Cybersecurity Certification Guide

Cybersecurity Certification Guide

The Great Cybersecurity Debate: Vendor-Specific vs. Vendor-Neutral Certifications

Comparing specialized and general cybersecurity credentials: Optimal cybersecurity certifications.

How can you determine whether a Technical Support Certification is not tied to any particular manufacturer or is exclusively associated with a specific vendor?

When considering an information security certification, numerous aspects must be weighed. A key choice involves determining if a certification tied to a specific vendor, or a more general, vendor-independent one, better aligns with your needs.

This piece will delve into the distinctions between both varieties of certifications by providing a more in-depth analysis and reviewing a few instances of the certifications in question.

Certifications that are specific to a particular vendor and those that are not tied to any vendor.

Typically, certifications that are tied to a particular vendor concentrate on the particular software platforms, tools, and technologies related to information security. They are designed to show proficiency in utilizing a certain security tool. Conversely, the term ‘vendor-neutral’ describes a methodology intended to prove a wide-ranging adaptability and the ability to work interchangeably with various technologies, instruments, and products.

Vendor-neutral certifications

Certifications that are not tied to any specific vendor are often developed by independent bodies or groups dedicated to setting standards for those working in tech support roles. These certifications encompass a wide range of subjects and abilities applicable to numerous tech platforms and situations, including problem-solving, client interaction, communication, record-keeping, security measures, and professional conduct. The CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and HDI Support Center Analyst certifications are some instances of this type of credential. Acquiring one of these certifications can provide you with a robust base in the arena of technical support and demonstrate to prospective employers your ability to competently manage various technological challenges and environments.

Recommended  Vendor-neutral certifications


CompTIA provides a wide array of subject matter that encompasses cybersecurity, networking, cloud technology, and technical assistance. It presents fundamental certifications as well as more specialized qualifications centered on subjects such as cloud technology, Linux, penetration testing, and additional areas.

Available certifications encompass: ITF+ (IT Fundamentals), A+ (General IT Technician), Network+ (Networking Technician), Security+ (IT Security Professional), CySA+ (Cybersecurity Analyst), PenTest+ (Penetration Tester), and CASP+ (CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner).


ISACA concentrates on the areas of governance, control, risk management, security, and audit/assurance, and they have just launched a new certification related to privacy.

Available certifications encompass: Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), and Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE).


This organization provides internationally acknowledged fundamental certifications in several crucial IT areas, such as data systems protection, safeguarding cloud environments, and integrating security within the software development cycle.

There are a variety of certifications on offer such as: the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) along with its three specialized paths—Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP), Information Systems Security Engineering Professional (ISSEP), and Information Systems Security Management Professional (ISSMP). Additionally, there is the Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP), Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP), Certified Authorization Professional (CAP), Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP), and the HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP).


This certifying organization provides a variety of qualifications, with a strong emphasis on skills related to ethical hacking, breaking into systems for security testing, solving and recovering from cyber incidents, as well as protecting networks. Additionally, they offer tailored programs for individuals who work for government bodies, including a special certification for Network Defense Architects known as CNDA.

Renowned certifications from the EC-Council comprise the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Network Defender (CND), Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT), and the EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (CIH).


IAPP provides certifications in privacy and targets individuals looking to enhance and progress their professional journey by aiding their companies in effectively safeguarding their information and handling threats such as data breaches, identity theft, and the erosion of consumer confidence.

Available certifications consist of the Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with specialization options in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia; the Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM); and the Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT).

Vendor-specific certifications

Certifications that are specific to a particular technology provider are generally established by the companies that produce these technologies with the intent of qualifying their clients, business partners, or workforce on their exclusive products or services. These certifications often focus on specialized subjects and abilities pertinent to a certain technology or service, such as the setup, management, optimization, and troubleshooting processes. Some instances of these types of certifications are Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), and Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP). Acquiring such certifications can enable you to develop an in-depth expertise in a particular technology or service, while also demonstrating to potential employers that you have the knowledge and practical experience needed to proficiently use the products or services from these vendors.

Recommended  Vendor-specific certifications


Cisco, a prominent internet networking company, provides industry-recognized certifications which can be extremely beneficial for professionals, considering the vast amount of businesses utilizing their network products. Owning nearly half of the global ethernet switch market as of the third quarter of 2020, professionals frequently encounter Cisco technology in the job market. The company offers a diverse range of certification levels, including beginner, expert, and specialized credentials.

Several well-known certifications from Cisco encompass the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate, in addition to multiple professional and expert-level qualifications available in various specializations.


