What You Really Need to Break Into the Industry
Are you thinking about pursuing a career in cybersecurity, but hesitant and unsure about your ability to succeed in the field? Is your doubt partly or mostly influenced by your lack of a college degree (or do you have a degree in a field that seemingly has nothing to do with cyber security)? If this is you, you should check out last week’s Fun Fact and read this article, because there’s something really important that you should know: You don’t necessarily need a degree in cyber security (or even in computer science) to be considered a promising candidate for an entry-level role in the field.
Education is, of course, an important consideration for many security jobs. But companies from all industries are recognizing that requiring candidates to meet specific educational requirements is in many ways contributing to the surplus of job vacancies and the lack of seemingly qualified candidates. Looking on Indeed.com for “Entry-Level Cybersecurity Analyst,” I found many different vacancies with educational requirements ranging from a bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security to General Engineering to History to Behavioral Sciences to Criminology – and even a high school diploma with two years of relevant experience. Especially since the pandemic, businesses have come to realize that anyone can be a victim of cybercrime and that they need to think outside the box when it comes to what they need in a cybersecurity professional.
Technical skills can be taught through internal and external training, certification courses, and on-the-job experience. Communication skills, critical thinking and analytical skills, cultural competence, leadership, and empathy are all soft skills necessary in cybersecurity, and these cannot typically be mastered via an online course or school lecture. So, if you have any of these soft skills, and even a slight interest in the cybersecurity industry, you should dig a little deeper and discover the possible opportunities for you to break into the industry and start a new career in one of the fastest-growing industries that offers pretty solid job security in this uncertain and dynamic economy.
At the end of the day, what matters most to employers is that you can prove that you can do the job you are applying for. If you have been or are currently learning about cybersecurity and information technology, this shouldn’t be too difficult for you. But if you are new to the field, and looking for ways to improve your skills, researching and pursuing certifications in cybersecurity are almost, if not more, important than completing a four-year degree. Certification programs such as CompTIA have reasonably priced and important certifications such as Security+, A+, and CASP+. Training bootcamp at non-traditional institutions such as General Assembly and Shaw Academy are great for learning marketable skills without paying the thousands of dollars you would pay for a two- or four-year degree at a traditional institution. General Assembly even has free intro training and expert panel sessions that are great if you are looking for help to determine what you are interested in and where you should focus your attention and funds – whether it be university, certification, or training bootcamp.
Lastly, you need a well-organized resume that highlights your experience – paid and unpaid – and will attract the attention of hiring managers. Your resume is your elevator pitch to hiring managers to make sure they understand why their business would benefit from hiring you. Good resume writing is about more than just listing your jobs and duties from your job descriptions. Your high school, college, training bootcamp, or State’s Department of Employment Services should have staff who provide free career services support such as resume review and interview prep. But if you don’t have access to these resources, it may be worth it to have a professional resume writer revamp your resume.
What would you add to these recommendations? What was your experience breaking into the cybersecurity industry. Share your thoughts in the comments.