How to start your career in cyber security

The cyber security industry is booming. Organisations are increasingly using technological solutions to perform core functions, and they need a way to make sure these processes aren’t vulnerable to cyber attackers.

This influx in opportunities is outpacing the number of qualified personnel, meaning now is an ideal time to get into an industry that promises generous salaries and opportunities for career progression.

Let’s take a look at four ways you can get started in the cyber security industry.

1) Identify your transferable skills

Unlike many professions, you don’t need cyber security experience to get into the field, although many people entering the field will come from jobs that have similar skillsets, such as systems administration or information analysis.

If you can demonstrate the relevance of your existing experience – what recruiters call ‘transferable skills’ – there’s no reason why you can’t get a foothold on the cyber security career ladder.

There are also plenty of entry-level positions available. Account executives and junior penetration testers, for example, tend to have little work experience, and can learn while on the job.

Of course, any prior experience is a massive advantage, so it’s worth taking an internship or volunteer position if you can. Alternatively, you could offer to help your employer or academic institution’s IT department in your spare time.

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2) There are lots of free ways you can learn about the industry

It’s always a good idea to read as much as you can about a subject to find out what you’re getting yourself into. There are plenty of blogs dedicated to the practicalities of the cyber security industry; two good ones to start with are Troy Hunt’s and Brian Krebs’.

And, of course, there’s our own blog, which helps you stay up to date with the latest cyber security news and advice.

You should also consider following industry professionals on Twitter, as many of them provide useful tips, engage in debates and answer questions.

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3) Get industry connections

Meeting people and making connections is a great way to get your foot in the door. Networking websites such as LinkedIn can be helpful, but you should definitely take any opportunity to get face-to-face meetings.

Conferences are an excellent starting point. There are tons of events across the UK each year, where you can listen to keynote presentations, take part in roundtables and workshops, and network.

You should also get to know the cyber security professionals in your organisation. We’re not suggesting that you accost them during their lunch break, but a few well-timed questions could lead to essential advice.

More to the point, simply getting to know them on a personal level could give you an advantage when a job opens up in the department.

4) Gain a qualification

The best way to gain an advantage over other prospective cyber security professionals is to become qualified.

The qualifications you need will depend on your career path. If you don’t have this mapped out yet, or you simply want a strong overall understanding of how to navigate security risks, you should seek out a course that covers general topics, such as our Certified Cyber Security Foundation Training Course.

This one-day course explains the fundamentals of cyber security and shows you how to protect your organisation from a range of threats.

With group discussions and practical exercises led by real-world experts, you’ll gain a true insight into the skills needed to deal with cyber threats.

A version of this blog was originally published on 8 December 2017.