Curious about how to get into cyber security with no experience? Even more curious about how to make the transition quickly? If so, you’re in luck. Today, only a minority of cybersecurity employers consider a degree an important requirement. Others have done away with degree requirements altogether.
Still, even with high promises associated with a career in the field, it’s normal to be unsure of where to start. Below, we will cover everything needed to break into a career in cybersecurity; from developing core skills, earning essential certifications, and networking your way around the industry.[toc]
What Does It Mean To Be a Cybersecurity Professional?
Cybersecurity is somewhat of a broad term. At its core, it revolves around protecting computing devices, data storage solutions, and their respective networks from unauthorized access.
The term dates back to the early 70s after a project called The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network led to the development of the world’s first antivirus software program. As technology continues to evolve, so do the risks of interference. Today, cyber security professionals remain committed to securing networks and eliminating vulnerabilities within the system. With the right aptitude, practice, and experience, anyone, even those with a non-technical background, can move forward with a cyber security career.
How To Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience
Getting into cybersecurity with no experience isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are several steps that you can – and should – take on your path to becoming a cybersecurity professional. Newcomers to the industry can begin building up their knowledge base through independent research, demonstrate their competence by getting certified, and build a project portfolio to further display their skills.
Do Your Research
The best way to get into cybersecurity is by identifying the skills needed and locating tools that can help you perform the work. Learning a programming language will also help you navigate the landscape more easily. We recommend starting with Python. It’s one of the easiest to learn and it also happens to be widely used across the cyber security space. C++ and Java are also worth exploring.
Self-guided cybersecurity training also provides opportunities to brush up on your technical knowledge. Mastering the fundamentals of networking, security, and data privacy will be important. You should also look into specific vulnerabilities, from network types to hardware devices, and more.
The next step in securing a cybersecurity career often involves certification. These credentials provide additional learning support and validate your knowledge and abilities. A cybersecurity certificate doesn’t take too long to secure, as most programs can be completed within a matter of months. Certain programs prepare students for various industry certifications all at once, including CompTIA A+, CompTIA Security+, CCNA, and others.
While certification isn’t always a necessary step to becoming a cybersecurity professional, these credentials provide proof of your knowledge and allow you to easily distinguish yourself from the competition. They aren’t expensive either. Most individuals will pay no more than a few thousand dollars for their certification. Plus, they can be completed remotely, meaning you don’t need to compromise on responsibilities at work or at home to receive the credential.
Start Dabbling in (Ethical) Hacking Activities
Cybersecurity professionals can further demonstrate their competence through a personal project portfolio. Putting together ethical hacking demonstrations is a great way to get things started. Networking with other cybersecurity professionals is one way to get involved with these projects. You can kick things off by attending an event for cyber security professionals or by signing up for hacking projects and competitions.
Embark On a Cybersecurity Career With No Experience
There are plenty of entry-level positions for newly-skilled personnel. While some require a formal college degree, many employers are open to those who have demonstrated their expertise through certifications and project portfolios.
Security specialists are tasked with protecting data networks from vulnerabilities, detecting and maintaining security breaches, conducting the usual risk analysis, and promoting ideal safety standards to all users.
While security specialists sometimes have bachelor’s degrees in computer and information technology, some enter the field with just a high school diploma, industry experience, or certifications.
These individuals also stand to make good money. According to the BLS, the individuals in this area can make upwards of $103,590 per year. Although beginner positions won’t net you quite as much, the entry-level annual salary for security specialists is $63,980, which is an excellent place to start.
Incident responders prepare organizations for cyber threats by drawing up security protocols, detecting, and containing security breaches. This is a high-pressure job that requires an active response to immediate threats. Incident responders may also carry out similar tasks to others working within the cybersecurity industry, including risk analysis, reverse engineering, and penetration testing.
Individuals interested in entry-level jobs in cybersecurity should also consider cryptography. It remains one of the most interesting roles within the field, though it can also be incredibly challenging, which may explain why many so many of these professionals are so well compensated.
