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Correction: (ISC)2 has 168,000 members.

Individuals interested in a career in cybersecurity now have a new opportunity to gain a foundational certification. In Jan. 2022, (ISC)2 announced the start of registration for its new Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certification Pilot Program to address the workforce gap in the field. 

Best known for its Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, (ISC)2 is an organization comprised of certified cybersecurity professionals with more than 17,000 members and 150 chapters worldwide. 

Designed to tackle the growing need for qualified cybersecurity professionals in the market, the Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certification will test participants in multiple domains including network security and access control. Currently, there are approximately 4.19 million cybersecurity professionals in the world. According to (ISC)2, 2.72 million more professionals are necessary for companies to effectively protect their assets. 

(ISC)2 CEO Clar Rosso said the new certification is designed to make starting a career in cybersecurity easier for students and career changers. 

“(What) we have learned over the past several years looking at what’s happening in the marketplace is people are having a hard time entering the profession,” Rosso said. “At the same time, we desperately need people in the cybersecurity profession.” 

Engineering sophomore Mike Green, president of WolvSec –– a U-M cybersecurity and hacking club that organizes the Wolverine Security Conference –– believes in the importance of cybersecurity in people’s daily lives. 

“(Cybersecurity) is very relevant and it’s going to continue to be very relevant,” Green said. “It is one of those things that is not going away.” 

In order to develop this new certification, (ISC)reached out to employers to understand the necessary skills for an entry-level cybersecurity job for a person with no experience. (ISC)2 built the exam with questions designed to measure an individual’s basic skills and is now in its pilot phase. 

During the pilot phase, participants will be able to take the exam twice. Their exam results are then used to validate the exam and help the psychometricians and exam builders at (ISC)2 ensure the new Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certification tests an individual’s basic skills as well as produce replicable results. 

“If we find during the pilot that there’s a question that everybody got wrong, our team will go back and look at that and say … Do we need to rewrite the question? Is the content not right?” Rosso said. 

(ISC)2 expects that the Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certification will be launched by the summer of 2022 and aims to have approximately 10,000 people earn this certification by the end of the year. 

Although there is growth in university programs that offer cybersecurity degrees, the Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certification would provide employers in cybersecurity a clear picture of the skills a job candidate possesses. Overall, Rosso believes receiving the certification will increase a student’s employability. 

“(The program) is a trusted brand in the marketplace,” Rosso said. “The hiring managers are going to say, ‘Oh, (the candidates) have earned that. I know what that is, which means I know which exact skills they have … That’s the person I want to hire.’” 

In order to help individuals prepare for the Entry-Level Cybersecurity Certification, (ISC)2 is offering live and recorded review sessions taught by (ISC)2 instructors. Upon receiving a certification offered by (ISC)2, an individual becomes a member of the association. 

The (ISC)2 West Michigan Chapter is a chapter that aims to grow cybersecurity professionals and companies locally. John Weller, president of the (ISC)2 West Michigan Chapter and the Chief Information Security Officer at TrackCore, Inc., is a cybersecurity professional with the CISSP certification. Weller said his certifications from (ISC)2 have allowed him and his colleagues to communicate more effectively. 

“(ISC)2 provides a great foundation and a great taxonomy and framework for us around the world to improve our security,” Weller said. “If I can have a conversation with many colleagues using the same words and it means the same, they understand each other a lot better and easier.”

Weller also said being a part of the (ISC)2 West Michigan Chapter has helped him cope with the overwhelming experience of starting a career in cybersecurity. 

“When I first started out in cybersecurity some eight years ago, I was pretty overwhelmed by the amount of risk that our organization was experiencing,” Weller said. “In the meetings with (ISC)2 and other local organizations, I learned to realize that we are all on a journey to mature and none of us had it completely figured out, so it was comforting to know that we weren’t so far behind. We were with the pack.” 

Daily News Reporter Tina Yu can be reached at tinapyyu@umich.edu.