Date of Award

Spring 3-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Operations (PhDCO)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Wayne Pauli

Second Advisor

Richard Hanson

Third Advisor

Alan Stines

Fourth Advisor

Jack Walters

Fifth Advisor

Cody Welu


Numerous cybersecurity certifications are available both commercially and via institutes of higher learning. Hiring managers, recruiters, and personnel accountable for new hires need to make informed decisions when selecting personnel to fill positions. An incident responder or security analyst's role requires near real-time decision-making, pervasive knowledge of the environments they are protecting, and functional situational awareness. This concurrent mixed methods paper studies whether current commercial certifications offered in the cybersecurity realm, particularly incident response, provide useful indicators for a viable hiring candidate.

Managers and non-managers alike do prefer hiring candidates with an incident response certification. Both groups affirmatively believe commercial cybersecurity certified job candidates with that same certification can update, modify, and improve the incident response process. The reasoning for this belief is focused more on tie-breaking and common parlance within the information security analyst domain and less on the ability to perform the job. A practical component within the certification process is valuable, and networking expertise is the primary interest of those seeking qualified incident responders. The qualitative component highlighted soft-skills, such as communication, enthusiasm, critical thinking, and awareness, as sought-after abilities lacking in certification offerings covered within this study.