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The long view of security strategies for your network.
This is the second of five articles discussing the benefits (if any) of security certifications in the job market. In the first article, a number of studies suggested that certifications do indeed improve prospects for hiring and higher salaries.
In this article, I conclude the review of recent studies and surveys with yet more encouraging news for holders of security certifications.
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In June 2008, NetworkWorld writer Jon Brodkin pointed out that "Overall, the value of 164 IT certifications measured by Foote dropped 4.9% the past two years and 1.6% in the six-month period ending April 1 ." However, Brodkin wrote, "Some certifications are bucking the trend and rising in value. IT security certifications rose 3.1% in value over the past two years and 1.2% in value in the last six months. Certain types of security skills are seeing dramatic growth. A 27% rise in value was measured for the Certified Information Security Manager designation, just in the past six months. In second place with a 25% rise in the last six months was the GIAC Security Expert cert."
In a follow-up article, Brodkin reported on a survey carried out for the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, (ISC)^2, which showed "that holders of the CISSP, SSCP or CAP certifications who work in the Americas and have at least five years experience earn [an average of] $102,376 per year – more than $21,000 higher than IT pros who also have five years experience but lack the certifications."
Reporting on the popularity of security certifications, Joan Goodchild of CSO Magazine wrote about a CompTIA survey that came out in late October 2009. The study of more than 1,500 IT workers found that many of them planned to pass certifications in security, ethical hacking and digital forensics.
Goodchild added …[M]ore companies are requiring IT security certification…. [T]he number of organizations where IT security certification is required has increased by half and is continuing to grow; 32% of employees were required to have certifications in 2008, compared to 20% in 2006.
Foote Partners maintains a database with constant updates to produce its annual "IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index." The latest edition (as of this writing in the first week of January 2010) includes "data collected through January 1, 2010." A 55-page PDF sample of the $2,500, 305 page quarterly report ($9,750 for a year's worth of reports) is available free online to illustrate the format of the report (most of the charts have been redacted to blanks).
Among the 201 specializations studied by Foote Partners, 34 certifications specifically involve security, auditing, forensics or penetration testing.
Founder David Foote, who also serves as Foote Partners' CEO & Chief Research Officer, was quoted in a Dec. 31, 2009 interview in a Bank Information Security podcast as saying that "Information security is the hot career option for professionals in 2010 and beyond." He was also interviewed back in August 2009 by Carolyn Gibney of SearchSecurity and said much the same thing: "Foote says there's reason for those in the security industry to be optimistic."
M. E. Kabay, PhD, CISSP-ISSMP, specializes in security and operations management consulting services and teaching. He is Chief Technical Officer of Adaptive Cyber Security Instruments, Inc. and Associate Professor of Information Assurance in the School of Business and Management at Norwich University. Visit his Web site for white papers and course materials.