Cybersecurity is a huge buzzword floating around these days. When Forbes calls it a “booming industry in 2020”, then there has to be something to it, right? But what does it actually mean for you? Can I get into cybersecurity with no experience?
First, let’s look at the job market.
Cyberseek.org is a joint initiative of government organizations, nonprofits and data providers that aggregates cybersecurity jobs nationwide, and lists what most employers are asking for to qualify for them.
As of right now, there are over 500,000 jobs in the United States that need to be filled in cybersecurity. Global Information Security Workforce Study from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education predicts a shortfall of 1.8 million cybersecurity workers by 2022.
This industry is in desperate need of cybersecurity professionals, but almost every company won’t risk hiring someone that hasn’t proven they know how to do cybersecurity.
So what does that mean for you?
Is Cybersecurity Right for Me?
Not everyone is a good fit for cybersecurity. It takes people that are good with puzzles, that enjoy the process of making things work when they don’t. The fixers and thinkers: people that enjoy understanding complicated rules to games.
Of course, there is always a need for people that have managerial skills. Businesses will always want certain skills that any organization finds useful, such as project management and teamwork/collaboration. For any role at any level in cybersecurity, however, there still needs to be a high level of technical knowledge.
Here are some signs that you might be a good fit for cybersecurity: you are the IT support in your family, you have experience building computers, or you generally find working on computers and applications enjoyable.
If one of the above doesn’t describe you don’t get discouraged, because many fields, like mechanics, brewers, teachers, electricians, and maintenance workers are rushing to backfill the 500,000 job openings in cybersecurity. All of these fields have the same theme, they are skilled in troubleshooting or problem-solving.
Who makes a good cybersecurity pro?
Everything in cybersecurity builds off of networking principles. Networking administrators and system admins are natural fits for cybersecurity—they probably dip into security in their job every so often already.
Anyone in IT support is also a prime candidate. The troubleshooting and problem-solving skills used in IT support are exactly what a cybersecurity professional needs to be successful. However, it can take longer to gain the necessary certifications to get into cybersecurity. But don’t be discouraged, it’s just a few extra steps for you.
What if I don’t have experience?
The best part about cybersecurity and IT? It’s a trade. You don’t need a formal education to get hired, you only need to demonstrate that you have the skills to complete the job! For example, mechanics and brewers make great IT professionals.
Especially in cybersecurity, employers won’t trust people with their highly sensitive information without some sort of validation of skills. As a consumer, you probably don’t want that either. Therefore, they require proof of skills, not just completion of courses or a degree.
How can I prove my skills in IT?
So you have what it takes to do cybersecurity and actually enjoy it, congratulations! Now, how do you prove that to employers? The standard practice in IT is to get certifications proving their skills. Even people that have graduated with a degree in IT/cybersecurity/computer science still need to get certified.
Read More: Top 10 Best Cybersecurity Certifications
IT professionals looking to validate their skills should always look into CompTIA, an independent tech professional organization that has world-renowned certifications. Almost every employer on the job market considers CompTIA certifications valuable.
Why are CompTIA certifications so valuable?
Each of the tests is vendor-neutral, meaning it is general knowledge and not dependent on any specific system. They show you have ALL of the knowledge needed for that specific job.
Another reason everyone respects the certifications so much is that the tests are quite difficult. Most of the tests have a 50% pass-fail rate. Many working IT professionals try to take the test by self-studying and end up missing the bar because they aren’t prepared for the test itself.
Free resources for those just getting started
A great tool for those determining if cybersecurity is a good career move for them is Cybrary. They have a variety of intro courses for free that can help you understand what the best path for you will be.
CompTIA also has great articles for people just starting out on the path to cybersecurity. If you are dead-set on self-study, Professor Messer—an icon in the field—can help you achieve a solid understanding of the material. However, it doesn’t prepare you for the test itself, and many people have paid to retake the exam because they went in unprepared.
How can I take my first step?
Now you have a gameplan. The first step is to get yourself educated and prepared for the certification exams. Many people fall victim to analysis paralysis, spending 1 – 2 years preparing for the first exam.
1) Self-study: as previously discussed, self-study is always an option. It’s the most cost effective but lacks the accountability of other pathways to getting certified.
2) Bootcamps: Generally 10 – 24 weeks spending 8 hours in a classroom a day. Those will run you $10,000 – $20,000 and that usually does not cover the costs to take the certification exams that employers require. Bootcamps can be good training grounds, but you don’t know what you’re going to get, and neither do employers. They are not specific to a standard certification that employers can trust and there often is no employment assistance.
3) Four-year Degree: A university will run you $20,000 – $40,000 per year on average, and that doesn’t even take into account the amount of time you need to spend completing a degree or the income lost by not getting to work. And, in the end, you still need to get certified.
4) Covered 6 Academy: we take a holistic approach. We cut the overhead costs associated with colleges or bootcamps and our program is specifically designed to get you the credentials that most employers are asking for. C6A is CompTIA certified and every course is designed to not only help you pass the test but also get placed in your career immediately. We move you from “Point A” to “Point B,” quickly and effectively and our self-paced curriculum is designed to fit around busy schedules.
If anything, schedule a free consultation with one of our career advisors. They can talk you through your different career options and see if you are healthy enough for cybersecurity. Ask your career advisor if cybersecurity can fit into a healthy work/life balance.