best cloud security certifications to boost your career

As organizations increasingly migrate their operations to the cloud, the demand for skilled professionals with specialized knowledge in cloud security is rapidly rising. Acquiring a cloud security certification demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of cloud architecture, security risks, and best practices for safeguarding cloud-based environments. Needless to say, cloud security certifications can enhance your credibility as well as your job prospects and earning potential.

Choosing a cloud security certification can be a daunting task. There’s no shortage of options available. What’s more, there are different focus areas and expertise levels. With this in mind, we’ll take you through what we feel are the best cloud security certifications, highlighting their key features, requirements, costs, and more. The goal is to make your decision easier and ensure you choose a certification that best aligns with your career objectives.

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Best cloud security certifications

Here’s our list of the best cloud security certifications to boost your career:

1. AWS Certified Security

The AWS Certified Security – Specialty certification is designed for cloud security professionals looking to demonstrate their skills in securing Amazon Web Services (AWS) environments. It covers identity and access management, data and infrastructure security, and compliance with regulatory standards.

Skills assessed: 

  • Data encryption and categorization techniques specific to AWS
  • Application of secure communication protocols
  • Creation and maintenance of secure production environments with AWS security tools
  • Comprehension of security operations and risk management strategies within AWS

Requirements: Although there aren’t any prerequisites to take the exam, AWS states that it’s best suited for those with five years of IT security experience and at least two years of experience in securing AWS workloads.

  • Exam: 170-minute exam of 65 multiple-choice or multiple-response questions
  • Minimum passing score: 75 percent
  • Recommended experience level: Advanced
  • Cost: $300 (for one exam attempt)
  • Recommended preparation course: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate

2. Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)

The Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) provides a comprehensive foundation in cloud security concepts and best practices. Aimed at IT and security professionals of all levels, the CCSK covers topics such as cloud architecture, governance, compliance, and data security, along with practical guidance on cloud application security and disaster recovery.

Skills assessed:

  • Fundamental concepts of cloud computing architecture and design
  • Cloud governance, risk management, and compliance principles
  • Understanding and applying cloud security controls and methodologies
  • Management of cloud infrastructure security
  • Strategies for securing data in the cloud
  • Cloud application security
  • Incident response, disaster recovery, and business continuity planning for cloud environments
  • Knowledge of legal and regulatory issues affecting cloud computing

Requirements: There are no requirements to take the CCSK, which is an entry-level certification.

  • Exam: 90 minute exam with 60 multiple-choice questions. The minimum passing score is 80 percent.
  • Recommended experience level: Beginner
  • Cost: $395 (two test attempts which you have two years to use)

3. Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

The Certified Cloud Security Professional certification from ISC2 is a globally recognized credential that signifies expertise in cloud security. It’s designed for experienced IT and cybersecurity professionals and focuses on advanced knowledge in cloud data security, architecture, operations, compliance, and risk management.

Skills assessed:

  • Cloud architecture and design
  • Cloud data security
  • Cloud platform and infrastructure security
  • Cloud application security
  • Legal, risk, and compliance
  • Cloud security operations

Requirements: In order to qualify for the CCSP certification, you must have at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in IT. Three of these years must be in information security, and one year in one or more of the six domains of the CCSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).

  • Exam: 4 hour exam of 150 multiple-choice questions with a passing grade of 70 percent.
  • Recommended experience level: Advanced
  • Cost: $599 (for one attempt)
  • Recommended preparation course: Certified Cloud Security Professional Course

4. CompTIA Cloud+

The CompTIA Cloud+ certification shows that you have the skills and knowledge to maintain and optimize cloud environments, ensuring secure and efficient operations. It focuses on a wide range of cloud technologies and principles, including configuration, deployment, security, management, and troubleshooting of cloud solutions.

Skills assessed: 

  • Evaluating cloud models to tailor solutions that meet business needs
  • Managing and maintaining servers (OS setups, access management)
  • Analyzing system requirements for efficient cloud worldload migrations
  • Using automation, backups, disaster recovery plans to enhance cloud environments
  • Resolving issues related to cloud capacity, automation, connectivity, and security

Requirements: There are no hard requirements for taking the CompTIA Cloud+. However, CompTIA recommends 2-3 years of experience in systems administration or networking. It also recommends you take the CompTIA Network+ and Server+ certifications first.

  • Exam: 90 minute exam with a maximum of 90 questions (multiple choice and performance-based). Passing score of 750 (on a scale of 100-900).
  • Recommended experience level: Intermediate
  • Cost: $369 (for one exam attempt)
  • Recommended preparation course: TOTAL: Cloud Computing / CompTIA Cloud+ Cert. (CV0-003)

5. GIAC Cloud Security Automation (GCSA)

The GIAC Cloud Security Automation (GCSA) certification is designed for professionals specializing in the automation of cloud security within diverse cloud environments, be it public, private, or hybrid models. The certification focuses on assessing an individual’s ability to effectively use automation tools and techniques to secure cloud services and infrastructure.

Skills assessed:

  • Designing and implementing secure cloud architectures with automation
  • Utilizing automation tools and scripts to configure and manage cloud security settings
  • Implementing continuous monitoring and automated threat detection in cloud environments
  • Automating incident response and remediation processes for cloud-based security incidents
  • Ensuring compliance with security policies and regulations through automated controls
  • Managing identity, access, and encryption automatically in cloud services
  • Leveraging automation for secure software development and deployment in cloud infrastructure

Requirements: There are no prerequisites to take the GSCA exam.