Job listings frequently include Microsoft certifications as part of their criteria, indicating that numerous companies rely on Microsoft’s technology for their IT setups. Microsoft offers a range of certifications, catering to both technical and non-technical roles. It has just updated its certification system, phasing out some well-known certifications such as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). Instead, Microsoft has transitioned to certifications that focus on specific job roles, which are offered alongside beginner and advanced-level credentials.

Common introductory qualifications encompass Azure Fundamentals Certified by Microsoft, the Fundamentals Certification for Microsoft 365, and the Power Platform Fundamentals Certification from Microsoft.

Red Hat

Red Hat, a prestigious and extensively employed supplier of enterprise-level open-source technologies, including Linux, cloud, container, and Kubernetes, provides a range of certifications and skill development routes for various professionals such as administrators, architects, engineers, developers, and operators to prove their expertise.

Available certifications encompass: Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA), Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), Red Hat Certified Enterprise Microservices Developer (RHCEMD), and Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA).


This firm specializes in updating business practices and provides superior customer support, online data storage, virtual work environments, and safeguards for apps and information. It also provides a range of professional qualifications tailored to various levels of expertise, ranging from entry-level associates to advanced professional and top-tier experts.

Renowned qualifications encompass the VMware Certified Technical Associate (VCTA), VMware Certified Professional (VCP), VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP), and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX).

Benefits and drawbacks -Vendor Specific vs. Vendor Neutral

Certifications that are not tied to any particular vendor and those that are, each offer their own advantages and disadvantages, varying based on your career objectives, personal interests, and chosen professional trajectory. Opting for certifications that aren’t associated with a specific vendor can provide greater versatility and the capacity for adaptation within the realm of technical support, since they cover a broad spectrum of technologies and settings. These certifications might also serve as a stepping stone to higher-level or niche certifications, which may necessitate a foundational certification that is vendor-neutral. However, these broader certifications might not suffice to showcase your specialized knowledge or set you apart in a saturated job market, particularly if your aim is to work within a certain sector or specialized area that demands proficiency with particular vendors’ technologies.

Certifications tailored to individual vendors can enhance your reputation and standing in the field of technical support by demonstrating your expertise or skill in particular technologies or solutions. They can also pave the way for career growth or increased earnings within the ecosystem or network of a specific vendor, potentially opening doors to additional roles or benefits. On the flip side, such certifications could restrict your versatility and movement within the technical support industry, as their relevance might not extend to different technologies or systems. Furthermore, these certifications may demand ongoing investments of time and finances to keep current, as they could become outdated or undergo modifications in line with the vendor’s product updates.

What is the best Appropriate Certification for you?

In the end, selecting the appropriate certification hinges on what you aim to achieve personally and professionally, along with what captures your interest and suits your taste. It’s important to take stock of your existing expertise and background, the specific field or niche you wish to master, the sector or clientele you’re targeting, as well as how much time and money you can dedicate, all within the context of your overarching career strategy. Investigate what each certificate entails regarding its prerequisites, advantages, and potential hurdles, and weigh these up against your own expectations and requirements. Additionally, reaching out to fellow tech support peers who have pursued the certifications you’re considering could provide valuable insights and recommendations.

It’s difficult to say which is superior for your individual goals—a certification that isn’t tied to any particular vendor or one that is specific to a single vendor. Both kinds have their merits and can be beneficial in a tech support career. It depends on your intended application and aspirations. The crucial step is to select a certification that aligns with your ambitions and passions, and that fosters your development and advancement in the technical support industry.

Key takeaway?

As illustrated, there is a common structure to both types of certifications—those that are vendor-specific and those that are vendor-neutral. The former centers on the particular technologies and products of a specific vendor, confirming your expertise in these areas. The latter, however, confirms your foundational knowledge and abilities in primary security and network principles, without focusing on any one vendor’s offerings.

When it comes to practical application, certifications focused on a single vendor’s products are ideal for individuals aiming to work with a company that predominantly uses that vendor’s offerings. On the other hand, certifications that are not tied to any specific vendor are more beneficial for those looking to work in environments that employ a diverse range of products from various vendors. These types of certifications are most suitable for those who wish to make their qualifications applicable to a wide variety of companies. Bearing this straightforward guideline in mind when selecting a certification can assist you in making a more informed decision about which one to strive for.

To effectively approach this scenario, it’s advisable to thoroughly investigate the company you aim to join. Should you be unable to determine the most suitable certification for your preferred company after conducting a fair amount of online research, take the initiative to contact a cybersecurity expert within that company. Engage them in dialogue and inquire directly about the certification they recommend.