Read time: 10 minutes
Cybersecurity is a hot topic today. Awareness of online threats, viruses, and hackers is on the rise. Like LinkedIn and Bose, big-name companies have fallen victim to cyber-attacks. But there’s a significant shortage of cybersecurity professionals to manage these increasingly urgent issues. Forbes estimated that there will be more than 3.5 million unfulfilled cybersecurity jobs by the end of 2025.
As a result, hiring managers are looking for candidates with entry-level skills or experience. So, what should you do if you want to break into the field and become one of these high-demand professionals?
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a quick guide to identify if cybersecurity is the right field for you.
What is cybersecurity?
You may be wondering, “What is cybersecurity?” It is the technology used to protect data. It’s a good idea to start with this definition because it will help you understand why it’s an important field and why you should consider a career in it. However, instead of looking at the word as a whole, let’s look at what each part means separately.
“Cyber”refers to computers and all of their related devices, and “security” refers to protecting the data in these devices. These devices include laptops, cell phones, tablets, servers, and desktops, to name a few examples.
Cybersecurity is the act of protecting information, computers, and networks from unauthorized access. It also protects against cyber-attacks, cyber-crime, cyber-warfare, unauthorized access, and espionage.
- A firm password policy to protect against malicious users who might try to use a “brute force” attack to hack into a system
- Network security monitoring (NSM) to detect anomalies in network traffic patterns that could indicate an attempted intrusion or Denial of Service attack
- Intrusion detection systems (IDS) to detect what’s known as a “zero-day attack,” in which hackers use weaknesses in newly released codes before cybersecurity teams can identify them.
Why should you work in cybersecurity?
Now that we have taken apart cybersecurity let’s talk about how you can enter this ever-growing field of opportunities. Of course, there are many steps, but let’s focus on four critical questions:
- What type of cybersecurity job is the right fit for your skillset?
- What skills do you need to get a cybersecurity job?
- Where can you learn the necessary skills to get a cybersecurity job?
- What types of credentials should you get?
What type of cybersecurity job is the right fit for your skillset?
Employment in cybersecurity is diverse, with a wide range of career paths. Whether you want to crash a hacker’s party while they’re still in the basement or shut down an entire network before a cyberattack occurs, there are many kinds of jobs out there. Understanding the varying demands of each position will aid you throughout your career.
Here are a few cybersecurity careers resources to help you get started:
- Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency - The CISA leads the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce risk to our cyber and physical infrastructure. This website is an excellent resource for grasping a basic understanding of all things related to cybersecurity.
- National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies – This is the premier online resource for cybersecurity training, education, and career information.
- Cyber Career Pathways Tool – This tool provides a new and efficient way to explore work roles and core attributes within the Workforce Framework for Cybersecurity (NICE Framework).
What skills do you need to get a cybersecurity job?
To get hired as a cybersecurity professional, you need hard skills and soft skills that could help you excel in your field. You can think of soft skills as skills or qualities that are harder to quantify, such as communication ability, attitude, and adaptability. In addition, you’ll need hard skills such as networking, programming, and security, which are essential for success.
The best way to determine what will help you land a cybersecurity position is by finding out which skills are valued most by the experts. It just so happens that Chris Krebs, former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), wrote an article that included a comprehensive survey from the SANS Institute, a Maryland based security research and training firm. In this survey, more than 500 cybersecurity practitioners at 284 different companies ranked various skills from “critical” to “not needed.”
Here are the results from the SANS Institute survey:
- 85% ranked networking as a critical or “very important” skill
- 77% ranked Linux operating system as a critical or “very important” skill
- 73% ranked Windows as a critical or “very important” skill
- 67% ranked computer architecture and virtualization as a critical or “very important” skill
- 58% ranked data and cryptography as a critical or “very important” skill
Where can you learn the skills required to get a cybersecurity job?
There are multiple ways to learn cybersecurity skills:
- You can enroll in a boot camp, an online training program, or obtain a college degree with a cybersecurity focus.
- You can earn certifications that validate your knowledge of various cybersecurity disciplines.
- You can find and work with more experienced professionals in the industry.
- You can self-study by reading books and watching videos on your own time.
Generally speaking, the more formal education you receive from a program or mentor-based learning experience, the better prepared you will be to succeed in this field. However, even if all of these options are closed to you for one reason or another (e.g., financial constraints), nothing will stop you from teaching yourself how to become a competent cybersecurity professional if you persevere. The important thing is to get started.
What type of credentials should you get?
It’s important to understand that the certifications you need depend on the cybersecurity roles you want. For example, a Certified Ethical Hacker or Network Security Administrator would need different credentials than a Security Architect or Security Analyst. In addition, keep in mind that not all certifications have the same value. Some are industry-recognized and valued by employers, and others are less well-known and therefore less valuable.
When pursuing these certifications, be sure to research which ones will give you an edge when applying for jobs. The following list of credentials is not exhaustive. Still, it provides examples of some of the most common technical certifications in cybersecurity as well as more advanced certifications sought after by hiring managers:
- EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker
- ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- CompTIA Security +
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA)
You can become a cybersecurity expert with hard work and honing your skills. So, what’s required to start a career in cybersecurity? You don’t need a degree. However, it would help if you had a lifelong learner’s mindset, passion for the field, ability to collaborate with others, an understanding of the business, and the ability to communicate technical concepts to non-technical people.
You don’t have to become an expert overnight. However, hard work and honing your skills can get you started to become an expert.
At Cooperative Systems, we embrace change and constantly evolve within our training and certifications. We are COMPTIA+ certified in cybersecurity and managed services. We hold this certification in high regard and know that it’s vital for providing the best service. If you’re ready to work with a managed services provider (MSP) who prioritizes being up-to-date on all the latest trends, threats, and technology, click here. We’d love to help you and your business.