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Cybersecurity is a multifaceted industry, so there is often confusion about how to enter the field. In this article, we’ll demystify cybersecurity, explore industry job prospects, and detail how to get into cybersecurity (even if you don’t have experience).
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity involves protecting digital assets and their owners from malicious actors. “Digital asset” is an umbrella term for anything that exists in digital form and has significant value. A digital asset could include personal data, documents, websites, servers, and networks.
To be a great cybersecurity expert, you need technical skills such as risk assessment, intrusion detection, command of programming languages, and familiarity with the Linux operating system.
Cybersecurity Job Outlook
Although rightfully known as a lucrative field, the cybersecurity industry is riddled with talent gaps. There simply aren’t enough cybersecurity professionals for the job market.
As of 2021, the US had more than 1 million cybersecurity experts, but there were 715,000 open jobs left. As of April 2022, this skills gap hadn’t closed much, according to Cyberseek. The high demand for skilled professionals in this industry points to strong job prospects for new cybersecurity specialists.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 35% job growth for information security analysts from 2021 to 2031. This growth is about four times faster than the projected average growth rate for all jobs nationwide, making Information Security Analysts the 14th fastest growing occupation in the country.
In 2021, Cybercrime Magazine projected that there would be 3.5 million open cybersecurity jobs by 2025.
Cyber Security Salaries
One factor that sets cybersecurity apart from other fields is its high earning potential, available even to entry-level workers. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for information security analysts was $102,600 as of May 2021. That’s more than double the national median annual salary for all occupations.
According to Cyberseek, the average salary range for entry-level cyber security workers is between $88,230 and $110,000 per year. Please note that cybersecurity salaries may vary by position and location.
How to get into cybersecurity
get a degree
About 90% of job openings in this field require a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or a related field. A traditional degree is still the most popular path to start a career in cybersecurity.
You can earn a cybersecurity degree online or in person. If you’re not in a position to commit to a four-year degree, even an associate in cyber or computer security can open the door in most cases.
You may be wondering how to gain experience in cybersecurity without first getting a job in the field. For starters, consider internships. An internship equips you with the practical skills and experience that employers are looking for. It also gives you a competitive edge over other applicants when you finally start looking for a job.
Cybersecurity internship opportunities may or may not be paid, depending on the company.
Other ways to gain relevant experience include working on cybersecurity projects solo and contributing to open source projects.
Whichever path you take, be sure to document your progress and experience. Include these details in your coding portfolio to improve your chances of landing a job.
Cybersecurity certifications demonstrate that your cybersecurity knowledge and experience meet strict industry standards. These credentials can enhance your marketability and earning potential as an employee.
There are numerous certifications available for cybersecurity professionals. Below are some of the more common options.
CISP: The Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification is issued by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)². This credential is ideal for cybersecurity professionals with at least five years of experience. This designation is a ticket to the top position of chief information security officer (CISO).
CIS: The Certified Information Systems Auditor® certification, administered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)®, demonstrates your ability to audit, monitor, and control an organization’s information systems. Only professionals who have five years of experience and score high on the test are eligible for this designation.
CISM: The Certified Information Systems Manager® certification is reserved for experienced cybersecurity professionals who want to advance into leadership roles. This credential indicates experience in information security governance and incident and risk management. ISACA also administers this certification program.
If you want to jumpstart your career in the shortest amount of time, consider attending a cybersecurity bootcamp.
A bootcamp is an intensive program of study that equips students with the hard and soft skills needed to land jobs and excel in specific technology fields. Most bootcamps take between four and 20 weeks to complete. For part-time students, these programs can last up to a year.
A cybersecurity bootcamp is a viable alternative to a traditional degree program because it allows you to acquire the necessary skills in less time and for less cost. Bootcamps cost around $11,900 on average. Some even offer financial aid and job guarantees.
Another advantage of cybersecurity bootcamps is the availability of customized programs. You can choose a bootcamp based on your current skill level and availability. Once you complete a cybersecurity bootcamp, you’ll be eligible for entry-level positions such as penetration tester, IT auditor, information security analyst, and systems administrator.
Popular Cybersecurity Bootcamps
The right cybersecurity bootcamp depends on your price range, hours, and location. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most popular cybersecurity bootcamps to give you an idea of what to expect.
Trampoline Cybersecurity Career Path
The Springboard bootcamp is a 100% online bootcamp spanning 380 hours. Teaches students the fundamentals of cybersecurity, including systems and network security, security operations, and vulnerability assessments. With 15-20 hours of study per week, students can complete this program and earn the Security+ certification in six months.
This program costs between $9,900 and $11,340.
Fullstack Academy Cybersecurity Analysis Bootcamp
This program promises to take students from scratch to work-ready within 13 weeks (or 26 weeks for part-time students). Students can gain practical cybersecurity skills through various workshops and labs that mimic real-life scenarios.
Full-time and part-time students pay a flat tuition of $15,980. New York residents, women, and veterans are eligible for financial assistance.
ASU Cybersecurity Bootcamp
Arizona State University offers a 24-week in-person bootcamp for beginners. Students receive in-depth training in networking, web technologies, and defensive and offensive cybersecurity. This bootcamp is ideal for part-time students who are working or still attending college.
How do I start a career in cybersecurity?
You can start a career in cybersecurity by enrolling in college, attending a boot camp, or studying on your own. Combining all three learning models can build a solid foundation in the field.
Is it easy to get into cybersecurity?
Getting into cybersecurity is relatively easy once you get the education and experience. You can gain significant experience in this field through internships and by contributing to open source projects.
How do I get started in cybersecurity with no experience?
The first step is to get an education through a reputable university or bootcamp. You can then apply for paid or unpaid internship positions to gain hands-on knowledge from senior cyber security specialists.