Cyber security is the hot career ticket of the current job marketplace. However, its relatively recent rise to fame may means many of the contenders hoping to practice it for money are coming from other professional fields. While it’s true that there are those who move into cyber security from as obscure vocations as floristry, the reality is most come from a background in IT.
Don’t expect to walk into the role of penetration ‘pen’ tester or security architect however. Your route into cyber security will depend on your experience. Your first foray working in cyber security is likely to come via the role of network or systems administrator. This type of role will make you a far better practitioner of cyber security than most other options as it will teach you to understand how information is flawed. You will learn how to root out where the problems are and work out what needs to be done to protect the network.
A job which involves a lot of technical support and of course general IT will unquestionably serve you well if wanting a job in cyber security. As roles become more specific, requiring certain skills to qualify the function, you will see that other routes come into play.
A candidate coming from financial insurance, for example, will bring an excellent grasp of risk management to the table. Cyber security is not all about configuring and switching routers, it is a truly multi-faceted space. A financial insurance expert will have dealt with risk all their professional life so something like tackling cyber risk audits will be well within their wheelhouse.
An auditor too possesses a lot of the skills necessary to move into cyber security, a main point being the management of internal controls. However, the progression from audit to cyber security would not prove as straightforward as if the move were reversed. Though the two share things in common, the overriding differences in their goals, respectively compliance and protection, and the technical intricacies of cyber would make the transition a challenging one.
Meanwhile an individual who has spent their career in physical security could also make a worthy candidate for cyber security. Trained in preventing against intrusion, there isn’t much between the skillset of one protecting physical property versus one protecting virtual property. This type of candidate would work well in both the technical and risk areas of cyber security.
A far more niche faction of cyber security is the forensic piece, which essentially revolves around incident analysis. In many cases, individuals who work in either law enforcement or legal forensics would be best suited to move into this area of cyber security.
There is a big expectation that working in cyber security will guarantee an impressive pay bump, and this can definitely be true in some cases. Particularly for the experienced candidates with the skills and expertise needed by organisations; annual salaries start in the realms of £72,500 GBP as an average increasing to £110,000 GBP.
Developing skills in specific technical spaces is wise, not only to increase your likelihood of securing opportunities in cyber security but also your cyber earning potential. Threat intelligence, security software development, cloud, auditing and big data analysis are all relevant areas of expertise for candidates looking to work in cyber security in 2018.