“XYZ Company has been impacted by a data breach” is a common headline we see all the time in today’s news cycle, and unfortunately, those headlines will only become more frequent as time goes on. With the digitization of virtually all information, many more people will try to take advantage of and acquire others’ data, making cybersecurity protection and proactive defense a necessary part of any company’s business plan.
For those looking to get into cybersecurity as a career, the time has never been better. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects cybersecurity jobs will grow 31 percent through 2029, making a future in cybersecurity incredibly “secure.”
But what is cybersecurity? It involves the creation of networks, policies and technologies that help protect a company’s systems and information, including user information. Beyond creation and architecture, cybersecurity also involves the frequent monitoring and improvement of security systems.
If this sounds like a good career for you, here are five things you can do if you’re looking to get into the cybersecurity field.
Understand the Methodology
One of the most important things to obtain is a broad-base understanding of cybersecurity and how to protect your information and systems at a technology-agnostic level. Because the technology that companies use is different virtually everywhere you will go in your career, it’s more important to first understand the “why” behind cybersecurity than the “how.” If you don’t first understand the methodology behind cybersecurity, you’ll only learn it through the lens of one specific toolset. Instead, focus your education on why you’re using that tool and how it relates to the field of cybersecurity as a whole.
Don’t Underestimate Soft Skills
While there is certainly a lot to learn when studying cybersecurity, it is a very beginner-friendly topic. Once you have a solid cybersecurity foundation, you’ll be able to figure out which aspects of cybersecurity appeal most to you. Cybersecurity is also an attractive field for those without a tech background, as one of the most important indications of success is soft skills. From critical thinking to adaptability, curiosity, and good communication skills, as long as you boast a few soft skills, you’ll have no issue learning cybersecurity.
Get Official Training
In order to understand the methodology behind cybersecurity, the best avenue is formal training. One option is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree from a four-year university, and another is to enroll in a coding bootcamp. While there are many benefits to attending a university, most programs are geared more towards computer science; another downside is the time it takes to earn your degree. With the rapid rate at which cybersecurity is changing daily (yes, daily!), bootcamps are a great option as they allow students to drink from the proverbial fire hose and gain the knowledge needed for certification in roughly 20-24 weeks instead. With cybersecurity certifications changing every 4-5 years, bootcamps are a great way to ensure what you’re learning is crucial to today’s cybersecurity landscape, and not the one four years ago.
Cybersecurity is a highly standardized field with a range of skills certifications. From company-specific to vendor-neutral certifications like CompTIA Security+ (the bootcamp standard), these certifications on your resume can help pave the way for lucrative entry-level positions. According to the (ISC)² 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, 96 percent of respondents earned at least one type of certification, 89 percent of whom stated they earned at least one vendor-neutral certification, such as CompTIA. Vendor-neutral certifications are also more in-demand with employers as well, with 55 percent of respondents requiring employees to have them. When looking for the right cybersecurity program for you, per sure to prioritize one that helps prepare you for these types of certifications.
Bolster your Resume
Employers value experience, so choosing a program that allows you to spend up to 75 percent of your time in labs by the end will help prepare you for real world situations. This immersive type of education that incorporates attacking and defending against each other in capture the flag and other exercises provides information, strategies, and tactics to identify and manage information system vulnerabilities, create effective defenses and preventative measures, and deploy countermeasures against attackers. As a bonus, these types of assignments make great portfolio pieces, so be sure to pick a program that will help you be able to bolster your resume to help land that first position.
Cybersecurity is a fast-paced and ever-changing career field, and one that will continue to see monumental growth over the years to come. If you spend time understanding the methodology behind cybersecurity, evaluate and hone your soft skills, get officially trained and certified, and come out with a resume ready to go, you’ll be poised to capitalize on a lucrative career in cybersecurity.
Matthew Schiller is the Lead Cybersecurity Instructor at Coding Dojo.