Things You Should Know About a Career in Cyber Security
The life of a cyber professional includes preventing international spies from getting their hands-on priceless data. It also involves protecting your computer network from people with ill intent. And although this may look like a part of your favorite James Bond movie, a career as a good guy in cybersecurity puts you in a position to do these things on a daily basis. And although at this point you want to search for cybersecurity for dummies, there is a lot more to the career than meets the eye.
Before you quit your job to pursue a career in cybersecurity, there are key things you need to know before making that decision. From what a typical day looks like to how to get started in the career, as well as potential career options.
Here is a list of things you should know about a career in cybersecurity.
1. There is No Clearly Defined Career Path
According to Carlos Pelaez of Coalfire Systems, â€œCybersecurity is in the Wild West stages, and that creates a lot of blue sky for those interested in shaping their career.â€ In comparison to other industries, the information security field is relatively new. Because of this, there is no one defined way to enter the industry.
Although the industry has enjoyed rapid growth as it moved from being an offspring of the world of information technology (IT), it has become its own career specialization. It is also common to see more experienced analysts who achieved their beginning working entry-level IT jobs like network administration or programmers.
The cybersecurity environment favors merit and technical knowledge over experience. Hence, as long as you are confident in your skillset, you can wow prospective employers probably even more than the next guy who has years of experience.
2. You Will Need to Go Beyond the Norm to Get Ahead
Regardless of whether you are just looking for an entry-level job or you are looking for a promotion to advance your career, you are going to have to show that you can be proactive. This industry does not deal with people who simply wish to use their degrees to land a job and relax as they cruise up the ladder.
You are going to need to continually improve yourself and advance your skill set, and let it reflect on your resume. A great way to do this is to earn industry certifications. An example of this is the CompTIA Security plus which is a great place for you to start.
Apart from certifications, you are also going to need to improve your experience. According to Michael Gregg of Superior Solutions Inc, â€œGet all of the experience you can, if you cannot find an opening, look for opportunities to volunteer your services to gain experience.â€ Local organizations are a great place to start building experience. An example of this is the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).
Improving upon your experience is also a good way to show that you are serious about your career in the cyber security industry.
3. Security Clearance Can Make or Break Your Career
The government and contractors are the ones that usually contract a lot of the work, and they are the ones that make up a significant amount of the employers within the cybersecurity industry. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that to get any of these positions; you will need to obtain a security clearance that is given by the government before you can be cleared to work with their systems.
Getting these clearances could cause as much pain as they do joy. Mike Meikle of SecureHIM says, â€œMaintaining a clearance can mean adherence to a rather strict personal lifestyle. Depending on clearance level, individuals will have to report who they speak to, when and where they travel, management of finances and debt as well as a host of other factors that could jeopardize their clearance.â€
4. There is High Demand
Headlines exposing cyber breaches at some of the largest tech companies around the world have become mainstream. And as these incidents become more common, the people who can perform the task of protecting sensitive information become more sought after. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security jobs are expected to increase by 28% by 2026. This means four times the average 7% growth rate of other occupations.
The high demand to fill these positions combined with the high level of expertise needed to properly do the job points to high salaries for personnel who work in that space. According to the bureau, the median salary for this occupation was $95,510 in 2017 which was more than the average of all other occupations by about $50,000.
5. Never Ending Learning
As soon as you have figured out how to stop the first threat, you need to buckle up and figure out how to stop the next one. Successful cyber professionals continually ensure they do not rest on previous engagements. They are continually up to date on the latest technologies so that they can be successful in their field.
A career in cybersecurity involves seeking out valuable resources to read up on. But the good news is there is a long list of helpful online resources and blogs that can help you keep an eye on all the new technologies, trends, and techniques in the field.
According to Palaez, this is why it is important to specialize as it allows you to choose an area you like and dive deep into learning all there is to learn about it. â€œI am a member of the FBI InfraGard and find that avenue to be great for receiving updates in a way where I can quickly absorb the information. I try to attend at least one event a month to hear from others in the field [about] what is new, as well as to gauge incoming trends.â€
It should be clear by now that having a successful career in cybersecurity is no walk in the park. But with the constant demand that needs to be filled and the availability of new technology and possible advancement, it is a career definitely worth considering.