Role-Based vs Certification Training: Which is best for my team?

Cybersecurity Role-Based vs. Certification Training: Which is best for my team?

Cybersecurity Role-Based vs. Certification Training: Which is best for my team? 1200 628 N2K

The number of enterprise cybersecurity training providers and format options can be overwhelming to choose from. Many providers offer certification training for certs like CompTIA Security+ or (ISC)² CISSP and others specialize in more technical, role-based security training such as Security Operations (SOC) or Threat Intel. But which type of training is the best for your team?

This article highlights the pros and cons of both cybersecurity certification training and role-based training to help determine which path is best for your organization.

Role-Based Training


  • Solve real problems. Typically involves more task-based activities and real on-the-job scenarios to build essential and relevant skills.
  • Can be customizable. Content can be tailored to specific organizational needs and job functions versus static exam objectives from cert bodies.
  • Accelerate onboarding. Streamline new hire training or upskilling current talent into critical roles more efficiently.


  • Skills are always evolving. As technology and processes evolve, so do the skills required to keep up, making it difficult to find relevant training at the right time.
  • Taxing on internal resources. Usually conducted internally by upper-level practitioners, which eats their time, leading to burnout and heightening cyber risk.
  • Not easily quantifiable. There are limited industry-recognized, role-based credentials to certify achievement and demonstrate one can do the job.

Certification Training


  • Easy to “quantify” skills. A certification clearly indicates that a practitioner is proficient in knowledge and application of a particular skill set, topic, or technology.
  • Meets compliance requirements. Certifications offer an easy metric for regulators that training is a part of your organization’s risk management strategy.
  • Useful retention tool. It provides employees with an opportunity to advance their careers and affirmation the organization is invested in their growth.


  • Certs ≠ Skills. Simply because someone passes a test does not (always) equate to improved job performance.
  • Not org specific. Because certifications are either vendor-specific or vendor-neutral, learning objectives may not reflect exact organizational needs.
  • Too many cert options. There are well over 100 cybersecurity certifications, making it difficult to determine which is the best fit for the skills you’re looking to grow.

What if you need something in between?

Perhaps you’re a part of a large organization and oversee multiple teams with varying needs for cybersecurity training. Or you lead a team that requires specialized expertise due to your company’s services or industry. Whether you’re seeking certification training, role-based training, or a more configured solution, look for providers who want to know about your organizational, workforce, and training needs, and can translate those inputs into a seamless, tailored solution that offers performance analytics to prove training effectiveness. Here are additional considerations when selecting a cybersecurity training provider

We Can Help

N2K’s Professional Services provides your cybersecurity workforce with more tailored support to achieve your talent development goals. Using skills assessments to understand unique skills gaps and a modular content structure from our comprehensive training portfolio, we can build targeted training paths that cover just what you need, when, and how you need it.

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