Deciphering how to break into cybersecurity can be a daunting task, especially for career changers. Like any other journey, it helps to have a roadmap.
Discover Variety of Roles
Cybersecurity is a career field—rather than a single job—consisting of numerous specialties. Your initial interest in cybersecurity should drive your discovery process as you learn about the various roles in the field. As you discover roles that particularly excite you, you’ll also discover skill sets to develop. This helps focus your journey.
It's time to turn that cybersecurity interest into cybersecurity knowledge. What exactly self-education looks like, depends on your circumstances. For students, it can mean selecting cybersecurity courses that reflect your interests. For young adults of color and veterans, it can mean cybersecurity training programs like that offered by NPower. For career changers and others, it can mean cybersecurity bootcamps or online programs like Cybrary. Basic cybersecurity knowledge will be similar across various platforms. Focus on the learning timeframe, delivery method, and cost that best suits your circumstances.
In this context credentials refers to university degrees (undergraduate or graduate) or industry-recognized certifications. Degrees are great, if you’re in the position to achieve (and afford) them. Certifications are really democratizing the credentialization process. They are relatively affordable and demonstrate that you understand a topic to a recognized industry standard. CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA CySA+ are the to go-to certifications for entry-level cybersecurity roles.
Build Your Network
The journey to a cybersecurity career doesn’t need to be a lonely one. Build a network of fellow cybersecurity hopefuls and established cybersecurity mentors.This support system will provide an audience to bounce ideas off of, advise you, and help evaluate opportunities. Don’t know anyone in cybersecurity? LinkedIn is perfect for this kind of networking.
Finding that first cybersecurity job is harder than it should be. There are job postings with unrealistic job qualifications. There are numerous places to search job postings. Your resume probably needs some updating to stand out to a cybersecurity recruiter. Job referrals are hugely valuable, but require effort to get. Interview preparation is vital. It can all be a lot, but will be worth it.
After landing your first cybersecurity job, it’s tempting to immediately focus on your next cybersecurity course or certification. Take a moment to celebrate. You’ve spent months getting here. Your loved ones have tolerated more cybersecurity-themed dinner conversations, than they would have preferred. There will be plenty of work over the horizon. There always is with cybersecurity. Take a moment, an evening, a weekend, to celebrate your achievement.