This feature first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.
Money, as the philosopher poet Freddie Mercury once made amply clear, is not the only thing that makes this rocking world go 'round. Certifications are often assessed solely in terms of dollar signs, but there are a lot of reasons to get certified.
Of course, given the highly competitive employment market for skilled security professionals, it's not all that surprising that many individuals with an interest in cybersecurity view certification as the surest pathway to a different (and better?) employment situation.
Asked to name the most important benefits of getting a certification other than its influence on salary, roughly 45.5 percent of survey respondents said they view certification as a means of becoming qualified for a future job.
Lest employers worry too much, however, not everyone has one foot out the door. Many security pros seem more content to abide their present circumstances, with 40.9 percent of respondents viewing certification as a means of becoming better qualified to perform their current job, and 24.7 percent saying certification offers a path to promotion within their current organization.
Other popular reasons to certify include the self-improvement rationales of gaining greater confidence in one's own skills (22.6 percent) and gaining greater stature in the eyes of coworkers and colleagues (21.2 percent). Employers are also driving cybersecurity certification, with 18.3 percent of those surveyed saying that certification is a job requirement.
It's definitely worthwhile to get an entry-level cybersecurity job or perhaps pursue an internship while working toward certification. A decisive 64.6 percent of those surveyed believe that past work experience was the largest single factor in being hired by their current employer. Certification and education are on equal footing as perceived hiring influences at 13.5 percent, while "who you know" (8.4 percent) may not count for as much in cybersecurity as in some other IT realms.
That's not to suggest that certification won't make an impact on hiring decisions. More than 70 percent of all respondents believe that certification was either very influential (20.8 percent), influential (28.5 percent), or somewhat influential (21.9 percent) in getting them hired at their current job. (About 26 percent guess that it was probably not a consideration, while 3 percent shrugged off the question entirely.)
Whether or not your boss is impressed, however, certification training is quite likely to impact your job performance. A considerable 46.5 percent of those surveyed said they use skills learned or enhanced through certification several times a day at their current job, while an additional 41.7 percent rely on their certified skills either several times a week (32.1 percent) or several times a month (9.6 percent).
Very few respondents feel that cybersecurity certification is useful in the workplace only occasionally (8.5 percent) or rarely (3.3 percent). If you still aren't convinced that certification has value, then it's worth noting that an impressive 65.7 percent of those surveyed either agree (42.1 percent) or strongly agree (23.6 percent) that becoming certified has helped them be more productive in the workplace. Additionally, 67.9 percent of respondents either agree (41 percent) or strongly agree (26.9 percent that security certification has improved their problem-solving skills.
And if you feel a strong need to stand out in the cybersecurity crowd, then certification will definitely help. More than 80 percent of those surveyed either agree (39.1 percent) or strongly agree (41.7 percent) that becoming certified has increased demand for their skills. Even if certification isn't the strongest factor in getting you hired, it will definitely get your résumé to the top of the stack.
TABLE TALK - Are IT pros happy about your certification program? Here's an overarching view:
We learned a few other things, too. It's all available right now in our latest quarterly issue, or you can pull up a virtual chair and settle in here at CertMag.com for the big (and gradual) reveal.