Certifications for Security Software Developers


Published September 13, 2023

check mark Edited by
check mark Reviewed by

Our Integrity Network

CyberDegrees.org is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.

Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for CyberDegrees.org as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Explore our full list of Integrity Network members.

Are you a cybersecurity leader looking for ways to emerge at the forefront of your field? Consider these certification options for security software developers.

CyberDegrees.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

IT technician using a digital tablet in a server room. Female programmer fixing a computer system and network while doing maintenance in a datacenter. Engineer updating security software on a machine Credit: Marco VDM / E+ / Getty Images

A security software developer designs, installs, and/or implements security solutions to protect corporations and individuals from cyberattacks or data leaks. They may work for large companies such as Microsoft or serve in public agencies, hospitals, and schools.

As of June 2023, Glassdoor estimated that these professionals earn an average of $154,660 per year. A certification can help professionals become security software engineers or advance in the field.

Even if you already hold a computer science degree, a certification can help validate your real-world technology skills. Discover more about security software developer certification options and explore other recommendations for these professionals.

What Is Certification in Security Software Development?

Software developers can earn certifications through professional associations or training centers. Certifications are different from licenses or academic certificates.


  • Issued by third-party organizations
  • Document the holder's skill in a particular area of information security


  • Issued by state agencies
  • Qualify the holder to practice their profession legally within the state


  • Issued by colleges and universities
  • May be able to count certificate credits toward a degree

You do not have to hold a license, certificate, or certification to work in software development. According to the CompTIA Workforce and Learning Trends 2022 report, however, 76% of HR leaders say credentials are a major factor in IT hiring. Therefore, certification in one or more related areas may help advance your career.

Why Get Certified as a Security Software Developer?

Earning a recognized certification can help software developers improve job prospects, take advantage of advancement opportunities, or simply expand their industry knowledge. The following list looks closer at these benefits:

  • Improved Job Prospects: According to CompTIA, 76% of HR leaders say certifications are a factor in hiring for IT positions, and 47% expect them to become even more important.
  • Career Advancement Opportunities: Certifications can equip you with the technical or managerial skills you need to advance your technology career.
  • Expanded Industry Knowledge: Certifications are often much less expensive than cybersecurity bootcamps or advanced degrees, allowing you to expand your knowledge without shrinking your bank account.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Best Certifications for Security Software Developers

Nearly any certification from a respected certifying body can help you advance your career. The best certifications for security software developers focus on specific career objectives and have measurable outcomes. Look at the hard data around a certification before investing your time and money into earning it.

Consider these questions:

  • How much does the average professional with this credential earn?
  • How many job postings specifically ask for this qualification?
  • How many people around the world hold this certification?
  • Is the certifying body I'm considering a legitimate organization?

While the following list is not exhaustive, it provides an introduction to three certifying bodies and nine potential certifications for security software developers.

Global Information Assurance Certification

Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) offers more than 40 certifications across several specialized cybersecurity domains. Founded in 1999, GIAC issued about 1,000 certifications in its first year. Since then, the organization has conferred 173,822 GIAC certifications.

GIAC divides its certifications into six categories: offensive operations, cyberdefense, cloud security, industrial control systems, cybersecurity leadership, and digital forensics and incident response. Certified professionals maintain their certifications for four years and must complete 36 continuing professional education (CPE) units to renew.

GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

Focused on information security knowledge beyond the basic level, the GSEC helps prepare professionals for hands-on cybersecurity roles in IT. To earn the certification, applicants need to pass a proctored exam that includes the following:

  • 106-180 questions
  • 4-5 hour time limit
  • Minimum passing score of 73%

The exam covers many topics, including:

  • Access control and password management
  • Cryptography
  • Cloud
  • Defensible network architecture
  • Linux: Fundamentals, hardening and securing
  • SIEM, critical controls, and exploit mitigation
  • Endpoint security

You must earn 36 CPEs to renew your certification. GIAC certificates require renewal every four years.