Simply put, cryptographers are responsible for writing algorithms to encrypt and decrypt data. This process helps ensure that only the rightful owner can access the information. Cryptographers also study existing algorithms to find issues and expose vulnerabilities.
While many individuals enter the field with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or mathematics, there are other ways to secure your position. Fluency in programming languages such as Python, C++, and Java is sure to stand out to potential employers. Certifications can further validate your skills.
Though it’s not the easiest niche to break into, the effort is often worth it. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for cryptographers is $145,356 with the bottom percentile earning no less than 6 figures.
Security architects are involved in the design and implementation stages of an organization’s network. As such, security architects need to be well versed in hardware and software. They must also possess the ability to communicate effectively and delegate tasks.
While the average entry-level salary for security architects is a relatively underwhelming $57,859, according to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for security architects is a whopping $153,439, with a potential to earn more than $200,000.
Last on the list is penetration testers. Previous hacking experience will be particularly useful in this pursuit. Remember, penetration testers are informally known as “ethical hackers,” meaning they are authorized to identify and exploit any flaws in an organization’s network security. This information will help them conduct vulnerability analysis and make any necessary adjustments.
Important Skills for Cybersecurity Professionals
Certain skills are imperative to your success in the cybersecurity world. See how many items you can check off on the list below. The more skills you possess, the easier it will be to break into the field.
- Attention to Detail – A good eye is an important quality for anyone interested in a cybersecurity career. It will help you identify problems faster and prevent you from making mistakes.
- Imagination – Cybersecurity jobs often require creative problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking.
- Adaptability – As a cybersecurity specialist, you must be able to cater your skills to specific networks and clients.
- Communication skills – Most entry-level cybersecurity jobs require individuals to communicate best practices to clients. Some users may not have the technical skills needed to honor these recommendations. In that instance, you must help them learn the basics.
- Knowledge of Operating Systems – Operating systems are foundational to cybersecurity and help support a computer’s basic functions.
- Wireless Security – Wireless security helps prevent unauthorized access to computer networks. As a cybersecurity professional, you must maintain a thorough understanding of this area.
- Cloud Security – Similarly to local networks, cloud computing solutions are also susceptible to cyberattacks. Since cloud solutions are becoming increasingly popular among organizations, cybersecurity professionals must develop the skills needed to deal with any interference.
- Digital Forensics – Most cyber security professionals will have to perform some forensic duties. Experience performing investigation and recovery on any devices that collect, transmit, or hold data is useful.
- Coding/Programming – Programming languages are how professionals communicate with computing devices. Some of the most important languages for cybersecurity work are Java, Python, SQL, PHP, and more.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) – IoT refers to the interconnected network between devices that collect and process data. Anything within a network can be manipulated by attackers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Cybersecurity important?
With the majority of large organizations adopting digital data solutions, the sensitive personal information of millions, if not billions, of individuals falls into the hands of cybersecurity experts. These professionals are responsible for continuously adapting to modern digital threats and protecting network data.
Is it hard to get into cybersecurity?
High demand for professionals, continued industry growth, and relatively reasonable barriers to entry have made it easier than ever to break into the world of cybersecurity. While a bachelor’s degree may help you land more prominent roles and advance quickly within an organization, it is not a requirement for many positions within the cybersecurity field.
What is the average entry-level cybersecurity salary?
The average entry-level cybersecurity salary varies significantly between roles. The lowest earners in information security analysis (bottom 10% percentile) make just under $60,000, according to the BLS. However, for roles such as penetration testers and cryptographers, starting wages can reach as high as $75,000.
Though it takes hard work and dedication, it is entirely possible to get into cybersecurity with no experience. Start training today to become a cybersecurity professional. ICOHS College can help you develop the practical skills needed to succeed in the field. We’ll also introduce the more technical aspects of the job. Whether you want to become an information security analyst, a certified ethical hacker, or simply want to learn more about preventing cyber attacks, we’ve got you covered.