Introduction: What Is a Cybersecurity Apprenticeship?
A cybersecurity apprenticeship allows novices to learn in-demand skills and gain hands-on training from top security professionals. It is a proven way companies train and recruit the best cybersecurity talents.
Cybersecurity apprenticeship programs are excellent options if you can't afford full-time formal education but prefer to learn directly from an expert. It helps you accumulate on-the-job experience and start a career in a field with a shortage of skilled professionals.
However, this doesn’t mean apprenticeships in cybersecurity train you from scratch. To start a cybersecurity apprenticeship, you must have previous foundational knowledge in IT and information security.
Interestingly, you can be a cybersecurity apprentice while learning through online courses. This allows you to apply your skills to real-life applications quickly.
Cybrary provides a platform for aspiring cybersecurity professionals, regardless of your level. As a beginner, you can start with foundational cybersecurity, which equips you with core security skills for a successful apprenticeship and career.
In the next sections, we’ll discuss the benefits of cybersecurity apprenticeships and where to find one that can improve your current skillset.
The Benefits of Cybersecurity Apprenticeships
A cybersecurity apprenticeship allows you to hit the ground running immediately and obtain industry experience.
Below are some of the benefits of cybersecurity apprenticeships:
1. Start Work Immediately
A cybersecurity apprenticeship gives you a chance to get immediate work experience handling real-world threats. It provides first-hand practical experience of classroom knowledge. This provides valuable insights that theories may not have.
2. Often Leads to Full-Time Employment
Unlike cybersecurity internships, apprenticeships are usually paid. In addition, this paid experience often leads to a full-time position. While this might not be as much as entry-level cybersecurity positions, you’ll at least earn the National Minimum Wage.
Depending on the organization, you’ll also enjoy other employment perks. This ensures that you can learn while building your education.
For example, the US Government’s Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint in July 2022 led to the employment of 7,000 apprentices at the end of the 120-day program.
3. A Chance for Mentorship
Sometimes cybersecurity apprentices might be paired with an industry expert. This allows you to learn directly from them about their day-to-day activities. As such, you'll also be able to develop a close relationship with your supervisor, who can serve as a mentor.
It’s also likely that you’ll assist these experts, meaning you’ll also experience the pressure that comes with the role and contribute to mitigating cyber-attacks.
4. Work as a Team
Working daily with knowledgeable and experienced professionals is another advantage of an apprenticeship. This will enable you to develop your teamwork abilities from day one.
Colleagues can also give you personal feedback and share their experiences, which isn't always possible with professors or lecturers who may have a large class size to divide their time.
Critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration take time to develop. If you start working with other professionals sooner, you'll have more opportunities to hone them.
5. Cybersecurity Apprenticeships Help You Choose a Career Path
Cybersecurity is a broad industry with many career paths. This includes network security, computer forensics, security auditing, incident response, penetration testing, etc. Becoming an apprentice helps you experience many of these routes, making it easier to choose the one that interests you the most.
6. Helps You Develop a Broad Range of Skills
Since you’ll most likely work across different security departments before choosing a specialization, cybersecurity apprenticeships help you develop a wider range of skill sets.
Levels of Cybersecurity Apprenticeship
Cybersecurity apprenticeships are grouped into different levels. Understanding their differences will help you know the requirements for your apprenticeship and what it can offer you in terms of experience and qualification.
Below are three main levels you should know:
Level 3 – Advanced Apprenticeship
This is generally considered equivalent to two A-level passes. Typically, you'll need five good GCSE grades—including English and Math—or an equivalent. Advanced cybersecurity apprenticeships usually have a 13-month duration, which includes paid work experience.
Levels 4 and 5 – Higher Apprenticeship
This lasts for roughly 16 months and provides a qualification equating to a foundation degree. You will have a full-time job with a company offering great career potential.
Potential apprentices will need a Level 3 advanced apprenticeship, two or more A-levels in STEM fields like math, computer science, or physics, or an equivalent like the International Baccalaureate in a related field.
Levels 6 and 7 – Degree Apprenticeship
Level 6 apprenticeships are the equivalent of a bachelor's degree. After completing this, which can take three to six years, you'll be qualified to apply for some of the most exciting jobs in the field.
Since this is a more advanced and demanding program, it is common to see employers with more specific requirements for cybersecurity apprenticeships.
