Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing tech careers out there, and for good reason. It’s challenging, always evolving, and is one of the most lucrative information technology jobs on the market.
Whether you’re attracted to the thrill of helping keep people safe, looking for more excitement and challenge in your work, or want a stable tech career with a variety of options and opportunities, you’re sure to find that cybersecurity is an amazing choice.
If you’re wondering how to get into cybersecurity, it’s likely not as out of reach as you think. Cybersecurity is a field where skills over degrees can triumph, meaning you don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or an informatics degree to work in the field.
In fact, many cyber security professionals have no formal college degree at all. What is required, however, is dedication to developing a key set of skills that will propel you forward.
We answered your most common questions about getting started in cybersecurity, as well as offered tips and advice on how to make your mark in this growing field.
How Do I Train for Cybersecurity?
Hands-on experience is the most important training tool for aspiring cybersecurity analysts. It’s one of the key areas that companies screen for when interviewing applicants, and many prospective hires fall short in this area.
Fortunately, this can be a fairly simple fix: The DIY path is to build your own cybersecurity testing lab with old computers and online resources such as Metasploit, which help you set up penetration testing environments (AKA, environments that allow for ethical hacking and help you find security vulnerabilities).
While there are amazing resources out there, it can be overwhelming to jump in on your own if you have very little knowledge or experience.
Cybersecurity training is now a common offering at coding bootcamps. But when looking at programs, it’s important to make sure they provide intense hands-on training and don’t just test your knowledge of concepts without practice.
At Eleven Fifty Academy, we are proud to be home to the first cyber range in Indiana. This real-world simulation environment provides immersive training for the most common security threats such as ransomware and web defacement.
In the cyber range, students are immersed in 14 unique attack scenarios and get to work in teams to resolve cyber attacks using technology found in corporate SOC (Security Operation Center) environments. Scenarios range from simple to complex multi-stage attacks so that students get diverse, hands-on experience.
What Skills Are Needed for Cybersecurity?
Working in tech requires a mix of hard skills and soft skills. Cybersecurity is no different, and new grads should be prepared to show evidence of both when applying for cybersecurity jobs.
The Hard Skills
Understanding computer networks, or how computers connect and communicate with each other, is fundamental to understanding cyber attacks and how to prevent or lower the risk against them. This is one of the most important knowledge bases expected of cybersecurity job applicants.
Knowing programming languages is not a major skill set required for cybersecurity pros, but that doesn’t mean it won’t give you an edge. We recommend getting basic skills in languages such as Python, Java, and Ruby to truly stand out in the field.
Other key hard cybersecurity skills include an understanding of:
- Computer architecture
- Common operating systems (Windows and Linux are the go-to for cyber security training)
- Antivirus and anti-malware techniques and software
- Data and cryptography
- Cloud computing
The Soft Skills
While a lot of cybersecurity work is behind the screen, a surprising amount of your time is interacting with people.
Many cybersecurity jobs are more people-focused than tech-focused and involve working directly with people to understand how they interact with devices. This can look like training individuals on privacy best practices, safety precautions and procedures, and more.
But communication is incredibly important for a cybersecurity professional no matter what your role looks like. Whether interacting with your team, reporting information to non-technical individuals, or working alongside them to troubleshoot and handle problems, you need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
Another key area to work on is developing your cybersecurity mindset. The best cybersecurity pros need to be able to think a few steps ahead of people and put themselves in an attackers’ mindset.
What would an attacker see as a vulnerability? What is a user likely to do that will compromise their security and/or the security of the organization? Become suspicious. Think critically. Work on your observation skills as you look at the world around you and prepare to jump into action.
Other great soft skills to develop include:
- Empathy and interest in people
- Project management
Which Certification Is Best for Cybersecurity?
Certifications are not always a requirement for entry-level cybersecurity jobs, but they do give you a boost. Getting certified will show employers that you are proficient and that you’ve had hands-on experience in the field—even if you don’t have previous cybersecurity job experience.
