4 questions on switching careers to cyber security

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As cyber-attacks become more common and harmful to businesses, the demand for Cyber Security professionals sees a similar rise in trend. No business is immune to cyber-attacks. Companies are investing heavily on cyber security and building internal teams / working with contractors and creating thousands of jobs for cyber security professionals across the globe in the process.

Let’s explore 4 common questions and areas of interest for professionals thinking about making a career change to cyber:

1. Why should I be considering a career switch to cyber security?

According to the author of The Industries of the Future, Alec Ross, cyber security has become one of the most secure career options in the job market. Cyber security is no longer restricted to the IT departments – it is now addressed across all departments within an organisation. Therefore, companies are looking for professionals with a skillset that goes beyond IT and security.

There is a rapid growth in employment for cyber security professionals, and this digital transformation is slowly penetrating into a number of industries who see their potential for application commercially into their business and operations. Due to this, the demand for professionals in the ICT sector is forecasted to see an exponential rise in the near future. So if you are looking to work in an industry that is evolving and in need of trained professionals, gaining skills in cyber security is smart career move and will increase your short term and long terms career prospects.

According to a recent report from Cisco, there are currently one million cyber security jobs available globally and the world economy is facing a shortage of skilled professionals in this area. There is a growing need for people with creative problem-solving abilities across a wide range of industries including retail, law enforcement, finance, defence, areas of government and healthcare.

2. Can I transition to cyber security coming from a non-technical background?

Absolutely! Many cyber security experts who are acing their jobs right now come from non-technical backgrounds such as literature, psychology, arts and pre-med. To be successful in cyber security one must have a strong passion to learn how technology and people work. It is not always about hacking computers or breaking things, if you love and have the willingness to understand technology, you can go a long way in the cyber security space.

In addition, cyber security is growing into various fields that do not necessarily focus on technical skills to solve problems, but instead require a more human centred approach. Non-technical skills such as privacy, governance, cyber laws and ethics, security awareness, training and security communications are some of the important aspects that cyber security professionals need to be good at. An additional certification in cyber security paired with your existing skillset and experience in your current role will help you fast-track your career into cyber security.

3. What are the key skills and technologies to learn to be a successful cyber security professional?

To get started with your career in cyber security, you will need to start practicing and learning key skills (hard and soft skills) and technologies that will help you perform daily activities of a cyber security professional with ease. Let’s first discuss the technical skills that will be crucial to your role in cyber security.

Technical Skills and Technologies:

  • Coding: A Cyber professional must have a good understanding of the basics of coding which will help you get an understanding on the language used to create web pages and applications. Learning languages such as Python, HTML and Javascript would be a good place to start.
  • Systems: Another great skill to have on your plate while switching careers to cyber security is a basic understanding of administrating various computer systems. Linux and Windows are two most common systems that can add tremendous value to your skillset irrespective of the career path you choose.
  • Applications: Deep understanding how to configure, run and maintain common applications that is – webserver, database or DNS server can be a great addition to your technical skillset.
  • Network Administration: Learning how a network of computers/ devices communicates with each other including capturing and analysing the network traffic is an invaluable skill.

Soft Skills:

In addition to the above technical skills, cyber security professionals need to communicate complex issues and subjects to teams and departments that are not tech savvy such as the management and executive staff of the organisation. Below are a few soft skills to have in mind in order to excel in your next role as a cyber security professional:

  • Exceptional presentation and communication skills to communicate with different stakeholders of the company in a professional, clear and succinct manner.
  • Have the ability to clearly translate complex communications to non-technical teams (both written and verbal).
  • Good listening skills and ability to understand the issues and requirements of customers.

Both hard skills and soft skills are critical for any cyber professional to perform successfully in their role. The Institute’s Cyber Security program is specifically designed to harness you with both technical and non-technical aspects of cyber security, preparing you for the industry as an all-rounder.

4. What jobs can I target in the cyber security space as an entry-level cyber security professional?

To get your foot into the door as an entry-level cyber security professional, its best to target the below roles. These roles will help you to build on your technical skills and allow room to move around in the cyber security industry.

  • Network Administrator: As a Network Administrator you will be responsible for securing the company network by giving access to only those who need it. This role will help you get a deep understanding of the ins and outs of an organisation’s network topology. Skills learned in this role will be great to have on your resume when you apply for higher roles in cyber security.
  • Security Operations Centre Analyst (SOC Analyst): As a SOC Analyst, you will be mostly involved in reporting cyber incidents that create risks for different government departments. You will also be responsible for conducting Vulnerability Analysis and provide suggestions of how to eliminate cyber threats.
  • Cyber Policy Analyst: In this role, you will be in charge of developing and implementing strategies, procedures and requirements for government, public and private companies.
  • Vulnerability Analyst: In this role, you will be using security tools and technologies to find critical issues in networks, applications and systems. You need to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest types of malware and new risks that are identified.

As cyber breaches continue to make the front page news, more and more companies are interested in mitigating these cyber threats by seeking to hire cyber security professionals at a faster rate than ever before. If you are thinking of switching careers to cyber security there is no better time to get into the industry than now.

Joining an industry-focused program in Cyber Security will help you get your foot in the door by equipping you with the skills and knowledge to make you job-ready and prepared for an industry that is going to see a steep rise in the next few years.

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