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    What You Need to Know About A Career in Cybersecurity

    Published on September 11, 2020

    Many people are eyeing a career in cyber security, and it is easy to see why because it is such an in-demand industry and can be a rewarding and lucrative career path. It is also a relatively new area so there is a lot that people do not know about working in this industry which is why it is useful to outline a few of the key things that should be known about working in cyber security. Much like any industry, there are both pros and cons to this type of work, and it is important to know what these are before embarking on a career path.

    It Is In-Demand

    As mentioned, cyber security is an in-demand industry, which is down to the fact that cyber crime is an enormous and growing threat to every person and business. Cyber criminals target everyone from sole traders through to multinationals, and there are constantly new threats being developed, which means that everybody needs protecting. A study revealed that there was a staggering 350% growth in open cyber security positions from 2013 to 2021, and this will only continue as the war on cyber crime continues.

    It Is Getting Competitive

    While it is in-demand and there is a need for professionals in this industry, you also need to know that it is getting competitive. As with any fast-growing industry and one which can offer lucrative salaries (more on this to come), many young people are eyeing this industry which means that you will not be able to walk into a position and you will need more than a good cyber security degree to find work here.

    There Are Many Different Roles

    Much like any industry, there are many different areas that you can get into in this field so you must know which area interests you so that you can earn the right cyber security degree and map out a path to success. A few of the main roles include:

    • Ethical hacker
    • Information security analyst
    • Penetration tester
    • Digital forensic analyst
    • Security software developer

    Cyber Jobs Are Everywhere

    Following this, you will also find that cyber jobs are absolutely everywhere as it is so important and needed in every industry. This means that once you have a cyber security degree, you can start applying for work in banks, investment firms, cyber security companies, healthcare providers, the education sector and just about anywhere else. You are also not limited by location, but obviously, major cities will be where the most work and highest salaries are. You could even work as a self-employed cyber security professional who can provide you with greater flexibility amongst other perks.

    It Can Be Lucrative

    One of the main reasons that cyber security is becoming such a popular field is the fact that you can command a lucrative salary here – data from 2015 found that cyber security professionals made around 9% more compared to other IT workers. While it depends on the location and the role, data showed that salaries range from $65,000 to $130,000 per year for cyber security professionals which will certainly attract more people in the coming years as there is the potential to earn a great wage and climb the ladder in this industry.

    You Will Need A Degree

    There is no clear path into this industry which can make it challenging, but one thing that you will need to both get your foot in the door and progress is a cyber security degree. A master’s cyber security degree is best as this will transform you into a leader with a high earning potential so that you can go for the top jobs. You can even take an online cyber security degree which will make it easier to work while you study and apply what you are learning straight away.

    Experience Is Key

    Similarly, to other industries, it is hard to find any work without experience, even with a cyber security degree. This is why you need to gain as much relevant experience as possible even if this involves volunteering, an internship or taking on a non-security role in a cyber security company (such as an IT role). Experience is useful for showing that this is a work environment that you are capable of working in but is also valuable for building your professional network.

    You Need to Be A Great Communicator

    People tend to think of any IT professional as somebody who is shy and not a good communicator. While this is true in some cases, in cyber security you need to be a great communicator if you are to find success and climb the ladder. This is because you need to work as part of a team. Still, you will also need to work closely with your clients and build relationships – cyber security is all about trust and credibility which is developed through communicating with your clients. Hence, you need to be able to listen to exactly what they need and fill them with confidence in what you are doing.

    There Will Be Politics

    One of the most common aspects that people are unaware of before entering this field is the politics. Businesses that you provide cyber security for will very rarely want (or be able to afford) top-end security. Instead, they will want the basics that will enable them and their staff to get on with their work with ease – businesses may understand that cyber crime is a threat, but they do not want the security to become a key focus. This means that you need to listen to people and may have to compromise on what you provide them with.

