How to Prepare for a Career in Cybersecurity

By Zachary Amos •  Updated: 11/01/22 •  5 min read

Cybersecurity is becoming exponentially more essential as the world becomes more connected every day. This growing demand means that starting a career in cybersecurity — or shifting from your current path — are fantastic opportunities for anyone looking to grow in the field.

If you’re making a shift or planning to start a new one, here are some tips and tricks to help you prepare for a career in cybersecurity. Use them to position yourself as a desirable candidate and watch the offers roll in.

Understanding the Demand

The first step when preparing for a career in cybersecurity is understanding the demand for these professionals. Over 71.1 million people fall victim to cyber crimes yearly, costing them $318 billion. Corporations and enterprises experience an average of 130 security breaches per year. Cybercrime, in general, has increased by more than 600% because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal of a cybersecurity professional is to find the backdoors and loopholes that hackers or bad actors might use to carry out these attacks and close them. You may also find yourself helping companies recover from an attack, picking up the pieces and rebuilding to prevent this sort of event from occurring in the future.

 

Your Background Doesn’t Matter

While a degree in cybersecurity or another related computer science field might look good on your resume, it isn’t always necessary to secure a position. The industry is changing so rapidly that the things you learn in school or during a certification program might be entirely obsolete by the time you land a job.

Don’t worry about your background. Instead, cultivate the essential personality traits and work ethic needed for success in cybersecurity: tenacity, creativity, the ability to think on your feet, and a willingness to learn new skills. Some of the best lessons you’ll learn in this career won’t come from a classroom or instructor. They come from real-life experience.

 

A Degree Can Come in Handy

Don’t take this as saying you don’t need to go to college if you want to build a career in cybersecurity or any related field. You can start as an entry-level professional with little more than some problem-solving skills and intellectual curiosity. Still, you may find it more difficult to climb that corporate ladder without an education.

Obtaining a graduate degree in cybersecurity opens the door for field-specific career paths like security analyst or forensic expert, allowing you to research breaches and help prosecute those responsible. People concerned about the cost of these degrees can start with an entry-level position and find a company willing to send them back to school.

 

It’s More Than Patching Holes

The skills necessary to be a successful cybersecurity professional are only one piece of the puzzle. There are also a lot of complex ethics conundrums you may encounter when completing your duties. It seems everyone is worried about data privacy these days. One survey found that 86% of participants believe data privacy is a growing concern. People want to know how to protect their data and what companies do with it, but what happens when privacy and ethics collide?

Some organizations have established a cybersecurity code of ethics that provides an outline for professionals working in the field. Still, often it comes down to your individual beliefs, which can be challenging. It’s never as simple as right or wrong, black or white. Ethics have always been complicated, and you’ll have to learn to navigate that as a cybersecurity professional.

 

Why You Should Choose a Career in Cybersecurity

With all the challenges you’ll likely face in your career, why would you want to consider a career in cybersecurity?

For one thing, the job pays very well. Cybersecurity professionals can often demand a six-figure salary. It’s also a lot easier to negotiate for the work/life balance you want because there is currently a global shortage of professionals with these skills. The U.S. News Best Jobs Ranking in 2022 gave cybersecurity the highest rating of all evaluated career paths.

On a more altruistic level, cybersecurity professionals help people — and companies — protect themselves from attack. This career path can be a blessing for someone who likes helping others but doesn’t enjoy interacting with users face to face. You’re making a meaningful contribution to society without ever having to be part of society itself. For introverts, careers like this are a godsend.

 

Enjoy Your New Career

Whether you’re in the tech field and looking for a change or are a graduate trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, cybersecurity can be a lucrative and beneficial career. The shortage of professionals and the growing number of cyberattacks means you’ve got almost guaranteed job security.

You may find companies fighting for your services if you have an established skill set, problem-solving abilities, and ingenuity. That’s a good position to be in.

Zachary Amos

Zachary is a tech writer and the features editor of ReHack Magazine where he covers cybersecurity and all things technology.