How to Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience
Cybersecurity has become one of the most popular career fields in the world. With technology becoming an ever more present part of our lives, the need for cybersecurity professionals to secure and maintain our data is big business.
In fact, in the last six years alone, job postings in this field are said to have risen by 94%, with postings set to continue to rise throughout the new decade. This makes cybersecurity an excellent job field to become a part of, as it almost guarantees job security and the option to further your career path.
This increase in demand has made the field of cybersecurity a rather competitive landscape, with more people than ever vying for a place in the industry. The increase has also caused many people to consider a career in cybersecurity, despite not having any experience.
If you are wondering whether you too can get a career in cybersecurity without experience, the simple answer is no. The reality is that in order to make it as a cybersecurity professional, you will need to gain the necessary skills and experience from somewhere. Fortunately, there are a number of different ways to obtain this experience and in this guide, we’ll be discussing the most prominent.
Whether you have been interested in the subject from an early age, or you are completely new to the topic, we are confident this guide will be of use to you. So without further ado, let’s get stuck into how you can get into cybersecurity without experience.
Having a technical background in a related area
You might not have any cybersecurity experience. However, knowledge in another area of computing such as programming or networking can still go a long way. The reason for this is that many of the technologies in computing are applicable in many areas, giving you a head start when it comes to learning the security aspects of the subject.
For example, if you already have programming experience, it will be far easier for you to notice malicious code, as you will have a decent idea of what it will look like. Networking knowledge will also allow you to better navigate between servers and other networked machines, which is very useful if you have been tasked with attempting to hack a company computer or system.
Another key area of cybersecurity is the web, due to both the connectivity and complexity it provides. These two aspects of the internet make it a primary tool for hackers to exploit, meaning it is imperative that cybersecurity professionals are well equipped to deal with these threats and attacks. This puts web developers in a great position to transition into cybersecurity, as their knowledge of web technologies will likely already be vast and extensive.
Another key area of computing right now is cloud computing. This technology involves setting up remote storage for users, as well as virtual machines and other tools. The idea behind it is that it somewhat eliminates the need for people to spend large amounts of money on powerful computers, as they are able to offload much of the processing and storage demands onto cloud machines instead.
As you can imagine, this makes cloud machines attractive targets for hackers, as the potential information they contain could be highly valuable. This has created a demand for cybersecurity professionals that specialize in this field, meaning anyone with prior knowledge of cloud computing could potentially transition into one of these roles with relative ease.
Obtain a degree
The obvious way to get into cybersecurity is by obtaining a degree in the field. However, this can be difficult to do if you are starting from scratch, as you may find yourself getting rejected from various institutions. Fortunately, not all universities require prior experience in cybersecurity, although, you will probably need to have decent high school grades and hold qualifications related to other areas of computing.
Obtaining a degree may require a rather substantial investment, but the pay off can be massive. For example, many of the best jobs in the industry are only available to degree holders. On top of this, university graduates also typically get higher salaries, due to the advanced knowledge and skills they are expected to possess.
From an educational perspective, obtaining a degree is also worthwhile, as it allows you to build a thorough understanding of the subject, learning about many different aspects of the craft as you progress through the program. They are also a great way to build a strong work ethic, as you are forced to work for yourself rather than for a paycheck.
The difficulty when it comes to earning a degree is whether or not you are in a position to make the investment. For example, if you are already the main breadwinner in your household and you have a family to look after, going back into education might not be an option for you.
If this is the case, earning a degree might not be a viable option for you. However, this doesn’t mean your chances of getting into cybersecurity are ruined, as the next section offers a fantastic alternative to this more traditional method.
Obtain professional certifications
If a degree is off the table for you, or you feel you need other qualifications to bolster your resume, professional certifications are the way to go. These qualifications are designed to be completed in a much shorter space of time than a conventional degree program, often focusing on key areas of a subject, rather than the topic as a whole.
