes this skill verification a step further.  Practical testing - testing in a virtual lab environment executing tasks found in specific job roles - confirms that you could walk into a new position at a new organization and get right to work on day one.

Personal Validation. Ultimately, one of the main motivations for getting certifications comes from within. Danny Akacki, an infosec practitioner at a cloud services company, says, "I don’t get certs to impress anyone else. I do it for me. The time I spend studying is to prove to myself I can do the thing that’s new and scary. I’ll get out of my defender comfort zone and conquer that fear of “What if I’m not good enough?”

Obtaining certifications helps overcome imposter syndrome by showing that you have what it takes. Setting goals to learn new skills and pass a certification exam can be a challenging and rewarding internal experience. Proving to yourself that you can master skills and conquer the exam creates a sense of purpose and personal satisfaction. When you succeed, you’ll not only be confident in your abilities but will be proud of what you’ve achieved.

The Fortinet survey reveals that there is still a significant skills gap in cybersecurity today. Take advantage of this moment and do your part to improve the security of our world by getting certified.

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