How to Transition Into a Cybersecurity Career

In 2004, the cybersecurity market was worth about $3.5 billion. In 2015, that amount rocketed up to $75 billion. Experts predict that from 2017 to 2021, businesses and consumers will spend more than $1 trillion on cybersecurity measures, causing the industry’s worth to explode to an unimaginable $202 billion. Suffice it to say that cybersecurity is a healthy industry with plenty of promise.

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Due to the field’s expectations of wealth in the coming years, many IT professionals are looking to find work in cybersecurity. Fortunately, as the industry expands, millions of jobs will be created.

Unfortunately, cybersecurity requires a specific knowledge set that general IT workers might not have. This guide should help any tech professional quickly and easily transition into this booming field.

Choose a Specialization

It is imperative for all cybersecurity professionals to have a firm foundation in information technology and general security practices, but the industry is expanding primarily because security is diversifying into discreet sectors. Having a specialization prepares aspiring security professionals for more advanced careers, which lead to better pay, benefits, and prestige. There are three broad fields of cybersecurity in which professionals can specialize.

Information security is the protection of information from access, use, modification, destruction, and other unauthorized behaviors. Information security (sometimes abbreviated to infosec) is perhaps the most general application of cybersecurity skill because it can be applied to a variety of devices or systems, including mobile devices and networks. Often, infosec workers conduct scans of computers, review potential threats, and reorganize protocols and practices to ensure continuous protection from outside and inside threats.

Network security is the organization and defense of networking infrastructures from misuse or malfunction. Professionals in this field are trained in physical and cyber strategies for protecting networks, including integrating access controls, constructing firewalls, segmenting networks, and more. Slightly more complex than general infosec, network security requires a background in networking and server operating systems, protocols, and computer languages.

Cloud security is among the newest branches of infosec, and as such the responsibilities of cloud security experts are still developing. Some cloud architects take responsibility for ensuring security in their clouds; other cloud providers hire general infosec professionals. However, those with a certified specialization in cloud computing are best equipped to keep the cloud safe using a combination of strategies for this relatively new digital service.

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Earn Credentials

Though there is an overabundance of opportunities for new cybersecurity workers, employers are always looking for applicants with evidence of their skills. Tech-related work experience does much to demonstrate a candidate’s familiarity with devices and practices, but because security is a unique field, prospective security experts should work toward security credentials to qualify them for their desired positions.

Advanced university programs are perhaps the best options for young security workers, but a quick transition into the security field can be aided by certifications, such as SSCP, CISA, CISSP, and others.

Gain Practical Experience

Formal education is an excellent foundation for a career, but there is no replacement for practical experience. Whenever possible, aspiring security professionals should practice their skills ― either through self-directed exercises or guided training programs. There are dozens of resources online to help security hopefuls hone their craft, including:

Though such experience might not fit well on a resume, applicants with extensive practice will be more confident demonstrating their abilities during interview or training, ensuring employment in their security field of choice.

Build an Attractive Resume

Because tech has grown so quickly, many tech professionals are unsure what information is important to include in application materials. Because so many famous names in tech reached success without traditional credentials, some workers wonder if including self-education is important on resumes and CVs.

In short, a cybersecurity resume should look as clean as other resume. Most importantly, candidates should include education experience and previous tech work, especially if that employment experience included security-related responsibilities. Next, certifications and achievements are vital, as they show what workers have done to advance their careers. Finally, resumes should list hard skills, including any gained through self-directed study.

Find an Entry-Level Job

Despite years in the IT industry, many tech workers migrating to cybersecurity must be willing to start at the bottom. Available positions with the words “associate,” “analyst,” or “specialist” are likely at the correct level for new workers in cybersecurity, and therefore, those transitioning into this career path should apply most heavily for these titles.

With the right application materials ― and, more importantly, the right experience ― it is possible to find a rewarding career in cybersecurity.


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