There are numerous cybersecurity certifications out there, including the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), which shows you know how to ethically hack and test systems. While you don’t need to collect certifications to be a viable candidate, some certifications are best obtained after some years of experience and are designed to help you grow in your career, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation.
At Eleven Fifty, cybersecurity students work toward two base-level certifications from the Computing Technology Industry Association, also known as CompTIA.
- The Network+ Certification shows you have an understanding of networks, the Internet, and security concepts.
- The Security+ Certification builds on those security concepts and shows you’ve mastered various security threats, including how to identify, stop, and prevent them.
How Do I Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience?
Getting into the cybersecurity industry is easier than you think. Even absolute beginners with no previous computer science training can enroll in Eleven Fifty’s cybersecurity bootcamps to jump start their careers. Bootcamps are a great alternative for students who don’t want to spend years pursuing a degree program at a college or university.
You don’t need any specific qualifications to join a part-time or full-time coding bootcamp at Eleven Fifty, but previous computer knowledge will give you a leg up in the course. We recommend prospective students take one of our free introductions to cybersecurity courses to learn more about the program.
After your full-time or part-time coding bootcamp, our Career Services team will connect you with potential employers and help you find the right career. Many employers don’t expect applicants to have college degrees. A bootcamp education is enough to get you an entry-level job. More important than a degree is the ability to prove your knowledge and skills, which you’ll gain through your bootcamp experience.
Career prospects for cybersecurity professionals are promising. The field is growing daily and shows no signs of slowing. Common jobs for cybersecurity pros include roles in network security and IT security, as information security analysts, or penetration testers.
How do I get started in my cyber security job search?
Like with most fields, networking can play a major role in helping you get where you want to go in your cybersecurity career. We recommend these actions to get started:
Grow Your Network
Find and attend local meetups to connect with others for support, learning, and, of course, general networking. Many cities have cybersecurity specific groups, such as the Indianapolis chapter of the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). If your city doesn’t have cybersecurity groups, look for general tech meetups to immerse yourself in the overall community.
Continue Your Learning
Continue to learn and sharpen your skills at conferences or online webinars and workshops. The pandemic forced many events to turn virtual, which means you have wider access to events outside your normal geographic area.
Connect With Potential Mentors
Reach out to cybersecurity and tech pros in your community that you admire and work to build relationships. People are surprisingly good at connecting and sharing their knowledge as long as you’re respectful of their time.
Stay Current With Your Knowledge
Follow thought leaders on social media and read industry articles to stay on top of the field. Tech changes fast! No matter where you are on your career journey, you need to be in the know of the latest developments in your field. A good place to start is to follow the Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) at companies that interest you.
Develop Your Professional Profile
Build your personal brand online, especially through a well-built LinkedIn profile catered to industry terms and keywords.
What Is the Cybersecurity Salary Range?
Entry-level cybersecurity positions tend to be around $65k nationally, but many factors can play a role in changing this number. Where is the job located? Do you have certifications? Do you have a college degree (again, not necessary, but it could provide a small boost)?
More important than the starting salary is the earning potential. Most tech careers do not stay stagnant for long when it comes to salary. As cybersecurity becomes more crucial and continues to face critical demand across the globe, salaries are likely to continue climbing.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely be able to quickly advance within your career. While you may be looking at $55k-$65k to start, many experienced cybersecurity analysts see their salaries increase well into the six figures.
Whether you’re considering cybersecurity as a potential career path or are determined to make it happen for you, remember that any career in tech is a journey. In addition to constantly learning, you must remain flexible, immersed in your passion, and dedicated to being the best you can be in order to succeed.
- Cyber Security Terms 101: 50+ Terms to Get Started in Cyber Security
- Cyber Security Certifications: What You Need to Know
- 5 Characteristics of a Cyber Security Pro
- Train on Indiana’s First Cyber Range
- Why Cyber Security Bootcamp? An Interview with Nick Tamanini
- How to Build Your Personal Brand in Tech
- Attend a FREE Intro to Cyber Security online class
- Talk to an Eleven Fifty Academy team member about your tech career path