For employees, the impetus to pursue an infosec certification is not only job security but a pay increase. "We do see that there are some salary...advantages to getting certified," Erdle says, adding that IT professionals who have the CompTIA Security+ certification report pay raises as high as 5% to 7%.
Erdle says he expects CompTIA's Security+ to remain a hot certification because of the industry-wide push toward healthcare IT, mobility and cloud computing will require security, too. "You're going to see us start to add modifiers around cloud, [software as a service], health IT and green IT," Erdle says.
Also popular are the suite of 20 Global Information Assurance Certifications, which have demonstrated about 25% growth during the last year, according to Jeff Frisk, director of the GIAC Certification Program.
"The Foote Partner reports have listed the GIAC family of certifications as maintaining and growing in value...not only the value in how people are being compensated and promoted but also the value that it brings to an organization," Frisk says.
Most popular is GIAC's general-purpose Security Essentials Certificate, but other job-specific GIAC credentials such as GIAC Certified Incident Handler, GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst and GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst are also in demand. Overall, more than 32,500 GIAC certifications have been awarded in the 10 years since the program began.
"Our certifications mesh very well with specific real-world job duties and job tasks," Frisk says. "If you're a chief information security officer, you're going to need risk analysts, incident handlers, firewall experts, intrusion detection people, Unix people, Windows people and forensic specialists. A lot of the value of our certifications...is that they qualify or validate that specific skill set."
All of the popular infosec certifications claim to measure the real-world skills necessary to protect systems, software and information from attacks. That's why the organizations offering these certifications — and selling the training necessary to prepare for them — say they are growing.
"Our certifications are harder to obtain, more relevant and more prestigious," Frisk says of the GIAC program. "It's not the easy way out. We do not rubber stamp people. You have to demonstrate skills to hold a GIAC credential...That's part of the reason that demand is up."
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