How to build a successful information security career

When it comes to choosing your path to work in cyber security there are a number of routes you can take.

Starting at school and going into higher education, there are many subjects that you can learn which will prepare you for a career in cyber security including maths, computer science and automation. These subjects will teach you transferable skills that will stand you in good stead for your chosen career such as problem solving, coding and design. On a basic level, having a keen interest in how technology works is recognised by employers as an attribute of the best cyber security professionals.

So provided you’ve studied the right subjects and developed some key skills, you’re now ready for an entry level position - just make sure that you choose a role which will give you the security-related experience that you’re after.

The employers we work with suggest that the beginnings of an info sec career normally start with a job, internship or apprenticeship which offers the chance to grasp day-to-day IT procedures and allows you to implement what you’ve learnt from your studies in a real business environment. From working in IT, you will start to gain a key understanding of networks, coding, database management, administering and configuring systems.

Once you’re on the IT career ladder, there are many roles which will hone the skills and knowledge you have which you can then transfer to a job in security. The list is endless but includes computer programmer, computer software engineer, computer support specialist, computer systems analyst, database administrator, IT technician, IT technical support, IT customer service, network administrator, network engineer, network systems & data analyst, system administrator and web administrator.

With so many options, it can be difficult to know where to make your next move. It helps to think ahead to 5-10 years’ time before you make your decision so that you don’t limit the path that your career can take in the future. Security is a growing and vast area so think about what field you might want to go into in the future. Here are some examples of roles which could lead onto a specialist role in security:

  • Web developer: this can lead to a role in web security or as a security software developer.
  • Network administrator: this can lead to a role in network security or network forensics.
  • System administrator: could transpire into a career as a security administrator or forensics.
  • Exchange administrator: can lead to a role within email security.

Your progress doesn’t have to stop at this level. Businesses are increasingly realising the importance of protecting their networks, systems and data and are therefore starting to invest in management level roles such as InfoSec managers, IT lead auditors and GRC (Governance, Risk, Compliance) manager. For a role at this level, employers expect prospective candidates to demonstrate strong decision-making skills, the ability to lead and influence a team and clear communication skills. A main responsibility of these roles is to be proactive in identifying vulnerabilities and assessing how to prevent them. If an incident does occur, you will need to identify why it happened and create a plan for how to overcome the incident.

To stand out in the current security market, it is worth being aware of the current skillsets which employers are looking for including ISO27000/1, PCI-DSS, ISMS and CISSP.

To view our current cyber security vacancies please click here.

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