SSCP Review & Best Study Guides

You might do your best every single day to secure important assets and information. However, the cybersecurity profession is consistently being transformed and even the most skilled individual will benefit from having a certification.

A certification proves that you understand and have a credible base of knowledge in your field. The aim of this article is to review the SSCP certification, highlight what it entails and how it can be useful to an IT professional, setting that individual up to be recognized as a respected leader in cybersecurity.

What exactly is the SSCP?

The SSCP or Systems Security Certified Professional certification is an entry-level, vendor-neutral certification run by the (ISC)2. It is a great method for professionals in the IT security industry to rise up the ranks. It also provides the avenue for technically sound individuals from different IT fields to enter the security field.

About (ISC)2

The International Information System Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)², is a charitable organization that specializes in certifications and training for professionals in the cybersecurity sphere. It has been heralded as the biggest organization for IT security in the world. One of the most renowned certificates offered by this organization is the CISSP or Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification. 

Who can attain the SSCP?

The SSCP is perfectly suited for IT managers, directors, administrators, as well as network security personnel responsible for the minute operational security of an organization’s important assets. The aim of the SCCP is to emphasize the advanced technical knowledge and skills required to implement, administer, and monitor IT infrastructure by utilizing security best procedures, policies, and practices. Additionally, those in the following roles are also suitable for the SSCP certification:

  • Systems Administrator
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Security Analyst
  • Security Specialist/Consultant
  • Systems Engineer
  • Security Administrator
  • Database Administrator
  • Network/Systems Analyst

Benefits of earning an SSCP certification

This certification is given to those that can show knowledge of a vast array of security concepts. The topics and coursework covered in the exam prep help a candidate gain a mastery of business based security strategy. Additionally, it also enables a certification holder to have access to higher-paying positions in any technology organization. Given that the SSCP is a certification recognized worldwide, SSCP holders are able to secure jobs in any part of the world.

The SSCP certification should be seen as a benchmark for any cybersecurity oriented career. Private and public employers alike hold accredited certifications in high esteem, particularly when the individual with the certification is being trusted with sensitive data.

The following are a few of the benefits and SSCP certification holder enjoys:

  • Career advancement: improvement of job security, credibility, and visibility. New opportunities are available.
  • Respect of peers, clients, and employers,
  • Proven knowledge of versatile skills that can be applied to varying methodologies and technologies.
  • Better equipped to thwart cyberattacks thanks to a solid foundation
  • Increase in salaries as studies show (ISC)² members earn 35% more 
  • The SSCP certification shows that the IT professional has the advanced knowledge and technical skills required to manage, administer, and implement IT infrastructure. Additionally, it also entails how security best practices can be applied in a working situation.
  • The SSCP is recognized and accredited by the ISO or International Organization for Standardization under its ISO 17024 information security standard

Why choose the SSCP over any other IT certification?

SSCP is seen as a beginner level certification, however, its value is typically determined by which hiring manager you are in front of. That being said, the SSCP should be seen as a gateway to the cybersecurity world.

It enables burgeoning IT professionals to have a widely accepted way to show they are knowledgeable. There are four criteria to consider when pondering why the SSCP should be selected. They are Focus; Available Roles; Where Your Interest Lies in InfoSec; Required Experience.

The SSCP certification is targeted towards those interested in Infrastructure security. This directly correlates with roles like network security engineer, database manager, system analyst or administrator, security administrator, systems engineer, network systems analyst, and security consultant.

These jobs are the ones the frontline of cybersecurity if you will. while there are certain aspects of these roles that are forward-thinking, the bulk of the job is tactical in nature. It does not matter if you are solely focused on having leadership or strategic role, it takes a fair bit of time to create the much-needed experience as well as boost your reputation. This is where the SSCP certification comes in. It acts as a middle ground between where you currently are and where you would like to be.

SSCP and (ISC) 2 Membership

Unlike other certifications such as the CompTIA Network+ certification, successfully attaining the SSCP certifications automatically makes you a member of (ISC)2, as well as of a professional body that continually learns and grows. When you become a member of the (ISC)2, you have access to a host of resources and benefits to further your development and education. Resources such as:

  • Member pricing to ISC 2 events
  • InfoSecurity Professional magazine subscription
  • Member discount for ISC2 events
  • Large discounts for industry conferences
  • Free online professional development courses
  • Expert paneled webinars about recent security issues
  • Half-priced official texts
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Professional recognition via ISC2’s’ Awards Program
  • Member perks
  • The opportunity to join a local chapter or found one

SSCP: What Does The Exam Consist Of?

The SSCP certification exam aims to evaluate a candidate’s expertise and knowledge across 7 security domains or concentrations. These concentrations are topics that a candidate has to master and is dependent on their professional education and experience.

Successfully taking the exam proves that you hold advanced technical skills and knowledge to monitor, administer, and implement IT infrastructure by utilizing best procedures, practices, and policies. The SSCP certification exam is made of 125 questions and candidates have a maximum time of 3 hours to complete the exam. To pass, a score of 700 out of an available 1000 is required.

