What Does It Take to Get a Cybersecurity Job?
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- More than a half-million cybersecurity positions are unfilled today.
- A wide variety of cybersecurity skills and certifications are in demand.
- Training and experience can prepare you for cybersecurity work.
- Building a network is important for staying current in this fast-changing field.
Cybersecurity is a hot topic across industries right now. From local governments and school systems to small businesses and large corporations, attacks on computers and networks can result in large-scale losses in terms of time and money.
Cyberattacks can happen to anyone, and the number of incidents is growing. Examples include ransomware, data breaches, and phishing. Techjury says that 30,000 websites are successfully hacked every day.
Cybersecurity is a field that helps individuals and organizations not only react to attacks but also take steps to prevent them. According to CyberSeek.org, more than 700,000 cybersecurity job openings are currently unfilled. Some projections have this number increasing to 3.5 million jobs by 2025.
With all of this demand, what can you do to break into a cybersecurity career?
Explore Entry-Level Cybersecurity Opportunities
The term entry level can mean different things for different cybersecurity jobs and companies. For some, the expectation may be a certificate, diploma, or experience, while others will require a bachelor's or master's degree in cybersecurity.
Many cybersecurity workers begin their careers in an information technology (IT) position, such as software developer or network analyst. They then move into cybersecurity work once they have some experience in the field.
Tips for Success
Browse cybersecurity job titles and descriptions. Resources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook and CyberSeek.org provide long lists of job titles along with future employment projections, needed skill sets, and minimum training and education requirements.
Set realistic salary expectations. IT jobs often appear on lists of "best-paying jobs," but it's helpful to know what your earnings might be like in your first job, especially if you take out loans to pay for an expensive training program. Sites like the BLS and Payscale are good places to start.
Develop Cybersecurity Skills
From self-paced online learning options to bootcamp training programs to college degrees, there are many possible paths to a career in cybersecurity. If you're new to the field, consider starting with a single course at your local community college or technical school to find out if the work is a good fit with your abilities and interests.
You can also explore online courses on platforms like Coursera and edX, which offer ways to learn more about cybersecurity for free, before making a larger investment of your time and money.
Tips for Success
Learn about relevant certifications. From ethical hacking to mobile app development, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies currently lists more than 25 cybersecurity certifications. Completing a certification program typically includes verification of specific skills through testing and evaluation, which can be desirable to employers.
Become a problem solver. Cybersecurity jobs require more than just computer programming skills. Find ways to highlight your soft skills, such as communication and critical thinking, which are important in tech jobs, too.
Get some firsthand experience. Technical fields often value skills over education. Find ways to get experience, whether it's through elective courses in your college program, an internship that incorporates technical skills, or tech training and experience options at your current company. Ask your manager about upcoming projects where there may be opportunities to stretch your skills.
Build a Cybersecurity Professional Network
If you are interested in cybersecurity work, learning in-demand skills and preparing for an entry-level position are just the beginning. Technical fields, such as cybersecurity, change rapidly. Building a network of cybersecurity professionals improves your understanding of the field, keeps you up to date on the latest trends, and encourages you to continue learning new skills.
Tips for Success
Join a community. Find ways to meet cybersecurity students and professionals. Online communities, like Codecademy and LinkedIn, provide blogs, discussion forums, newsletters, and other ways to connect. Your local community may also offer access to professional association chapters, meetups, and other networking events.
Find a tech mentor. As you enter a technical training program or begin working on technical projects, identify people who are doing the work you want to do and introduce yourself. Developing these relationships can be a valuable source of information and support as you move forward.
Whether you're a student planning your first career or already working and interested in a career change, there are a lot of opportunities to consider in cybersecurity. Take a few initial steps to find out what opportunities are available, learn a relevant skill, and connect with others in the field as you explore the possibilities of a cybersecurity career.