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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% employment growth rate for computer and information systems managers from 2020-2030. By earning a certification in security architecture, a general computer and information systems manager can increase their earning potential and career opportunities alike.
Security architects plan, implement, and manage cybersecurity measures in organizations and businesses. These professionals, also known as cybersecurity architects and information security architects, manage the work of security architects, penetration testers, and other cybersecurity professionals.
Certification in security architecture gives you the knowledge and skills to excel in a security architect role. Each credential suits different professional goals — this guide offers information on some of the most sought-after credentials in the field.
What Is Certification in Security Architecture?
There are no required certifications for security architecture, but these credentials demonstrate proficiency to colleagues and employers. Earning a certification in security architecture can provide upward mobility and higher wages for individuals working in cybersecurity.
Some employers may prefer candidates who possess security architecture credentials. Certifications indicate mastery of subjects like cybersecurity structures, technical security, identity management, and risk assessment. Some certifications focus on specific platforms, allowing credential-holders to illustrate their knowledge of specific cybersecurity sectors.
Why Pursue Certification as a Security Architect?
The use of computers and information technology across economic sectors allows cybersecurity professionals like security architects to find jobs in many different sectors.
Companies and organizations may not require security architect certification for employment, but possessing formal credentials can help individuals stand out in the applicant pool. Certifications offered by Microsoft, Amazon, and (ISC)² are among the top security architect credentials sought by employers.
Earning a certification as a security architect can open opportunities for professional advancement. Security architect certifications build on existing cybersecurity knowledge, often requiring prerequisite coursework, certifications, and work experience.
Information security analysts earned a median pay of just under $103,000 in 2021, according to the BLS. July 2022 Payscale data indicates that managerial positions like security architecture took home an average salary of $129,550.
The links below include more information on a career as a security architect.
Security Architect Career Overview How to Become a Security Architect The Typical Day of a Security Architect
What the Best Certifications Have in Common
The best security architect certifications demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of safeguarding electronic information. These credentials cover information security concepts and best practices, along with tools and technologies used in security architecture.
Top security architecture certifications include credentials sought by government agencies and major enterprises. The Department of Defense began training its cybersecurity workers through the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council)
Additionally, organizations united by a common mission to improve information security and foster innovation in the world of technology provide certifications:
Major software providers also provide cybersecurity certifications. Among the leaders are:
Security architecture certifications may require previous work experience, but most require passing a test. Some credentials also have renewal requirements, including continuing education credits.
While it is not an exhaustive list of all certifications available for security architecture, the information below features some of the leading certifying bodies and what they offer.
As an independent, nonprofit source of information for IT professionals worldwide, CompTIA provides training and certifications in infrastructure, data and analytics, and cybersecurity. CompTIA is one of the leading trade organizations in the IT industry, with thousands of individual and business members.
CompTIA offers cybersecurity certifications covering security architecture-related content for individuals at various levels of their careers. Offshoots of CompTIA include CompTIA Tech Career Academy and Creating IT Futures programs for youths and adults.
The CompTIA Security+ certification demonstrates core knowledge of cybersecurity concepts, practices, and technologies. This certification can lead to additional credentials, so training CompTIASecurity+ increases individuals' baseline security skills through practical components and aligns with modern tech trends.
After covering topics like architecture and design, operations and incident response, and risk assessment and compliance, individuals take an exam to earn their CompTIA Security+ credentials.
CompTIA recommends at least two years of experience in IT administration and a CompTIA Network+ certification to enroll.
CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)
As an intermediate-level credential, the CompTIA CSA+ certification trains IT professionals to capture, monitor, and respond to cybersecurity threats using behavioral analytics. Additional emphasis on application and software security, automation, and regulatory compliance equips individuals with the skills to defend and improve organizations' information security efforts.
The CompTIA CySA+ exam incorporates multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Certification requires renewal every three years. CompTIA recommends CompTIA Security+ credentials and a minimum of four years of professional experience in information security.
CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)
The CompTIA CASP+ certification is the only industry certification for advanced cybersecurity practitioners rather than managers. The certification covers security architecture and senior security engineering.
Comparable to CompTIA's other certifications, individuals can sign up for the exam, a self-paced study guide, or integrated practice and learning preparation activities. Each individual must renew their CompTIA CASP+ every three years by completing 75 continuing education units.
Established in 1989, (ISC)² unites nearly 170,000 members around the world by providing certification programs to advance the field of cybersecurity. (ISC)² provides programs to the general public and offers professional development resources to IT professionals.
(ISC)² certifications are accredited by bodies such as the American National Standards Institute, the International Accreditation Services, and the Department of Defense.
Cybersecurity certifications through (ISC)² range from entry-level general certifications to advanced specialty programs.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The CISSP credential suits security architects, chief information officers, security managers, and other comparable roles. Subjects covered include security and risk management, security architecture and engineering, identity and access management, and security operations.
(ISC)² offers concentrations in architecture, engineering, and management. The information systems security architecture professional credential covers security architecture modeling, infrastructure security architecture, and identity and access management architecture. Additional topics include architecture for application security and security operations architecture.
To qualify for the CISSP, individuals need two years of professional experience in at least one of the domains in the organization's Common Book of Knowledge.
Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
This certification emphasizes best practices, policies, and procedures in cybersecurity to demonstrate technical skills and security knowledge. The SSCP covers seven areas, including access controls, cryptography, systems and application security, and incident response and recovery.
