First steps into Cyber Security

A rapid growth information technology has seen a much greater need for cyber security. Organisations must have security systems in place for the safety of their software and network, and cyber security is an area with rapidly growing demand for suitable candidates.  The importance of creating suitably equipped cyber security candidates is now being recognised in more university and colleges. There are now more courses with a cyber security focus available for you to choose from and start you on your way to a successful cyber security career. But what is a cyber security specialist, and how do you become one?

What is a Cyber Security Specialist?

A cyber security specialist is someone that plays a critical role in securing IT systems. They work to monitor, detect, investigate, analyse and respond to security incidents, protecting IT systems from vulnerabilities and threats. 

If you have entry level qualifications for this challenging role, you will generally start completing junior-level tasks and come to the role with a broad knowledge base to complete the many technical and administrative functions required by the department.  

Whilst the role may initially be for a junior it certainly provides opportunities for individuals seeking to learn more and progress through the ranks to more senior roles over time.  It is an ideal introduction to the roles within cyber security allowing an opportunity to gain experience and broaden knowledge.

What work will a Cyber Security Specialist be involved with?

You will carry out the more junior administration and assist senior colleagues to analyse the various security systems used.  You will learn how to create, test and implement new systems as well as develop skills to identify potential vulnerabilities, conduct vulnerability testing and become familiar with effective means to prevent and intervene in security attacks.  

As knowledge and experience are gained it is likely that the position will see you involved with training new employees and ensuring the organisation administrators have the required information on the security status of the company.

How can I get a job as a Cyber Security Specialist?

Junior level positions within an organisation may require less specific formal qualifications. However, you will certainly require a high educational standard and a strong interest in information technology.  With growing competition, individuals with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Technology or Cybersecurity demonstrating digital and computer forensic, database design and cryptology skills may have the edge. 

Industry certification such as Network Security Administrator or base-level security certification may be sufficient for entry-level positions, where you can be trained or gain further qualifications on the job if required by your organisation. 

Having a good all-round education and gaining work experience in information technology or computer science will help add to your chances finding jobs in cyber security.

Refine your skills

As well as specific industry certifications and experience, you should gain an understanding of various operating systems, coding practices and how to identify vulnerabilities and report on them, as well as computer routing and switching, to demonstrate an interest in the hard skills required to be an effective cyber security specialist.

Improving your soft skills, such as communication and the ability to work under pressure is invaluable too, not just for cyber security roles, but to give you the edge and stand out over other candidates. 

Show your skills

Create a strong CV showing not just your formal qualifications but be sure to include a well thought out statement showing how your technical skills and personal qualities are transferable. Excellent written skills could help secure an interview and your oral and analytical problem-solving skills could help secure your first cyber security job, allowing you to learn on the job and strive to become a specialist in this exciting industry.