Are you contemplating a career in cyber security? If you approach the challenge with patience and plan your career path ahead of time, you’ll greatly increase the chances of success. There’s been no better time to enter this exciting, growing field. With each passing day, and frequent news headlines about this or that company getting hit by hackers and digital criminals, the demand for trained, experienced cyber security workers is higher than it’s ever been. If you’re set on getting in on the growth phase of the industry, learn the basics, know how to finance a pertinent education, and understand some of the key facts about selecting a major and finding a job after graduation.
Careers in this field are wide open, meaning that if you have the right credentials and training, you can choose from dozens of different tracks, types of work, and locations. Many professionals work from home but are often required to visit physical office locations a couple times per week. Whether you work from a home-based office or a traditional corporate space depends on the nature and sensitivity of your particular job.
Getting Your Degree
If you choose to acquire a formal degree in a cyber security subject area, one of the first things to do is arrange to pay for your education. Fortunately, you can take out a student loan with a private lender and cover the costs for a degree in this field. One of the other advantages of opting for private student loans is that they offer competitive terms, excellent rates, and reasonable repayment periods. Getting and paying for a college degree are two pieces of the puzzle. Make sure you get the money question, the first piece, taken care of before tacking the second.
For undergraduate study, try to select a broad-based major like computer programming or anything IT-related. That kind of coursework will give you a solid general knowledge of the field and get you into the door at companies who hire fresh graduates. However, keep in mind that your best bet for landing the best positions is getting a master’s degree in IT, computer engineering, computer assurance, cyber engineering or operations, computer science, or even an MBA with a focus on IT and/or cyber security.
Certifications and Experience
To hiring managers, the ideal candidates have a mixture of education, experience, and certifications. When it comes to experience, you can take a bit of a shortcut by interning during college. Employers don’t care whether you were paid or not for your past jobs in the industry. What they do care about is that your duties were connected to the overall digital security function. When you search for summer internships during college or grad school, aim for those that will fit nicely with your goal of landing a paying job later on. Consider obtaining one, two, or all three of the most in-demand certifications, in addition to your schooling and job experience. The three are CISSP, CISA, and CISM, defined as CI (certified information), SSP (systems security professional), SA (systems auditor), and SM (security manager).