When it comes to cybersecurity, there are many of these certifications available, tackling all of the key areas of the craft including, ethical hacking, digital forensics, security analysis, and cryptography. This makes certifications a great option to go for if you are already sure for the career path you wish to pursue, as you can tailor your skills and expertise to that area.
Professional certifications also provide a cheaper alternative to most degree programs. However, many of them are still costly investments nonetheless. This makes them less viable if you don’t have much money to spare. However, professional funding may be available depending on your situation.
Many graduates also choose to pursue professional certifications as a way to get ahead of the pack when it comes to applying for the top jobs in the field. Usually, these jobs will require candidates to hold a degree as well as various certifications to prove their credibility, making them more of a necessity rather than an option if you are aspiring to get a well-respected position within the industry.
Below are some of the most popular cybersecurity certifications available right now:
One of the most popular cybersecurity certifications is the CompTIA Security+ certification. This qualification is designed to teach you how to identify security threats and other vulnerabilities and is recommended as one of the first certifications a practitioner should look to obtain. The program also covers other aspects of the craft such as security hardware and software, as well as risk management and cryptography.
Another hugely popular certification is the CEH certification, which is geared toward aspiring penetration testers and ethical hackers. The CEH certification is also recommended as one of the first certifications you should look to obtain, as many more advanced certifications build on the material it covers.
The ECSA certification is an example of one such certification that follows on from CEH, focusing on slightly more advanced topics related to penetration testing and social engineering. This certification also teaches you how to effectively write up reports detailing your findings, which is an often overlooked aspect of a penetration tester’s job role.
CISSP is slightly different from the other certification we have mentioned, as it doesn’t focus on any one particular area of cybersecurity, but instead aims to teach you a variety of computing skills related to cybersecurity. This makes it a great certification if you haven’t earned a degree, as it will cover many of the basic aspects of the discipline.
The last certification on this list is the GXPN certification from GIAC. GXPN is an advanced program targeted at professionals who are looking to bolster their skillset with more state-of-the-art penetration testing techniques, including advanced fuzzing, cryptography, and stack smashing. One other thing to note about this certification is that it is also very expensive compared to the other options we have mentioned, making it a hefty investment if you are unable to receive professional funding.
The last method for obtaining cybersecurity experience is self-learning. This method essentially relies on you to teach yourself the skills you need by watching YouTube tutorials and other sources of education on the internet. Books on the subject are also useful. However, they tend to be rather expensive, especially if you buy them new.
Fortunately, when it comes to cybersecurity, there are plenty of online resources available to supplement your learning, and many of them are free. This makes self-learning the cheapest option in this guide by some margin. However, it is worth noting that the quality of your learning largely depends on you and your commitment when taking this approach, as it can be easy to adopt a lazy work ethic when you have no strict deadlines in place.
If you are interested in self-learning, below are some of the best resources available online to boost your experience.
TryHackMe is an online platform designed to teach penetration testing and ethical hacking through various challenges. Many of these challenges involve attempting to hack into a virtual machine of some sort and capturing certain information known as flags.
Unlike some of the other options below, TryHackMe provides a far less structured method of learning. However, its practical approach is well suited to those who prefer to get stuck in, rather than getting bogged down in theory.
Cybrary is a platform offering various online courses focused on different areas of cybersecurity. Many of its courses are not only free but excellently structured, giving you clear learning outcomes and a route of progression. Each course is also ranked in terms of difficulty, making it easy to decide where to start when you first sign up on the website.
Coursera is one of the most popular online course platforms in the world. Providing courses on a variety of different topics, Coursera differs from the other options above, as it is not specifically geared towards cybersecurity enthusiasts. However, despite its broader approach, the platform still offers plenty of cybersecurity courses, teaching key skills from a variety of areas within the discipline.
One website that is often overlooked when it comes to learning cybersecurity is the official website of the US Department of Homeland Security. This site is a great resource for learning cybersecurity as it provides a variety of different courses, as well as plenty of other useful information, including relevant techniques and methodologies related to the craft. All of the information on this website is also free, making it a fantastic option if you are on a budget.