So You Think You're Interested in Cyber Security— Now What?
First of all, good for you for thoughtfully considering your career path. It's no secret that information security is in desperate need of talent. Recent research from (ISC)2 estimates that the global shortage of cybersecurity experts is now at nearly 3 million. Large data breaches continue to make headlines each week because there frankly aren't enough cybersecurity professionals to defend against cyber criminals. As technology quickly becomes more ingrained in our lives and work, the quest for securing information is only going to become more vital.
But choosing a career is a big decision for your personal happiness… and your wallet. Let's dive into what it takes to break into the cybersecurity industry.
1. Most importantly, ask yourself, "is cybersecurity my passion?"
Take a moment and reflect on what excites you. Do you love tinkering? Breaking things and fixing them (or at least attempting to)? Are technology and computers your jam? Do you get giddy at the sight of a Raspberry Pi? Do you feel a twinge of anger when you hear about a recent breach - and do you feel compelled to do something about it?
Yeah, there is a huge demand for cybersecurity talent so it's pretty much guaranteed job security… but in order to thrive in the industry you need to have the passion to be continuously learning. Technology is constantly changing and you'll need the genuine curiosity to stay up-to-date in order to be successful and happy.
2. Cool. We've established you've got the passion, now how do you dig in, especially if you're relatively new to technology?
Start learning in three core areas: Computer Science, Networking and the Linux Command line. Don't stop there, soak up all the cybersecurity news you can through blogs, social media podcasts and networking. Check out our recommended resources (all free thanks to the ole' world wide web) to kick start your learning.
There is no time like the present!
3. But what is needed to actually get a job in cybersecurity?
Hate to break it to ya, but unless you've got mad connections in the industry, you're going to need practical experience. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to get experience when many entry level roles require 2-3 years of experience already. This is a common frustration for InfoSec newbies, and rightfully so. But not to worry, you've got passion right?! Time to put it into action and think outside the box.
- "Experience" doesn't have to be paid. You can help a family friend secure a network, volunteer for a local non-profit's tech team, or simply setup a home lab.
- Look for jobs within technology: consider IT infrastructure, helpdesk, or development positions as ideal stepping stones for a cybersecurity career.
- Seek side projects within your current job: just because you don't work in technology now doesn't mean you can't take on projects within your current role that relate to technology.
- Industry connections: it's never too soon to start making them. Start networking at local Meetups, set up coffee with people in the industry, seek their advice, and act upon it.
A quick comment on certifications: studying and passing a test does not equate to experience. Sure, having a well-respected cert (Security +, CISSP, etc.) on your resume isn't going to hurt, but it's not going to get you a job. If you can't apply the information in a real-life setting, it's not going to get you very far. These are 'nice to haves' but should not be your top priority when obtaining experience.
4. Feeling excited!? …Also feeling overwhelmed?
First of all, that's normal. Take a deep breath and consider what plan of action works for you. Some people are able to navigate entering the information security industry on their own and others prefer more guidance, structure, and accountability. There are a variety of options to explore, such as traditional higher education, self-guided courses, online communities, and bootcamps. As with any investment of time, energy, and resources, do your research on what aligns with your goals and learning style, and don't forget that hands-on experience is going to be most helpful during the job hunt.
Entering a new industry takes a lot of work but, again, remember your passion we established a few questions back? It's going to take you places… but only if you channel it into action!
Take the next step to launch your cybersecurity career.
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This post was sponsored by Evolve Security Academy.