Getting Started in a Cybersecurity Career

There is tremendous interest in launching a career in cybersecurity. Figuring out where to start is the hard part. Search “cybersecurity” in Google and you will over 97 million results. This sea of information is completely overwhelming. I have been approached for advice on the topic of how to get started many times and now that I’m on a plane for a few hours it seems like a good time to compile my thoughts.

It is no secret that we need more people in the field of cybersecurity, see One Million Cybersecurity Job Openings In 2016. Nothing has changed since that publication went out. In fact, the need only continues to grow.

The lure of working in cybersecurity is easy to understand. Six-figure salaries are not uncommon. For those who are interested in supporting a mission, you can do this by working for the government or military. Perks like working from home and unlimited leave are not uncommon. These were all things that drew me to the field.

So now that you know the demand is there, the money is good and you can make a difference if that is your thing, how do you evaluate the different career options? My favorite resource for this is the Cybersecurity Workforce Framework. The framework organizes cybersecurity careers into different categories and breaks down the associated jobs, tasks, as well as associated knowledge, skills and abilities.

I remember when I was a total noob in cybersecurity, just like everyone else starting out. My friend Jason patiently explained the difference between an EC Council C|EH certification and the ISC2 CISSP when I didn’t have a clue about either. It’s easy to forget those days and just how little I understood the industry, but I keep reminding myself in order to stay empathic and relevant to those I am mentoring now.

Networking, personal branding, education and training, certifications, and cybersecurity competitions helped me launch my career. Over the next few posts I will touch on each of these areas in more detail.

Originally posted on LinkedIn in November 2016. Updated for Medium in November 2018.

Security researcher, educator and business owner in the field of cybersecurity. Advocate of diversity in tech.

Security researcher, educator and business owner in the field of cybersecurity. Advocate of diversity in tech.