How to Develop Cybersecurity Skills and Start Your Career
In today’s digital era, the threat and consequences of cyberattacks are at an all-time high. As more companies use cloud services and employ remote workers, there’s been an equivalent rise in cybercrime that takes advantage of increased vulnerabilities, putting businesses of all sizes at risk of financial peril. According to recent statistics from IBM, the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is at a record high of $4.35 million, and it takes, on average, 277 days to identify and contain the breach.
However, with every challenge comes opportunity. Businesses need cybersecurity experts capable of preventing and responding to these threats, opening avenues for those with cybersecurity skills to enjoy careers with considerable job growth and lucrative opportunities across multiple industries, from finance to healthcare. Those who develop and maintain robust cybersecurity skills can find a fulfilling and prosperous career in this in-demand field.
The first step in a career in cybersecurity is to build the necessary skills and experience to pursue a role in the field. You should know what career paths are available for you and the best methods for maintaining your knowledge. Also, if you want to learn real-world cybersecurity skills with industry-experienced instructors and support in launching your career, you should consider the benefits of a cybersecurity bootcamp. Fullstack Academy’s live online Cybersecurity Analytics Bootcamp, for example, can help individuals develop the cybersecurity skills and knowledge to launch a rewarding career.
Why Cybersecurity Skills Are Important
According to a 2022 study by security group ISC2, a notable shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the market exists, with job postings consistently exceeding the number of qualified applicants. With the increasing number of high-profile cyberattacks, companies are more aware of the importance of cybersecurity and are actively seeking professionals with the skills and knowledge to mitigate risk. To be competitive in the job market, developing solid cybersecurity skills can be key to optimizing your marketability.
Hands-on experience with various types of cybersecurity, such as cloud and network security, can also benefit professionals in the field. While knowledge of how these systems work and the skills to defend them, such as penetration testing or risk analysis, is essential to anyone looking to build a cybersecurity career, knowing how these skills apply in a practical, real-world setting is also important. A cybersecurity bootcamp that provides hands-on experience can help you put training into practice.
Developing a solid cybersecurity skill set can also improve your ability to advance. As threats evolve, companies investing in cybersecurity will seek professionals who can lead these efforts, allowing those who continue building their cybersecurity knowledge to move into leadership positions.
Types of Cybersecurity Skills
Cybersecurity is a broad field encompassing a wide range of specialized skills and knowledge. While the skills required may vary depending on the role, you can develop fundamental skills that apply to any cybersecurity position, as well as advanced skills that can set you apart from your peers. Soft skills are also crucial, as they can help build strong relationships with co-workers and managers, leading to improved collaboration and career advancement opportunities.
Fundamental Skills Needed for Cybersecurity
Before focusing on cyber defense, you should understand how an operating system functions, what a network is capable of, and the necessary hardware that is used. You should be able to troubleshoot issues that arise in a system.
In addition to technical skills, system administration skills are crucial for managing and securing networks and systems. You should be able to monitor and maintain critical systems, including servers, databases, and applications, and ensure that they are up-to-date and secure.
Technical Skills for Cybersecurity
Professionals in this field should develop advanced technical skills to manage complex cybersecurity threats and provide more than just fundamental protection. Individual skills can be learned through cybersecurity bootcamps and verified through relevant certifications. Expertise in these areas can help you stand out to employers. Valuable technical skills include the following:
Penetration testing. Testing an organization’s systems and applications for vulnerabilities, identifying weaknesses in an organization’s security, and implementing effective countermeasures.
Risk analysis. Performing a “safety inventory” of a company’s computer systems and data to identify and evaluate potential threats. Once these threats are understood, cybersecurity professionals evaluate them based on various factors, such as probability, and form a plan to mitigate or manage those risks.
Cloud and application security development. Developing and implementing security controls to protect cloud-based services and mobile applications.
Compliance auditing. Ensuring that an organization in regulated industries, such as finance, healthcare, and government, meets its legal and regulatory requirements to avoid legal or financial penalties.
Data encoding. Converting information into a specific format for secure storage and transmission.
Cryptography. Protecting sensitive information by translating it into code only accessible by intended users. Cryptography uses techniques such as encryption and digital signatures to keep data safe.
System administration. Managing computer systems, including servers, networks, and databases, to ensure security and optimal performance.
In addition to these technical skills, cybersecurity professionals should develop proficiency using cybersecurity tools. Those looking to stand out to employers should pick tools with flexibility that can be used in numerous industries. Many of these tools are covered in cybersecurity bootcamps, which can give you a jump start on a cybersecurity career. These tools include the following:
Kali Linux. A tool used for penetration testing, digital forensics, and other security-related tasks.
