Cybersecurity is a booming business that shows no signs of slowing down. Cybercrime has dramatically risen, costing the world a projected $6 trillion annually within the next two years, up from $3 trillion in 2015.  Given these figures, it is unsurprising that the Cybersecurity Jobs Report estimates that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021.  In response, a growing number of techies are pursuing an education in Information technology and computer science, flooding the market and increasing employment competition.  The emergence of this fresh talent pool makes it necessary to gain a competitive edge, effectively stacking the cards in your favor.  One way to set yourself apart is by having the right certifications.

Here are a few reasons why cybersecurity certifications may make all the difference.

Increased Earnings

Who doesn’t want to make more money?  Cybersecurity specialists play an integral part in the lives of millions of people, monitoring, testing, and troubleshooting security systems that fend off harmful digital attacks.  Demand for information security analysis is projected to grow 28% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for other occupations.  Unsurprisingly, the growing need for innovative solutions to prevent hacking and information theft has led to above average compensation for these security specialists.   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for information security analysts is $98,350 annually.  While this may seem like a respectable salary, it could be higher – much higher.  According to the 2018 ISC² Global Information Security Workforce Study, a cyber professional with a certification earns a staggering 30% more than their respective colleagues.

Increased Appeal

Your information security skills may be in top demand but, these days, knowledge, experience and skills simply are not enough.  Employers want proof that you have what they need.  Information security certifications show that you have the necessary expertise and are continuously honing your skills and staying up on the latest threats.

Certifications show employers that you are committed to the profession, greatly increasing your appeal.  If a hiring manager is considering two equally matched candidates, one with certifications and one without, nearly every manager will choose the one with certifications.  It is a no brainer because investing time and resources into skill development shows employers that you are passionate and dedicated.  According to ISC², cybersecurity certifications are considered the most important method of advancing or maintaining a career, and 86% of surveyed professionals were pursuing or planning to pursue cyber security certifications in the future.

Increased Resume Attention

“Certifications are very important because they show a minimum benchmark that both recruiters and hiring managers will look at,” said Damien Manuel, director of cyber research and solutions at Deakin University and board chair for the Australian Information Security Association. “One of the challenges for grads is getting access to hiring managers when they have to go through an agent first.  They may be kept out of the process if they don’t have certifications.”  Most, if not every, resume review begins with a quick keyword search that narrows down employment prospects.  Many times, recruiters will narrow by certifications or accreditations, eliminating many of the applicants.  By having certifications, you increase your odds of making it through the vetting process and being hired.

Staying Up-To-Date

Technology moves at a fast pace, making it imperative for cybersecurity specialists to stay up on all of the latest innovations and trends.  Cloud implementation, employee systems and payment systems are some of the sector that have seen rapid development over the last two years.  Employers are looking at certification as a means to determine if an employee’s skills are up to date. Andrea Di Fabio, chief information security officer and associate chief information officer at East Tennessee State University said that “certifications are usually current and what the industry wants right now.  That shows me that they understand the current technology and how to apply it.”

Elite Status

Certifications place you in the IT VIP section.  Earning certifications comes with professional privileges such as the ability to network with like-minded peers, to gain knowledge at members-only events, and to attend exclusive conferences and webinars.  Your progressive knowledge of the latest technology makes you an invaluable resource.  Industry leaders value and respect colleagues who are committed to lifelong learning and growth within the industry.  They recognize that being among innovative, passionate thinkers acts as a catalyst for cybersecurity breakthroughs, energizing the field.