Career advantages of security professional certifications and advanced degrees


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Information security professionals have been conditioned to invest in their careers. Whether through traditional methods such as security certification courses or advanced degrees, you have expectations that by achieving these credentials, you will accelerate your career. By investing in yourself, you're on the right track; any investment that helps develop skills, expand knowledge and provide additional education is a good one. However, the expectation that a single common career investment will provide you a competitive advantage over others is unrealistic.

The CISSP certification is a prime example of this. When the information security industry was in its formative years, Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSPs), were rare. Holding the CISSP certification provided a much greater advantage over peers who did not. Employers placed a higher value on this designation, and rewarded professionals with advanced compensation and accelerated career paths. Today, the CISSP is much more commonplace and does not serve as the talent differentiator it once did; (ISC)2, which governs the CISSP, reports on its website there are more than 60,000 certified professionals worldwide. Instead,

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CISSP certification training has become more of a requirement and the absence of this particular career investment could negatively separate you from peers.

When determining a career investment strategy, it is paramount to refer to your career plan and map your investments toward your intended result. Annually allocate and budget time and money to invest in your career. This should be akin to contributing to your 401K or insurance programs. Considering that your professional skills are the keys to generating current and future income, allocating money for your professional development provides you with better control over your future than any other investment that you can make.

Next, you need to figure out the best way to achieve maximum value for your investments; these costs vary greatly and can come in the form of a weeklong training course, a personal coach, or a conference to help you address a deficient skill. These environments generally will enable you to pinpoint specific needs and give you the opportunity to address them in a condensed time frame, under guidance from a recognized authority. Some examples are management seminars, sales training, or time management courses. Although these may be viewed as minor investments of time and money, they can provide a significant impact on your longterm professional development.

This was first published in December 2010

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