Ultimate Guide


Demystifying Cyber Security Certifications with NexGenT

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By Jess Feldman
Last Updated January 8, 2021

Cybersecurity is a quickly developing and in-demand tech field, and many companies are anxious to fill job openings with skilled cyber professionals. For those making a career change into cybersecurity, though, figuring out how to obtain cybersecurity certifications can be overwhelming. NexGenT breaks down today’s most recognized cyber certifications, and how students who are completely new to cybersecurity can learn the skills needed to pass their exams. Plus, NexGenT’s tips for preparing your home office for taking a cyber certification exam remotely!

Nexgent   demystifying cyber certifications infographic

Meet the Experts:

  • Jacob Hess is the Co-Founder and CAO of NexGenT.
  • Patrick Gorman is an instructor at NexGenT.

Why Do You Need Cybersecurity Certifications? 

There is so much information about cyber certifications and it can be confusing for anyone trying to get into the cybersecurity field. While some jobs don’t require cybersecurity certification, for anyone just getting into the field, certification will help them be taken more seriously as a job candidate.

The good news is that a background in STEM is not required to be eligible for cyber certification. Having a good understanding of IT is always a bonus for anyone working in the tech industry. Cybersecurity certifications are especially beneficial for mobile developers and software engineers. Learning various development platforms and coding languages plus cybersecurity basics could be an impressive addition to a mobile or software engineers’ resume.

The 5 Most Common Cybersecurity Certifications 

Cybersecurity revolves around all aspects of IT, including networking and systems. 

1. CompTIA Security+ 

  • Level of difficulty: Low
  • Certification needed to become: Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst, Cyber Security Analyst

2. CompTIA CYSA+ 

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate
  • Certification needed to become: SOC Analyst, Cyber Security Analyst

3. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) 

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate
  • Certification needed to become: Entry-level to intermediate Penetration Tester

4. EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate
  • Certification needed to become: Cyber Security Analyst, Cyber Security Engineer

5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

  • Level of difficulty: High difficulty and non-technical
  • Certifications needed to become: Information Security Manager

Once you have a grasp on the fundamentals, you can figure out which area of cybersecurity you would like to focus in. This will help you decide which advanced certifications to go for.

How to Prepare for a Cybersecurity Certification Exam

Depending on the certification, it can take anywhere from 1.5 – 7 months to prepare for a certification exam. Before an individual can get started on training for a specific certification exam, they first need to learn the programming language they’ll be working with both in the exam and on the job.  

At NexGenT, we realize it can be daunting to come into cybersecurity from a completely different background. In our Zero to Engineer bootcamp, our goal is to break down the barrier to entry-level cybersecurity roles by giving career changers the necessary knowledge and skills in reality-based scenarios. This program is self-paced and students can complete it in 12-24 weeks.

  • NexGenT students first receive Basic Training in cybersecurity fundamentals, including the basics of system engineering, network engineering, and cyber security. This first unit familiarizes our students with the language they will encounter in the field. 
  • Basic training is followed by NexGenT’s Cyber Security Specialist program, which certifies students in NexGenT’s in-house cyber certifications, NexGenT Cyber Security Associate (NCSA) and NexGenT Cyber Security Professional (NCSP), and prepares them for the CompTIA Security+ exam. We work with third-party providers to simulate real work environments for our students, and students are prepared for any type of hacking attacks or defense. This program includes our own labs, too.

4 Tips to Prepare for Taking a Remote Cyber Certification Exam

Before COVID-19, you would have to go to a testing center to take a cyber certification exam, but since the pandemic restrictions began, most exams can be taken at home. This will probably become the new standard method of testing. We have found that being able to take these exams from the comfort of your own home lowers test anxiety. Test takers should expect a remote test proctor to join in via webcam while they are taking the exam. 

Here are our recommendations for taking a cyber certification exam from home:

  • Have your webcam on.
  • Clear your desk and work area.
  • Do not have any additional monitors in your workspace.
  • No other people should ever be in the room while you are taking an exam. 

The length of the exam depends on the individual and the level of difficulty of the exam. We have found that it takes students around an hour and a half to complete entry-level certification exams, like the CompTIA Security+ and CEH. The CISSP is 250 questions, so it can take up to six hours to complete. For more advanced certifications like the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert [CCIE], test takers must first pass a written exam that takes an hour and a half, and then a physical lab which takes an entire day to complete!

Advanced Cyber Certifications

Advanced certifications require a more complex understanding of where you are headed. Getting your basic certification, like the vendor-mutual CompTIA Security+ makes you eligible for entry-level roles because they are recognized across industries. To move up the career ladder, you will need to decide what you would like to focus on or obtain the certifications that your current employer or desired employer requires.

Every company will require specific certification based on what they use, which may help give you direction into which advanced certifications to get next. For instance, if you want to work in criminal justice, then you should try to get a Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certification. If you are trying to land a Penetration Tester role, look at the CompTIA PenTest+ certification. Decide on a path and then focus on which certifications will offer growth in your chosen career. 

Cybersecurity Certifications vs Soft Skills

To work in cybersecurity, you need to be a people person. You must like talking to and working with people in order to convey the need for cyber security awareness training within your organization. Very few people outside of the cybersecurity or networking fields understand how cyber works and how security systems are breached. Being able to talk and explain solutions to people is the biggest soft skill you can develop. We made sure to include a skill-based portion within the NexGenT Cyber Security Associate Certification (NCSA) training. NexGenT Cybersecurity students need to be able to break down an industry use case, articulate the problem and the solution in a professional manner.

The Future of Cybersecurity Certifications

We predict there will soon be more certifications in the realms of mobile application security and DevOps security. DevOps is a quickly developing field and new roles are always being defined. As new DevOps certifications come down the pipeline in 2021, we recommend you jump on those!

Find out more and read NexGenT reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with NexGenT.

About The Author

Screen 20shot 202019 12 13 20at 201 03 05 20pm

Jess is the Content Manager for Course Report as well as a writer and poet. As a lifelong learner, Jess is passionate about education, and loves learning and sharing content about tech bootcamps. Jess received a M.F.A. in Writing from the University of New Hampshire, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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