Starting a Career in Cybersecurity: How a Military or Law Enforcement Background Helps

Military service member at a laptop If you've served in the military or worked in law enforcement, starting a career in cybersecurity is probably a great move for you.

Cybersecurity is about protecting and serving an organization, and the field offers the same collaborative, collegial environment as the military and law enforcement. Qualified cybersecurity professionals are also in extremely high demand.

Fighting the Common Enemy

If you have a background in law enforcement or the military, you're uniquely qualified for starting a career in cybersecurity. You're already used to dealing with uncertainty, changing terrain, and evolving threats. The situational awareness, precision, and problem-solving abilities that cybersecurity positions require are traits those with military and policing backgrounds already have.

Cybersecurity is a dynamic and mentally stimulating field. As Randall Frietzsche, chief information security officer for Denver Health and a WGU graduate, says, "You're constantly seeing new things and you're constantly having to stay on your toes, and it really takes a certain caliber of person to do that."

When you join the cybersecurity fight, you're not just protecting the organization you work for: Today's threats often target thousands of businesses at the same time. The work you do on a daily basis can therefore impact countless organizations and individuals who may be vulnerable to attack.

This mission-first orientation makes the cybersecurity field unique, and former military and law enforcement professionals will likely find this environment comfortable and familiar.

Always Evolving

Because the nature of cybersecurity threats is constantly evolving, professionals in the field must be willing to continuously learn and acquire new skills. Ex-military and law enforcement professionals typically respond well to these demands, having become accustomed to the nature of fast-pasted, demanding work that is constantly posing new challenges.

This means they will also have many opportunities to grow within organizations as the need for qualified, experienced cybersecurity professionals grows across virtually every type of organization. Those who commit to the cybersecurity profession know that they will be on a solid path for the rest of their careers.

High Demand, High Salaries

Cybersecurity is a booming field, with some U.S. cities boasting three or more job openings per applicant. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that security analysts' responsibilities "are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increases," which means the job prospects will only continue to improve. Jobs in the field also tend to pay well, with a median salary of $92,500, according to a 2017 LinkedIn analysis of cybersecurity jobs.

How to Get Started

Pursuing a bachelor of science degree either in cybersecurity and information assurance or in network operations and security is a great first step toward a career in cybersecurity. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you might be able to apply directly for a master's degree program in cybersecurity or information assurance. Either way, you should look for an institution that recognizes that you bring a lot more to the table than the average student.

Your training and your dedication to serving others already makes you a great fit for the cybersecurity field. To learn more about the job market, what the life of a security professional is like, and the skills and qualifications that will help you get ahead, download the cybersecurity jobs guide.

 

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