Getting started with a career in cybersecurity

November 25, 2015

David Gewirtz

The son of a family friend recently told me he wants to go into cybersecurity as a career, and asked me how to get started. He currently serves with the national guard and is in community college.

I get asked the question a lot, and it's a good question. By 2019, the worldwide need for cybersecurity professionals is expected to reach 6 million jobs -- but companies will likely be able to only find 4.5 million people able to do the work.

 

That means there is the potential of 1.5 million jobs -- high paying jobs at that -- that can go to anyone with the qualifications. Burning Glass, a job posting site, reports that they had 50,000 postings for candidates with CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification.

So cybersecurity workers are in high demand, the jobs pay well, and they're important and critical to safeguarding our society. That sounds to many like an ideal opportunity. But what does it take to get hired and thrive in such a gig? Here are a few things to consider.

Cybersecurity (and IT in general) are not the same as computer science. Traditional computer science can be helpful, but it's not the full story. If you're going to design unbreakable encryption (or crack unbreakable encryption), you're going to need deep education in computer science and math, because you're dealing with everything from stats to finite automata.

But there's also all the knowledge needed about how current systems work, which computer science doesn't necessarily prepare you for. That's best handled by all the certification classes, particularly the Microsoft-sponsored ones.

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