Cybersecurity professionals are among the most in-demand in the IT field. Non-profit group ISACA predicted the cybersecurity job shortage would reach 2 million by 2019 and reported that jobs in cybersecurity have been growing at three times the rate of IT jobs overall.
The bottom line is, cybersecurity jobs are plentiful and will remain so for at least the next few years. Companies and organizations need skilled professionals that can protect their data from breaches and implement safety measures to prevent viruses and malware from taking their systems offline. But what does it take to become a cybersecurity specialist?
The Path to a Cybersecurity Career
A cybersecurity career starts with a solid background in IT, including networking, hardware, software, and programming. Some IT security-related certifications require two years of experience in IT, at least partly because the hands-on experience is helpful in the cybersecurity specialty.
But whether you have work experience in IT or not, the important things to have are knowledge and skills. Certifications can help you demonstrate that you know your stuff and can implement it in the real world.
Beyond basic IT skills, cybersecurity specialists will need to know how to find viruses, malware and other evidence of security breaches and fix them. They will also need to know about tools to protect networks and servers as well as how to configure them in the safest ways possible.
Certifications: Why They Help
Not all employers require IT certifications in order to work in cybersecurity, but many do require or prefer them because the certification exams provide real-world scenarios which demonstrate that an employee has mastered both the information and its application.
Some certifications employers may look for when hiring a cybersecurity specialist include CompTIA Security+, CASP (CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner), and CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker). Preparing for these certifications, which all require rigorous exams, will give IT professionals the skills they need to enter the field of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is a constantly changing specialty within IT. Cybercriminals develop new methods and techniques all the time, and cybersecurity professionals need to stay one step ahead of them if they are to protect companies from cyber attacks.
Even IT professionals with many years of experience can benefit from taking courses and earning certifications to keep their skills up to date. An IBM discussion board on cybersecurity also suggests doing independent research and independent study to keep up with trends in cybersecurity—both new threats and new ways to counter them.
Some high schools and technical schools are creating programs to teach cybersecurity skills to try to get students into careers faster, and without a four-year degree. Artificial Intelligence is also being used to bypass some traditionally needed skills in cybersecurity and put students to work faster. This “new collar” approach may help to lessen the shortage in coming years and ensure that companies can find the talent they need in this important area of IT.
PC AGE offers an Internetwork Engineering program that helps students prepare for many IT certifications including cybersecurity-related ones. Request info about this and other programs and courses offered by PC AGE.