If you are considering a career in cyber security, there are many different ways you can gain experience or understanding of the field. Whether in the middle of another job at the moment or still in school, there are ways to build on your passion for cyber security and understand the different roles available.
First of all, there are numerous online resources to help not only in building cyber security skill-sets, but also to help you work out which areas and aspects of the field interest you the most. As such a diverse industry, there are roles to suit many different people, and you can work out which is your best fit through resources such as Youtube videos and cyber security forums. Researching the various roles may help you narrow down the types of skills the role requires and how you can go on to work on these further. The website Cybrary has a wealth of training and tutorials, accessible for free.
Another great way to learn more about cyber security jobs and build your contact networks is by becoming a part of the community. Again, online forums can be great for this, as are cyber security events which are held across the world, with many in the UK. The cyber security community is welcoming and keen to see people succeed, so talking to others with an interest in the field, or those already in the field can be extremely beneficial. Find an event near you and get chatting to others to gain valuable insights.
Another way of networking with like-minded individuals could be to join cyber security clubs or societies at your school or university. If you cannot find one, why not set one up? Being surrounded by others with similar passions is fun and useful, and you can bounce knowledge and ideas off of each other. Initiatives for those of school-age are numerous and growing, aiming to support and inform the new generation of cyber security professionals. In the UK, groups such as TeenTech, Cyber Security Challenge and CyberFirst Girls Competition all look to provide industry engagement to budding cyber security experts.
If you are already in another industry and are interested in cyber security as a career, talk to those in the security team at your current workplace where possible. Any insight into the industry can be beneficial!
Overall, by becoming a part of the community you are more likely to stay up to date with key themes in the ever-changing industry, generate contacts, find like-minded individuals and pinpoint where your interests lie- all of which is really important.
In terms of qualifications, it is not necessary to have a university degree in order to get a job in cyber security. Many universities do now offer cyber security degrees, and the UK National Cyber Security Centre have listed 19 top universities for these courses, which is a great place to start looking if you are interested in a cyber security degree. University will also allow you to gain important transferable skills which would be useful in any roles, such as time-management, organisation and communication skills.
As university degree is certainly not compulsory for a cyber security career, some may choose to follow other paths to the role. Apprenticeships are another way of getting into the industry, which can be found online, and will allow you to gain ‘real-world’ experience in the field. Some apprenticeships also allow you to work up to degree-level. If you have ever volunteered, or been in contact with local companies, it may be useful to reach out to them enquiring whether they would offer apprenticeships. Whether taking the university route or the work experience or apprenticeships route, a passion and drive to work in the cyber security industry is the most important trait to have.
Certifications are necessary for certain roles in cyber security, with SANS, OSCP, CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and CompTIA seen as good courses. Online courses are available too, such as immersivelabs.com, HackTheBox, and pentesterlabs.com. Beginners courses will demonstrate your skills and understandings of key aspects of cyber security. After attaining these certifications, along with relevant experience, more advanced certifications can be pursued.
It is important to also consider the more general skills and attributes that employers will be looking for when hiring for cyber security roles. A desire to learn is important in this diverse and dynamic industry. Similarly, having a curious mind is useful in cyber security, to question patterns and irregularities and to wish to stay informed. As much as wanting to continually learn is hugely beneficial, it is also important to remember that you do not know all there is to know about the industry. As mentioned, the diverse and ever-developing nature of the field means that sometimes you may not have the answer. Asking for help from others is crucial in these cases, and being open-minded to seeing problems from new points of view can really help. This leads onto the importance of good communication skills between colleagues, but also to those you may be working for, who may not have a wealth of knowledge about cyber security.
Traits such as empathy and strong morality are vital for cyber security roles. Working with confidential and sensitive information means that an individual must be highly trustworthy and be relied upon not to take advantage of these situations. Empathy is necessary as many roles will work with people who need help or have been victim to cyber attacks. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, aiming to help them to the best of your ability is crucial in performing many roles properly.
An exciting and fast-paced environment, there are many opportunities and access points available to get into the cyber security industry. Enthusiasm for cyber security and a desire to help others and build on your knowledge will help throughout your pursuit of a cyber security job. Taking advantage of online resources, local events and networking is a great place to start.