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What can you do with a cybersecurity certificate?

Michael Feder

Written by Michael Feder

Kathryn Uhles

Reviewed by Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

Coding and microchips

At a glance

  • Cybersecurity certificates equip students with specific skills in network vulnerability and general foundational knowledge in the field.
  • This foundational knowledge can allow you to potentially shift careers into IT.
  • A career in cybersecurity is an option for people who love continuous learning, as new trends appear frequently in the industry.
  • Learn more about flexible and fixed-tuition IT and cybersecurity online programs!

Cybersecurity means defending networks, servers and data against unauthorized hacking attempts. Information security comprises strategies for identifying potential cyberattacks, protecting against attacks and responding to threats. It also entails certain requirements for maintaining compliance with consumer data and privacy regulations.

As companies more heavily rely on digital data, they need information security strategies in place to protect that data. This creates opportunities for professionals with certificates who want to help companies keep their networks, files and employees safe from cyber threats. To learn these skills, many aspiring information technology (IT) professionals prefer the affordability and speed of an IT or cybersecurity certificate program. Others opt for a higher degree.

Certificate programs vs. associate degree programs

Both certificate and associate degree programs can connect students with education or skills they are looking for. However, the two learning models have significant differences.

Certificate programs are typically shorter and less expensive than associate programs. They teach fundamental skills that today’s employers want. This may allow students to quickly join the workforce without accruing significant debt.

Unlike a full degree program, certificate programs focus only on specific knowledge areas. They are often tailored to prepare students for specific roles and don’t provide the same lesson depth as a full degree program.

Associate degree programs are known to last longer than certificate programs and typically take two years to complete. These programs provide more comprehensive knowledge of a particular subject and come with a higher price tag. Many are also designed to lead to full bachelor’s degree programs.

How do you get a cybersecurity certificate?

Students can obtain a certificate from several sources. Some students get a certificate directly from a college or university, like the University of Phoenix. Others complete online coursesboot camps or apprenticeship programs to obtain a cybersecurity certificate.

Some technical and trade schools also offer certificates. These programs typically provide certificates alongside hands-on training, where students can practice what they’ve learned. This combination of virtual and hands-on learning can help make students attractive to hiring managers and potential employers.

What does getting a cybersecurity certificate entail?

Getting a certificate requires several steps. First, students need to choose a certificate program that suits their needs. It should meet their preferences in cost, length and curriculum. Students should also make sure they meet all program prerequisites before enrolling.

After enrolling, students are responsible for completing coursework. A certificate typically requires between 15 and 30 credits, though the exact number will depend on the program you choose.

Many similar certificate programs offer similar courses. Lessons typically include courses in cybersecurity and network defense. Depending on the program’s depth, some curricula offer lessons in advanced cybersecurity.

What can getting a cybersecurity certificate do for you?

A cybersecurity certificate may help graduates enhance their IT careers in several ways. It has the potential to expand earning opportunities, depending on the roles you are looking for and had previously. It also provides additional knowledge you can immediately apply to your daily routine. Certificates can help you improve your confidence in the subject while introducing you to professionals with similar career interests.

Obtaining a certificate also improves graduates’ professional reputation. It signifies they’ve earned valuable skills from a reputable educator. You can add your certificate to a resumé, LinkedIn® profile or online portfolio to further improve its visibility.

A cybersecurity certificate also has the potential to:

Help you shift industries

No matter your current career, a cybersecurity certificate can aid you in shifting industries. Certificates teach foundational knowledge that can help you get started in IT or a related field. Many certificates specifically teach entry-level skills. They familiarize students with basic requirements, regulations and standards.

These programs help you build on transferable skills. For example, a cybersecurity certificate program might build on your knowledge in computers or project management. It will teach you how to use your existing skills and newly developed ones to create effective cybersecurity strategies.

