The demand for IT professionals is on the rise, particularly in the cybersecurity sector. Based on the recent forecast posted by the Palo Alto Networks Research Center, the employment rate for cybersecurity professionals may increase to approximately 6 million across the globe. In addition, the Cybersecurity Ventures also predicted there will be over 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs 2 years from now.
Starting a Career in Cybersecurity
While the figures mentioned above looks promising for most IT professionals, take note that starting a career in cybersecurity is not that easy as it seems. Just like any other career or job opportunities, you will also need a lot of preparation not only to get accepted for job, but also to excel in this field.
Do you Need Work Experience to Get Accepted?
Of course, prior experience from related industry or profession gives you a big advantage; however, you don’t necessarily need any cybersecurity experience to get started. Some of the similar skillsets agencies are usually looking for are system administration and data or information analysis. If your previous works demonstrate relevance with these skills, it won’t be difficult to find an employer in the cybersecurity industry.
The cybersecurity is a big sector, as well. There are different of entry-level positions you can explore. These include account executives, junior penetration tester, staff administrators, and many more.
Cybersecurity professionals also mentioned that you don’t really need to be that skilled to start a career. Your dedication and work ethic should point you to the right direction. Just learn a few basics, and committed to learning, a lot of opportunities will come to you.
So, to help you out on this journey, feel free to use the guidelines below when starting a career in the cybersecurity profession:
Also Read: Common Cyber security Mistakes
Decide on Where You Want to Be
As mentioned earlier, the cybersecurity sector involves different functions. Sort out your skills and knowledge before looking for positions available. For example, are you well-versed when it comes to the technical side of the operations? Do you want to focus more on the administration side of the business? From there, you can start collecting more information about the basic or fundamental levels you want to achieve.
In some cybersecurity agencies, the key skills can be integrated with a Bachelor’s degree in IT, IS, MIS, SE, and CS. You can also attain it from a beginner-level certification. On the other hand, many agencies are also evaluating individuals with a Political Science background, especially those leaning towards the GTC side.
Conduct a self-evaluation before choosing the path of your career. Where do you want to start? Do you see yourself working in the private sector at a junior –level position; or would you rather accept a government role? Another option is doing freelance work for certain agencies. You can work as a data-entry QA specialist or an IT security consultant who can provide a thorough guidance for companies or businesses seeking for efficient security software programs.
Hone your Fundamental Skills
Expanding your current skills is another way to showcase your portfolio when applying for this profession. For instance, you might want to explore specialized skills like networking and security fundamentals. Acquiring these skills can definitely help you land your first job. Look for recognized organizations such as CompTIA, ISC2, and EC Council. There are also online courses you can explore from Udemy, Cybrary, and Udacity. Getting certificates from these organizations will increase your chances of getting hired from your desired employers.
Choose the Best Online Courses
As mentioned earlier, improving your skills is a good start to your career journey. While there are several online courses available today, make sure to dig deeper into details and find a credible source. Many experts today recommend Nathan’s House courses on Station X. According to reviews, their courses are not that haphazard, especially for beginners. Everything is clear and concise making it easier to understand for both beginners and seasoned professionals.
The learning packages usually offer free-trial, which covers 1 to 2 sessions, courses for beginners, and VIP Bundles. Completing these courses is a good preparation for CompTIA certifications.
Do not Let Certifications Hold your Application
Always remember that not all employers are very particular when it comes to certification holders. This means you don’t actually have to wait for your certifications to start applying for a job. Unless the job description is requiring applicants to present certain certifications, you can start exploring your options. Remember, you took those courses not just to get a certification. You have invested in them because you want to upgrade your skills or broaden your knowledge.
Set the Right Expectations
Keep in mind that it’s just your first job. While it’s only natural to feel excited about the many things to discover (especially now that it has become a buzz around the topic, and the vibe given from the CIA-themed movies), it is best to set your expectations accordingly. Don’t expect too much from your current role. Instead, focus on the goals set by the companies and try to align them with your future career path. Take advantage of the things you can learn or acquire from them. Once, you get the hang of it, they can definitely give you bigger roles.
Keep Learning Inside and Outside the Office
As every successful professional would say, “the learning should never stop!” This is why it is best to surround yourself with knowledge. Make the most of your free time, and look for workshops or seminars revolving within the industry or profession you have chosen. Establishing a daily goal to learn something new is one of the best things you can do if you want to excel in this profession. It doesn’t have to be that big. For example, you can spend about 5 to 10 minutes watching free tutorials from StackExchange or TED talk sessions related to your profession. If you have the time, you can also attend conferences conducted by industry professionals.
Be Proud of your Accomplishments
Staying positive about the first few runs of your career is important. Take note that any achievement is always a big step forward in any point of your career. Set your own milestone or roadmap to help you with your goals. This should help keep you motivated in your career.
Following these guidelines should help you get started with your cyber-security professional career. Again, your attitude towards work is more important than any skill set anyone has.