Information Assurance Certification is a valuable way to boost your career. It is also an essential step to working in highly regulated environments. One of the primary areas where information assurance certifications are essential is the U.S. Department of Defense, where all individuals who have the ability to access DoD information systems must meet specific requirements which vary based on the role and level of access needed.
What Is DoD Certification?
While there is not a single DoD certification, this term refers to a set of standards and processes for ensuring individuals who work with the U.S. Department of Defense follow appropriate information assurance practices. These requirements were originally outlined in DoD 8570, a directive which explicitly listed approved certifications for different tiers of roles within the Department. However, DoD 8570 has been replaced by directive 8140, which has been updated and now further refines this list.
Professionals are able to comply with DoD requirements in a variety of ways, depending on the scope of work they perform and how much access is necessary for their involvement within the Department’s information systems.
Both DoD 8570 and 8140 require information assurance specialists, cybersecurity service providers, and other technical professionals who work for or who contract with government agencies to obtain Cyber Security masters degree certifications pertinent to their position and their applicable level of experience. These certifications are referred to as Information Assurance (IA) Baseline Certifications.
How to Meet the DoD Certification Requirements
There are a number of different exams relevant to information assurance available to professionals in order to meet the DoD compliance requirements. The DoD approved baseline certifications page has a full list of relevant exams, which are organized into information assurance tiers. Here are a few examples:
- CompTIA A+: An entry level certification which verifies that individuals have the ability to effectively troubleshoot various technological platforms.
- CCNA-Security: Specific to Cisco brand, the successful completion of this exam demonstrates knowledge of Cisco networks.
- CompTIA Network+: This exam is designed to prove the qualifications of network administrators s.
- SSCP: The Systems Security Certified Practitioner exam focuses on the seven Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) areas.
More sophisticated and senior exams to pass include:
- CISSP: This is the gold standard for cybersecurity managers and CIOs.
- CEH: The Ethical Hacker Certification prepares professionals to analyze systems and find vulnerabilities utilizing the same techniques as that of a hacker.
Much like college entrance exams, those seeking DoD 8140 or DoD 8570 certification may engage in online training classes to prepare for certification exams, however, these options serve better as refresher courses as opposed to in-depth lessons. Additionally many of these individual courses do not meet the requirements for a number of the key exams. For instance, the SSCP accepts a Master’s in Cybersecurity as a stand-in for one year of the required work experience necessary in order to qualify for taking the exam.
A master’s program is also an excellent way to develop knowledge of information systems and gain the experience of applying that knowledge to real-world problems. For example, The George Washington University’s master’s degree in cybersecurity policy and compliance covers subject matter such as establishing information security policies along with specific methods for intrusion detection and security configuration management. The standards and qualifications for DoD certification often change, but by focusing on building the necessary skills to stay competitive, they will always add value to your career.
The Importance of DoD 8570 Certification
The skills developed by obtaining a degree in the Cybersecurity Master’s Program, verified by DoD certification are especially valuable when considering what employers consider an essential qualifying credential.
In a recent CompTIA study, 91 percent of employers reported IT certifications influence hiring decisions and are a strong indicator of employee success. In fact, 72 percent of employers require IT certifications.
Although specific certifications and their requirements will change over time, they serve as assurance of your current proficiency with specific skills. We recommend practicing your due diligence while planning both your education and your career path. It is recommended to start by researching the sectors in which you want to work, and mapping out the common certifications required by organizations. From there, you will be able to decipher what requirements are still necessary in order to fulfill the preferred credentials vital to advancing your professional development opportunities.