Give your resumé depth

Obtaining a certificate can give your resumé depth during a job search. Even if you already have an IT degree, adding a cybersecurity certificate to your resumé can indicate you’re serious about your career. It shows potential employers you’ve invested in continuous education to stay on top of cybersecurity trends.

Cybersecurity is a multifaceted field. Some cybersecurity strategists focus only on network defense. Others might specialize in penetration testing, incident response or application security. A cybersecurity certificate can give your resumé depth in a specific cybersecurity field as it can display skills you’ve learned. It helps demonstrate you’ve polished your skills in a particular specialization, whether that’s cryptography or risk management.

Keep your skills sharp

Like most tech fields, cybersecurity changes over time. Cybersecurity specialists need to keep their skills sharp as hackers find new ways to compromise networks. One of the best ways to continually develop them is through a cybersecurity certificate program.

Cybersecurity certificates familiarize students with new technologies, tools and strategies for keeping networks safe. They can also connect you with resources — including webinars, research papers and communities — only available to enrolled students. Completing or renewing a cybersecurity certificate program is a way to keep up with industry trends.

Potentially enhance earning opportunities

Like many certificate programs, cybersecurity certificates may help improve your earning power. They enhance your qualifications for cyber roles, demonstrating to employers your dedication to the field. This can make you an attractive candidate to employers hiring for higher-level roles.

The demand for qualified professionals in information security continues to grow. Careers for information security analysts are projected to grow by 32% from 2022 to 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment for quality assurance analysts and testers will grow by an estimated 25% from 2022 to 2032. This projected demand can open the door for thousands of educated professionals to help companies keep their employees, devices and data safe from cyberattacks.

BLS Occupational Employment Projections, 2021-2031 is published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data reflects BLS’ projections of national (not local) conditions. These data points are not specific to University of Phoenix students or graduates.

Cybersecurity courses and certificates at University of Phoenix

Has a career in cybersecurity intrigued you? If you enjoy being in a career where you can help others secure their network and you have opportunities for continuous learning, a career in IT or network security may be a good fit for you. University of Phoenix offers a number of online programs that have a fixed tuition rate and flexible courses to fit a busy lifestyle. Learn more here and on the UOPX website:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification exam. Topics include the phases of ethical hacking, recognizing weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a system, social engineering, IoT threats, risk mitigation and more.
  • Certified Incident Handler Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (ECIH) certification exam. This specialist certification focuses on how to effectively handle security breaches. 
  • Certified Network Defender Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the entry-level EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND) certification exam. Courses focus on protecting a network from security breaches before they happen.
  • Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) certification exam. You’ll learn about the latest technologies, tools and methodologies in digital forensics, including the dark web, IoT, malware, the cloud and data forensics.
  • Advanced Cybersecurity Certificate — Within this program you can develop the technical knowledge to step into the fast-growing field of IT security, helping keep computer systems safe from data breaches and cyberattacks. You’ll get real-life experience through hands-on IT labs and simulations while developing a broad knowledge of cybersecurity to help prepare you for your technology career.
  • Cyber and Network Defense Certificate (Undergraduate) — Learn how to address a data breach or cyberattack before it happens. This certificate can show you how to take a proactive approach to network security by spotting weaknesses before hackers can exploit them. Content in this certificate program educationally prepares you to take the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) exam.
Headshot of Michael Feder


A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and its Writing Seminars program and winner of the Stephen A. Dixon Literary Prize, Michael Feder brings an eye for detail and a passion for research to every article he writes. His academic and professional background includes experience in marketing, content development, script writing and SEO. Today, he works as a multimedia specialist at University of Phoenix where he covers a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to IT.

Headshot of Kathryn Uhles


Currently Dean of the College of Business and Information Technology, Kathryn Uhles has served University of Phoenix in a variety of roles since 2006. Prior to joining University of Phoenix, Kathryn taught fifth grade to underprivileged youth in Phoenix.


This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
Read more about our editorial process.

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