    You Need Always to Be Learning

    While a cyber security degree is essential for succeeding in this field, you also need to realize that it is constantly changing and developing, so you need to continue to learn and be willing to adapt. This is key in any fast-changing industry so you will need to stay current with the latest trends, issues, challenges, and technologies in the field. The best way to do this is simply to spend time reading online and joining online communities where you can engage with others, ask questions, and discuss everything related to cyber security. While it is challenging to be needing to stay current constantly, this does make it interesting work as there are always new things to learn and ways to improve.

    You Need to Be A Creative Thinker

    You are, essentially, a problem-solver which means that no two projects are ever the same so flexibility and finding the best solutions will be a key part of your job. Additionally, as an industry which is constantly going through change, you will need to be able to apply what you learn to your work so being a creative thinker, thinking outside of the box and being willing to take risks is all-important in this line of work. As no two days are ever the same, this can make it more exciting and interesting than other roles but can also make it more stressful and demanding.

    You Need to Form Industry Connections

    A cyber security degree and experience can open a few doors. Still, you will benefit from a lot more opportunities and build your professional reputation when you form industry connections and build strong relationships with people. Networking in person at conferences and similar industry events is the best way to make an impact, but you should also be networking online on social media and online communities. Nurture these relationships and get to know people on a personal level – this could give you the edge when job opportunities arise. If not, then it is always helpful for building your reputation in the industry.

    You Will Need A Portfolio

    Leading on from this, as a cyber security professional, you will need to have a portfolio of work to showcase your work experience and capabilities. Many professionals have their own website, which will contain key information, such as their cyber security degree, background, skills, and experience. It is also helpful to obtain reviews and testimonials from those that you have worked both with and for to show that you are reliable, trustworthy, and capable of getting the job done.

    A Strong Work Ethic Is Essential

    This industry is one which is fast-paced, stressful and highly technical so you will need a strong work ethic to succeed. You will need a “whatever it takes” approach, and you will have to spend many hours at a time working hard at a screen, so those that are unable to work unsupervised or struggle to stay motivated will never be able to succeed here. A strong work ethic can help you to stand out from the crowd, perform to a high standard each day and get greater job satisfaction so this is an area that needs work if you currently do not have a strong work ethic.

    Many Jobs Require Being On-Call

    Another reason that a strong work ethic is needed is that often you will find that you are on-call. If there is a cyber security breach for a customer, you may be required to drop what you are doing and come in to handle the situation even if it is at the weekend or in the evening if you are on-call. This can make it hard to switch off during these times, which is one of the drawbacks of a cyber security role.

    Have Interests Outside Of IT/Tech

    Following on from this, those that work in a stressful environment like this and spend most of their day sat in front of a screen need to have interests outside of IT/tech and lead a happy, healthy and active lifestyle away from work. Being able to switch off at the end of the day is vital, so hobbies, being social, getting enough rest and finding ways to unwind after a difficult day will help you to succeed, avoid burnout (which is common in this industry) and also enjoy your work.

    You Will Deal with Sensitive Information

    It may seem obvious, but when you work in cyber security you will be handling sensitive data which is a huge responsibility. Sometimes, you will need to obtain clearance, and this may mean adhering to a strict personal lifestyle and being looked into before you are approved (this is why it is a good idea to clear up any social media profiles).

    As you would expect, this also means that the pressure can be very high in cyber security and you need to show that you are professional, reliable, and trustworthy. Equally, this means that job satisfaction can be extremely high as you are making a big difference and playing a key role in the fight against a very dangerous form of crime that impacts everyone.

    You Need to Be Able to Learn from Mistakes

    Unfortunately, you will not always get it right the first time when it comes to protecting against digital threats because the threats are constantly changing, and every project will be different. The key is not to let any mistake knock your confidence and instead, you need to see it as a learning opportunity so that it does not happen again. Pick yourself up, brush it off, and go at it again. It is also helpful to seek feedback from others so that you can find the best ways to improve your performance and become the best cyber securely professional that you can be.

    These are a few of the main things that people should know about a career in the cyber security industry. This can be a fantastic field to work in with many perks, but some unique drawbacks and challenges need to be considered particularly when you consider that it is a relatively new field. This is an industry which is growing and in-demand, so it is certainly intelligent to consider a career in this field.

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