There are many ways to break into a cyber security career, and with the constantly increasing threat of cyber crime, workplace demand is greater than ever.
A shortage in trained cyber security experts is expected to leave 1.8 million jobs unfilled by 2022, and the field is growing at three times the rate of other information technology careers. A lack of skilled workers has put the digital infrastructure of businesses, universities, nonprofits and even the government at risk.
That means now is the time to establish yourself in a field that is rapidly growing and changing. Cyber security incorporates artificial intelligence, image and voice recognition, data analytics, biometrics and mobility. Every size of company and every kind of industry needs to protect themselves from data breaches and hacks.
The cybersecurity workforce of the future needs a diverse skill set. Cyberseek, which provides data about the cyber security job market, identifies five “feeder roles” that are needed for most entry-level jobs:
- Software development
- Systems engineering
- Financial and risk analysis
- Security intelligence
Not included in the list—but key to success in cyber security—are so-called soft skills, such as critical thinking and communicating effectively. There may have been a time when cyber security experts never looked up from behind a screen, but those days are no longer. Most entry-level positions involve interactions with people in all facets of a business or organization, including employees without a tech background.
A cyber security worker wears many hats. They challenge the status quo, employ analytical methods to solve problems, guard information and consult with others to understand and solve problems.
Types of Cyber Security Entry-Level Jobs
Don’t be overwhelmed by the breadth of proficiencies. When you begin in cyber security, you’re not expected to be a jack of all trades. If you’re in search of a starting point, Computer Science Master Degrees offers a helpful decision chart that matches your interests with potential careers.
Because cyber security is still a relatively new and evolving field, it can sometimes be difficult to identify entry-level job openings. The National Institute for Cybersecurity Education cites these résumé keywords as crucial to cyber security workers: operating and maintaining; overseeing and governing; protecting and defending; analyzing and investigating; collecting and operating.
Here are some positions typically held by those new to the field:
- Information and Security Analyst. Since this title is tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is one of the most common listings for an entry-level cyber security job. Information and security analysts are in charge of security measures that protect computer networks and information, from planning and implementing to upgrading and monitoring.
- Junior Penetration Tester. This is a “good hacker” kind of job, where testers actively try to defeat a company’s security controls, evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s defense systems and report on actual or potential weak spots. Specialties can include networks and web and mobile applications.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator. This role can be boiled down to keeping a network functional. Often, it includes tasks such as monitoring access logs, implementing and verifying network-based backups, carrying out measures to protect the network and identifying suspicious activities.
With criminals accessing ever more sophisticated tools, the danger of cybercrime is a constant reality. Employers are seeking workers who can help mitigate their risks, safely manage data and communicate security needs to managers and other employees.
Beginning a career in cybersecurity means you’ll never run out of things to learn, problems to solve and job paths to pursue. Elmhurst University offers an online undergraduate certificate in cyber security that’s perfect for busy professionals.
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