Although an increasing number of people are turning to the internet and digital technologies to conduct their everyday tasks, there are still many people who are concerned about cybersecurity, and rightly so. After all, the news is filled with stories of data breaches, hacks, security breaches, compromised and stolen passwords, and stolen personal information. It’s enough to damage anyone’s trust in the IT world.
This article explores how to get into cybersecurity and explains what cybersecurity is, the technical skills needed to start a cybersecurity career, and even what kinds of cybersecurity degrees and certifications are available.
We will even cover how to get into cybersecurity with no experience. But before we explore how to join the ranks of cybersecurity professionals, let’s define the term.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting digital assets, which includes networks, systems, and programs, from digital-based attacks conducted by malicious actors. These cyberattacks typically involve accessing, changing, stealing, or destroying sensitive information (personal data, websites, documents), extorting money from victims through ransomware, or disrupting normal business processes.
Cybersecurity experts and cybersecurity analysts deal with cyber threats and enhance network security by implementing best practices such as enhanced password protections, antivirus/antimalware software, conducting penetration testing, running threat simulations, improving authentication procedures, and training organization staff in various cybersecurity concepts and raising awareness.
What Kind of Skills and Knowledge Are Required for a Career in Cybersecurity?
If you’re hunting for a job in the cybersecurity field, you must ensure that you have the proper skill set, including hard skills such as computer science, good communication skills, and specific other soft skills. Remember, you don’t need to be a complete master of all these skills. However, having a solid, working knowledge of a handful of these skills and at least a passing familiarity with the rest is best.
Technical (“Hard”) Skills
- Authentication procedures. Authentication involves ascertaining user identities and ensuring that only authorized users gain access to digital assets. This skill involves auditing and creating authentication protocols and working with firewalls and intrusion detection systems.
- Digital forensics. Digital forensics is the skill of locating malicious activity and other anomalies on a network.
- Linux OS. Linux is an open-source operating system favored by many cybersecurity professionals. Thanks to its transparency and flexibility, Linux is often used to create cybersecurity tools.
- Networking and system administration. These skills include data transmission knowledge and configuring and maintaining computer systems.
- Risk assessment and management. This pair of skills covers identifying potential threats and analyzing and evaluating possible risks the company may encounter. In addition, risk assessment and management ensure that the measures implemented to preserve the organization’s security are adequate for the risks faced.
- Virtual machines and cloud security. These related skills are especially valuable when working with cloud computing, which is growing in popularity. These areas of knowledge include using cloud infrastructure to run applications and store data.
- Communication skills. Cybersecurity professionals must understand how to communicate effectively with their teams, other teams, managers, executives, stakeholders, and more. These skills include verbal and written communication.
- Teamwork and collaboration skills. These skills are somewhat related to communication skills but include concepts such as delegation, leadership, and time management.
- Problem-solving skills. Cybercrime is the problem; cybersecurity professionals are there to find the solutions. Good cybersecurity professionals have a knack for getting to the heart of the problem and coming up with sound solutions, including thinking outside the box.
How To Get into Cybersecurity: Taking a Deeper Dive
Now that you know what a promising cybersecurity candidate should know, let’s explore how you can break into the field. There are three standard methods.
Get a Degree
Many cybersecurity positions require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, cybersecurity, or some related major. Although this typically means a four-year program, you can squeak by with a two-year associate degree, especially if you supplement it with online courses or certifications. We’ll explore this option in more detail later.
This option entails taking online courses while also accepting an entry-level cybersecurity position or internship. This choice could also include volunteering to help with cybersecurity projects at your workplace, even if you’re not a department member. Also, you could contribute to open-source cybersecurity projects and solo efforts in your spare time.
Online certification courses are a valuable resource for the budding cybersecurity professional because they provide an affordable, flexible means of gaining valuable industry skills and provide you with verifiable credentials. In addition, recruiters can be assured that you possess the proper training and skills needed since you attended and completed the program and have the paperwork to prove it. We’ll talk more about the various certification options soon.
Obviously, it’s easier for someone already in an IT field, such as a data analyst or cloud architect, to transition to cybersecurity than, say, a pizza delivery person or a dog groomer. After all, cybersecurity is a discipline that lies under the IT umbrella, so if you’re already in the IT field, you have a head start since you already have experience in the digital world.
That’s not to say that non-IT people can’t become cybersecurity professionals! They certainly can. The road is a little more challenging because they’re entering a new field. This situation is true for anyone moving to an entirely new profession (e.g., auto mechanic to gourmet chef).
To that end, let’s take a closer look at cybersecurity degrees and online certifications.
Cybersecurity Degrees and Certification Options
Although we’ve shown you how to get into cybersecurity without a degree, it’s doubtlessly easier to break into the cybersecurity industry and get the best cybersecurity jobs if you have some formal training and education to gain and improve the relevant cybersecurity skills. Resources such as college or adult education classes, cybersecurity certifications, and cybersecurity bootcamps will enrich your cybersecurity resume and make you a more attractive choice for any hiring organization.
Here’s a rundown of the various cybersecurity degrees and certification options.
Relevant Bachelor’s Degrees
A bachelor’s degree typically requires four years and 120 credits to complete. Cybersecurity professionals going the four-year degree route should concentrate on the following majors:
- Cloud Computing
- Computer Hardware Engineering
- Computer Science
- Computer Programming
- Database Management
- Information Security & Assurance
- Information Technology Management
- Network Administration
- Software Engineering
An online cybersecurity bootcamp can provide the needed knowledge and credentials to help you gain the right skills and knowledge to get into cybersecurity. Here are the most popular certifications you can earn if you gain the right cybersecurity skills and knowledge.
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). Ethical or “white hat” hackers are much in-demand cybersecurity professionals who test an organization’s security system by trying to break in. This offering is a relatively new certification program the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants provides. Entrants enrolling in this certification program will learn how to use hacking skills constructively, such as finding security gaps in systems and preventing attacks from occurring.
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). You can earn this certification through the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. Prospective applicants must have five years of experience before registering for the CISA program, plus netting a high score on the required placement examination.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). This certification is based on a 250-word test that takes several hours. The test is designed for cybersecurity professionals with over five years of experience looking for a position as a Chief Information Security Officer (or CISO for short), one of the best and most lucrative positions in the cybersecurity field. CISSP certification is required to qualify for this position.
- CompTIA Security+ Program. This certification is geared towards IT professionals who have some cybersecurity experience. It’s possible to take training through the program, but that is not required. This certificate has to be renewed every three years.
- Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM). This certification is reserved for experienced cybersecurity professionals who seek to advance to a leadership role. The CISM credential demonstrates expertise in information security governance, plus incident and risk management.
Summarizing Your Options
So, if you are trying to figure out how to get into cybersecurity, you have several paths. You can either go to school for it and make cybersecurity (or a related subject) your major, start from scratch by self-learning and taking online courses and certifications, or move from your current IT position into the cybersecurity field.
Regardless of your path, you should lock down two essential elements: experience and training and the more of these advantages you have, the more likely you will get that position. Also, you will be more likely to advance.
Now, let’s check out a bootcamp that can give you a head start on your cybersecurity career goals.
Do You Want Training in Cybersecurity?
This online cybersecurity bootcamp makes it possible for you to master essential cybersecurity skills in just six months. You will gain expertise in offensive and defensive cybersecurity measures, digital forensics, network security, and more.
According to Glassdoor, cybersecurity professionals in the United States earn an annual average of $85,545.
Today’s digital world needs professionals to keep data, networks, and systems safe. If this career catches your interest and you’re ready for an exciting challenge providing excellent compensation, check out this bootcamp and start that new cybersecurity career.