Linux command line. A tool used to interact with an operating system to perform operations and troubleshoot various issues.
Python. A high-level programming language used to develop security tools and scripts.
Cybersecurity Soft Skills
In addition to technical and advanced skills, soft skills are an often overlooked necessity when working with others. Valuable soft skills include the following:
Communication. You may be required to translate complex technical information into clear and concise terms for co-workers and managers. For example, if a company computer requires a unique password, staff must understand the importance of keeping it secure to prevent malicious breaches. Similarly, if you perform a risk analysis and create a risk assessment plan, you should be able to adequately communicate how to enact that plan to other leaders.
Problem-solving. You may face security decisions that must be made immediately. In the case of a cyberattack, you must react quickly to impending vulnerabilities and limit damages.
Attention to detail. You must be able to identify and address even the most minor vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit.
How to Improve Your Cybersecurity Skills
When you work continuously to improve your cybersecurity skills, you increase your value to potential employers and boost your career advancement opportunities.
Attend a Cybersecurity Bootcamp to Improve Cybersecurity Skills
An effective way to establish fundamental cybersecurity competencies is to enroll in a cybersecurity bootcamp. These bootcamps offer immersive, intensive training programs to give you a foundational understanding of key cybersecurity concepts and techniques. Bootcamps can provide hands-on experience with various security tools and technologies and often offer opportunities to work on real-world projects.
Participating in a bootcamp focused on cybersecurity enables individuals to improve their knowledge and skills in the field. Fullstack Academy’s live online Cybersecurity Analytics Bootcamp features elements such as:
Live instruction and interactive technology
Real-world cybersecurity applications
Preparation for cybersecurity certifications
Opportunities to collaborate and build soft skills
Career services in areas such as resume writing, LinkedIn profile optimization, interview preparation, and job offer negotiation
Keep Up with Cybersecurity Trends
To further improve your cybersecurity skills, you should be sure to monitor the latest technological advancements and emerging threat risks through regular reading and research. Attending conferences and events, participating in online forums and discussion groups, and engaging with the broader cybersecurity community can all help you keep up with hackers and other malicious actors.
Earn Cybersecurity Certifications
You can also consider obtaining certifications to strengthen your expertise in specialized areas. These credentials demonstrate a high level of proficiency in a security domain, such as network security, cloud security, or digital forensics. Below are some of the most well-known and respected cybersecurity certifications.
AWS Cloud Practitioner
The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Practitioner certification demonstrates knowledge and skills in cloud computing fundamentals, including AWS’ basic architecture and terminology regularly used in cloud computing. Fullstack Academy’s cybersecurity bootcamp provides training and preparation for the Cloud Practitioner certification exam as part of the curriculum.
AWS Security - Specialty
The AWS Security - Specialty certification validates individuals’ knowledge and skills in implementing cloud initiatives and AWS security services. Amazon Web Services recommends having five years of experience in IT security and two years of hands-on experience with AWS services. Fullstack Academy’s cybersecurity bootcamp helps prepare students for this exam by covering its fundamentals.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification demonstrates the skills and knowledge to secure sensitive information. It certifies knowledge of managing risks, controlling access to essential data, and protecting against cyber threats.
Certified Ethical Hacker
The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification indicates that the holder has demonstrated skills in using the same methods as malicious hackers to identify vulnerable points in computer systems and networks and improve the security of those systems. Organizations often hire ethical hackers to help identify and fix security issues before malicious actors can exploit them, making this certification ideal for those looking for a penetration tester career.
Certified Information Security Manager
The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification shows that the holder has demonstrated expertise in managing, designing, and assessing information security programs and policies. CISM certification holders are skilled in identifying and addressing information security risks and threats and developing strategies to protect information assets. Many employers recognize that this certification is valuable for information security management roles.
How to Include Cybersecurity Skills on Your Resume
Once you’ve built up the necessary skills and gained relevant experience, you’ll need to go through the process of getting a cybersecurity job—starting by building a strong resume. When writing a cybersecurity resume, you should emphasize skills and experience that showcase your ability to protect organizations from cyber threats. Here are some steps to follow to create a resume that stands out.
Highlight Cybersecurity Skills in Demand
To grab an employer’s attention, emphasize your cybersecurity skills at the top of your resume, using keywords that the job description mentions and ensuring that your skills match the employer’s requirements. For example, you might list skills such as system administration, risk analysis, or penetration testing to grab a potential employer’s eye.
Demonstrate Applied Skills
In addition to listing your cybersecurity skills, it’s essential to demonstrate how you’ve applied them in previous roles. Provide specific examples of projects or initiatives you’ve worked on that showcase your skills in action. For example, a cybersecurity bootcamp project can showcase your ability to work as part of a cybersecurity team and demonstrate both soft skills, such as your communication ability in a team setting, and hard skills, such as cryptography and program languages like Python.
