3 Common Cybersecurity Career Paths and How to Get There
Today’s information technology and cybersecurity industries are exploding with job openings. In fact, there are more available positions in these fields than there are qualified professionals to fill them. There is no better time to begin a cybersecurity career than right now. Whether you are just out of college, or you are transitioning from another IT role, getting started in cybersecurity is a solid choice.
There are numerous different career paths you can take in cybersecurity. Some security professionals want to work in roles involving white hat hacking and thwarting cybercriminals, while others want to pursue higher-level leadership positions. Whatever path you choose to take, all cybersecurity careers have to begin with general IT skills and experience. Some of the most popular entry-level IT jobs that may be a stepping-stone for cybersecurity career seekers include:
In addition to the experience and knowledge you gain on the job, you should supplement your skills with outside training. You can do this by taking IT courses and obtaining various certifications. For those who are just getting started in IT, an introductory course to IT and cybersecurity will be beneficial. From there, you should consider some of the beginner certifications offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). CompTIA A+ certification proves that you are proficient in the fundamentals of computer repair, maintenance, and technology. It also provides you with enough knowledge to ensure that you make informed decisions about your IT career path.
The CompTIA Network + certification is also one you should get no matter where you might end up with your IT career. This certification ensures that you have a skillset that’s needed to manage basic network infrastructure efficiently. It also demonstrates that you have the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot that infrastructure. The Cisco Certified Network Association (CCNA) certification is a vendor-specific credential that is also beneficial for most every IT professional.
Once you have these essential skills under your belt, you may decide to work toward a career as a Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker, a Security Architect, or a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Here’s what those paths may look like.
Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker Career PathA penetration tester, or ethical hacker, looks for vulnerabilities in IT networks, systems, and applications using the same types of tactics and with the same knowledge of a criminal hacker. They use an array of tools to simulate cyberattacks, identify any weaknesses, and then help their organizations to mitigate those vulnerabilities.
Penetration testers and ethical hackers may follow a career path like this:
The following certifications are suggested for the various levels of penetration tester/ethical hacker roles:
Security Architect Career PathAs a security architect, you will be responsible for designing, building, and deploying network and computer security for your company. You’ll be tasked with designing complex security structures and maintaining them. Typically, the security systems that you’ll be designing are for combatting malware, hacker intrusions, and DDoS attacks.
Security Architects may follow a career path like this:
The following certifications are suggested for the various levels of the Security Architect career path:
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Career PathThe role of a CISO is to lead an IT security department of a company and its team. This is a senior-level position that is tasked with establishing, implementing, and managing an organization’s vision and for protecting all technology assets and sensitive data. The CISO typically reports directly to the CIO or CEO of the organization.
CISOs may follow a career path like this:
The following certifications are suggested for the various levels of the CISO career path: