How to Get Started in Cybersecurity
Information technology (IT) careers are hotter than ever, and cybersecurity is considered a top career pick. The cybersecurity field is lucrative, fast-growing, and doesn’t require extensive education to get a foot in the door. And while cybersecurity jobs used to be open exclusively to government employees and defense contractors, the field has expanded to healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and retail spaces. If you’re wondering how to get into cybersecurity, you’ll need to acquire certain training and learn where to find the right job openings for you.
What Type of Education Is Needed to Work in Cybersecurity?
It’s nearly impossible to get into information security with no experience, so you’ll definitely need to build your industry knowledge to stand out in your job application. In order to get a cybersecurity job in particular, you’ll need on-the-job training, specialized coursework, or a combination of the two.
Earning a degree in computer science (CS), computer information systems (CIS), or IT is a great foundation for cybersecurity. But if investing in a four-year degree isn’t right for you, gain key skills and prepare yourself for a new career with professional training classes and certification courses. Regardless of the path you take, you’ll need a strong foundation that equips you for analytical, detail-oriented work as a cybersecurity professional.
What Cybersecurity-Specific Education Should I Pursue?
Furthering your cybersecurity education depends on where you currently are in your career. If you’re fairly new to the field, you can start with some basic IT security courses to get familiar with the terminology and practices you’ll encounter in the near future.
Regardless of your previous experience with technology, certifications tell employers that you have the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a cybersecurity role. Each certification is focused on specific areas of cybersecurity, so it’s helpful to check job postings for their desired certifications. These certifications (and training) are generally in demand throughout the industry, and many of them complement each other, so you may benefit from pursuing multiple certifications during your career:
- Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA: Security)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- CompTIA Security+
What Is the Best Way to Get a Cybersecurity Job?
You can boast a stellar educational background and have tons of security knowledge under your belt, but you’ll still need to find an actual cybersecurity job. As with any new career, the most difficult part is landing that first position.
There are many places to look for those early jobs that set your cybersecurity career path in motion. Some of the obvious picks are job sites like Indeed and Monster. You can also look at Glassdoor, where you can unearth information about a given employer, including company culture, ability to advance, pay and benefits, and employee satisfaction.
CyberSeek is an excellent resource for your job search, as well as for planning your overall career trajectory. Another option is to search through LinkedIn, which has the added bonus of displaying any of your friends and associates who are connected to a given company.
When you’re actively looking for jobs, be sure to update your resume and job site profiles to showcase your strongest cybersecurity skills. These are well-suited for a section titled "Skills Summary." Don’t be shy about including things like interpersonal and organizational skills, and include additional information on your résumé to back those assertions. If you’re considering getting a cybersecurity job with no experience, you can enter search terms like "entry-level" or "junior" to filter results.
One of the most important ways to grow your career is to network. If "networking" conjures up images of stuffy mixers in sterile conference rooms, don’t despair. When you network, you’re simply connecting with others who share your professional interests. Consider joining a local group or one of these larger associations to help facilitate those connections:
- Association of Information Technology Professionals (CompTIA AITP) has chapters throughout the U.S., where you can connect with other IT professionals in person.
- Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) holds both local and global networking events.
- ISACA was formerly known as Information Systems Audit and Control Association, but now goes exclusively by its acronym. This organization has discounts for students and recent grads, as well as an impressive social media presence, if you prefer to network with others from the comfort of your own device.
Cybersecurity is a good career for anyone seeking stability, high pay, and excellent growth opportunities. Fortunately, anyone can get started on the path to this exciting and challenging career—it just takes patience, hard work, and the willingness to learn.