Learn more about this certification

GIAC Penetration Tester Certification (GPEN)

The GPEN certification validates your ability to conduct a penetration test using best practices and methodologies. Earning this certification requires you to pass the 82-question proctored exam with a score of 75% or better.

Topics on the exam include:

  • Advanced password attacks
  • Azure overview, attacks, and AD integration
  • Domain escalation and persistence attacks
  • Escalation and exploitation
  • Kerberos attacks
  • Metasploit
  • Moving files with exploits
  • Password attacks
  • Password formats and hashes
  • Reconnaissance
  • Vulnerability scanning
Learn more about this certification

GIAC Reverse Engineering Malware Certification (GREM)

Technologists who protect their organizations from malicious code may benefit from earning GREM certification. This credential validates your ability to reverse engineer code targeting commonly used software. To earn this certification, you must pass a 66-75 question exam with a score of 73% or better.

Topics on the exam include the following:

  • Analyzing malicious office macros, obfuscated malware, PDFs, and RFT files
  • Behavioral analysis fundamentals
  • Common malware patterns
  • Core reverse engineering concepts
  • Identifying and bypassing anti-analysis techniques
  • Malware flow control and structures
  • Overcoming misdirection techniques
  • Reversing functions in assembly
  • Static analysis fundamentals
Learn more about this certification


Since its inception in 1989, (ISC)² has provided a forum for information security professionals to standardize professional training in the industry. The organization also created and maintains the industry's code of ethics.

You can earn (ISC)² certifications through classroom, self-paced, or online instructor-led training. After you complete your training, you can take the exam and meet the other qualifications for the credential of your choice.

CISSP-ISSAP (Architecture)

To pursue architecture or any other CISSP concentration, you must already hold the CISSP certification. In addition, for architecture, you need two years of cumulative, paid work experience in one or more of the CISSP-ISSAP Common Body of Knowledge's six domains:

  • Architect for governance, compliance, and risk management
  • Security architecture modeling
  • Infrastructure security architecture
  • Identity and access management architecture
  • Architect for application security
  • Security operations architecture

Each concentration shares the same exam and maintenance requirements. The CISSP concentration exams consist of 125 multiple-choice questions. You may take up to three hours to complete the test, but you must earn at least 700 out of 1,000 points to pass.

To maintain your certification in any concentration, you must earn at least 20 CPEs and submit your renewal forms every three years. You may count your CPEs toward both the concentration and the CISSP renewal if the CPEs are relevant to your concentration.

Learn more about this certification

CISSP-ISSEP (Engineering)

To pursue this certification, CISSPs need two years of cumulative, paid work experience in one or more of the five domains of the CISSP-ISSEP:

  • Systems security engineering foundations
  • Risk management
  • Security planning and design
  • Systems implementation, verification, and validation
  • Secure operations, change management, and disposal
Learn more about this certification

CISSP-ISSMP (Management)

This certification focuses on the management and leadership skills needed to supervise a federal or private information security program. Each applicant must hold two years of cumulative paid work experience in one or more of the following domains:

  • Leadership and business management
  • Systems lifecycle management
  • Risk management
  • Threat intelligence and incident management
  • Contingency management
  • Law, ethics, and security compliance management
Learn more about this certification


Established more than 22 years ago to help professionalize the cybersecurity field, the EC-Council now operates in almost 150 countries and has certified 300,000 professionals as the largest cybersecurity certifying body in the world. The organization offers certifications in many areas, including ethical hacking, blockchain, and cloud security.

The EC-Council also offers a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and a graduate certificate in cybersecurity. The council's microlearning opportunities provide introductory-level information through online courses.

Certified Ethical Hacker

To earn the certified ethical hacker (CEH) certification, you must proceed through four defined steps.

