Kullman, DD, How to land a cybersecurity career with no experience, Knowledgenet.com December 2016
Are you looking for a fast-paced and lucrative career in Cybersecurity? Just like any career, you need to know the required steps if you lack experience. Even the highest paid cybersecurity experts in the field had to start somewhere. The good news is, you’re going to have plenty of opportunity once you’ve acquired the appropriate experience and certifications. Cisco’s 2016 Midyear Cybersecurity Report recently stated, “Today’s attacks currently outpace defenders’ ability to respond.” Additionally, over 1 million cybersecurity jobs went unfilled during 2016, according to Forbes. This skills gap is expected to widen as the demand for cybersecurity professionals outpaces employer’s ability to find qualified talent. While the lack of qualified talent is an unfortunate reality for organizations with systems to protect, it provides a tremendous opportunity for those who are willing to train and get the required experience.
Getting Started: Certify Basic IT Skills and Fill an Entry-Level IT Position
Everyone who embarks on a career in cybersecurity must have some basic knowledge and experience with software, networks and systems. While many cybersecurity certifications don’t require industry knowledge to sit for the exams, employers will need assurance that you have real-world experience before they trust you with their most valuable assets. To gain this knowledge, you must first get certified and gain experience in an entry-level IT position. Here is a list of IT positions that have entry-level employment opportunities.
- Desktop support technician – This is a great role to learn the fundamentals of computers and get your foot in the door. Achieve either of the following certifications to land this entry-level role: CompTIA A+ or MCSA: Windows 10.
- Database administrator – This is an ideal role to take on if you’re planning on a career in protecting data and databases. Achieve either of the following certifications to land an entry- level role: MCSA: SQL Server 2014 or Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Associate.
- Software developer – This is the path you’ll want to take if you plan to create security software and applications. Achieve any of the following certifications to land an entry-level role: Python, HTML5, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft .Net, MCAD and MCDP.
- Network administrator – This is the perfect position for anyone looking to advance into network security. Achieve any of the following certifications to land an entry-level role: CompTIA Network+, CCENT, CCNA Routing and Switching and CCNA Security.
- Server administrator – This is an ideal position for anyone who aspires to provide system security. Achieve either of the following certifications to land an entry level role: CompTIA Server+ or Windows Server 2012R2.
While these roles won’t be as gainful as the roles you’ll find in cybersecurity, you can expect to make an annual income of $40,000-$70,000. Additionally, you’ll likely spend a year or two in any entry-level role as you continue to expand upon your current skills through on-the-job and certification training.
Train for a Career in Cybersecurity
Once you’ve learned fundamental IT skills and gained a year or two of industry experience, you’ll be ready to begin training for a high-demand career in cybersecurity. Even entry-level cybersecurity positions provide lucrative employment opportunities for those who position themselves for success. These careers include:
- Penetration tester – Earn this position after successfully writing the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) exam. Average annual salary is $80,000.
- IT security specialist – Achieve this career by successfully writing either of the following exams: CompTIA Security+ (SY0-401) or Systems Security Certified Professional (SSCP). Average annual salary is $76,000.
- Software security specialist – Achieve this career by successfully writing the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) exam. Average annual salary is $109,000.
Once you’ve achieved your first security certification and have established some on-the-job experience, you’ll be able to transition into higher-level cybersecurity positions. A few of these include:
- Chief information security officer – Achieve this career by successfully writing the following exams: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Cisco Certified Network Professional: Security (CCNP Security) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP.) Average annual salary is $204,000.
Software security engineer – Achieve this career by successfully writing the following certifications: Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), EC-Council Certified Secure Programmer (ECSP) and Certified Web Application Defender (GIAC.) Average annual salary is $233,333.
Summing It Up
Ultimately, the time it takes to become a cybersecurity professional depends on the tenacity of the individual. It’s very possible to achieve a high-level, cybersecurity career in just four years. Others may take longer, depending on their situation.