Who wouldn’t want to learn how to become a cyber security specialist? At this point in history it’s hard to imagine a cooler job. Is there any other white-collar industry where frontline employees regularly do virtual battle with hardened criminals or foreign governments? Cyber security is at the forefront of the national conversation, and there’s frankly an astonishing need for more experts in the field. Interested?
Again, due to the relative lack of information security professionals in the field, it’s actually somewhat easier to get your foot in the door than one might think. A degree will give you a head start, as well as a certification known as a CISSP (more on this later), but a surprising number of individuals learn on the job. Even if you’ve studied with another industry in mind, it’s never too late to learn how to become a cyber security specialist. Here’s what you’ll need.
Do You Need A Specialized Degree to Learn How to Become a Cyber Security Specialist?
Information security is a relatively new career. Most of the people who we’d consider to be veterans in the field don’t have any kind of specialized degree in cybersecurity—because when they got started, colleges weren’t even offering majors in that area. Today, of course, there are a great many college courses specializing in information security. If you have a degree in computer science, it shouldn’t be hard to get a job right out of college—but a degree isn’t the be-all or end-all.
Basically, if you can program, if you understand systems administration, or if you’re a certified network engineer, then you can get into the ground floor of information security. These certifications aren’t difficult to come by. Trade schools and night schools offer TCP certification, for networking, as well as certifications like the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer).
For programming, one can follow the same route, but good coders are in high demand. A number of coding bootcamps have emerged that teach students the fundamentals of programming languages in a short amount of time. There are even a couple of specialized cybersecurity code academies which purport to have a high graduation rate. For the programming route, we’d suggest learning languages such as assembly, C, and Java—many common exploits use these languages as well.
What About the CISSP Certification?
The CISSP is only one of a number of certifications which confirm that the bearer is an expert in the field of information security. While getting this certification is important if you want to unlock more senior roles in the field, it’s not a prerequisite. In fact, applicants need five years of experience in the field before getting a CISSP—and getting a college degree in cybersecurity only waives one year of that requirement.
In short, cybersecurity is a discipline that still values on-the job experience over education, and presents multiple opportunities for candidates of any age or skill-set to board a relatively short on-ramp into the industry. Once you learn how to become a cyber security specialist, consider taking a look at the resources SentinelOne can offer to make your life easier, such as our report, “Replacing Antivirus and Doing it Right: A CISO Perspective.”