How Can I Become a Cybersecurity Expert?

Whether you’re in the beginning of your career or are considering a career pivot, you might have stumbled upon the option of becoming a cybersecurity expert. From your research, you know that the job market is thirsty for hard-working cyber experts with the right training. In fact, according to research conducted by (ISC)², there are currently close to 3 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide. You also know that the career paths and interest in these roles are growing as the past few years have seen a rise in cybersecurity breaches affecting some of the biggest organizations. So, you know that careers in the field are in high demand.

Great, but how exactly to go about pursuing a career in cybersecurity? As in everything, getting started can be a little confusing. Since it’s still a relatively new industry, there are lots of questions about how to get started, what cybersecurity education programs are available, and what the different career paths in the field are.

As such, we’ve put together a breakdown on all you need to know about this fascinating and interesting career path.

Do You Need a Formal Education to Learn Cybersecurity?

It is possible to get a foot in the door without formal cybersecurity education. In fact, many professionals in the field do not have formal cyber education but have managed to get started because of their technical background, analytical skills, or interests.

Although there are professionals who don’t have formal cybersecurity education, because of the sophistication of the technology and industry, and with more and more black-hat hackers causing major damage with more breaches each year, to get your foot in the door, it is advisable to study cybersecurity through formal training. Today to be fully equipped with the necessary skills to combat the challenges cybersecurity experts face, formal training is crucial.

There are a number of degrees that interested candidates can pursue, and these include:

  • Computer Science
  • Networks and Security
  • IT
  • Forensic Computing
  • Physics, Mathematics, and other STEM-related degrees

Besides obtaining an official degree, there are institutions which offer Bootcamp-like programs, which are generally more flexible and time and cost effective than the traditional degree programs. Classes usually run in the evenings or on weekends and the programs also provide a balance of theory and practical experience to the chosen field.

For instance, the University of Miami offers students a Cybersecurity Professional Bootcamp, which is designed for students who have minimal background in the field.

Whichever option you choose, what’s most important is to have a look at your career aspirations, your current background knowledge, and how much time and money you can afford to dedicate to this endeavour. Although programs are plentiful, it is important that you pursue your education with intent.

Different Career Paths to Explore

There are different areas of specialization you can explore if you’re interested in being a cybersecurity expert.

Ethical Hacker

As the name suggests, this is a hacker who hacks for a good cause. Also known as white-hat hackers, these professional are hired by various organizations and are instructed to try to hack the company’s systems to expose its vulnerabilities. Although they might use the same tactics that unauthorized hackers use, white-hat hackers do so to help protect the system.

Essentially, ethical hackers test the strength of a company’s security measures, and if any weaknesses are found, the company will then be able to take the necessary measures to protect its data.

Information Security Analyst

Information Security Analyst analyze organization’s security needs and implement security measures that will help to protect computer networks, systems, and data. A big part of their job is understanding the latest methodologies used by black-hat hackers to implement the most effective security measures.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

This job entails leading a team of security experts in implementing effective security measures for a company. The role of a CISO also involves appointing the most relevant team of experts, helping to develop security policies, leading the cybersecurity experts in implementing the necessary technologies and staying aware of potential security breaches and how best to approach them.

There are quite a number of other specializations to explore in the field. The most important thing is to know and understand your strengths weaknesses as this will help you decide on the best career path for you.

Who is Hiring Cybersecurity Experts?

Once you’ve got your qualification and have done your research on which specialization best suits you, where exactly will you be applying to find work?

Due to the fact that many companies and organizations have gone digital (or are in the process), they’re all vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This demand is across all industries and fields.

You can find yourself working in any one of the following departments:

  • Government department
  • Network providers
  • Airlines
  • Financial institutions such as banks
  • Universities
  • Intelligence institutions

It is worth mentioning that cybersecurity is a career field that requires experts to continually develop their skills. This is because the security risks that exist today will be different from the risks that you’ll encounter in 10 years, or even five years’ time.  The only way you’ll be able to effectively face these challenges is if you continuously invest time in learning about new developing and improving your skills.

Are you interested in becoming a cybersecurity expert? Get in touch with our cybersecurity educational advisors who’ll be able to guide you in getting started in the field.

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