Published On: Mon, Mar 9th, 2020

How to Become a Cybersecurity Expert

Are you looking to become a cybersecurity expert? If so, you’ll absolutely love today’s post. We understand it is hard breaking into the highly competitive cyber security career, but with the right motivation, skills and experience, you can become an expert over time.

What Does a Cybersecurity Expert Do?

A cybersecurity expert is an IT professional who protects data from cybercriminals. Cybersecurity specialists are usually in charge of network security, web security, application security, and so on. The job involves a lot of tasks ranging from preventative to recovery measures and beyond. 

As a cybersecurity expert, you will fill many shoes as far as protecting data goes. One day you may be probing for vulnerabilities, and the next day you may be tasked with implementing built-in security measures. On top of that, you’ll constantly monitor attacks and intrusions, and at times, you’ll need to identify perpetrators and liaise with law enforcement agencies.

Cybersecurity Salary Prospects

Cybersecurity is a fast-growing field, and the demand for top talent is high and growing each dawn. Since there are more jobs than candidates, cybersecurity is one of the best paying IT jobs. Additionally, your salary goes up as you improve your skills and gain more experience.

According to Bricata, cybersecurity experts earn anywhere between $75,000 and $275,000 per annum, depending on location, academic qualifications, certifications, and experience. That’s a decent salary for an exciting career that’s perfect for anybody with the passion to follow through.

The future, too, looks bright what with more employers and industries looking to protect data in a world that is increasingly becoming digital. According to CSIS, “…the global cybersecurity workforce shortage has been projected to reach upwards of 1.8 million unfilled positions.” That means there is a huge demand for cybersecurity professionals the world over.

That out of the way, let us shine light on how to become a cybersecurity expert.

5 Tips to Becoming a Cybersecurity Expert

The following tips will come in handy whether you’re starting out, already in an IT job or transitioning from another career/industry.

Get Technical Background

While you don’t need god-level coding or highly technical skills to break into an IT career, most employers require cybersecurity candidates to hold an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree. As such, strive to gain as much technical background as you can to compete and land your dream job.

To compete favorably in the job market, a degree in cyber security is most favorable, though a degree in computer science, IT, network administration or a related field will also do. If you’re transitioning from a different industry or career, you can take post-graduate courses and certifications to gain the cybersecurity skills and experience.

You can even start out at the helpdesk in an IT company or apply to an internship. Afterward, you can take on the job training to build your skills and experience. When you’re ready, you can then transition into cybersecurity fulltime.

Get Hands-On IT Experience

But don’t stop at just getting a solid technical background; you should endeavor to gain relevant IT experience in your chosen cybersecurity vertical. That internship we mentioned previously can be great starting point to gain experience.

On top of that, take on personal projects where you can learn more by practice and self-study. For instance, don’t shy away from the idea of installing VirtualBox on your computer. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, VirtualBox is an opensource tool that helps you to deploy virtual machines on your computer.

The tool allows you to practice with the best security distributions such as Kali and Web Security Dojo among others. In other words, VirtualBox allows you to build virtual machines and test how things work like an expert system administrator.

Specialize

Cybersecurity is a broad field with many different positions. To shine as a cybersecurity expert, you can’t afford to be a jack of all trades. The best course of action is to acquire general IT knowledge, and when you know what you’re passionate about, pick one area of specialization.

Are you passionate about webs security? It doesn’t to learn more about other fields, but then specialize in web security. Are you into network security? Go for it, and don’t look back. Again, your choice depends on your passions, skills, certifications, and experiences, so choose wisely.

“There is increasing specialization, at least in job titles in the security space. Reading and learning about security as a practice is important and necessary.” – Robert Stratton, Information Security Entrepreneur

Get Industry Certifications

Cybersecurity certifications give you an upper hand in the job market, and that’s a fact. They offer you additional skills, experience and allow you to compete favorably. While a degree looks great during interviews, professional certifications greatly increase your chances of getting the job.

There are many certifications out there for aspiring cybersecurity experts. They include SSCP, CompTIA Security+, CISSP (this is popular), CISA, CISM, CCNA, CEH, ESCA, CySA+ and the list is endless. Follow the links to learn more about each certification.

Don’t stop, get as many certifications as you possibly can keeping in mind some certifications are more suited for some cybersecurity positions than others. All the same, keep stacking up those certifications because they will come in handy in interviews and after you land the job.

Network

Cybersecurity professionals don’t live in a bubble. If anything, most cybersecurity specialists work in a team setting. It’s much easier to become a cybersecurity expert if you invest time and resources in building real relationships with other security professionals.

This is exactly why many organizations invest in annual networking events and conferences. Grab the opportunity and attend events such as Defcon and Hackathons among others. On top of that, take advantage of social media to reach out to other security expert. 

However, don’t network in a cheesy here-is-my-business-card kind of way. Invest in the relationships, and give back more than you take away. Over time, you will develop a solid network that catapults your cybersecurity career to greater heights.

Bonus Points

  • Work on your soft skills – communication skills, time management, creative thinking, teamwork, conflict resolution and so on.
  • Keep learning – read like crazy because cybersecurity is a fast-changing environment. Read and read some more – both technical (or non-fiction) and fiction material to expand your mind. Take advantage of the information on the internet.

Conclusion

A career in cybersecurity is both exciting and lucrative. There is huge demand for top talent, which means it’s important to learn all you can about becoming not just a cybersecurity professional, but a revered expert that every employer wants.

We hope the above tips will point you in the direction, but if you have any questions, please let us know in the comments. Cheers to your success!

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