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Why do you need to know about cyber security apprenticeships?
A cyber security apprenticeship is a great way to start your career in this exciting, fast-moving sector. An apprenticeship course will teach you everything you need to know to be successful in this profession, while also giving you vital real-world experience, and helping you earn while you learn.
Why choose a career in cyber security?
Cyber security jobs are in high demand at the moment, and this is only set to grow in the coming years as threats continue to evolve. For instance, the government's Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 found almost half of businesses (46 per cent) reported facing a cyber attack in the previous year, rising to 76 per cent among large enterprises.
However, there remains a significant shortage of skills in this area. The Department for
Digital, Culture, Media & Sport estimates 653,000 businesses in the UK have a basic skills gap within cyber security, while 408,000 have more advanced skills gaps. What's more, more than a third of vacancies (35 per cent) in the sector are said to be hard to fill.
Therefore, professionals with the right skills and qualifications will be well-placed to meet these needs and enjoy an exciting, lucrative career. And a great way to get started in this sector is with a cyber security apprenticeship.
The benefits of a cyber security apprenticeship
There are many routes into a career in cyber security. Many universities, for example, now offer specialised cyber security courses in addition to more familiar options such as programming. But the academic path isn't for everyone, and if you prefer to be more hands-on with your education, a cyber security apprenticeship course can be an excellent option.
Some of the benefits of these courses include:
- Start working straight away. While you'll spend some time in a classroom, an apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to get out and experience work in the real world quickly.
- Be part of a team. Working alongside other employees gets you more involved in the business and lets you learn directly from more experienced colleagues.
- Get practical experience. Getting to see first-hand exactly how the skills you're learning can be applied to real-world situations gives you valuable insight those based solely in classrooms may not have.
- Earn while you learn. An apprenticeship will be a paid position that will entitle you to at least the National Minimum Wage, ensuring you earn at the same time as you build your education. You'll also enjoy many other employment rights and benefits, such as holiday pay.
Requirements for cyber security apprenticeships
There are several levels of cyber security apprenticeship available. It's therefore important to understand the difference between them, what the requirements are and what they can offer you in terms of qualifications and experience. The main levels you need to know about are:
Level 3 - Advanced Apprenticeship. Roughly equivalent to an A-level. You'll typically need five decent GCSE grades, including Maths and English, or an equivalent. These usually last around 13 months, including paid work experience.
Level 4 - Higher Apprenticeships. This provides you with a qualification equivalent to a foundation degree, and will last for around 16 months. You'll work full-time for an employer, with excellent prospects for a future career at the company.
You'll need either a Level 3 apprenticeship, two or more A-levels in STEM subjects such as Maths, Computer Science or Physics, or an equivalent such as an International Baccalaureate in a relevant subject.
Level 6 - Degree Apprenticeship. This will provide you with the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree and is the most advanced course, combining classroom study at a university with training in the workplace. This can last between three and six years, and upon completion you'll be well-placed to apply for some of the industry's most exciting careers.
In addition to academic or equivalent qualifications, you'll also need a range of essential skills to be successful as a cyber apprentice. These include both technical knowledge and soft skills. Must-haves include:
- Creative thinking
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to use your own initiative
- Organisational skills
- Ability to communicate effectively
- Ability to work independently
Your future career prospects
Completing an apprenticeship in cyber security can set you up for a wide range of roles. Even if you don't get taken on full-time by your company, or decide to pursue opportunities elsewhere, you'll have skills and qualifications that are in high demand.
Common cyber security career roles for those who have completed an apprenticeship include:
- Security Architect
- Penetration Tester
- Security Analyst
- Risk Analyst
- Forensics Analyst
- Security Engineer
- Security Administrator
- Information Security Officer
If you think a cyber security apprenticeship is right for you, then do your research into the role, make sure you've got a professional CV, and look for apprenticeship courses to get started in your future career.