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What qualifications do IT risk jobs ask for?

Filed under: Features — Stephanie on August 17, 2013

For companies and organisations of all sizes, an efficient, up-to-date IT setup is, these days, all but essential. Those without such setups will be rapidly out-paced by the competition.

However, as businesses become more and more reliant on IT, so too do they become potentially more vulnerable to information security threats of all kinds. Consequently, companies are increasingly looking out for IT security professionals in general – and IT risk experts in particular – to guide them through potentially choppy waters ahead. For those interested in IT risk roles, either in terms of career progression or making a fresh start, here, then are some pointers as to what qualifications might well help you secure that job.

Academic qualifications

First and foremost, there is a range of academic degrees available that could only benefit someone with a long-term ambition to become an IT risk management professional. For instance, some universities offers a four-year BSc (Hons) in Risk and Security Management. Courses can cover such topics as “The Fraud Problem”, “Internet Risk and Security”. The University of Leicester offers a Foundation Degree in Security and Risk Management, whilst City University offers Post-Graduate students the chance to do an MSc in Information Security and Risk. The above is a small selection of relevant IT risk-related courses in higher education. Having one of these degrees under your belt, at any stage in your career, could only be an advantage in this competitive arena.

However, it must be said that not everyone has the wherewithal to take a full-length university course. Such courses are a big investment in terms of time and expense. Unless you are fortunate to be sponsored by an employer, or are at the post A-Level stage and in line for a student loan, then such degrees may be out of your reach.

Professional certification

For such people, however, there are a range of professional certificates that are well worth considering and would boost any IT professional’s CV. One such certification is the Practitioner Certificate in Information Risk Management (PCiIRM), from the British Standards Institution (BSI). This programme gives candidates a thorough grounding in ISO 17799, ISO 27001 and BS 7799-3, the key global standards embracing various aspects of IT security, but particularly risk management.

The other key ingredients

Often, more general information security professional qualifications – that branch out beyond purely risk management – are equally welcome. Sometimes, they are more desirable, since they demonstrate a familiarity with IT security “in the round”. These include, for example, the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). The CISSP is one of the most demanding IT certifications, and is often considered something of a passport in to executive level roles.

Beyond all these paper qualifications, it cannot be stressed enough that recruiters will also be looking for plenty of experience in the professional IT realm, as well as the all-important human qualities (such as patience and strong people skills) that are so essential in these challenging roles.

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