Vendor Neutral and Vendor Specific Certification

As business applications move out of the corporate networks into the cloud environments and devices become smarter, interconnect, and loaded with data, identity and access management (IAM) certifications gain popularity as network security becomes less of an issue that it was in the past and managing identities and their access in standalone cloud systems or IoT devices becomes a critical component of the cyber security profession. IAM Certifications by Identity Management Institute allow identity practitioners and identity risk management professionals to set themselves apart in the marketplace.

It is obvious to most hiring managers that education alone and certifications do not compensate for on the job training specially in a technical field such as cyber security and identity management careers, however, experts agree that educated and knowledgeable staff learn faster on the job and can be much more productive sooner.

A recent survey of professionals across the globe found that after completing a professional certification, as much as 76 percent reported a salary increase of up to 13% or promotion. And when compared with professionals who are not certified, the certified professionals reported easier and faster hiring as well as higher levels of confidence and satisfaction at work.

Identity and Access Management Certification Options

When it comes to professional IAM certifications, many members of Identity Management Institute (IMI) ask themselves which IAM certification they must pursue for career growth and learning. Another important question that they pose themselves is what are the differences and benefits of vendor-neutral versus vendor-specific certification?

To answer the first question, IMI created an IAM certification chart to illustrate various identity and access management professional career options. Take a look at the chart below and click the image to learn more about each certification.

identity and access management certifications and career path

Vendor-Neutral Versus Vendor-Specific Certification

The main difference between vendor-neutral and vendor-specific certifications is that a vendor specific training and certification offers insight into the product features. The skills learned can only be applied to that specific product for the most part. A vendor specific certification establishes credibility and expertise for the use of the product whereas the vendor neutral certification offers broader options and high level knowledge of the IAM best practices and frameworks that can be applied to all IAM related jobs and products.

For new entrants to the IAM field whether you are a new graduate or someone with related cybersecurity experience who wants to switch to an IAM specific job, getting a vendor neutral certification is always a great first step to get into the door and then reinforcing that credential with a product specific certification to display specialty. Once a job is secured, you can learn about the tools that your company is using or planning to procure so you can target the product that you plan to become an expert in. Otherwise, what is the point of spending time and money to learn a product that your company is not using. Also, if you earn a product certification and fail to work on that product for a while, you will forget all that you have learned.

In conclusion, both the vendor-neutral and vendor-specific certifications are valuable depending on your employment status, needs, and interest. If you are new to the IAM job market and don’t know which products you will be working with, it is better to pursue a vendor-neutral certification. On the other hand, if you are targeting a particular product vendor for employment or if your company uses a particular product, then it is better to pursue a product training first. Regardless of when you pursue a product certification, having a vendor neutral IAM certification is extremely beneficial because the credential and knowledge earned during the certification process can be applied to all industries and products.

IAM professionals are encouraged to assess their options carefully when it comes to vendor-specific certification as there are many competing IAM products with changing market demand which determines job opportunities.