Consult almost any career-related publication these days and you will find that jobs in tech-related fields like cybersecurity remain among the top choices for career advancement, satisfaction, and growth. With so many people flocking toward these hot job opportunities, how do you set your résumé apart from the others, especially if you are a newcomer to the field?
The main decision you can make is to create a strategy that includes three key elements: securing a high quality education; engaging in relevant work/internship/mentoring experiences; and developing a specialty that will be that special panache to let a prospective employer know that you will do what it takes to stay ahead of the competition.
Many online degree programs offer students the opportunity to obtain a quality education from an accredited college while remaining in the workforce. Professionals in IT who want to transition into a cybersecurity related field may use additional coursework to leverage themselves into a new position in their current company. Many businesses and governmental bodies are in need of employees with cybersecurity knowledge and may offer tuition assistance for such training.
The most sought after jobs often require advanced degrees which can be obtained over time. In addition to building a strong foundation by enrolling in a nationally ranked and regionally accredited program, many professionals also utilize the training and networking power of professional organizations. Professional organizations’ websites are often a clearinghouse of knowledge regarding a multi-faceted array of information related to the associated field.
The Center for Internet Security and the Information Systems Security Association are two professional organizations offering conferences, networking possibilities, webinars, and other relevant links to more information of great value to working professionals in the field and those looking to increase important career connections. In addition, students may find links to student internships, volunteer opportunities and other related items through professional organizations like those mentioned above or by looking at related governmental agencies’ websites such as the Department of Homeland Security who offer some of the most prestigious internships in the field.
Depending on your personality, career goals, travel desires, and education level, you can tailor a specialty in the field that can help serve to give you that competitive edge employers are seeking. If you are a people person for example, training others on best practice cybersecurity protocol and software might be for you. Or if you have impeccable programming skills, you might consider developing your programming expertise with cybersecurity specialties in mind. Some cybersecurity specialists own their own business and consult with companies seeking to increase the security of their website applications. In addition, those professionals with strong administrative skills may lead a team who handles a particular sub set of cybersecurity like database management for large multi-national corporations. Still others work with configurations of hardware to support cybersecurity operations. Those professionals interested in criminal justice may pursue the legal end of cyber attacks and end up working as field agents under high security clearance at clandestine locations around the world. The great strength of this field is that there are many opportunities for advancement and for evolving into different job descriptions over the course of your professional lifetime.
Whether you wish to transition into cybersecurity at your current employment location, or you wish to change careers all together, or maybe even work internationally, you need a plan. In order to get the most out of your tuition dollars it is important to seek coursework at a highly respected program taught by leaders in the field.
While pursuing coursework, it is important to seek out opportunities for internships, volunteer opportunities, mentoring, and other situations that will put you in contact with current cybersecurity professionals. Connecting with others will probably help you uncover a specialty that you can develop to help set your résumé apart from the rest.
Utilizing a strategy with strong short range and long range goals can help you build a career plan that will demonstrate to prospective employers that you are willing to go the extra mile to be the best you can be in a field where being the best means staying ahead of cyber criminals and keeping your company and their interests out of harm’s way. While the process of becoming a cybersecurity expert is rigorous, it is one of the most rewarding IT jobs available with great potential for professional growth, travel, and prestige.