The 7 security concentration are:

  • Application and systems security
  • Security administration and operations
  • Access controls
  • Communications and network security
  • Incident response and recovery
  • Risk identification, monitoring, and analysis
  • Cryptography

If you are already working in the cybersecurity field and have at least a year’s worth of experience in one of the seven concentrations, you can take the SSCP exam and use that certification to validate your skills and knowledge. When you do this, you have the chance to move up the career ladder.

Attempting an SSCP certification can be a great decision if you are interested in becoming a network security specialist, IT manager, director, or administrator. If you are already employed in the IT industry, then you already understand the fundamental concepts of security and computing.

Choosing to take the SSCP can be a great way to prepare for the associate degree from SSCP. The SSCP certification can also be a springboard to the CISSP certification, a certification that comes with a lot more covered topics.

(ISC)2 Official SSCP Training

The ISC2 offers training for prospective SSCP candidates via two formats: classroom courses and online courses. Both of these formats are available either with an instructor or are self-paced. Seminars, coursework, self-study aids, and training are directly available from ISC2. This ensures that prospective SSCP certification candidates have the resources available to successfully take the exam, should they need it.

SSCP Certification: Pathway

Do you need experience to take the SSCP exam

The SSCP certification exam is one of those certifications that require candidates to have a year’s worth of paid employment in a full-time role in any of the 7 concentrations of the SSCP CBK or Common Body of Knowledge.

This role has to be in one of the following concentrations: Access Controls, Security Administration and Operations, Incident Recovery and Response, Risk Identification, Monitoring and Analysis, Cryptography, Application and Systems Security, Communication and Network Security.

If an individual does not yet possess the required amount of experience to be certified as an SSCP, they will officially become an Associate of ISC2. This, however, only happens if they pass the SSCP exam. An Associate of ISC2 is valid for 2 years, where the individual can get the experience required for the SSCP certification.

Study Guide

The following are some of the study guides and exam prep materials available to SSCP certification candidates:

SSCP Self-Paced Training Course from Coursera

Coursera offers prospective candidates the opportunity to learn on their schedule, thanks to this 4 month-long access to SSCP-related content. This package links to ISC2 and its updated SSCP exam topics. This fully online, no instructor program comes with a discount if all the domains are bundled together.

SSCP Study App Picture

Official SSCP Study App

This study guide is an application that enables prospective candidates to study for the SSCP certification exam on the go. The study guide app has been created from the official study guide and comes with study questions, practice tests as well as flashcards covering every domain found in the SSCP Common Body of Knowledge.

SSCP Textbook

Official (ISC)² Guide to the SSCP CBK, Fifth Edition

This SSCP textbook is the official ISC2 sanctioned Common Body of Knowledge book, an authoritative source of information that IT security personnel with responsibilities such as monitoring, administering, and implementing IT infrastructure must adhere to.

This volume consists of pertinent knowledge that cybersecurity professionals require daily. The textbook is accurate with updated chapters filled with details of the 7 SSCP concentrations. This textbook is ISC2 endorsed and has been compiled as well as reviewed by subject matter experts and SSCPs to ensure its accuracy. It brings about a worldly and exhaustive view that enables prospective SSCPs to prepare for their exams and also serves as a career reference in the future.

SSCP Practice Tests

Official (ISC)² SSCP Practice Tests

This collection of practice tests has more than 700 practice questions for SSCP candidates to learn from. This book provides them with the chance to test their knowledge and understanding level, as well as assess just how exam ready they are before the actual day.

These questions have been collated to cover the entirety of the concentrations SSCP is built upon. It even contains answers with detailed explanations to aid comprehension. The questions are grouped by domains, so candidates need not waste time by practicing topics they are already familiar with.

PrepAwayExam Study Guide

This study guide from PrepAwayExam comes in an instantly downloadable PDF, that enables SSCP aspirants to study just about anywhere. It comes with a year’s worth of updates, which is particularly important as it means any changes made to the SSCP Common Body of Knowledge within that year will be reflected. This enables SSCP candidates to keep their knowledge updated in tandem.

SSCP Study Guide

Official (ISC)² SSCP Study Guide, Second Edition

This study guide, endorsed by the ISC2 is a much-recommended reference for those taking the steps to gain an SSCP certification. It is a completely updated Sybex resource that is bound to help candidates confidently prepare and study for the demanding SSCP certification exam. It lets them do this at their own pace. It holds detailed coverage of the necessary concentrations, explanations of fundamental concepts, technologies, and ideas, as well as focused tutorials.


The SSCP is a very integral certification for an IT practitioner interested in cybersecurity. Its value is entirely dependent on the career path you choose; however, it does have numerous advantages attached to it.

Apart from the benefit that it helps to increase your potential income, the SSCP certification meets the United States Department of Defence’s standards for information security. several private organizations are also searching for IT practitioners with an SSCP certification, so its importance in the coming years is only going to rise.

By its very design, Information Technology and Security thrives on change and the discovery of new knowledge. The SSCP certification requires a practitioner to continually educate themselves and remain updated on the latest trends in the cybersecurity industry. In IT, knowledge is an important and valued element, so having an SSCP certification provides an advantage when applying for jobs.

Jonathan Holmes

Jonathan Holmes is a writer for HKS Siblab, an education and business blog. He has a MSc in Cyber Security & Digital Forensics from the University of Hertfordshire and has been working in the cyber security industry since 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing guitar and spending time with his family.

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