  • Gain Skills: Complete 20 modules over five days of training. The curriculum includes more than 20 hands-on lab experiences.
  • Gain Experience: Complete the knowledge exam and the practical exam. The knowledge exam has 125 multiple-choice questions, and the practical exam covers 20 scenario-based questions.
  • Gain Recognition: Complete a real-world ethical hacking project.
  • Gain Respect: Tackle new challenges every month.
Learn more about this certification

Certified Cloud Security Engineer

This vendor-neutral certification focuses on cloud security frameworks, technologies, and practices. To earn this certification, you must complete 11 modules, including data security in the cloud, forensics investigation in the cloud, and incident detection and response in the cloud. As part of the course, you complete 50 real-world scenarios in a simulated environment.

To earn the credential, you must pass the exam, which consists of 125 multiple-choice questions and can last for up to four hours.

Learn more about this certification

Certified Application Security Engineer

This certification verifies your security knowledge and skills as part of the software development lifecycle. The program goes beyond coding to explore security in application design and post-development security.

To earn this certification, you must complete a 10-module course covering secure application architecture, design, and secure coding practices for cryptography. If you have completed this training and have at least two years of experience or are a certified secure programmer, you can take the certification exam. The exam includes 50 multiple-choice questions, and you must earn a score of 70% to pass.

Learn more about this certification

More Certifications for Security Software Developers

You can also earn tech-based security certifications directly from CompTIA, such as Sec+ and CASP+. Other credentials for security software developers include:

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Preparing for Certification Exams

Earning a certification generally requires you to pass an exam. Some certifying bodies provide online, in-person, or hybrid courses that help you prepare for the assessment, while others expect you to study on your own.

You may be able to find websites that offer test preparation resources or practice questions through the certifying body or other providers. Online study groups can also help you prepare. You'll want to follow best practices for taking tests, such as eating sensibly, resting well, and staying hydrated before the assessment.

Choosing Between Security Software Developer Certifications

With so many security software developer certifications available, which factors should influence your decision?

  • Cost: Are you prepared to pay for a preparation course, the exam fee, and any licensing and renewal fees?
  • Requirements: Have you completed the prerequisites for taking the certification exam, such as any coursework or years of experience?
  • Renewal: When will you complete the renewal requirements to maintain your certification?
  • Test Length: Can you pass the test knowing its format, length, and style?
  • Test Content: Do you have strong knowledge of the content or skills the test will assess?
  • Validity: Where is the certification valid? For example, is it valid in Puerto Rico? What about Canada or another country outside the United States?
  • Career Alignment: Does this certification's focus align with your career goals?

Resources for Security Software Developers

What Is a Security Software Developer?

What Is a Security Software Developer?

How to Become a Security Software Developer

How to Become a Security Software Developer

Day in the Life of a Security Software Developer

Day in the Life of a Security Software Developer

Salary and Career Outlook for Security Software Developers

Salary and Career Outlook for Security Software Developers

FAQ About Security Software Developer Certifications

How long does it take to become a certified security software developer?

The answer depends upon the particular certification you pursue. Without a universal security software developer certification, you choose your own certifying body, and the rules and requirements vary among those bodies.

Do security software developers need to be licensed?

Licensure refers to a credential that state agencies require to practice your skill in your jurisdiction. Some professionals, such as accountants, lawyers, and commercial drivers, need licenses. Security software developers, however, do not have to hold licensure. They may benefit from certifications, but states do not require these credentials.

What is the best security software development certification?

The best security software development certification depends on your personal goals and level of existing knowledge. Large and established credentialing agencies such as CompTIA, (ISC)2, and the EC-Council all offer credible security software development credentials.

Are certifications for security software developers worth it?

A 2022 report from CompTIA indicates that cybersecurity employers look beyond the four-year degree when evaluating a prospective employee's credentials. Eighty-five percent of HR leaders report relaxing degree requirements, and 76% say credentials are a major factor in IT hiring.

Last reviewed June 14, 2023.

Recommended Reading

View hand-picked degree programs

Tell us what you’d like to specialize in, and discover which schools offer a degree program that can help you make an impact on the world.