10 Cyber Security Certifications for Beginners

The Best Cyber Security Certifications for Beginners Today

We understand how difficult it can be to choose the right certification when starting in cyber security. There are numerous options available, and which one is right for you? 

We have compiled our list of the best cyber security certifications for beginners. Now these are not simply beginner certifications; these are beginner certifications tailored toward those who are looking to enter cyber security. There will be an expectation that you have some IT knowledge or certification. 

Choosing the right certification not only gives you the foundation knowledge needed but can also serve as a gateway into a promising career in cyber security.  

We will discuss the cost associated with each certification, any requirements needed, the details, and why it might be one you should pursue.

The best cyber security certifications for beginners

CompTIA Security+

Cost and Renewal

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • $392

Renewal/membership fee:

  • 50 CEUs within three years

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

Security+ is a globally recognized certification that covers baseline cyber security skills and is vendor-neutral. It focuses on practical skills covering many cyber security concepts, including attacks and vulnerabilities, operations, incident response, etc.

The exam consists of a maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions and must be completed within 90 minutes. To pass Security+, you need to score a minimum of 750 on a scale of 100-900.

Security+ 701 Domains

Should I Get This Certification?

Security+ is a great fit if you want a broad, vendor-neutral foundation in cyber security, suitable for various security roles and recognized globally. Let’s look at some of its benefits and some of its downsides. 

Benefits:

  • It is a DoD-approved certification. Beneficial if you plan to work with the U.S. government. 
  • Covers a broad range of cyber security topics, providing a solid foundation.
  • Often a prerequisite for many entry to mid-level cyber security jobs.

Downsides:

  • Some critics say it's more theoretical and lacks a practical, hands-on component.
  • Recertification requires ongoing effort, either through earning continuing education units or taking another CompTIA exam.

Take Security+ if you want a comprehensive introduction to cyber security, equipping you with the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for various security roles and a stepping stone for more advanced certifications.

Courses

Certified in Cybersecurity (CC)

Cost and Renewal

Training with exam voucher options:

  • Free for the first million people who register

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • Currently free

Renewal/membership fee:

  • Once you pass the exam, you must pay an Annual Maintenance Fee (AMF) of $50.

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

The (ISC)2 CC exam validates foundational knowledge for those new to cyber security across five domains, including security principles, business continuity, and security operations. The domains cover various security principles, technologies, and practices.

The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, and you have two hours to complete the exam. The passing score is 700 out of 1000 total points. The exam is currently only offered via Pearson VUE.

ISC 2 Certified in cybersecurity Domains

Should I Get This Certification?

The (ISC)2 Certified in Cybersecurity is an emerging certification, quickly gaining recognition for providing foundational cyber security knowledge. Let's look at its benefits and any downsides.

Benefits:

  • Entry-level certification from a highly respected organization in the cyber security field.
  • Provides a broad understanding of foundational cyber security principles.
  • It can be a stepping stone to more advanced (ISC)2 certifications like SSCP and CISSP.

Downsides:

  • As a newer certification, it may not be as widely recognized or understood by employers yet.
  • Focusing more on theoretical knowledge than practical skills might not align with all learning preferences.

The (ISC)2 Certified in Cybersecurity is perfect for you if you're starting your cyber security career and want a stepping stone to advanced certifications focusing on foundational principles.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) ANSI

Cost and Renewal

Training with exam voucher options:

  • On-Demand: $2,199
  • Unlimited On-Demand: $2,999
  • Live: $3,499

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • $1,199

Renewal/membership fee:

  • $80/year

Requirements

Mandatory required training OR two years provable industry experience.

Details

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is an ANSI-accredited entry-level or foundational-level security certification offered by EC-Council and is designed for professionals who aspire to become ethical hackers, penetration testers, and IT security professionals. 

Obtaining CEH requires passing a 125 multiple-choice exam covering nine domains to be completed in less than four hours. 

CEH Exam Domains

Should I Get This Certification?

CEH is a highly recognized certification, appearing frequently on job postings. Let's weigh the CEH's advantages against its potential downsides.

Benefits:

  • Becoming ANSI accredited (opening different government opportunities) 
  • HR and gatekeeper bypass (due to the high demand in job postings)
  • Available positions (as it is requested for both red and blue team jobs)

Downsides:

  • A high cost compared to other comparable certifications (like PenTest+ or OSCP)
  • Not well respected by industry professionals (as it’s entirely multiple choice and does not prove demonstrable skills)
  • Required training from EC-Council partners

Choose the CEH if you aim for a recognized credential to open doors in ethical hacking and cyber security, especially if you're interested in government roles where ANSI accreditation is valued.

Courses

Cisco CyberOps Associate (CBROPS)

Cost and Renewal

Training with exam voucher:

  • CBROPS E-Learning and Exam Bundle $995 

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • $300 

Renewal/membership fee:

  • Pass a qualifying exam or earn 30 continuing education credits within three years.

