How to Make the Most of Your Budding Cybersecurity Career
Careers in cybersecurity are in high demand, no matter the work environment you prefer. As organizations scramble to recruit qualified professionals to protect their data, the information security sector is rapidly evolving. An abundance of open positions, however, doesn't mean that a career in cybersecurity can come easily.
To fulfill a career in cybersecurity, you'll first need to meet a few requirements.
Information security positions vary across the board. Many cyber positions do not require candidates to have any college degree. Still, most employers prefer that aspiring cybersecurity professionals have some sort of education, or prior cyber experience.
The market for cybersecurity professionals is rising at a fast rate. Overall, job posts have risen three times faster for cybersecurity vacancies than for all other IT position openings.
Before you leap headfirst into the cybersecurity sector, it's important to know what the sector offers.
How to Start Your Career in Cybersecurity
There is no one linear route to a meaningful cybersecurity career. Some aspiring cyber experts may come straight out of college and enter the security sector. In other cases, you might move from another IT position to a cyber career. No matter where you start, all careers in cybersecurity require general IT experience. Before you can learn how to secure and defend a network, its users and its information, you'll first need to understand how the technology operates.
Entry-level IT jobs paving the way for a future in cybersecurity include:
- Application Administrator
- Server Administrator
- Network Administrator
- IT Technician
Compared to 23% of IT jobs overall, 35% of cybersecurity jobs require industry certifications.
Expanding Your Cybersecurity Career: 6 Tips
There are so many different ways you can expand your cybersecurity career, as you deepen your experience in network security.
1. Network and Market Yourself
If you're a cybersecurity specialist with any level of expertise, you're already a highly coveted professional in the cyber space. The unemployment rate for cybersecurity practitioners is at 0%, a strong indication that cybersecurity employees are required around the world.
Why are there so many open cybersecurity positions? In part, it's because the cybersecurity field is not highly populated, but it's always needed. The sector is highly specialized, and is always in need of highly-skilled professionals to help keep organizationla data and networks secure.
2. Know Your Worth
Jobs in cybersecurity pay more than the national average.
Whenever you're looking for new jobs, or you're participating in an interview process, you should know what the salary and compensation standards are for that position. Unless you desperately need the position, it's important to do your homework and ensure that you're applying for jobs that will appropriately compensate you for your time and effort.
The national average base pay for a cybersecurity salary is just over $84,000 per year, Glassdoor estimates. Make sure to compare this overall figure with the average salary for the specific cyber position you're interested in. Also, take note of how your salary might differ when working for employers across different industries, or when working in one location over another.
3. Take Advantage of the Increasing Gap in Cybersecurity Career Skills
In 2023 alone, companies will likely need 10 million cybersecurity professionals to keep networks and digital information safe around the world.
The (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Review, an international non-profit membership group for leaders in information technology, reports:
“The gap has a significant real-world impact around the globe. Asia-Pacific, with its growing economies and brand-new privacy regulations, is experiencing the most important shortage — 2.14 million positions. The massive worldwide shortage not only places organizations affected by the shortage at higher risk of the cyber-attack but also affects the job satisfaction of current cybersecurity staff.”
Research from Cyber Seek, a project funded by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), shows that deficiencies in cybersecurity skills exist throughout the U.S. The supply/demand ratio for cybersecurity jobs in the cybersecurity workforce (2.3) is less than half the national average for all jobs (5.8).
4. Multiple Specializations
The more individual areas of cyber specialization you can add to your resume, the better your chances could be for landing your next IT position. Make sure your experience in the cybersecurity field is well-rounded, and clearly demonstrates your abilities.
In addition, you might consider adding other non-technical specializations to further improve your candidacy for hire. For example, you might work to improve your project management skills, or your abilities in business management. This could mean expanding beyond your area of expertise and exploring other cybersecurity fields.
There are other ways you can start a career in cybersecurity with no previous experience. You might join the military, for instance, or work at a smaller tech company where they can train you from day one.
5. Demonstrate Initiative and Participate in Industry Activities
In your cybersecurity career path, it's important to stay motivated while seeking new opporunities for professional development. There are a number of things you can do, while climbing the cybersecurity career ladder, to demonstrate initiative.
Dave Hatter, a cybersecurity consultant with more than 25 years of experience in IT, says that cybersecurity professionals should participate in activities that enable continuous learning, beyond conventional certification opportunities. This could include engaging in workshops and conferences, particularly if you're new to the cybersecurity field.
6. Be Smart to Prevent Burnout
Many cybersecurity professionals look for ways to accelerate their understanding of critical cyber concepts. While additional learning does help improve your staning in the cyber space, it can also mean more opportunities for burnout. Particularly in a cybersecurity role, it's important to strike a balance between hard work, education and recovery.
Cybersecurity experts are more in demand than ever. As companies increasingly demand protection for their networks and digital information, cybersecurity professionals should remain in demand across the next decade. While there's never been a better time to enter the cybersecurity field, it's also important to pace yourself. Establish and respect your limits, and don't be afraid to take a break for the sake of career longevity.
Think you've got what it takes to fulfill a rewarding cybersecurity career?
5 Resume Basics for Budding Cybersecurity Careers
Building your resume is one of the most important steps in achieving the cybersecurity career of your dreams. Here are a few strategies to keep in mind when crafting the perfect cyber resume.
1: Create an Outcome-Oriented Experience
When creating your resume, make sure to prioritize any work experience or accomplishments that are outcome-oriented. This means taking the time to outline specifics of your duties and responsibilities in your previous positions, even for positions that might not be directly related to your preferred cybersecurity position. This might be as simple as a series of bullet points, that capture the action-oriented strategies you used that resulted in success, both for you and for your organization.
2: Provide an Impactful Summary
Your resume should also capture a summary of your work experience to date. This means conveying the highlights of your career flow, without including unnecessary details that might make your work summary longer than necessary. Make sure to outline key career highlights, and prioritize moments when you made a concrete difference, or achieved reportable results, for your organization or for clientele.
3: Separate, and Explain, Skills
Your talents are ehat separate you from all other cybersecurity career candidates. Your resume represents a great opportunity to place those skills front and center, for employers and hiring managers to see. You'll also want to accompany those skills with at least a little bit of context, so that readers of your resume understand how you use those skills on a daily basis.
4: Information on Education and Qualifications
It is important to prove that you've gained the knowledge, and the education, you need for a cybersecurity role. No matter how you've structured your resume, it shoould include the following details on your education and career qualifications:
- Your educational institution(s)
- Any completed educational degrees
- Any active certifications
Depending on your career needs, you may also want to include your enrollment and graduation dates on your resume.
5: Updated Contact Information
Although this might seem obvious, you'll need up-to-date contact information on your resume. In case a prospective employer or a recruiter wants to contact you, they should know how to do so.
Consider adding the following contact information to your resume:
- Mobile phone number
- Email address
- Current location
Don't overlook the importance of the contact information section on your resume. While these details are easy to skim over, they become important when an employer considers you for hire.
Take Your Cybersecurity Career to the Next Level
The cybersecurity field offers a wide variety of positions, whether you're looking for a technical role, a client-facing position or a combination of both. Success in the cybersecurity field requires a willingness to work hard, learn new skills and adapt as the field evolves.