How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity
Updated By Staff Writer on December 22, 2020
Cybersecurity is a rapidly expanding field, projected to grow 31 percent by 2029,1 which is much faster than the average job growth. Since experts in this field will be a crucial component of any company trying to protect their sensitive data, the job outlook is predicted to be very promising.
It’s no surprise that many IT professionals—as well as professionals from other computer-related fields—want to break into this career path. If you are interested in fighting off the world’s hackers, here’s some advice on how to get a career in cybersecurity today.
The Importance of Cybersecurity
Understanding the importance of cybersecurity and why it is so vital for today’s businesses is the first step to launching your career and gaining the insight to truly succeed in this career path.
As more and more of our world exists on the internet, cyber terrorism, fraud, theft, and misuse of personal data are some of the biggest threats of our day. No organization is truly immune to cybersecurity threats—even those companies who build tools to fight against the most sophisticated hackers.
Both government institutions and businesses are seeking qualified cybersecurity professionals who have the right frame of mind and technological skills to protect their sensitive data.
It’s up to the best and brightest cybersecurity professionals to detect intrusions, identify vulnerabilities, create security policies, and understand security laws and regulations.
Today’s economy makes it hard to get a job without some form of education, and cybersecurity is no exception. Just as an IT degree could help you land a job as a network administrator or a computer science degree could help you find a position as a developer, having a degree in a computer-related field could give you an advantage over the competition.
A degree in cybersecurity and networking gives you a significant advantage when you’re applying for jobs in the field. Upon earning a degree in cybersecurity, you may be eligible for careers such as:
- Informational security specialist
- Network administrator
- Project manager
- Systems analyst
This degree gives you an in-depth knowledge of a variety of subjects that could help you be an effective cybersecurity expert. Some of the topics you will cover include:
- Computer forensics
- Network communications
- Operating systems
- Ethical hacking
- Cloud computing
Beyond a college education, there are also certifications that can help you in your journey to becoming a successful cybersecurity professional. Certifications like the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH) can help catch the eye of those looking over your resume, proving that you truly are a specialist in security. If you are serious about the field, certification is an investment that often pays great dividends.
You believe you have many of the skills necessary to succeed in the realm of cybersecurity. You are ready to get your formal education, but still—how do you get that crucial, hands-on experience?
Cybersecurity is less of a field and more of a specialty, which means there typically aren’t any entry-level positions as a security professional. That should make sense, as handing the welfare of the whole system over to a beginner seems like a poor idea. You need to come to the job application with some experience to your name. What kind of entry-level jobs will give you that experience?
One of the best ways to qualify yourself for a security job is to get your boots on the ground at an entry-level IT job, where you’ll have the chance to prove you know your way around networks.
Many security positions are looking for several years of experience, and IT work provides resume fodder with serious relevance. And even at the entry-level, an IT position can teach you a host of skills you will use frequently in security.
Getting Practice in the Field
Most professionals in the industry agree that it takes practice to really make your mark. You can kick off your IT experience by building your own network and doing penetration tests. Likewise, offering to do pro bono work for charities and nonprofits can get you valuable experience that will help you in your future career.
It is also important to read up on the subject and keep current with security techniques and technologies. You want your knowledge to be both broad and deep, as it takes a varied skill set to combat the host of intrusion attempts that will come your way.
A job in cybersecurity requires a firm foundation in TCP/IP, routing and switching, network configurations, and VPNs. You will be toying with all these systems in more intimate ways working in security, so delve deep as you seek to understand how these elements work in relation to securing networks.
Still, there is much more to cybersecurity than technicalities and industry jargon. The job also requires soft skills like problem-solving and the ability to communicate clearly with business executives. Here are some of the top skills the most successful cybersecurity professionals should have.
Cybersecurity is all about tackling problems head-on, so it is only natural that someone in this field should have great problem-solving skills. This includes coming up with creative and innovative solutions to information security issues, as well as putting new technologies to effective use within the digital realm.
A job in cybersecurity means working with computers and other innovative technology day in and day out, meaning a love and understanding of technology is essential to the job. If you are an early adopter of new tech devices or you are always helping others fix their computers, this might be a sign that cybersecurity is in your wheelhouse.
The role of cybersecurity will only become more essential as time goes on. For someone in such a trusted and significant job, it is important to be very detail oriented. After all, it is up to you to defend the company’s information against any risks or potential vulnerabilities. Overlooking a minor detail of concern could have huge implications down the road.
4. Communication Skills
Those who work in cybersecurity will be working with people from all different departments within the company. Many of these people will not have an in-depth understanding of information systems, so it’s vital that cybersecurity experts are able to clearly communicate their research and proposed solutions to all people within the business.
5. Lifelong Learner
When it comes to cybersecurity, there is always something new to learn. Because hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and aggressive, security technology is likewise changing at a rapid rate. Those who choose a career in this field will need to be willing to learn as they go and keep up with ever-changing trends and best practices.
6. Management Skills
The most successful cybersecurity professionals will climb the ladder over time, meaning they will be responsible for leading a team. This calls for solid management skills, such as the ability to train and mentor less-experienced team members, inspire and motivate, and identify ways the company can improve operations within the department. A true leader shows the way by example, not by intimidation or force.
Is a Career in Cybersecurity Right for You?
Yes, it is true that launching a successful career in cybersecurity requires years of building knowledge and gaining experience. Like the most renowned artists of the past and present, a cybersecurity professional needs more than a clock-in, clock-out mentality. In many ways, working in this field reflects who you are as a person: you value a secure system, and you judge people and organizations by their ability to batten down the hatches.
So, what is the ultimate litmus test to see if cybersecurity is right for you? Well, if you want to be the best, you should be someone whose eye twitches every time you see a friend connect to unprotected Wi-Fi. Because if you do not have a passion for it, you simply will not get very far. With even the biggest companies like Google suffering incursions,2 the realm of cybersecurity needs real experts—true masters of the craft, not humble journeymen. If you want to reap the rewards, be prepared to put in the time.
Start Your Degree in Information Technology Today
Ready to start toward a career in cybersecurity? Learn more about our degrees in Information Technology today. Our cybersecurity and networking degree gives you the foundation necessary to become successful in the field. Our program lasts just 36 months, so you will be able to complete your degree online and jumpstart a career you love faster than a typical 4 year degree program.
Your courses will be taught in four-week modules instead of four-month semesters, meaning you will focus on just a few courses at a time and get a chance to deepen your knowledge of each topic. Contact Independence University today to learn more about our degree programs.