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

The Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate certification is an essential step for those looking to embark on a career in cyber security, particularly in roles involving the operation and security of network systems.  

The exam is 120 minutes long and comprises 95-105 multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and interactive lab-style questions. Testing you across five domains, such as Security Concepts and Network Intrusion Analysis. The passing score is variable between 750-850 out of 1000. 

Cisco CyberOps Associate Domain

Should I Get This Certification?

The Cisco CyberOps Associate certification is regarded for its focus on the operational aspects of cyber security, particularly in SOC environments. Let’s examine its advantages and potential limitations.

Benefits:

  • Focuses on the operations side of cyber security, which is in high demand.
  • Cisco certifications are highly regarded.
  • Provides a good foundation for roles in a Security Operations Center (SOC).

Downsides:

  • More specific to cyber security operations, which might not align with all cyber security career interests.
  • While growing in recognition, it's not as universally known as some long-established cyber security certifications.
  • It can be expensive when factoring in training, although free training options are available. 

Consider the Cisco CyberOps Associate if your interest lies in cyber security operations and incident response, particularly in a SOC environment, and you value Cisco's industry reputation.

GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

Cost and Renewal

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • $979  

Renewal/membership fee:

  • Pass the exam again or earn 36 CPEs (Continuing Professional Education credits) and pay a $479 renewal fee every four years.

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

GSEC validates core knowledge and skills related to information security beyond just concepts. It is intended for entry-level infosec professionals and those new to cyber security. GSEC  focuses on content such as access controls, cryptography, wireless security, OS security, etc.

The exam, which is open book format, is comprised of 106-180 multiple choice and performance-based questions, requiring a passing score of 73%. You have a time limit of four to five hours, which can be taken remotely or at Pearson VUE test centers.

Should I Get This Certification?

GSEC is esteemed in the cyber security community for its extensive and in-depth coverage of essential security topics. Let's look at GSEC’s benefits and weigh them against any drawbacks.

Benefits:

  • Comprehensive coverage of various essential security topics.
  • Highly respected in the industry, especially in technical roles.
  • Useful for demonstrating a broad and deep understanding of cyber security.

Downsides:

  • Significantly more expensive than many other entry-level certifications.
  • Renewal costs and requirements can be a burden over time.

GSEC is the certification for you if you desire a deep and comprehensive understanding of various essential security topics and you're looking for a certification that's highly respected in the industry.

Course

See our comparison of the GSEC and Security+ in our article

GSEC vs Security+: Which Cyber Certification Is Right For You?

GIAC Information Security Fundamentals (GISF)

Cost and Renewal

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • $979  

Renewal/membership fee:

  • Pass the exam again or earn 36 CPEs (Continuing Professional Education credits) and pay a $479 renewal fee every four years.

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

Intended as an introductory certification for those new to infosec. GISF Covers cyber security basics like terminology, networks, policies, incident response, cryptography, passwords, and more. 

The open book exam is 120 minutes long and consists of 75 multiple-choice questions requiring you to score 71% to pass. 

Should I Get This Certification?

GISF is esteemed in the cyber security community for its extensive and in-depth coverage of essential security topics. Let’s consider what it offers and where it might not meet certain expectations.

Benefits:

  • Offers a solid foundation in information security concepts.
  • Suitable for a wide range of professionals, not just those in technical roles.
  • Respected by employers for its coverage of fundamental security topics.

Downsides:

  • Like other GIAC certifications, it can be costly compared to other entry-level options.
  • More theoretical, which may not appeal to those seeking hands-on experience.

GISF is suitable for you if you need a foundational understanding of information security, whether you're in a technical or non-technical role, and are looking for a recognized certification.

Course

eLearnSecurity Junior Penetration Tester (eJPT)

Cost and Renewal

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • $200

Renewal/membership fee:

  • Not required

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

eJPT is an entry-level certification focused on practical, hands-on skills in penetration testing and ethical hacking. It includes a practical exam that tests real-world skills in a controlled environment.

The exam has 35 questions that must be completed by finding the answers within the environment by performing real-world tasks such as scanning, enumeration, and exploitation using tools such as Nmap, Hydra, Metasploit, and more, and must be completed within 48 hours. You need to score at least 70 percent to pass.

Should I Get This Certification?

eJPT is praised for its practical, hands-on approach to penetration testing, making it a great starting point for aspiring pentesters. Let's evaluate the eJPT's benefits and limitations to understand its overall value.

Benefits:

  • A practical, hands-on exam that reflects real-world scenarios.
  • Recognized by employers for foundational skills in penetration testing.
  • Good for building practical skills, especially for those who learn best by doing.

Downsides:

Opt for eJPT if you're a beginner seeking a hands-on, practical introduction to penetration testing with a focus on real-world skills over theoretical knowledge.

