Best technical cybersecurity certifications

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If you want to start a career as a technical cybersecurity expert, then you better start thinking about getting certified. However, getting certified in CYBERSECURITY is a very big objective and to reach it you should first choose which cybersecurity specialization you want to start with or you like it more. So, what is the best technical cybersecurity certification?

This is one of the common questions I get from my students each time a do a course in cybersecurity. Therefore, I decided to make a list of the best certification you can make as an objective to improve both your skills and your chances to get a job in cybersecurity. Here is a list of the best cybersecurity certifications for 2021 grouped by specialty:  

Penetration testing

I would like to start talking about the field I actually master more than the others which are penetration testing. Here is a list of the best technical penetration test certifications:


One of the best technical penetration testing certifications that were and still are the most recognized certification in the field of penetration testing is the OSCP. Offensive security certified professional is a 100% technical certification that helps you get a solid understanding of penetration test methodology and tools.

The OSCP has a self-study course with a technical lab for 1 to 3 months depending on the package you want. Then you take a continuous exam of 48h.

The exam is divided into two steps:

  1. The first 24h you get 5 vulnerable machines that you need to penetrate
  2. Then in the following 24h you need to make a detailed report of all the steps you have done to hack each machine.

Personally, I have passed this certification and I can tell you that it is really difficult and you should expect not to have it from the first attempt. However, getting it has a certain proof that you have a very good level of knowledge in penetration test and you can work with the biggest companies around the world.


The Offensive Security Certified Expert is actually the next level after getting the OSCP. This is an advanced certification and you will need a deep understanding of the OSCP concepts. In addition, this certification gives you the basics on how you can make the tools used in the OSCP to penetration the machine.

The exam lasts for 72h divided into 48h of technical exam followed by 24h of reporting. The course covers both application and system exploitation and it will require a deep dedication to get certified. To be honest you need also to expect not having it from the first attempt.


GPEN is one of the GIAC certification programs which is mainly based on SANS courses. The course prepared by SANS is really one of the best in the market and presented with the best people out there with a great lab to practice. In addition, some people consider that the technical knowledge level of this certification is equivalent to the OSCP.

However, the exam is a QCM based which in my opinion reduce the quality and the effectiveness of the certification in term of checking the technical competencies learned by the student.


GXPN is also one of the GIAC certification programs and the level of knowledge you get from it is considered the same as the OSCE. However, the exam is not technical, which in my opinion reduces the quality of the whole certification and its recognition by the community.


Licensed penetration tester is one of the older certifications in the market and it is created by the ec-council. This certification got a nice reputation in the community of penetration testers by adopting the technical exam of 24h. I personally was never been interested in this certification but according to some cybersecurity professionals, I know it seems that it is something interesting to try.

Secure coding

Now for the rest of the certifications mentioned in this blog post, I personally never took any one of them. However, some of them I am interested in taking or I am preparing for their exam. So basically the listed certifications below are based on my personal review of their brochures and the feedback I get about them from big companies in the market.

In the field of Secure coding, there is 3 most known and popular certification in the market:

Before I start writing this blog post, the only software security certification I know about was the CASE from EC-Council and the GWEB from GIAC. However, when I made a small research to see if there is anything new, I discovered that even the ISC2 the famous organization that made the CISSP certification has a Secure coding certification.

This certification got my intention because of two aspects, it is from ISC2 (and we know the quality content they provide) and because it is pretty different than the 2 others because it covers the whole process.

Now will the CSSLP discuss the details where both CASE and GWEB go, I personally don’t know. However, according to my experience with the ISC2 certifications, I don’t think so. This is due to the nature of the certification ISC2 offers that focuses mainly on the management and the process around it.

Security management

If you are interested in taking some cybersecurity management responsibilities and you want to improve your skills and knowledge, then I highly recommend taking some of the following certifications. Here is a list of the best cybersecurity management certifications:

I personally see that the best certification in this field is the CISSP for many reasons let me give you some:

  • The quality of the content it provide
  • It covers all the cyber security domains
  • It has a very important reputation in the market and a lot of companies are looking for people that has this certification

Personally, I like this certification and I am preparing for it because it really gives you a nice view of the whole field of cybersecurity. When you get specialized in one of the cybersecurity domains you start to miss a lot of information about other security aspects that are beyond the technical stuff.

This certification, help you fulfill this gap and give you the tools to communicate with top managers and convince them. This communication skill is a missed competence for the technical team in most cases.

Security solutions deployment

This field in cybersecurity is a little bit different as it focuses more on the solutions themselves rather than the security concept around them. The existence of this profile is understandable, as a lot of companies need engineers that capable of implementing solutions and toning them for the company-specific situation.

Moreover, Security analysts or security engineers are more likely needed in the maintenance of these solutions and their troubleshooting. Therefore, most security certifications proposed in this field are focusing on one company solution.

Therefore, it’s up to you to choose the solution you want to specialize in it depending on the market demands and your motivations. In the following list, you will see the 5 most in-demand certifications in the field of security analysis according to the feedback I get from the market.

Security operation center analysis

One of the most rising security profiles in the market is the SOC analyst. This profile is in high demand actually in the market as more companies are implementing a security operation center. Most companies are looking for SOC experts to recruit. Therefore, investing in certifications will give you kind of proof of expertise even if you don’t have enough years of experience in the field.

The following certifications are the most popular among security operation center analysts and they prove a certain level of expertise as a SOC analyst.

Written by: Z. Oualid

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About the author

Z. Oualid

I am a Cyber Security Expert, I have worked with many companies around the globe to secure their applications and their networks. I am certified OSCP and OSCE which are the most recognized and hard technical certifications in the industry of cybersecurity. I am also a Certifed Ethical hacker (CEH). I hope you enjoy my articles :).

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