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Six Niche Security Certifications

The right security certification can help you fill an important niche job role.CySA+ is the most mainstream certification on this list, as it comes from certification behemoth CompTIA. It’s a fairly new credential, however, so it’s still gaining steam as a professional qualification. If you’re looking to earn an intermediate-level certification that doesn’t have a work experience requirement, then CySA+ may be just the niche for you.


Payment Card Industry Professional (PCIP)


Retailers, service providers, financial institutions and other organizations who handle credit card numbers must comply with a rigorous set of security standards called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The PCI DSS standard includes more than 50 pages of detailed specifications outlining the implementation of 12 major requirements. This is a tricky maze to navigate for those required to maintain compliance.


The PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) is the organization responsible for maintaining the standard. They also offer a certification program called the PCI Professional (PCIP) that allows individuals to demonstrate their mastery of the PCI DSS and their ability to assist organizations in building compliant operations.


If you’re thinking about a career in the financial sector, the PCIP credential provides you with qualifications in an extremely important compliance niche.


Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP)


Privacy concerns are everywhere in today’s technology environment. It’s now rare that a week passes by without news of some kind of data breach affecting the personally identifiable information (PII) of customers of a retail store, students at an educational institution, employees of a government agency, or some other group.


Regional and national regulators around the world are rapidly drafting new laws designed to keep up with these developments and the Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) credential demonstrates that an individual has a current understanding of government privacy regulations.


Recognizing that privacy regulations differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the CIPP credential comes in different regional variations:

● Asia (CIPP/A)
● Canada (CIPP/C)
● Europe (CIPP/E)
● United States private sector (CIPP/US)


These certifications come from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), who also previously offered a United States government (CIPP/G) version of the certification, which is now inactive. Earning the CIPP credential for your region is a great way to move into an important niche role.


HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP)


Healthcare information security and privacy is of paramount concern to patients, physicians, hospitals, insurance companies, and the vendors who work with them on a daily basis. Protected health information (PHI) is perhaps the most heavily regulated type of sensitive information and organizations who fail to protect the privacy and security of that data face significant fines and sanctions from regulators.


(ISC)² offers the HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP) credential for individuals seeking to specialize in this important niche. The credential covers a variety of topics specific to the healthcare field, including specific health privacy regulations, the healthcare industry, and risk assessment and management topics.


As with the other credentials on this list, the importance of the field hasn’t yet resulted in a plethora of certified individuals. If you earn the HCISPP certification, you’ll find yourself on a list that currently has only 1,293 members.


Find Your Niche


Each of these certifications fills an important gap in the cybersecurity industry and possessing one or more of these credentials helps you stand out from the pack of cybersecurity professionals bearing more common certifications. Treat this list as a starting point and think about the specific niche that you’d like to fill in the cybersecurity world. There’s probably a certification out there that will validate your skills!



Mike Chapple is Senior Director for IT Service Delivery at the University of Notre Dame. Mike is CISSP certified and holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in computer science and engineering from Notre Dame, with a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Idaho and an MBA from Auburn University.