Courses

CompTIA CySA+ 

Cost and Renewal

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • $392

Renewal/membership fee:

  • 60 CEUs in three years

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

CySA+ covers areas such as security analytics, intrusion detection, and response. You will learn skills such as collecting and analyzing security data from multiple sources, conducting vulnerability assessments and mitigation, and understanding identity management, authentication, and access control issues for remediation.

CySA+ is a 165-minute exam containing multiple-choice and performance-based questions, with a passing score of 750 out of 900. There is a maximum of 85 questions on the exam.

CompTIA CySA+ Exam Domains

Why Should I Get This Certification?

CompTIA CySA+ stands out for its emphasis on cyber security analytics and skills in threat detection. We'll now explore the benefits of CySA+ while also acknowledging areas where it might be lacking.

Benefits:

  • Focuses on behavioral analytics to improve security.
  • Vendor-neutral and globally recognized, suitable for various cyber security analyst roles.
  • Emphasizes practical skills in cyber threat detection and response.

Downsides:

  • Some may find the content to be more theoretical and less technical than other hands-on certifications.
  • It overlaps with other certifications, so the additional value might be less if you already have similar qualifications.

CySA+ should be your choice if you're interested in the defensive side of cyber security and blue-team roles, focusing on behavior analytics and threat detection, and you are looking for a certification that blends theory with practical skills.

Courses

CySA+ is often compared to Security+. See our comparison in CySA+ vs Security+: Which Certification Works Best for You?

Blue Team Level 1 (BTL1) Junior Security Operations

Cost and Renewal

Training with exam voucher:

  • £399 GBP

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • N/A

Renewal/membership fee:

  • None

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

BTL1 focuses on foundational defensive cyber skills suitable for entry-level or junior roles. The BTL1 certification covers six core domains: Security Fundamentals, Phishing Analysis, Digital Forensics, Threat Intelligence, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), and Incident Response. 

The exam is a practical 24-hour exam that requires the completion of 20 tasks in a cloud lab environment. The exam requires candidates to utilize various tools, analyze multiple systems, and detect activity mapped across tactics in the MITRE ATT&CK framework. A score of 70% is needed to pass. 

Why Should I Get This Certification?

Earning the Blue Team Level 1 certification can offer several advantages for you if you're looking to gain hands-on cyber security skills and enter the field. Let’s look at some of its benefits and downsides. 

Benefits:

  • Develops in-demand technical and analytical skills for security operations roles.
  • Certification may help you enter the cyber security field.
  • Reasonably priced compared to other certifications.

Downsides:

  • Mostly focused on technical skills, less policy/management content.
  • Limited name recognition compared to certifications from big vendors.

You should choose the BTL1 if you want an affordable certification focused on developing technical operations skills through hands-on labs and a practical exam.

Courses

Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate

Cost and Renewal

Training:

  • Available for $49/month. The program's total cost depends on how long it takes you to complete it.

Stand-alone exam voucher:

  • N/A

Renewal/membership fee:

  • Not required

Requirements

No prerequisites required

Details

Google's CyberSecurity Professional certification focuses on fundamental concepts and skills in cyber security, including hands-on labs and scenarios. It's part of the Grow with Google initiative, emphasizing job readiness. 

The certificate is earned by completing eight online courses containing graded assessments. While there is no final exam, passing the assessments in each of the eight courses is required to be awarded the certificate.

We go in depth on this certification in our article, “What Is the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate?”

Google Cybersecurity Professional- Exam Domain Breakdown

Should I Get This Certification?

Google's Cybersecurity Professional certification is known for its accessibility and comprehensive coverage of fundamental cyber security concepts. We'll explore its benefits and areas where it may fall short.

Benefits:

  • Accessible to beginners with no prior experience in cyber security.
  • Part of Google's reputable training programs, ensuring quality content.
  • Focuses on fundamental concepts useful for entry-level positions.

Downsides:

  • Less technical depth compared to other certifications.
  • Not as recognized or in demand in the cyber security industry as certifications from organizations like CompTIA or (ISC)2.
  • Lacking in important content - Windows is almost ignored entirely.

The Google Cyber Security certification may be ideal if you're completely new to the field and looking for an accessible, foundational understanding of cyber security concepts.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many beginner cyber security certifications. With our list, you now have a starting point depending on where you want to take your career. Whether working in offensive security, defensive security, or maybe somewhere in between. 

Are you looking to jump-start your cyber security career or looking for ways to advance it? Join our Accelerator program today and receive access to a tailored roadmap, courses, mentorship, and more. 

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  • Richard Dezso

    Richard is a cyber security enthusiast, eJPT, and ICCA who loves discovering new topics and never stops learning. In his home lab, he's always working on sharpening his offensive cyber security skills. He shares helpful advice through easy-to-understand blog posts that offer practical support for everyone. Additionally, Richard is dedicated to raising awareness for mental health. You can find Richard on LinkedIn, or to see his other projects, visit his Linktree.

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