Deciding on a new career is an accomplishment that takes time, self-reflection, research, and intellectual maturity. When you’ve decided where your career is heading, it’s understandable that you’re eager to get there as quickly as possible. In that case, we have great news: The process of launching your career might be faster than you think.
If you’ve set your sights on an IT security career, you have several educational paths you can choose. Let’s dig into the top options and tips for choosing between them. First, let’s discuss your options.
IT Security Education Options
The field of IT security is thriving and growing, with an anticipated 31% growth in information security analyst jobs by 2029. To set yourself up for this lucrative career, you have three primary options.
Four-Year Degree in Cybersecurity or IT Security
Many people assume that IT jobs require a four-year degree, although that’s not often the case for IT security. When you pursue a Bachelor of Science in IT Security, Cybersecurity, or other majors that vary from school to school, you’ll split your time between in-depth courses about security and broader liberal arts courses like history and composition. All those extra courses come with a hefty price tag, and likely won’t help you too much with your desired career.
IT Security Training Program
An IT Security Training Program is a more specialized and condensed version of a Bachelor of Science in IT security. These programs cover IT security as part of a larger program like IT systems administration or IT networking.
The classes are formatted similarly but they’re all focused on a particular aspect of IT rather than liberal arts. These training programs vary from a matter of months up to two years. The end goal is to prepare you for security certifications as well as a variety of other IT certifications so you have several options within the IT field.
IT Security Bootcamp
If you want the fastest way to launch your new career, an IT security bootcamp is the way to go. This accelerated program lasts only five weeks, and it’s designed to specifically prepare you for a security IT certification like the globally recognized CompTIA Sec+. The program centers on this certification and emphasizes hands-on lab work.
Now that you know your options, let’s discuss how to select the right option for you.
How to Choose Your Path Toward an IT Security Career
With all these options available, how can you figure whether a four-year degree, IT training program, or IT security bootcamp is the best way to start your IT security career? Use these three tips to help you decide.
1. Define Your Career Goals
Each of the options above has a different level of specialization, and you want the one that gives you the best preparation for your career goals. Where do you want to be in your IT career? Are you confident that you want to specialize in IT security or are you exploring other aspects of IT? Do you want to grow as a manager in the future?
Use this to work backwards. If you know you want to focus on security, an IT Security Bootcamp is the fastest way to get into the field. If you’re looking at a broader field of networking and you’re not sure if you want to specialize in security or another aspect of networking, an IT Training Program may be a better fit because it gives you a broader field of knowledge.
2. Weigh the Pros and Cons
All the educational options have their pros and cons, and this can vary based on you and your individual goals. Take the time to sit down and weigh each choice’s advantages and disadvantages.
For example, an IT security bootcamp is the most efficient and cost-effective option if you’re aiming for an IT security career. It gives you the most concentrated, relevant amount of specialized knowledge and hands-on experience in topics like common cybersecurity threats, network security, and critical protective measures within the shortest amount of time.
With an IT training program, on the other hand, you’ll end the program with more certifications but the program takes longer and, depending on your goals, you might not need all those certifications.
3. Consider Your Schedule’s Demands
Advancing your education and training is an investment in your future, and we all want to make this a top priority. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that you likely have other responsibilities like a job, a family, or both.
Look at your schedule and think about where and when you could reasonably fit in your classes. This is a common reason IT security hopefuls are less likely to choose a four-year degree, because the classes don’t always fit around a full-time work schedule and it’s difficult to pack your calendar this full for four years. If your time is limited, an IT security bootcamp is probably the best choice.
Setting Up Your New Career
At the end of the day, your educational path depends on your vision for the future and where you want your career to go. Exploring opportunities like IT security bootcamps will give you a full view of your options so you can find the ideal one for your new chapter in life.