Nowadays, it is common to find companies using complex digital security systems to safeguard their data. These systems all need the services of various cybersecurity professionals. There are several career paths for beginners and professionals looking to either join or switch but they all remain attractive paths.
In general, some typical roles to keep in mind includes: Information Security Consultant, Application Security Engineer, Cloud Security Engineer, Cryptographer, Governance, Risk, and Compliance Analyst, Identity and Access Management (IAM) Engineer, Incident Response Analyst, Malware/Forensics Analyst, Network Security Engineer, Security Auditor, Information Security Trainer & Penetration Tester, to mention a few.
Don’t get scared by the big titles, there are many other career paths less focused on in-depth security yet, especially beneficial for beginners. Gaining basic knowledge of cybersecurity can be very helpful in building a career in this field. Do not worry about what path to choose; understanding the underlying options will help guide your career choice.
Getting to know the core skills required is a great place to start your discovery. Similar to engineering or other specialist roles, cybersecurity requires you possess certain skillsets to get started. Here are five (5) recommended key skills to develop while starting a cybersecurity career:
▪ System Administration (SysAdmin)
For starters, cybersecurity enthusiasts need to understand the architecture, administration, and management of widely used operating systems (Linux distros, Windows, etc.), networking and virtualization. Understanding sysadmin concepts is a powerful skill that becomes extremely helpful in building a career path in cybersecurity.
Another key skill is Networking. Cybersecurity involves protecting networks and data and as such, professionals in this field should understand the common communication protocols in which interconnected computers speak. Good knowledge of networking concepts is an invaluable skill in cybersecurity.
▪ Programming languages
While different career paths may or may not require vast coding knowledge, exploring and familiarizing yourself with coding basics can aid your career development as well. Utilizing available resources, a good recommendation would be learning how to administer Linux through its Command Line Interface (CLI), writing bash scripts etc.
Learning and understanding basic configurations, operations and maintenance process of common applications and tools are essential for developing a cybersecurity career. Virtual machines, Virtual Private Networks, DNS servers & Databases are noteworthy.
▪ Management skills
Although this is more of a soft skill, proper coordination and organization is also a vital skill in addressing several cybersecurity challenges and or issues. Often times, several systems require a variety of evaluations and implementation procedures to perform optimally. Attaining some level of technical direction is a welcomed skill for effective management of cybersecurity systems and ensures your integrity remains in place.
These five areas listed play a vital part in building a remarkable cybersecurity career. If you find yourself struggling in any of the highlighted areas, you can advance your knowledge through several learning resources. All that is needed is your time and focus towards achieving your goals. Some platforms offer intensive online cybersecurity training. These training platforms are available for you to learn and earn a variety of cybersecurity diplomas and certifications.
Below are some notable online platforms to consider in attaining entry-level certifications and begin your cybersecurity career:
Coursera provides several cybersecurity courses with specialties focused on entry-level up to advanced-level certifications. The paid courses on Coursera are made available by top industry experts and universities. Coursera offers tons of cybersecurity courses, but here are a few suggestions for entry-level:
Cybersecurity Specialization: This course comprises of concepts involving both the hardware and software. You get to learn, and reason like a security professional, 43% of individuals who completed this course started a new career.
Introduction to Cyber Security: This entry-level course takes a practical learning approach to help you get familiarized with real-world security scenarios and the tools needed to tackle such threats.
IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity: This course offered by IBM highlights all the key fundamentals in cybersecurity. It includes the cyber-attacks types, database vulnerabilities, networking basics, processes, system administration, tools, and expert views on cryptography.
Udemy is another excellent platform offering multiple cybersecurity training. With free and paid courses available, you can get lucky with several promo sales. Here are a few cybersecurity-focused suggestions on Udemy:
The Absolute Beginners Guide to Cyber Security 2020: If you have no experience with cybersecurity, this is an excellent beginner cybersecurity course taught by Alexander Oni. This course explains vital concepts like biometrics, BYOD, encryption, firewalls, hacking, malware, phishing, worms, and more.
The Complete Cyber Security Course: Hackers Exposed: This course, taught by Nathan House, details hack prevention methods by building up strong tech defenses. You would gain both advanced insight and the practical skillset needed to overcome most online threats.
The Ultimate Dark Web, Anonymity, Privacy & Security Course: Takes you a step further from the beginner level into a more advanced concept in cybersecurity. The course covers topics like anonymous web browsing, cryptocurrency, emails, VPNs, and more.
Hacktales Academy offers a strategic cybersecurity foundation program backed by industry experience. This tailored program will help you develop the required knowledge and skills necessary for a successful cybersecurity career.
It’s the ultimate toolkit for beginners who want to invest time in understanding the concepts, practices, tools and industry dynamics involved in practicing cybersecurity.
Most entry-level cybersecurity paths available in organizations require expertise in at least education or experience. If you own any and can prove it, there are immediate cybersecurity prospects available globally. So, how can you launch your cybersecurity career?
There are three (3) entry-level paths to follow:
Investment in Education
Attaining a degree in cybersecurity is usually the first step forward as most prospective cybersecurity positions require an undergraduate degree in related fields. A bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Engineering, Information Security and other related disciplines would suffice. Irrespective of the career path of interest, gaining relevant education will provide quality foundational knowledge.
What if you already have a degree in an unrelated field and are not interested in going back to college? Is this the end of the road for your cybersecurity career? Definitely not. The high skill gap in cybersecurity has forced employers to put less focus on formal certifications from higher learning institutions and more emphasis on demonstrable skillset. So, there’s another route you can take, which is getting certified.
To land a cybersecurity job, attaining relevant certifications will also be considered. It is expected you earn industry certification suitable to your area of interest. Some of the most sought-after industry certifications in cybersecurity include:
▪ CompTIA Security+
▪ CEH — Certified Ethical Hacker
▪ CISA — Certified Information Systems Auditor
Additionally, there are several other vendor-specific certifications, like Cisco, TrendMicro & Symantec certifications. Nevertheless, you have to select the relevant certificates relating to your preferred career path, as employers usually highlight certain requirements/certifications.
Similar to other industries, networking plays another vital role in the cybersecurity field. You get several avenues available to individuals interested in this sector. If you are looking for available routes to network, it’s essential to seek and attend event or openings in the following categories:
▪ Partake in local cybersecurity organizations as they provide an excellent avenue to learn and network with other professionals.
▪ Volunteer to serve within a cybersecurity group. With several organizations seeking to create more cybersecurity awareness, you can always learn and practice while networking to boost your chances.
▪ Explore graduate opportunities provided by your school. It could be your colleagues, employers, peers, or professors organizing meetups about cybersecurity and its benefits.
If you’re considering the college route, it is worthy to note that formal cybersecurity training is not in short supply. The market is more skilled focused, so keep track with other professionals as you grow in your chosen cybersecurity career path.