Individuals can complete self-paced or instructor-led online exam preparation. (ISC)² also offers classroom-based and private onsite educational programs. Each SSCP candidate needs at least one year of professional experience. A bachelor's degree in cybersecurity waives prerequisite experience requirements.
Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
The CCSP credential demonstrates mastery of design, management, and implementation of cloud security measures. This certification covers cloud architecture, platform and infrastructure security, and cloud security operations.
Along with self-paced preparation options, (ISC)² provides textbooks, study guides, flashcards, and practice tests. Upon certification, individuals join (ISC)² and receive access to continuing education opportunities, updates on trends in the field, and discounts on professional services and industry events.
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Established in 2001, EC-Council certifies information technology security professionals at all career levels. This organization offers four core credentials, seven advanced certifications, four security awareness-specific offerings, and one credential for chief information security officers.
Within the scope of cybersecurity, EC-Council provides certifications in ethical hacking, penetration testing, encryption, and network defense. EC-Council also offers bachelor's and master's degree-completion programs in cybersecurity, along with online and in-person training.
Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA)
Government and military workers can pursue EC-Council's CNDA certification, intended for individuals with certified ethical hacker (CEH) credentials from the organization. After earning a CEH and securing a job with an approved entity, professionals can apply to become CNDAs.
Each candidate must pass an exam covering hacking tools, techniques, and methodologies. Training options for the CEH (and ultimately the CNDA) include asynchronous self-study and live instructor training online. Additional in-person opportunities provide interactive training in scanning, testing, and securing computer systems.
Certified Network Defender (CND)
The CND, offered by EC-Council, emphasizes keeping digital business assets safe. The vendor-neutral certification incorporates information about technical, administrative, and network security. Individuals can demonstrate their mastery of endpoint security for Windows, Linux, mobile devices, and IoT devices, along with areas such as virtual, cloud, and wireless network security.
The CND program prepares individuals for roles as network security administrators, data security analysts, and security operators. This credential can help students pursuing careers in cybersecurity and IT professionals looking to increase their knowledge of the field.
Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT)
The CPENT credential covers penetration testing across platforms for different systems and networks. Individuals learn about internal and external network penetration testing, web application and wireless penetration testing, and social engineering penetration testing. The program also includes content on report writing and what to do after the completion of a penetration test.
Additional options for CPENT candidates include self-study modules in topics such as database and mobile device penetration testing. Earning a score above 90% on the CPENT exam earns individuals additional certification as licensed penetration tester masters.
More Top Certifications for Security Architects
While these entities offer some of the best certifications for security architects, there are other options, as well. Among the leading programs are:
- CREST Registered Technical Security Architect: The CRTSA covers information system design, risk management and assessment, and standard security techniques and architectures to combat security risks.
- Global Information Assurance Certifications Defensible Security Architect: The GDSA from GIAC includes fundamental security architecture concepts and practices. Credential-holders demonstrate their mastery of networks, cloud-based security, and data-centric security activities.
- Microsoft Certified Cybersecurity Architect Expert: Designed to build on previous certifications in cybersecurity, this credential covers skills in Azure security, identity and access administration, and security operations analysis.
Preparing for Certification Exams
Individuals can prepare for certification exams in several ways. Many credentialing bodies provide structured classes that meet online or in person. Self-study options can offer a more flexible pathway.
Certifying bodies may provide resources such as textbooks, online study guides, flashcards, and practice exams. Entities like EC-Council have professional educational partners, while (ISC)² offers entire preparation kits.
Connecting with individuals who hold the credential is an ideal way to find out more about an exam. Joining a study group or finding a mentor can also be useful.
Exam descriptions on the credentialing body's website can help prepare test-takers for exam day. Looking into comments and reviews of the experience via professional networking sites can provide additional insight.
These programs offer similar resources.
Certificate Programs in Information Technology Certificate Programs in Cybersecurity Associate in Cybersecurity Programs Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs Master's in Cybersecurity Programs Cybersecurity Bootcamps
Choosing Between Certifications
Career goals are a core motivator that can guide individuals to their ideal certification. Earning a certification specifically in security architecture may be the best option, although finding programs that emphasize specific subsets of the field might be more useful in certain situations.
Prerequisites and experience also factor heavily into certification choice. Many programs require professional experience, while others may depend upon previous certifications for enrollment.
Test type, length, and style can be important. Not all test-takers thrive during online exams and may prefer in-person options. Multiple-choice or practical question formats might also influence certification choice.
Cost, program length, and location should all be assessed, as well. If an individual works for a multinational company, for example, an internationally recognized certification may be needed or preferred.
Additional Resources for Security Architects
FAQ About the Best Certifications for Security Architects
What certifications do you need to be a security architect?
You do not need a certification to be a security architect, but having credentials demonstrates essential knowledge, skills, and training for the role. Employers may prefer candidates who possess certifications in security architecture.
How long does it take to earn a certification in security architecture?
Earning a certification in security architecture often requires completion of an exam. The exam may take a few hours, but preparing for a certification can take days, weeks, or months.
Do security architects need to be licensed?
There are no license requirements for security architects.
What other qualifications do you need to become a security architect?
Security architects typically need at least a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity or a related field. A master's degree and previous experience working in information technology and cybersecurity are often preferred.
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