It’s not hard to find evidence of how miraculous our electronically interconnected world is. Things are possible now that were simply science fiction in the past. We can connect face to face with friends and loved ones across the country or on other continents essentially for free with applications like Skype and Whatsapp. We can receive test results and message our doctors without waiting for appointments or even leaving our homes when we don’t feel well. Transitioning from awe at the information age to fear and anxiety over cyber security threats happened in the blink of an eye.
For businesses or legal professionals, what used to require late-night trips to the office or law firm library can now be accomplished in seconds, at home any time 24 hours a day. Mountains of reports and spreadsheets that used to take months to review can be combed for particular phrases or data in a fraction of a second. The list goes on and on of what’s possible with cloud and information technology.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, this magnificent age has presented opportunities for bad actors to exploit vulnerabilities to steal, corrupt, expose and ransom vital data. Countering this is essential, which creates opportunities for enterprising individuals in the world of cyber security.
Computer sciences and information technology careers of all types are among some of the most desirable around. However, as the years pass, the need for particular specialties certainly ebbs and flows. It’s vital to keep up with which specialties are the most valued so you’ll be presented with a wide variety of well-compensated positions. To that end, cyber security is a quickly growing field within IT as cyber and ransomware attacks become more frequent, more damaging, and impact companies of all sizes.
How exactly can you get started in the field of cyber security? Though the material is challenging, there’s a wide variety of paths that can help lead you to success in this vital career.
How To Start Learning Cyber Security
Education is key. This obviously isn’t a field where you can just show up with a basic familiarity with some terms and learn on the job. You’ll need to have certifications along with your education to prove that you have the knowledge that counts to defend against the myriad of cybersecurity threats that are out there.
So, to begin, you’ll need to pick a training path, and follow it. If you’re still in college, and are passionate about a cybersecurity career, now might be a good time for a major change if you aren’t already a computer science major. If you’ve already earned your bachelor’s degree, but in an unrelated field, you may want to search for a specific career training course, or even a master’s degree if you can.
An undergraduate computer science degree can certainly put you in consideration for a career in cybersecurity. You’ll get an edge if you can demonstrate coursework that specifically applies to cybersecurity. I recommend taking a look at US News and World Report’s current rankings of undergraduate computer science programs that specialize in cybersecurity. Taking a look at the current top 3. you’ll find Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Institute of technology, and of course Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While anyone would have a tremendous advantage attending one of these top programs, they don’t represent the only path to a career in cybersecurity.
One, sometimes overlooked, place to begin your cybersecurity is by joining the US Military. Obviously, this is a big commitment, and available only to those who can meet the physical requirements, and are comfortable with the obligation that comes with it. If you are, you may have the opportunity to work on some of the most cutting edge cybersecurity applications at a young age. You’ll earn valuable experience, and even have some or all of your education paid for. Working in a defense-related field requiring a security clearance also sets your application apart from others when you are trying to land that first, or new job.
What To Study For Cyber Security
Potential employers will certainly want you to have industry-recognized certifications that directly pertain to cybersecurity. These include:
- CompTIA Security+
- CISSP — Certified Information Systems Security Professional
- CISM — Certified Information Security Manager
- CISA — Certified Information Systems Auditor
- GIAC — Global Information Assurance Certification
- CEH — Certified Ethical Hacker
Due to the rigorous technical knowledge required in cybersecurity, some of these certifications require you to demonstrate years of actual career experience in IT or more entry-level cybersecurity. Some of the experiential requirements can be waived by graduating with a degree in cyber security.
There are several good online resources for learning more about some of the coursework and certifications required. Coursera is one in particular. Cyber security professionals need to be trusted. It’s good to keep this in mind as you live your life. The ability to get past a background check or more in-depth security clearance can be vital to your long-term success as a professional in the cybersecurity field.
Is Cyber Security A Good Career?
There’s no question that cybersecurity is a very in-demand career right now, and is likely to be so on an increasing basis for more than the foreseeable future. As long as personal, financial data is out there, bad actors will do everything they can to try and exploit that. Cyber security experts are the “knights in shining armor” to stop these threats in their tracks, saving their companies millions of dollars in damaged reputation, lost revenue, and customer goodwill.
Depending on what part of the country you reside in, cybersecurity professionals can command base salaries from around $70,000 to over $100,000 per year. As you progress in skill, experience, and seniority, that number can certainly climb. Many large corporations can have excellent benefit packages, providing their employees with robust health insurance, on-site child care, free gourmet food, and more.
While those may seem like great salary numbers and benefits, keep in mind that the workload can be significant! You may be expected to deal with threats occurring on a 24-hour basis. In addition, investing in your education can be a significant expense. This is the case for many great careers, however, and few have the growth and long-term potential as cybersecurity, so I think it’s pretty clear that cyber security is, in fact, a good career.
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