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How to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist

January 15, 2021
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You may have heard that people can get hired in cybersecurity without much training. Take a moment to consider how much security those people can really ensure. Few of us, if any, would want our city’s or country’s infrastructure to rest in the care of those with cursory education. Fewer still would want to be the person who’s ill-equipped to come through when real skill is urgently needed.

With a comprehensive background in cybersecurity, you can enjoy an enviable career as a leader in the field. Use these guidelines as you consider how to become a cybersecurity specialist.

Train with the best.

If you were looking to protect your home, family or business, would you entrust it to someone who hadn’t become as trained and prepared as possible, or would you hire the candidate with in-depth knowledge gained from authorities in the field? Your education goes a long way toward determining your skills and hiring appeal. Choose your training program carefully, prioritizing study with highly experienced professionals—certified, well-connected industry veterans—to ensure that you bring the utmost expertise to your work.

Understand how your role functions within the larger organization.

On a foundational level, your education in cybersecurity will equip you to ensure that computer hardware and software systems perform as intended while remaining safe from attack. Knowing how to safeguard a network is a solid start, but it won’t set you apart as a leader. To become a true specialist and a surefire hiring choice, study cybersecurity in a program that focuses on business skills as well as technical ones. In choosing your program, consider the big-picture expertise that will make you stand out to an employer:

  • The ability to apply your technical skills in a wide range of settings
  • Fluency in identifying, prioritizing and resolving challenges
  • Successful strategic planning
  • Effective change management
  • Leadership skills
  • The communication skills to advise and train colleagues in best practices
  • The interpersonal skills to help others develop their potential

Obtain the proper industry certifications.

Becoming credentialed in certain products or groups of products can increase your hiring appeal, and different employers require different certifications. The many available certification options include these:

This is a basic certification that covers the topics of risk management and threat assessment.

This foundational certification focuses on networking infrastructure and operations.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
This certification is designed for cybersecurity professionals with at least five years of work experience. It covers topics such as architecture, engineering, and management.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
This advanced certification also requires years of work experience. It certifies threat assessment and mitigation skills resulting from the understanding of how cyber attacks unfold.

Although you may be able to sit for some of these exams after on-the-job training or a short course, a robust master's program will prepare you to add multiple specialized credentials to your resume.

Reinforce your education with experience.

Just as you’d want a seasoned professional to protect your home and business, potential employers will value the experience on your resume, in addition to your education and certification.

Every past instance of relevant work, whether in IT or computer science, will make you a more attractive choice. Internships and paid positions in either field demonstrate that you’re not a novice, and that you bring real-world knowledge and insight to your new position.

Prior experience carries an important additional benefit. Each position is a chance to build relationships with colleagues. They become your professional network and together, you help each other solve problems on the job, pursue opportunities for new employment, and develop ideas that elevate the quality of cybersecurity overall.

Keep up with current developments.

Perhaps more than in any other field, unpreparedness in cybersecurity can have disastrous results. The industry is constantly changing, so it’s essential that you stay up to date on current events and technology. On your own time, utilize industry press to keep educating yourself on the latest threats and innovations.

Put the finest training into your work.

The people and systems you’ll be hired to protect rely on your knowledge and experience to keep them safe. Come through for them by earning your MS in Cybersecurity online from the Katz School of Science and Health.Our well-rounded curriculum in up-to-the-minute protocols and procedures equips you for leadership as an operator and a decision-maker.