How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity

Introduction:

Cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field that has more job openings than individuals to fill them. Having a competitive edge over the other candidates racing to fill the positions can help you get the position you want. It is estimated that there will be 3.5 million, you saw right MILLION, jobs that will go unfilled in Cybersecurity by 2021. Therefore, starting now to transition into a cybersecurity domain could have high returns on investment later in your life. There are three ways to get into Cybersecurity; College Degree, Work Experience, and Certifications. 

College Degree:

Get a college degree either as an undergraduate, graduate, or Ph.D. student. Having a degree will give you a leg up on the competition during your job search. A degree will set you apart from others as it shows that you are skilled in an academic setting. Additionally, a degree gives the employer an indication of the skills and abilities you possess within the field of study. Although a degree is a pricey business venture, in the United States, the payoff is much higher as a long-term investment. For example, the starting salaries for Cybersecurity
ranges from $50,0000 a year (low end) to $100,000+ (medium to high end) as the standard. A valid counterargument could be instated such that it references the individuals that are incredibly successful in the technology field without a college degree. However, given that the individuals who are successful without a college degree are substantially outweighed by individuals with a degree indicates that a degree is a worthwhile investment for the laymen and not for the genius. There are many college degrees to choose from, such as, online or in class, that give you many opportunities to get into the field. Once you have a degree, you can then focus on job opportunities to exercise your new-found knowledge in the real world.

Work Experience:

The second avenue an individual can take is to work in a relating field such as software development, hardware, information technology (IT) or any other computer-related field. Each track has recently started to really focus on the development of better cybersecurity practices. Working in one of the areas will allow you to understand and get introduced to the concepts in the real world. Thus, you can become an expert in the field without getting a degree along with the student debt that would accompany the degree.

Working through the ranks can allow you to learn various hands-on concepts that might not otherwise be available in an academic setting. This route, depending on the number of years of experience you currently have, could take the longest due to the amount of time you would need to transition into Cybersecurity completely. There is a benefit with working for a large corporation. The advantage is that sometimes a large corporation will pay your schooling given that you are interested in learning an important subject that would adversely help the company. This option is usually very demanding because you are working full-time and taking classes. However, the pay off is much better than your current position. Also, you would not have to pay back the company for the schooling assistance since they are paying for it. Therefore, you could even advance even further than just doing college first. However, it will take much longer, and the opportunities for a company to pay for schooling are slim. Make the value judgment based on your current position and think of all the options currently at your disposal.

Certifications:

Certifications are an excellent supplementary objective to have in your back pocket as you’re beginning to build a resume. Certifications are usually seen in two lights; they are a waste of time, or they are entirely worth it. The first argument is that since the certification is based on a test that gives you the testing objectives makes it wildly skewed to test intelligence in a particular subject. However, on the flip side, the counterargument is that the testing material is to help give the person taking the test a baseline of information to study for the exam.

In either case, I take a middle-ground approach. I would not get so many certifications that it would make you appear too spread out in your knowledge base. For example, find a track of certifications that you enjoy studying then specialize in that subject. Sometimes the individuals that specialize in a topic are almost impervious to being fired since they are highly needed. I will list below the different certification websites that you can check out if you are interested in. The main point of getting a certification is to be supplemental to your work experience or college degree. To gain a sense of what you are interested in, check out Comptia’s, an internationally recognized certification organization, roadmap to see the exact certifications you should study first.

Links: CompTIA, CompTIA Roadmap, GIAC, ISC2

Explore the different certification organizations to identify the one that suits you the best. Some organizations have foundational and advanced certifications, CompTIA, while others primarily issue advanced, ISC2. Lastly, having more than one from different organizations will show that you are diversifying your portfolio on your specialization.

Feel free to give me feedback on what you think of this blog! I am still trying to work out all of the kinks to this blog thing. Thank you for reading!

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