According to some experts one of the single greatest threats facing many parts of the world is a breach of cybersecurity. As more and more of our lives and our personal and professional business is carried out online, the potential for risk has increased exponentially.
These risks don’t only affect individuals. Governments and businesses have vast networks of data that are instrumental in their day-to-day operations as well as to the interests of national security. Many might wonder exactly who it is that is responsible for the security of these networks and how they come to do what they do.
There is a relatively small group of individuals who are responsible for this highly specialized form of security. These men and women, known as cybersecurity specialists or IT security specialists, have received significant amounts of training in their field and are therefore in very high demand.
As this field continues to grow, the demand for these specialists has grown by leaps and bounds, but the number of qualified individuals has not grown fast enough to meet it. Those people with the proper qualifications who can meet employers’ standards have their choice of jobs in a variety of industries.
While attaining the qualifications may not be easy, the reward is enormous, and it may be the single wisest choice some people have ever made.
How to Begin
If you feel that you’re interested in obtaining a degree or certification in cybersecurity, investigate education. Many universities offer these degrees on both a bachelor’s and master’s level. While a university degree will offer a more broad range of education, it should be noted that many companies offer cybersecurity training that is specific to their particular needs. While this type of training may be more limited in scope, it suits the individual perfectly to the company offering the training.
Large companies and branches of government tend to prefer recruiting individuals with a university degree. While a bachelor’s degree is well-suited to many positions that are currently available, some students find that a master’s degree opens the door even wider. With that extra training and knowledge, job seekers have found that their starting salary is higher and they’re placed in positions that require more responsibility, knowledge and leadership skills.
Investigate All Options
Before one jumps headfirst into a training program, it helps to do a bit of research into all of the qualities that companies look for in a cybersecurity specialist. Most employers would count leadership and organizational skills, discipline and real world experience as highly desirable.
One way to attain these skills and be prepared to offer them to potential employers is through some military or law enforcement training. Individuals who have this kind of real world experience combined with a cybersecurity degree are in very high demand. Government agencies and defense contractors are especially interested in individuals who have this combination of education and experience.
As is the case in many situations, it very much can be about who you know. The cybersecurity field is somewhat small at the present time, and more people are aware of each other than they might be in a different field.
It’s prudent to attend conferences and trade shows in your area. Many companies and organizations host programming or decryption contests to seek out promising talent. The winners of these contests are typically offered internships or paid positions.
In addition, talk to those who are already in the field and ask their opinion. Someone with firsthand knowledge of the day to-day-duties of an IT security specialist can provide you with insight not easily found elsewhere.
Broaden Your Skill Set
As the world changes the ways in which it uses computers and related technologies, so should cybersecurity specialists change their skill sets. An employer may not simply need a network protected; there are a host of other systems that are at risk.
The field of data analysis in relation to cybersecurity is a highly specialized one, but one that is also in high demand. Government agencies are especially in need of this skill set, as vast amounts of data could potentially go unanalyzed if there are too few employees qualified to take on the challenge.
The field of mobile and smartphone security is wide open to those who have the skills. In addition, the security of cloud-based applications is also in dire need of specialists. For someone who is willing to tackle some specialized training, the job possibilities are simply endless.
There are not many current employment fields that are as wide open and in desperate need of qualified employees as the field of cybersecurity. More and more universities are opening their doors to expanded cybersecurity programs and are offering more detailed fields of study.
As security breaches become more frequent and more costly, the needs for security experts will only continue to grow. With job listings in this field increasing year after year, it’s a very wise choice for anyone who is in search of a rewarding, exciting and potentially lucrative career path.
About the Author: Matthew Thomas is a cybersecurity expert for a large financial institution.