Are you looking for an exciting new career path? Cybersecurity is an industry fast on the rise to combat the growing threat of cybercrime, and it is a field that is appealing to many people with a passion for tech (and even those without). Cybersecurity can certainly be a great area to get into whether you are embarking on your first career journey or looking to make a switch from a relevant field, but as with any industry, there are a few things that you should be aware of first that will hopefully help you to know what to expect and hit the ground running.
Qualifications Are Key
You may be able to find some work without a relevant degree, but in order to find success in this industry, you will need an online cyber security degree with a masters being a great option. An online cyber security degree will teach you the skills and knowledge required to protect businesses and individuals against modern threats, plus an online cyber security degree can also prepare you for roles in leadership in this field. An online cyber security degree can also be taken entirely online, so it can be easier to work or maintain your current commitments, such as childcare, while you study for your online cyber security degree.
Jobs Are in Demand
There are many reasons people decide to switch careers, but one of the main reasons that many people are reconsidering their careers and looking to make the switch to cyber security is that cyber security is a field that is very heavily in demand. There has been a shortage in the field for a number of years, but the sharp increase in attacks (especially during COVID-19) has created an even stronger need for cyber security professionals. It is said that the global gap is around 3.12 million positions, and this ranges from entry-level analysts all the way through to executive-level leaders. Therefore, now is certainly a good time to consider an online cyber security degree and to help plug the shortage in the field.
Earning Potential is High
Another reason why so many people are eyeing up a career in this field is that the earning potential is significant. Payscale reports that the average salary for a cybersecurity analyst is $76,603 per year, but there is the potential to earn much more than this with specialist roles and depending on where you work. Salary is always an important factor when pursuing a career, and cybersecurity has good entry-level salaries with very high ceilings, so it can certainly be a smart move to make financially speaking.
Job Security is Strong
With such a big shortage all over the globe, you can rest assured knowing that you have strong job security with a role in cybersecurity. Once you have earned an online cyber security degree, you should be able to find work in most places, particularly if you have a masters degree. In addition to having strong job security (a major plus in today’s day and age), this also gives you the freedom and flexibility to move around if you wish – this is furthered by the fact that a lot of cybersecurity work can be done remotely.
Cybersecurity is a Broad Field
These days, cybersecurity is an incredibly broad field, and there are many different places to work and roles to fill. Cybersecurity was once seen mainly for government departments and other large institutions, but these days cybersecurity is mainstream and required in just about every aspect of life. Businesses of all sizes and in all industries, charities, non-profits, and individuals all need protecting online, particularly with cybercrime constantly evolving and developing and greatly accelerated due to COVID-19. This means that there are many different ways to make a living in cybersecurity, such as working as part of a cybersecurity firm, working with many different clients, working in any industry and providing cybersecurity for a single business, or working as a freelance specialist.
It is Constantly Changing
One of the major challenges of a career in this field is that it is constantly changing. An online cyber security degree is vital for teaching you how to protect against digital attacks, but it is difficult when these attacks are constantly changing, and new tactics are being used. This means that there is ongoing learning that you must be committed to with work in this field, so you will need to make the effort to stay current. There are lots of different ways to do this, such as:
- Ongoing training and qualifications
- Reading blogs
- Listening to podcasts
- Joining online communities
- Attending industry events
- Reading industry publications
- Social media
The Work is Incredibly Important
One of the main benefits of a career in cybersecurity is that it is incredibly important work. There have been many high-profile attacks on major institutions worldwide in recent times that can have very real and severe impacts not just on individual organizations, but cybersecurity is now something that every person and business needs. This means that you are making a real difference with your work no matter where you are working and making the world a safer place for people. If you work for a cybersecurity agency, you might work on some major cases and handle sensitive data, which can be a real thrill and one of the major perks of the job.
It is More Stressful Than Other Careers
Although it can be thrilling, it is also important to note that a career in cybersecurity is more stressful than most. This is because the work is so important, and any successful attacks could be devastating for a business or individual, so you will want to do all that you can to prevent attacks from being successful. On top of this, the work can be demanding, you may end up working at all hours of the night, and the fact that it is constantly changing can add to the stress. This means that cybersecurity professionals need to be able to manage their stress, work in high-pressure situations and find ways to de-stress and relax when they are not working.
