A Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Cyber Security
Daily reports of cyber-attacks, heightened regulatory change and data protection laws has created even more demand for cyber security professionals. The current recruitment crisis has left demand for cyber security experts at an unprecedented level with a predicted 3.5 million cyber jobs to be unfilled by 2021. Companies are questioning where future cyber security professionals will come from. Yet despite this demand, kickstarting your career in cyber security can be an overwhelming thought.
The first step into cyber security is obtaining a relevant degree. Whilst degrees in IT and computer science are a given, more wide-reaching courses in science, maths or technology offer beneficial transferable skills. Cyber security professionals are expected to have a foundational skillset which includes computer knowledge, knowledge of scripting languages and networks. Beyond having these technical skills, being a confident communicator with the soft skills employers seek, such as being a team player with a strong work ethic, is a must.
In such a fast-moving industry, demonstrating a dedication to continual education is highly regarded by cyber security employers. This dedication to growth demonstrates a passion and investment into the industry and does not go unnoticed.
Growing your professional network is another must for cyber security professionals and can promise to open doors as networking events can be attended by professionals, students and employers alike. Joining groups like the Institute of Information Security Professionals is a great starting point and could lead to connecting with future mentors or possible career opportunities. Volunteering at conferences or expos is another promising way to grow your network in what can be an isolating career path. Beyond looking great on your CV, a recent survey found that 98 percent of individuals that volunteer say they find the experience fulfilling and 94 percent believe their social and networking skills have improved as a bi product.
Another opportunity to gain practical experience is to participate in cyber security competitions or training games. These events create an opportunity to connect with peers, respond to challenges in real time and receive constructive feedback. Many competitions, particularly at university level, can lead to internships, job offers, travel opportunities and much more.
Entry level cyber security roles are typically generic and provide broad exposure to the many aspects of the industry. The opportunity to specialise typically comes down the line once you have gained experience, a foundation of knowledge and a proven track record.
When it comes to applying for roles your CV is imperative, this two-page document needs to convey everything. Don’t make the mistake of a one-CV for all roles approach, your CV needs to be tailored. Using key words outlined in the job description is a good start for this customisation, along with addressing every relevant point for the advert at some point in your CV, and if possible, cover letter. Letting the employer know you have taken the time with the application pays off and puts your ‘excellent work ethic’ on show.
Cyber security salaries are on the rise – increasing 16% in January alone and by 2020, the cyber security market is expected to grow to $170 billion. The average salary for cyber security jobs is £72,500 according to CW Jobs, whilst the average salary of an Information Security Analyst, an entry level position, is £33,233.
Finally, getting your foot in the door can be a challenge so being choosy with what to say yes to is not recommended straight off the bat. By gaining as many experiences that come your way, such a summer internships, means not only will your knowledge benefit, but you will be able to continue growing your network and CV.