Whether you are looking to enter a booming industry or make a career change to something that excites and energizes you, information security may be what you are looking for.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in information or cybersecurity occupations is projected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024. This growth is much faster than the average for all other occupations and is expected to add thousands of high-paying jobs.
From protecting networks and developing standards to conducting penetration testing and mitigating breaches, there are myriad opportunities awaiting those who learn the skills and earn the credentials needed to make a difference.
So, where do you start?
First, don’t get overwhelmed.
Because the field of cybersecurity is relatively new, there is lots of room for you to find your place within it, despite your skill level and experience. In fact, according to Mischel Kwon, the founder and CEO of a security consulting firm and former director of the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), “It's really easy to get started in cybersecurity today because we need so many people.”
Second, get your feet wet and try a little bit of everything.
“I was actually originally an IT person,” Kwon said. “I started as an assembly programmer. I did a lot of different kinds of work. I did operating system programming, I did network programming, I did administration—I did everything!”
If at first you are not able to land a job directly related to cybersecurity, do not fret. Get what experience you can from related disciplines and take those skills with you as you move on. Keep in mind, there are many different aspects of cybersecurity that one can get into, for example, consider testing, policy, ethics, IT, network monitoring, deploying security architecture, application or database security, or another of the many areas available.
Third, plot out your career path.
Consider where you are in your career right now and where you would like to be in 5, 10, even 30 years. In doing so, remember, everyone is different. Do not compare yourself to others.
“I did my life backwards,” Kwon said. “I was a geek first and then I went back to school and got my degrees when I was older. And when I went back for my degrees, I went back because I felt like I had hit a ceiling and I needed those degrees to be more than that girl in the middle of the night sleeping on the disk drive and reloading the programs on the mainframe.”
Fourth, once you have determined your entry point, act.
Just as there are countless career paths in cybersecurity today, there are just as many entry points. Some begin their career with an internship, some with a degree, certifications, or both. If you opt for the latter, make sure to not break your bank in the process. Consider a respected yet affordable entry point like this program.