  • Exam: 2 hour exam with 75 questions and a minimum passing score of 61 percent.
  • Recommended experience level: Advanced
  • Cost: $979 (for one attempt)

6. Google Professional Cloud Security Engineer

The Google Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification is tailored for those who want to demonstrate their expertise in designing and implementing secure infrastructure on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). The certification covers a wide range of topics including configuring access within a cloud solution environment, as well as ensuring data protection.

Skills assessed:

  • Configuring access management
  • Securing communications
  • Upholding compliance standards
  • Safeguarding data
  • Overseeing operations management

Requirements: The Google Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification doesn’t have any prerequisites in terms of required courses or certifications. However, Google recommends you have at least three years of industry experience including one year of managing and designing using Google Cloud.

    • Exam: 2 hour exam consisting of 50-60 multiple-choice questions. It has a passing score of 70 percent.
    • Recommended experience level: Intermediate
    • Cost: $200 (for one attempt)

7. Microsoft Certified Azure Security Engineer Associate

The Microsoft Certified Azure Security Engineer Associate certification validates IT and cybersecurity professionals’ expertise in securing Azure environments. Focused on implementing security controls, managing identity, and protecting data and networks, it suits those with experience in Azure services, scripting, and network security.

Skills assessed:

  • Setting up and overseeing secure access within Azure Active Directory
  • Enforcing platform security measures
  • Managing security operations with Azure Monitor, Security Center, and Sentinel
  • Protecting data integrity and application security

Requirements: There are no formal prerequisites for the Azure Security Engineer Associate certification. However, Microsoft recommends candidates have strong foundational knowledge of compute, network, and storage within Azure services. It also emphasizes practical experience in administration of Azure and hybrid environments.

  • Exam: 2 hour exam consisting of 40-60 questions with a passing score of 70 percent.
  • Recommended experience level: Intermediate
  • Cost: $165 (for one attempt)
  • Recommended preparation course: AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator TOTAL

How to choose a cloud security certification

Choosing the right cloud security certification can be an important decision in your career. Below, we take you through some of the key considerations to help guide your selection process:

Identify your career goals

Consider what you want to achieve in your career. Whether you’re aiming for a role as a cloud security engineer or an information security auditor, the certification you choose should align with your career aspirations.

Assess your experience level

Some certifications are designed for beginners while others are for more experienced professionals. By evaluating your current level of expertise and experience, you can better choose one that matches your skill level and allows you to grow.

Consider the certification’s focus

Cloud security certifications vary in their focus. Some certifications are platform-specific (such as AWS and Azure) while others are more general. Decide if you want to specialize in a particular cloud platform or if you prefer a broader approach to cloud security.

Consider time and cost

Another factor to take into account is how much time and money you’re willing to invest in a cloud security certification. Some certifications require a significant amount of study time. Prices can vary from as little as $200 up to almost $1000. It’s also important to know for how long your certification will be valid and what you need to do to renew. You may need to pass further exams in order to maintain your certified status. There may even be renewal fees.

Research market demand

Look into which certifications are most sought after by employers in your desired field or industry. Certifications that are in high demand can help enhance your employability and potentially result in a higher salary.

How to prepare for a cloud security certification

Aside from choosing a cloud security certification, you’ll also want to consider the resources you use to prepare for the exam. There’s no shortage of study materials and training programs to be found. Select a platform that offers comprehensive content while continuing to meet the latest industry standards and practices.

One notable resource worth considering is StationX. Known for its specialized focus on cybersecurity, StationX offers a variety of courses designed to cater to various aspects of cloud security. Whether you’re aiming for a certification in AWS Security, Google Cloud Platform Security, or Microsoft Azure Security, StationX provides up-to-date material by industry experts.

With StationX, you’ll gain hands-on experience with virtual lab-based training. You’ll also be able to study at your own pace, making it easier to balance exam preparation with other commitments. StationX even comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out for yourself and, if at all unsatisfied, request a full refund for your money back.

Cloud security certifications FAQs

How much does a cloud security certification cost?

The cost of cloud security certifications varies widely. Indeed, the price differs according to the level of the certification, the certifying body, and whether there are any study materials included. The most affordable certification covered in this post is the Microsoft Certified Azure Security Engineer Associate ($165) while the most expensive is the GIAC Cloud Security Automation ($979). Note that ongoing maintenance and renewal fees can further push the cost up.

Do I need prior experience to pursue a cloud security certification?

You don’t necessarily need prior experience to pursue a cloud security certification. It really depends on the cloud security certification in question. Some certifications welcome beginners and provide foundational knowledge. Others are designed for professionals with specific experience. Be sure to review the recommendations and requirements for any certification you’re considering to ensure it matches with your experience level and career goals.

What career paths can I pursue with a cloud security certification?

Holding a cloud security certification can open up a variety of career paths in Cybersecurity. Here are some of the potential roles that can be pursued:

  • Cloud security architect
  • Cloud security engineer
  • Compliance and risk management specialist
  • Cloud application security developer
  • Cloud security consultant
  • Information security manager
  • Cloud security analyst
  • Cloud infrastructure engineer

Each of these career paths requires a combination of technical skills, practical experience, and specialized knowledge in certain cloud platforms, be it AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud. The cloud security qualifications covered in this post can enhance your credentials and help you stand out in the job market.