Philip Cao

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(ISC)² Associate Program: The Entry Pathway to a Cybersecurity Career

3 min read


Career Path

As noted in our latest Global Information Security Workforce Study, the majority of security professionals (78 percent) anticipate the greatest need for new hires at the entry-level in their organizations. With a predicted shortage of 1.5 million global cybersecurity professionals by 2020, we must put efforts behind bringing more entrants into the industry. It’s one of my goals to bring more awareness to the Associate of (ISC)² program, which is ideal for students, recent graduates just beginning their career journey, or those new to cyber, information, software and infrastructure security.

Many college graduates today have a difficult time finding employment post-graduation. The information security industry has long experienced a shortage of qualified professionals, making unemployment virtually nonexistent. Bringing graduates into careers at the entry-level and setting them up on a pathway to success is essential to garner the growth we so desperately need. I believe that this program has enormous potential to have a real impact on not only bringing entrants into careers, but helping to develop the qualified security professionals needed to combat growing cyber threats.

By becoming an Associate, you, as an aspiring cybersecurity professional, join an internationally respected organization of nearly 110,000 professionals to network and learn. You also have the added benefit of earning a reputation for industry knowledge and expertise by passing one of our rigorous credential exams before you’ve obtained the requisite years of experience. Additional benefits of becoming a member include the option of joining a local (ISC)² chapter, and having access to monthly webinars, regional multi-day and one-day conferences, members-only InfoSecurity Professional magazine and more, all at free or deeply discounted prices for members.

Earning one of our certifications is a recognized accomplishment, career differentiator, and in-demand for industry jobs. A 2015 Burning Glass Cybersecurity Jobs report found that nearly 50,000 job postings requested candidates holding the CISSP in 2014. Those newer to the field may see our solid experience requirements as an obstacle and look elsewhere to start their career paths. But they shouldn’t! The Associate of (ISC)² program offers you the opportunity to earn the status that comes with becoming a member of our organization while you gain more experience, continuing on your career path to earn one of our credentials; thus advancing your career.

Associates of (ISC)² will also soon be able to broadcast achievements via digital badging.  Digital badging is a major trend in the credentialing space, and is designed to translate learning outcomes, including certifications, into digital, web-based representations.  These badges can then be broadcast to social media sites, shared via email, or added to a website.  Sharing accomplishments in a verifiable way is also key for candidates to achieve their ‘dream job.’  When the program goes live in December, Associates of (ISC)² and members who have our certifications will receive an invitation to claim their digital badge(s) and begin sharing their accomplishments with the world.

As CEO for (ISC)², it’s my job to advocate for programs that I believe help to drive our vision to inspire a safe and secure cyber world. The Associate program, currently at more than 3,000 strong globally, has enormous potential to cultivate aspiring cyber, information, software and infrastructure security professionals to become part of a qualified workforce, filling the current and future needs of the industry. Let’s spread the word about providing a pathway for professionals looking for that first step on their pathway to a cybersecurity career. For more information about the Associate of (ISC)² program, please visit

(ISC)² CEO David Shearer

[(ISC)² Blog]

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