4 Tips to Launch Your Cybersecurity Career
We’re halfway through National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the theme for week two revolved around addressing the cybersecurity skills gap by educating the next generation of capable cybersecurity professionals.
The cybersecurity workforce shortage has grown to nearly 3 million, according to (ISC)². That provides a great opportunity for individuals either first starting out in the industry or looking to change their career path, but it also raises one of the most common questions we receive here at Infosec: how do you start a career in cybersecurity?
Infosec held two webinars with industry experts to help answer that question:
- Breaking into IT: From First Job to Advanced Certs with CompTIA, featuring Teresa Sears, senior director of certification products for CompTIA skills certifications
- Get Started in Cybersecurity: Beginner Tips, Certifications and Career Paths, featuring Keatron Evans, Infosec Instructor and cybersecurity professional
We collected some of the best tips from those discussions here — and linked to the full videos below in case you want to dive deeper into each topic.
1. Learn Cybersecurity Basics in Just Six Months
During our recent webinar on getting started in cybersecurity, long-time cybersecurity professional Keatron Evans outlined a plan to get anyone up to speed on cybersecurity in just six months. The plan included:
- Learning the basics by looking up fundamentals such as “how do computers work”
- Reading free resources and watching tutorials on basic tools such as the Windows command line
- Getting hands-on knowledge by setting up a free cloud services account
“When I say go set up a Microsoft Azure account or go set up an AWS account and start building virtual machines in a cloud environment, that sounds like I’m saying brain surgery,” Evans said. “But it really is extremely basic and all of these organizations have very, very good tutorials on how to get started.”
That half year of learning and building your skills will make you as good as — or even slightly better than — other candidates entering the field.
2. Start With the CISSP and Work Backwards
The CISSP is traditionally viewed as an advanced certification that an information security professional would earn after many years of experience. However, Evans advises his students to challenge that thinking and research the CISSP and its domain areas much earlier in their careers — even if they don’t meet the requirements.
The CISSP was one of the first security certifications Evans earned, and he said it provided him with a wide and shallow view of different cybersecurity areas. That gave him insight into the variety of career areas that he could pursue — and he eventually settled on the technical side with pentesting and incident response.
3. Gain Entry-Level Experience Via a Technical Support Role
If you’re looking to land your first job in the information technology sector, consider getting your foot in the door with a technical support role.
“Tech support can be a launching pad into a variety of IT specializations,” said CompTIA’s Teresa Sears during our recent webinar.
Sears said it’s the technical support roles that are often dealing with the front-line issues, and that provides a great opportunity to gain real-world experience and troubleshoot issues. Technical support roles are tied to a variety of departments, including security operations centers, network operations centers and IT help desks. Each one of those areas can provide a variety of pathways to advance your career — especially if you’ve already put some thought into your long-term career plans.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Pivot
Technology and related job roles are constantly evolving, so don’t feel like you have to lock yourself into one technology-related career path from the outset. In fact, you’ll likely be presented with the opportunity to either shift or drastically change your job focus numerous times throughout your career.
One of the big fears holding many newcomers back from a potential career in cybersecurity is programming — but not all cybersecurity-related roles require a technical background. As our “Introduction to Cybersecurity Careers” video explains, cybersecurity firms have job roles ranging from graphic designers to social media consultants to ethical hackers.
Check out the video below for more insight into launching your cybersecurity career.