switch to cybersecurity
3
Dec

How to Transition from IT to Cybersecurity?


You can no longer assume that anyone’s job is secure. The nature of today’s job, even before the pandemic hit us, was changing irrefutably. The world has shifted from a work setting where people hold the same job until they retire, to people shuffling through jobs a minimum of 3 times throughout their career. If you’re looking for job security, a transition from IT to cybersecurity is recommended.

If you transition from IT to information security or cybersecurity, you’ll have more career options across a wide range of industries such as retail, finance, or government. However, IT is a highly specialized field. With the plethora of cybercrimes and lack of professionals, an IT professional or enthusiast will find a switch to cybersecurity very lucrative.

However, the question still remains: “How do you begin a career in cybersecurity?” You can get started with this article. We list all the important points you need to know about a career transition into cybersecurity, from where you should start to how you can grow your career.

Where to Start: Your Career Options in Cybersecurity

While a candidate with an IT background will find a career transition easy, the fact is, there is no single entry point into cybersecurity. Professionals or enthusiasts from different backgrounds such as computer science, history, mathematics, or even philosophy can also pursue a career in cybersecurity.

The important thing is to have a deep and abiding interest in how technology works. Nevertheless, you need to know and understand precisely what you’re protecting and why you need to protect those critical assets.

Begin with an IT background

It is recommended that you start with an apprenticeship, internship, or job in IT. Experts suggest that this approach will make you competent in the basics of networks, coding, administering & configuring systems, and database management. Moreover, you’ll be conversant with IT concepts and real-life business operations.

Streamline your options

There are different fields in cybersecurity. You can’t possibly be a specialist in all the fields. You’re advised to specialize in a specific aspect and do a good job while you’re at it. Once you know your area of specialization, search for “Type of IT jobs that can lead to cybersecurity” and gain the appropriate skills. Your starter career jobs could look like these:

  • Network administrator ~ Network security, digital forensics, etc.
  • System administrator ~ Security administrator, digital forensics, etc.
  • Web developer ~ Web security, security software developer, etc.
  • Network engineer ~ infrastructure engineer, network security engineer, security operations center analyst, etc.

Get relevant experience

Finally, get practical experience in the relevant field. You don’t have to be an IT professional for this. You can gain experience with the right training program.

Type of IT Jobs That Can Lead to a Switch to Cybersecurity

There are certain IT jobs that can help you transition to cybersecurity. The trick is to ensure your entry-level IT jobs give you some security-related experience. The basic requirement is to have detailed computer knowledge. Notwithstanding, most of the experience you’ll need are developed on the job. Some IT jobs that’ll facilitate your career switch are:

  • IT Technician
  • System Administrator
  • Network Engineer
  • Computer Programmer
  • Web Administrator
  • Computer Software Engineer
  • Database Administrator
  • Network Systems & Data Analyst
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • Network Administrator
  • IT Technical Support
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • IT Customer Service

Required Cybersecurity Skills to Start a Career in this Industry

You can’t go into the fields mentioned above without the relevant skills. This is what differentiates amateurs from professionals.

Hard and soft skills for an enthusiast with a technical background

If you’re from a technical background, your soft skills will include the ability to communicate technical data to non-technical persons, a positive work ethic and attitude, the ability to grasp the big picture, the ability to work in a team, and so on.

Your hard skills are the skills you already have from your technical background. For instance, you’ll already know how to defend against SQL injections if you’re a web developer. This skill will be useful when you become a cybersecurity developer. Similarly, you might use C++ as a software engineer if you’re into programming. Other hard skills you’ll need are:

  1. Programming and coding skills
    • PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby, and shell
    • Java, C, C++, and C#
    • Disassemblers and Assembly language
    • Linux/MAC Bash shell scripting
  1. Network skills
    • System/network configuration
    • Network protocols
    • Visualization software
    • Packet analysis tools
    • Packet Shaper and Load Balancer
    • Proxy Server knowledge
    • VPNs
    • TCP/IP
    • Computer networking
    • Routing and switching
    • Firewalls
    • Intrusion detection/prevention protocols
  1. Operating systems and database management
    • Linux, Windows, and UNIX operating systems
    • MySQL/SQLite environments

Hard and soft skills for a non-technical enthusiast

You’ll have less technical knowledge and skills if you’re from a non-technical background. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be at a disadvantage.

