How to Get Into Cyber Security with Minimal Experience

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jan 14, 2019

Jan 14, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Demand for cyber security professionals is on the rise. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the number of available jobs will increase over 25 percent by 2026. Industry experts believe that there are over a million cyber security jobs available worldwide.

If you want to know more about how to get into cyber security, then this article is for you! Check out this handy guide about how to start a career in cyber security, even if you have minimal experience. That next best job might be waiting for you around the corner.

Cyber Security Expert Responsibilities

A cyber security expert works with organizations to secure their digital information systems. They decide which organization members should have clearance to see confidential information. Cyber security professionals detect web threats that can corrupt confidential information.

Cyber security experts can recommend new firewall or software installation to prevent data loss. They can also program solutions to sidestep data loss from information system networks. Find out more about the many security standards cyber security experts use every day.

Where Do Cyber Security Experts Work

Financial institutions, healthcare providers and government agencies all need cybersecurity professionals. These industries collect confidential information like bank account access codes or medical records. Cybersecurity experts use their skills to help guard all sensitive information against theft.

Different Cyber Security Roles

There are many different cyber security roles and job titles in the IT sector. Like most industries, these job titles and duties will vary based on the size of the company. Large companies may have specific titles while smaller companies usually have a generalist job description.

A large company, for example may have a very specialized title like an SOC Analyst. A small to mid-size firm may have a similar job category called a Cyber Security Specialist

Here are some examples of the several cyber security job titles and duties that are out there:

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

The CISO executes security procedures to safeguard a company's records from loss. A CISO is the highest leader for an organization's electronic systems.

Cyber Security Engineer

Cyber Security Engineers manage teams of security experts. These teams check for risks and identify threats. These engineers are also responsible for designing systems that can survive natural disasters.

Incident Responder

This position monitors and detects security breaches. They are the first cyber security expert that responds to a breach incident. These experts make sure that further damage does not increase.

Information Assurance Analyst

Information Assurance Analysts design safeguards to protect an organization's computerized infrastructure. They put in place cyber security strategies to prevent cyber-attacks from happening in the first place. They also recommend systems that protect digital information and networks.

Information Security Forensics Expert

These investigators detect and investigate any evidence of criminal attacks on computers or networks. They review patterns created by hackers to find defects in the system. They'll use reverse engineering to find the attacker's footprint of attackers to uncover and track malware.

Penetration Tester

Penetration testers test systems to find security weaknesses that an attacker could abuse. These testers gather information about an organization's network weaknesses. They identify entry points and try to attack the systems.

Security Architect

Security architects examine security risks and recommend resolutions. They develop security software as well as train teams about effective security protocols. Security architects create complex security structures and make sure they work.

Job Requirements for Cyber Security Pros

Most cyber security career professionals have a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Some might also have a degree in a similar field like computer science. Other positions, like penetration testers, meet their job qualifications with an associate degree.

Cyber security leadership roles (i.e., CISO) need a Master's in Business Administration degree (MBA.) This degree program provides two more years of management and other IT-related classwork. MBA students also study business as well as leadership principles.

Cyber security professionals should know about programming and coding. They should be familiar with coding languages such as Python, Ruby or Java. They should also be at ease working with operating systems and system architectures.

How to Get Into Cyber Security

Most cyber security experts transition into their role from a generalist IT job function. The strategy is that cyber security professionals safeguard those systems that they know the best. Companies that need a network security expert, will hire a former network administrator.

Internships

Internships are a great place to learn basic computer fundamentals. Internships gives you the chance to be in an IT generalist position. These positions handle many tasks in a company without specializing in any single area.

You will learn basic skills such as database management and coding. You'll also learn about IT procedures in a real-life business setting. Internships can help get your foot in the door for your starter IT career as well.

Self-Directed Learning

Self-learning allows you to study your interests on your own timetable. There are plenty of online learning resources to help you build your skills in security fundamentals. These resources can show you the core concepts you need to understand to protect information security systems.

Build a PC

Another creative way to build your skills is to build your own computer from scratch. You can also build your own firewall and network. Try securing your own network and then try to hack it to find its weaknesses.

Analyze an Open Source Project for Threats

An open source project is any program that makes its source code available to the public for use or modification. Open source software is available to the public for free. Look for weaknesses in open source projects and document your findings.

Volunteering and Networking

Don't forget to join LinkedIn groups and other organizations to meet other like-minded professionals. These connections may be your ticket to a future cyber security career. You can also volunteer to provide security services for charities or other non-profits as way to make your skills well know.

Another forum for networking is to contribute to online security blogs. These blogs cover news and security alerts for today's risk management topics. Google and Microsoft Security blogs are sites where you can add to the security discussion.

Hacking

Another path to a cyber security career involves refining your "ethical" computer hacking skills. Computer hacking means penetrating computer defense systems to retrieve confidential data. If "hackers" can breakthrough these defense systems, they may steal this sensitive information.

"Ethical" hacking means penetrating networks on purpose. Cyber security experts do this to find system weaknesses that a malicious hacker may try to abuse. Once they know where these vulnerabilities are, they can install software to prevent future theft.

There are also many online resources where you can learn ethical hacking skills for free. Once you are familiar with these skills, you're ready to start using tools called specialty platforms. These specialty platforms are the place to test networks and web applications.

These specialty platforms are called "vulnerable" platforms. Vulnerable platforms are weak to help security professionals improve their penetration testing skills.

Vulnerable platforms provide a safe real-life environment to perfect skills. Cyber security students practice techniques in patching breaches and other common security issues.

Certification

There are plenty of certifications that cyber security professionals use to show their expertise. Certifications are also a great opportunity to learn new skills. They can help you show that you are current on up and coming threats.

Some of these certifications include:

CISA - Certified Information Systems Auditor

This certification demonstrates knowledge in controlling and auditing systems.

CISM - Certified Information Security Manager

This certification demonstrates skill in compliance and risk management.

CISSP - The Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Some government agencies require this certification for higher level leadership positions.

CompTIA - Computing Technology Industry Association

This certification is for entry-level professionals qualified to install and maintain computers.

GIAC - Global Information Assurance Certification

Certification that shows technical skills in forensics and intrusion detection.

OSCP- Offensive Security Certified Professional

OSCP trains students on penetration testing methods in a controlled environment.

Next Steps

Cyber security experts are our defenders against cyber crimes. They are responsible for keeping our computer systems as safe as they can be. You can start these steps today on how to get into cyber security, even if you have minimal experience.

Check out some of the online self-learning websites to learn more about the foundations of cyber security. Look on Linked In for other security interest groups. Attend any advertised cyber security conferences that may be coming up.

Don't forget to check out our blog for more helpful information about ways to break into the tech industry. We're here to help you find the career that's right for you.