Starting a cyber security career

Cyber security is one of the most in-demand career paths for IT professionals at the moment. Hackers are becoming bolder and more sophisticated, ranging from motivated individuals to well-organised gangs and even nation states. As such, every company will be looking for the best talent to defend against these threats.

That means there's no better time to start a cyber security career, and there are a number of options available for professionals looking to enter this field. 

For instance, if you've been working elsewhere in the IT sector for a while, you'll already have picked up a lot of the skills necessary to specialise in cyber security. Meanwhile, for those at the start of their journey, there are a growing number of academic options and apprenticeships that can give you a head-start.

So what's the best option to demonstrate to prospective employers that you have the skills they're looking for?

Entry-level certifications

One of the best ways to get started in cyber security is to gain a qualification from a recognised professional body. There are a range of options to choose from, with the likes of (ISC)2, CompTIA, Cisco and Microsoft offering tailored courses to teach you the basics quickly.

Some of the most well-regarded entry-level cyber security courses include:

  • CompTIA Security+

  • CompTIA PenTest+

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate Cyber Operations (CCNA)

  • (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

  • ISACA CSX Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

These all offer a good grounding in the essential skills you'll need to start a career in cyber security. 

Generally, these entry-level courses will be suitable for professionals with relevant experience in the IT sector, and skills such as coding will come in very handy. If you have a few years of experience in general IT work, this will be advantageous, but some courses will be tailored towards recent graduates who may have less hands-on experience.

Entry-level courses can generally be completed online or in the classroom and often offer intensive syllabuses that can be completed in two to five days. Once complete, certifications are typically awarded following examinations.

The transferable skills you can use

If you're looking to change careers to focus on cyber security, many of the experiences and skills you'll already have picked up will stand you in good stead. This includes both technical capabilities such as programming and 'softer' skills that will help you take on the hackers and keep systems safe.

Key transferable skills employers will be looking for include:

  • Programming

  • Analytics

  • Problem-solving

  • Attention to detail

  • Determination

  • Communication

First steps into the industry

If you're entering the industry for the first time, options such as cyber security apprenticeships may be an excellent choice. These help you earn while you learn the ropes, and can provide you with a qualification ranging from the equivalent of A-levels to a Bachelor's degree.

Having either an apprenticeship or a relevant professional qualification can help you stand out from other candidates for a number of positions that can get you started in your career in cyber security. Some of the most common roles for those coming into the industry for the first time include:

  • Security Architect

  • Security Analyst

  • Forensics Analyst

  • Penetration Tester

  • Risk Analyst

  • Security Engineer

Search our entry-level cyber security courses or our cyber security apprenticeships today and take the first steps in your new career.