It Can Interfere With Your Personal Life
Leading on from this point, this is not the right industry for you if you want to work 9-5 and simply switch off at the end of the day. Due to the serious nature of the work, you may be required to work all kinds of hours and often be on call, which means that it can interfere with your personal life (not to mention the stress you can bring home with you). This is an area that many struggle with, but the key is to try and make the most out of your free time and to find ways to disconnect from work when you are able to.
Communication Skills Are Essential
There is a misconception when it comes to cybersecurity and even IT as a whole that you do not need good communication skills to succeed. While you will spend a lot of time working unsupervised sitting in front of a computer (and often working remotely), you will also spend a lot of time working as a team, communicating with clients, and presenting to groups. This means that you must possess excellent communication skills to clearly explain your work to those that might not have strong IT and tech understanding and build and maintain trust. For those that want to advance to leadership positions, this will be hugely important and an area that will require work – an online cyber security degree can also help with this.
You Need to Create a Large Professional Network
As with any industry, having a large professional network will always prove useful, particularly for those who want to reach the top. While there are many gaps to fill right now, there is also a surge to fill positions, so it could be hard to climb the ladder in the coming years. It will be easier, and you will find more opportunities when you have cultivated a large professional network and developed a positive reputation. You should be networking both online and offline and make sure that you are making an effort to maintain professional relationships over time (the internet can be a great way to do this).
Critical Thinking Skills Are Key
Cybersecurity is, essentially, all about problem-solving, and this is difficult when you are facing new and different challenges each day. This is why it is so important to have critical thinking skills, which would allow you to think outside the box and find the best and most efficient solution to the problems when they arise (you must also be able to act quickly). It is true that some people seem to possess critical thinking skills naturally, but you can also develop these yourself with training, and this could make a huge difference to your performance and career potential in cybersecurity.
You Will Make Mistakes
Mistakes are inevitable when working in a high-pressure, high-demand industry and facing constantly changing threats. Hopefully, these mistakes will never be too severe, but you must make sure that you do not let them knock you back and affect your confidence. Every top cyber professional will have made mistakes, but the difference is that they will take a moment to learn from these mistakes without dwelling on them and use them to become a better cybersecurity professional.
You Should Build a Portfolio
In order to advance your career, you will need to be able to show what you have done and why you are the right person for the job (much like any job). One of the best ways that you can do this in a cybersecurity field is to build a portfolio over the course of your career, which outlines the work that you have done and the challenges that you have overcome. An online portfolio is a good idea and can include further information on your career along with references from previous employers and clients that you have worked with.
Days Are Different
Another appealing factor for a career in cybersecurity is that no two days are the same. While this certainly can make it stressful and unpredictable, many cybersecurity professionals enjoy the fact that their work is never the same and that they will be facing new challenges and having new experiences each day. This means that you need to have some flexibility with your work; you need to be prepared each and every day and have a strong work ethic so that you can work to a high standard at all times.
You Need Strong Understanding Outside of Cybersecurity
You will obviously need to be a cybersecurity specialist and have an online cyber security degree, but it is also important to see the bigger picture and have a greater understanding in order to find success. The best cybersecurity professionals are the ones that have a strong understanding of both tech and IT in general, as well as understand business. The clients that you are working with will simply want protection from the latest threats and for the protection to not interfere with their work, so you need to understand the business, their goals, and how they operate so that you can find the best solutions and both keep them happy and well protected.
As you can see, there is a lot to know about a career in cybersecurity with benefits and drawbacks, much like any other field. Now is certainly a good time to embark on a career in this field, and it can be incredibly rewarding, but it is also hugely demanding and not a role for someone that wants a simple job that they can disconnect from. Those who enjoy their work often see it as an important part of their life and revel in the fact that they get to protect both people and businesses from malicious threats from criminals around the world.