Cyber security jobs, as we know, are in vast supply while the aptly skilled candidates required to fill them, are not. In light of this talent shortage, those at the helm of business and education have made it their priority to create opportunities for more people to re-train into the cyber security arena. Case in point, the UK government is investing a £1.9bn spend on training programmes and apprenticeships to bolster the cyber security workforce.
If you are considering re-training in cyber security it is worth noting that you are not expected to have previous coding or programming experience. Without discrimination in regard to prior career path or experience, people from all walks of life can consider a rerouting of professional ambition toward cyber security.
That being said, those in possession of analytical skills and some familiarity with IT and technology, though not necessarily on an expert level, will likely have an advantage. Those coming from a background in legal, journalism, psychology, security, military or law enforcement are typically best suited to a career in cyber security.
The training can be costly and the study extensive so make sure you are fully prepared and informed in making the choice to pursue opportunities in cyber security. What you can expect to cover in your cyber education will range from the technical aspects of IT systems (hardware, software and networks) and the nature of applications and those who use them, to the complexities of threats and vulnerabilities which lead to cyber-attacks.
Seeking out opportunities for practical experience will prove hugely beneficial, in addition to achieving industry-standard qualifications. Microsoft, CISCO and HP all offer such qualifications, but ultimately you want to make sure that whichever course you choose is industry-recognised, awarded by independent organisations and assessed via examination.
Among the qualifications you should be looking at are the entry level A+ cert, the Network+ which proves a candidate’s expertise in all areas of managing, configuring and troubleshooting basic computer networks and Security+ which teaches best practices in IT security and risk management, all offered by CompTIA. These qualifications are recognised globally.
The CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and GPEN (GIAC Certified Penetration Tester) certifications are also valuable qualifications to obtain if opting to re-train in cyber security.
Would-be cyber security professionals should also think carefully about how they promote their career intentions. Staying open to both the technical and managerial elements of cyber security will impress potential employers and recruiters. To that end, it would be wise to consider management-relevant qualifications, synonymously with your foundation courses.
The ISO 27001 qualification is one every cyber bod should know about, particularly at managerial level. It is key in building your knowledge around risk management and the associated controls needed to mitigate risk within an organisation. Furthermore, particularly for candidates looking at manager-level cyber security jobs in the UK, the BCs cert, CISMP (Certification in Information Security Management Principles) is widely recognised by employers and government approved.
Working in cyber security is not the stuff of Hollywood-inspired 24-7 cyber-crime fighting you are perhaps imagining. Prepare yourself for the reality of building, maintaining and fixing systems to ensure compliance with regulatory standards; paperwork and continual self-education to stay abreast of the constantly changing nature that is cyber security.
Expect to be misunderstood by non-cyber employees who may view you as a necessity rather than the highly valuable cog you actually represent in the mechanism of the organisation. The ins and outs of cyber security don’t always easily translate company-wide so most of your fellow employees won’t understand your day to day role. If you are working on a high profile event you may not be privy to all the information due to the increasing delineation of cyber-attacks as matters of national security.
Challenging and enigmatic, the cyber security space is not one to enter lightly and as a rookie you may be overlooked for roles by companies hoping for more seasoned candidates. However, with the skills shortage working in your favour, play to your strengths, be enthusiastic, be trustworthy and prove yourself a diligent asset in the burgeoning cyber defence force.