List Relevant Education and Certifications
Education and cybersecurity certifications are also important components of a cybersecurity resume. You should list any relevant degrees, courses, or training programs you’ve completed, as well as any cybersecurity certifications you’ve earned. For example, this could include industry-recognized certifications, such as AWS Cloud Practitioner, CISSP, or CEH.
Include Relevant Experience
If you’ve completed an internship; participated in a cybersecurity competition, such as “capture the flag” featuring cybersecurity puzzles; or have other relevant experience, you should include it on your resume to demonstrate hands-on experience in the field.
Career Opportunities With Cybersecurity Skills
As the world becomes more interconnected, organizations are increasingly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Employers need skilled cybersecurity professionals to protect their valuable assets and confidential information. Individuals with the right skills and credentials have various career options, depending on what aspect of cybersecurity they’d like to pursue.
Systems administrators manage an organization’s day-to-day operations. They regularly work installing and configuring hardware and software, monitoring system performance, and troubleshooting problems as they arise. Most employers will require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, real-world experience from a cybersecurity bootcamp and relevant certifications may be sufficient for some employers.
Lightcast™ reports that the median annual salary for systems administrators was $80,600 in 2022. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 3% job growth rate for network and computer systems administrators between 2021 and 2031.
Cybersecurity analysts monitor an organization’s networks and investigate incidents, conduct security assessments, and implement solutions to mitigate risks. Employers may look for candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, but a growing number will consider relevant education, experience, and certifications instead of a degree. The median annual salary for cybersecurity analysts was $102,606 in 2022, according to Lightcast™. The BLS projects 35% job growth for information security analysts between 2021 and 2031.
The BLS attributes this higher-than-average projection to the increase in cyberattacks and the simultaneous response by companies to increase demand for cyber defense professionals.
These professionals work to design and implement an organization’s network infrastructure. They select various hardware and software options, set up protocols and procedures, and ensure that the network is secure and stable. Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field for this role, but some may overlook degree requirements with enough experience or certifications.
Lightcast™ reports that the median annual salary for network architects was $120,515 in 2022. The BLS projects a 4% job growth for computer network architects between 2021 and 2031.
Penetration testers are professionals who test an organization’s computer systems to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses. They conduct simulated attacks to determine whether the systems can withstand real-world threats. Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field for the role, but relevant experience and certifications, such as CEH, may act as a substitute. Payscale reports that the median annual salary for penetration testers was about $91,000 as of March 2023.
The BLS projects 15% job growth between 2021 and 2031 for all computer and information technology roles, including penetration testers.
How to Keep Your Cybersecurity Skills Current
As cyber threats continue to evolve, you should monitor developments in cybersecurity to ensure that your skills remain current and relevant. Here are some tips on how to keep your cybersecurity skills updated.
Newsletters and Industry Websites
One effective way to stay current with cybersecurity trends is to subscribe to industry newsletters and sites. These resources contain the latest cybersecurity news, insights, and best practices. By regularly reading and staying informed about new threat risks and cybersecurity innovations, you can better understand the challenges that businesses face and prepare to confront them.
Cybersecurity Workshops and Conferences
Attending cybersecurity workshops and conferences is another great way to stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices in the industry. These events can offer excellent chances to connect with other professionals and gain insights from experts actively engaged in the industry. Additionally, many of these events offer hands-on training, which can help you develop and maintain practical skills that you can apply in your career.
Follow Tech Companies on Social Media
Following tech companies on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can provide valuable insights into the cybersecurity industry’s direction. Many companies share their latest product releases, research, and industry news on social media. Subscribing to these accounts can help you stay informed about new technologies, trends, and innovations that could impact your work.
Make the Leap to a Cybersecurity Career
If you’re interested in a career in the cybersecurity industry, it’s crucial to develop strong skills in preventing, detecting, and responding to cyberattacks. One of the most time- and cost-effective ways to gain mastery of these skills and learn the tools of a complex trade is the comprehensive live online Cybersecurity Analytics Bootcamp from Fullstack Academy.
Fullstack Academy’s bootcamp is a 12- to 26-week training program featuring some of the most popular cybersecurity skills (cryptography, system administration) and tools (Kali Linux, Python). The program also prepares students for relevant industry certifications (AWS Cloud Practitioner, AWS Security - Specialty). During the bootcamp and following graduation, students are supported by Fullstack Academy Career Success team members, who will help them prepare for a job search to land a role in the cyber field.
Found out how Fullstack Academy can help launch your career in cybersecurity.
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