Level 7 offers a chance to obtain a master's degree in cybersecurity.
Besides these qualifications, you’ll also need essential non-technical skills to succeed as a cybersecurity apprentice. Some of the must-have soft skills are:
- Problem-solving skills
- Attention to detail
- Creative and critical thinking
- Teamwork and collaboration, etc.
Now that you know the apprenticeships available, where do you find the right ones?
Where to Find a Cybersecurity Apprenticeship
There are numerous places where aspiring cybersecurity professionals can find an apprenticeship. Generally, you can become an apprentice at a government or private organization.
The best cybersecurity apprenticeship programs provide in-demand training from security experts and hands-on experience.
Completing a cybersecurity apprenticeship demonstrates that an apprentice is prepared for the workforce. In addition, top cybersecurity apprenticeships also help students develop strong technical portfolios that will be vital in their careers.
Below you’ll find some of the best cybersecurity apprenticeships:
Government Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Programs
Government cybersecurity apprenticeships provide real-world cybersecurity experience in the government. The apprentice will work with experts to fight national cybersecurity challenges like insider threats, espionage, and international terrorism.
If you’re in the United States, the US Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA platform is a one-stop source to find apprenticeships for cybersecurity and other careers. It connects prospective apprentices to employers and education partners.
Other government-sponsored apprenticeship programs are the Department of Defense’s United Services Military Apprenticeship Program and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program.
The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) has a Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program Finder that helps you find cybersecurity apprenticeships nationwide.
CyberDefenses Cybersecurity Apprenticeship
The CyberDefenses Cybersecurity Apprenticeship is a 9-month program registered with Apprentice USA. It is also supported by the Texas Workforce Commission.
The CyberDefenses apprenticeship provides successful candidates with certification exams, practical training, and job placement. Certifications include CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA A+, and Certified Ethical Hacker
Anyone can participate in the program, regardless of their background in IT or security. In addition, apprentices are paid a salary and receive benefits while working as full-time team members.
Private Cybersecurity Apprenticeship
Many non-governmental organizations provide career opportunities for cybersecurity apprenticeships. This allows you to protect a company’s security posture from cyber-attacks.
The private sector might be an excellent apprenticeship path if you want to help companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Siemens protect their business and ensure continuity.
IBM Cybersecurity Apprenticeships
IBM’s apprenticeships provide candidates without advanced degrees a chance to build technical skills while being paid. It also serves as a potential entry point into permanent employment at IBM.
The IBM Apprenticeship Program is officially registered and recognized by the Department of Labor.
Accenture Cybersecurity Apprenticeship
The Accenture Cybersecurity Apprenticeship is a full-time 12-month program that allows participants to learn and earn.
A cyber security expert will supervise the apprentice's work while also providing structured instruction and on-the-job training.
Accenture is committed to its apprenticeship programs, and 20% of entry-level hires at Accenture are apprentices.
Microsoft Cybersecurity Engineer Apprenticeship
The Microsoft Leap is a 16-week apprenticeship experience for people with foundational technical knowledge. It combines classroom knowledge with hands-on engineering as apprentices work with and on real teams and products, respectively.
For the cybersecurity engineer apprenticeship program, candidates are required to have previous work experience, have completed cybersecurity training, and possess strong problem-solving skills. Candidates will learn penetration testing, managing audits, and secure network solutions.
Others include the Siemens Energy Cybersecurity Apprenticeship, Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program, and GCHQ Cybersecurity Degree Apprenticeship.
If you’re a student, don’t forget to check if your college or university has cybersecurity apprenticeships.
For example, the Colorado Community College System, Texas A&M University, and the City College of San Francisco have cybersecurity apprenticeship programs.
Cybersecurity apprenticeships allow you to gain immediate workforce experience while earning. A cybersecurity apprenticeship can last anywhere from a few days to 3 or more years.
Many companies use apprenticeship programs to recruit the best talents. However, you still need the right skills to get accepted as an apprentice.
Cybrary’s platform allows you to learn core cybersecurity skills that give you the best chance of securing an apprenticeship.
If you’re unsure where to start, Cybrary provides a roadmap that helps you advance your cybersecurity career, whether you're at beginner, intermediate or advanced level. Join 3 million other professionals and start learning with our IT Foundations and Cybersecurity Foundations learning paths.