You’ll probably lack coding and development skills. But you may have great communication skills, which you’ll need if you’re a cybersecurity technical writer. You’ll need the same soft skills as a person with a technical background such as interpersonal skills, presentation and communication skills, implementation skills, and/or problem-solving skills.

Then again, it’s possible you don’t need all these hard skills to be employed. There are positions you can secure with the non-technical skills you already have. These are dependent on your ability to study and understand new concepts. You can easily earn these jobs within a few months.

  • Network Administrator
  • Cyber Policy Analyst
  • SOC Analyst
  • Vulnerability Analyst
  • Technical Writer

Learning Options Available

You can brush up your knowledge with self-directed learning, guided training, and networking.

  • Self-study

    This training option suggests that you’ll learn it on your own. The first step is to get the right resources. You can read IT and security blogs, news, or magazines to build your computer knowledge and learn coding. Bookmark valuable cybersecurity websites for easy access.

    You don’t have to go in-depth, just know the basics. You can take part in cybersecurity training games and contests such as Capture the Flag contests (CTFs) or Wargames.

  • Guided training

    On the other hand, you can train with a tutor or invest in online cybersecurity training courses. You can also offer to help your employer or professor with security-based tasks.

  • Networking

    You can join forums where relevant information is shared like LinkedIn groups, security organizations, or professional networks. Collaborate with a team in school or at work on a cybersecurity project or connect with peers playing Wargames and CTFs.

Career Growth Opportunities in Cybersecurity

Apart from your hard skills and work experience, employers are interested in your relevant IT certifications. Certifications verify your skills and experience. Make sure you add related certifications on your resume to jump-start your career transition to cybersecurity.

Several certification programs are obtainable from a beginner to an advanced level like EC-Council’s CEH program. You can’t be a great cybersecurity expert without continuous learning. So don’t stop learning.

About CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker Program

The EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential is the most extensively recognized and respected certification in this industry. CEH is a knowledge-based exam that will evaluate your competencies in Attack Prevention, Attack Detection, Information Security Threats and Attacks Vectors, Procedures, Methodologies, and more!

The CEH credential certifies security officers, site administrators, auditors, cybersecurity professionals, and other cybersecurity enthusiasts in the specific network security discipline of ethical hacking from a vendor-neutral perspective. For more information, visit our course page now!

About EC-Council

EC-Council is dedicated to raising awareness about cybersecurity issues for the international community while unifying global cyber defense. Our certification and training process goes beyond the theoretical and tests the pragmatics of security, software security, audit, management, and operations. We are trusted worldwide for our end-to-end enterprise cybersecurity solutions for human capital development. Likewise, EC-Council adds an extra edge to its certification programs with hands-on and comprehensive training programs.

References

  1. https://www.cyberdegrees.org/resources/transitioning-from-general-it/
  2. https://analyticsindiamag.com/how-to-shift-your-career-from-it-to-cybersecurity/
  3. https://www.springboard.com/blog/how-to-get-into-cybersecurity-regardless-of-your-background/

FAQs

Can I start a career in cybersecurity with no experience?
You don’t necessarily need a precise degree in cybersecurity before you can work in this field. However, you’ll have a better chance with a little computer experience. Likewise, you’ll earn a higher starting salary if you have a degree or certification. So the short answer to your question is “not typically.” It will all depend on your employer or the technicality of the field you want to get into.
How do I switch careers to cybersecurity?
You need to meet the basic requirements for a career transition to cybersecurity. Keep in mind that everyone starts somewhere. You can get started with an apprenticeship, internship, or job in IT. You should consider gaining experience and get a relevant degree. Also, get relevant hard IT skills.
Does cybersecurity require coding?
Well, the truth is that some cybersecurity jobs don’t need programming experience. However, some do. It seems logical to have programming experience since one of the fundamental goals of cybersecurity is to protect computers and computers run on code. So, programming is a valuable skill to have.
Where do I start to learn cybersecurity?
You can get deep knowledge and basic understanding with the CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) course. The CEH certification program usually takes 5 days to complete. Nevertheless, don’t just show up unprepared, hoping to learn everything about cybersecurity within the week. Know something about programming, operating systems (Windows and Linux), and get familiar with web technologies.
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