Large companies not only have to thwart hackers from entering their secure networks, they have to clean up the consumer fallout from well-publicized security breaches. That's one reason why analysts at Foote Partners found consistent salary gains for IT professionals with security certifications. As an alternative to vendor-specific certifications that can take years to earn, entry-level IT security professionals can use the experience from their first year on the job to pass the Systems Security Certified Practitioner exam.
According to security experts at RSA, nearly ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies face threats from compromised devices within their own networks. The SSCP certification prepares IT pros to wrestle with challenges coming from within their own organizations, while learning to combat the external threats made familiar by repeated news reports. Earning the SSCP shows managers and prospective employers that you're serious about understanding the complexities of online safety, physical device management, and social engineering.
Systems Security Certified Practitioner skills
The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., also known as (ISC)², administers the Systems Security Certified Practitioner curriculum. As a not-for-profit organization sponsored by both manufacturers and individual members, (ISC)² uses the SSCP to make certification accessible to early-stage professionals and to nontechnical managers who oversee security specialists. To qualify for the SSCP exam, applicants must complete at least one full year of experience in one or more of the certification's "domains," including:
- Access controls
- Malicious code and activity
- Monitoring and analysis
- Networks and communications
- Risk, response and recovery
- Security operations and administration
(ISC)² updates the required domains from time to time, keeping the Systems Security Certified Practitioner designation fresh for new applicants.
Taking the Systems Security Certified Practitioner Certification exams
Compared to many vendor-specific exams, the test for the Systems Security Certified Practitioner certification takes very little time and money. Applicants pay a few hundred dollars to sit for a three-hour written exam covering the basic principles of network security. If you graduated from an IT degree program or completed any recent formal security training, you'll find many of the exam topics very familiar. However, if you really want to understand topics added to each year's exam, you may want to consider attending one of the official review seminars sponsored by the (ISC)².
According to Forbes columnist Jenna Goudreau, asking for professional development often impresses managers more than asking for a raise. The (ISC)² has made Systems Security Certified Practitioner certification affordable and accessible to IT professionals from all types of companies. If you want to add systems security to your career path at your current employer, asking your boss to help cover the cost of IT training can build goodwill while opening the door to a promotion. If you're looking for a total career change, the SSCP designation can set you apart from other job applicants in the early stages of their careers.