Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.
When it comes to getting oneself hired to work in IT security, there's probably no magical formula that will ensure success in every situation. In our most recent annual Salary Survey, on the other hand, certified IT professionals indicated pretty strongly that prior work experience was the most influential factor in being hired by their current employer.
For experienced workers, it makes sense that employers would be most inclined to hire them on account of prior performance in comparable circumstances. In the information security realm, however, most experienced professionals are likely to have jobs already. And as the number of unfilled security jobs steadily climbs, new workers are the best option available.
Unfortunately for those same new workers, they can't make a case for their employment based on a lengthy rundown of past jobs. So what's the next best option? One point of differentiation is clear from the results of our recent Security Certification Survey. If you want to set yourself apart, then get a security certification.
One of the questions we asked is whether currently employed security professionals were required to hold one or more information security certifications to accept their present job. In other word, hiring personnel essentially told them, "You can't work for us unless you have at least one of these information security credentials."
Among all survey respondents, 45.3 percent answered yes. That is to say, nearly half of those surveyed had to have a security certification of one stripe or another in order to start work at their current job. There's still plenty of employment opportunity on the other side of that number: 54.7 percent of those surveyed were not required by their current employer to have a security certification prior to starting work.
As employers are more often forced to compete to hire qualified and skilled security personnel, however, a security certification from a respected certification provider is likely to be viewed as an increasingly valuable distinction. If you can't point to breadth or depth of security experience, then pointing to security certification is probably the next best thing.
There's another telling statistic from the survey that falls along those lines. We asked survey respondents to tell us how much their IT certification (or certifications) affected their current employer's decision to hire them. Here's how the responses came back:
Q: To what extent did your IT certification(s) contribute to your being hired by your current employer?
Very influential — 34.1 percent
Influential — 23.5 percent
Somewhat influential — 19.4 percent
Was probably not a factor — 20 percent
Don't know — 2.9 percent
Only 20 percent of survey respondents think that having a certification (or certifications) was probably not a factor in getting them hired to work for their current employer. Nearly everyone else in the survey thinks that certification carries weight with hiring personnel, and more than half consider certification either "very influential" (34.1 percent of those surveyed) or "influential" (23.5 percent) in driving a hiring decision.