There is a vast demand for professionals in the field of cybersecurity. This development does not come as a surprise; the increasing number of cyber-attacks has led to the need for experts who can help keep the organization safe from hackers and other security challenges. If you’re brand new to cybersecurity, you must be wondering where to start. Have no fear; we can help you understand how to start a cybersecurity career.
Data from the Bureau of National Statistics shows that cybersecurity professionals earn an average salary of $116,000 per year, which translates to $55.77 per hour. This figure is about 300% above the national average for full-time employment.
However, it is important to note that beyond the excellent paycheck, cybersecurity professionals occupy critical positions and provide great value for their organizations. If you are interested in learning how to start a cybersecurity career, there are many opportunities in the public and private sectors. Defense agencies, aerospace firms, financial institutions, and virtually every organization that keeps a database needs the service of a cybersecurity professional.
Here are a few factors you should consider to help you achieve your goal of becoming a cybersecurity professional.
1. Do not just specialize in security.
Having broad experience in technology is vital. A cyber intelligence professional with one of the leading online firms hinted that having an expertise in a technology field is an advantage in cybersecurity. An example is a good understanding of networks, system administration, or understanding various programming and scripting languages.
Another cybersecurity expert explained that an IT professional who wants to make a transition to cybersecurity must take the time to study network security, and securing all types of IP devices in the workplace. By doing this, the person will gradually become a security expert in the workplace and can then make a smooth transition into full-fledged cybersecurity.
2. Your professional network is important.
Professional networking is critical to accessing open doors, regardless of the industry in which you work. Networking entails getting to know other professionals in your industry. You can take a positive step by getting involved in open source projects in your community.
Another vital way of getting connected professionally is offering to help others as often as you have the opportunity. Moreover, you should take advantage of in-person networking every time the opportunity crops up. You should attend meetings, seminars, and conferences that relate to security and interact with security professionals from other companies. Using online networking media, such as LinkedIn, is also an excellent idea.
3. Not a techie (yet)? Study basic IT.
A security expert advised aspiring professionals who are not yet working in the IT field to start by learning the basics of IT. Professionals who work with the FBI or police find it necessary to understand basic IT concepts in carrying out specific investigations. However, regardless of your professional background, having a good foundation in IT is essential to make a career change to cybersecurity.
So, how do you go about acquiring IT skills? The solution for a working-class professional is to take evening or weekend courses that teach modules in network management or basics in cybersecurity. Another option is to make use of online cybersecurity training services, such as edX, that offer top courses from leading universities around the world.
4. Prove your skill by getting certified.
Most employers are interested in certificates that prove your competence. A certification course, such as Security+, will give prospective employers the confidence that you can handle your job assignments of securing their IT resources. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is another security certification in cybersecurity.
According to an IT security expert, having a university degree or many credentials is not a requirement for a successful cybersecurity career. He said that with the high demand in the industry, having some level of competence and basic certification is enough to gain an entry-level job in cybersecurity. However, people with higher levels of expertise will progress rapidly in their career.
5. Develop yourself in your spare time.
Taking the initiative to learn and embarking on research and development is crucial to achieving success as a cybersecurity professional. Although it is good to have a college degree and certifications from leading organizations, you still need to have hands-on experience. You will often encounter interviewers asking about your home equipment, the type of systems you are running, and the skills you have.
You can take advantage of the numerous excellent books and online resources on topics such as reverse engineering malware, detecting malicious activities, securing service ports, and many more. With self-study and mentoring from a more experienced team member, a person with basic IT skills can become a capable cybersecurity engineer in a short space of time – usually less than 12 months.
6. Develop data analysis skills.
The ability to detect important trends in the large amount of data passing through your organization’s IT infrastructure is critical to your cybersecurity work. If you are lucky to have a background in big data, you are all ready to go. But if you have another background, it will be helpful to take a course that will help you develop the skill of collecting and analyzing large amounts of data.
Hopefully this article has helped you make a game plan for how to start a cybersecurity career. If you have additional questions, give us a call at (800) 460-2575.