How To Excel In The Cyber Security Industry


Cyber security is a field that many people are turning to and it is easy to see why. Cyber security plays an incredibly important role in modern day society and impacts all areas of life. There are many jobs in this field and it is predicted that there will be 3.5 million unfilled jobs in cyber security by 2021. While this is excellent news for those looking for a career here, it is important to be aware that there will be a surge to fill these gaps and it will become a competitive industry in the years to come, so you will need to know how to succeed and stand out. Read on to find out more.

Grasp The Basic Skills

When starting on the journey of a career in cyber security, the key at first is to master the basic skills. This will involve having a firm knowledge of networks, basic computer knowledge and knowing at least one computer language. This will give you the springboard that you need to go on to find work and succeed in the cyber security industry.

Develop Your Soft Skills

There is a lot of focus placed on the technical skills when it comes to cyber security. While these are essential and you will not succeed without them, you must not overlook the importance of having excellent soft skills which are just as important. It is an area that people sometimes forget about, but in order to succeed in cyber security you need to have strong soft skills. This will involve communication skills so that you can communicate effectively with the businesses that you work with, time-management skills so that you are able to manage your workload and problem-solving skills so that you can think creatively and provide the best possible protection for each individual project.

Develop Strong Work Habits

Following on from this, cyber security is not an industry where you can come in and put your feet up and do the bare minimum each day. You will be working in a stressful, fast-paced environment where there is a lot riding on the work that you do, which means that you need to be able to come in and give 100% every day. Therefore, you need to develop strong work habits and have enthusiasm and passion for what you do – in addition to helping you to get more out of the job, this will also help you to stand out from the crowd and could help you to climb the ladder.

Earn A Master’s Cyber Security Degree

Qualification is obviously important in terms of finding work and climbing the ladder so it is important to bolster your resume with a cyber security degree. A master’s cyber security degree is an excellent option because it will develop both your technical and soft skills along with proficiency in AI, secure software design, networking, data mining, penetration testing and other key areas. A master’s cyber security degree will also help you to secure the higher positions, stand out to employers and command a higher salary. You can also earn the master’s cyber security degree entirely online, allowing you to balance your work and study and allowing you to go at your own pace.

Choose A Path

Once you have a cyber security degree, you might want to think about what path you want to choose. Cyber security is a very broad industry with many different areas to specialise in. A few of the main area include:

  • Ethical hacking
  • Security analyst
  • Network security engineer
  • Security administrator
  • Artificial intelligence security specialist
  • Cloud security architect

Once you have chosen a path, you can then find out the best way to progress down this path and climb the ladder.

Develop Broad Expertise

While it certainly is important to pick a path when it comes to cyber security roles, you should also make sure that you have a broad expertise in the fields of cyber security, tech, IT and business. Having a well-rounded skillset will help you to stand out from the crowd as well as tombe able to tackle projects from different points of view. This might mean that extra study and earning additional qualifications in the above areas could help you to excel in your role as well as advance your career.

Be A Team Player Capable Of Working Independently

Cyber security can be a challenging environment to work in and no two days are ever the same. You need to be able to work as part of a team but you may also spend a lot of your time working independently so you need to excel in both of these areas. If you want to climb the ladder and reach the top, you also need to be capable of demonstrating leadership skills so try to develop these and then find ways to demonstrate them in your role – this could involve acting as a mentor, taking the lead on group projects or discussing solutions with management.

Work In An Area That Excites You

As mentioned, cyber security has presence in just about every industry and area of life in today’s day and age. In a time where people and businesses rely so heavily on the internet and data, protection is needed in all areas especially with the growing threat of cyber crime. This means that you can work in practically any sector, so it is a good idea to find an area that excites you and you have a passion for. Of course, you can also choose to work at a cyber security firm which will allow you to work with all kinds of businesses and handle important projects which can be exciting.

Be Able To See The Big Picture

Following this point, in order to reach the top in a career in cyber security, you need to be able to see the big picture outside of the limitations of your specific role. You need to be able to see the situation from the client/business’s point of view and understand that for them, good cyber security will simply allow them to go about their business each and every day and that you are not their priority. This can be hard to understand, especially when threats are so prevalent and dangerous, but from the business point of view, they are more concerned about running successfully and their bottom line than cyber security.

Build Trust With Clients

Leading on from this, as a cyber security professional, you also need to build and maintain relationships with clients and develop trust. They will be entrusting you with the security of their business, so they will want to know that they are in safe hands. As mentioned before, good communication skills will be important for this along with presenting yourself in a professional manner by dressing smartly, taking pride in personal hygiene and retaining professionalism at all times. Additionally, much like any type of relationship, it needs to be nurtured over time, so always take the time to get to know clients even if it is just some small talk.

Build As Much Experience As Possible

Even with a reputable cyber security degree, you might struggle if you are unable to show any experience to employers. This creates a difficult situation for those entering the industry, but there are always ways to gain experience including internships, working in IT teams and providing cyber security for freelancers/new startups. 

Stay Current

You also need to be able to stay current in this industry because it changes so fast. Having a cyber security degree will help you to develop the relevant skills, but cyber security professionals must commit to staying up to date on the latest developments and threats so that they can stay relevant and know how to protect people and businesses from the latest threats. Reading blogs, attending cyber security events and joining online communities are just a few ways that you can go about doing this. This may also require having to develop new skills from time-to-time in order to stay relevant and in-demand as the needs of the industry change.

You Need To Learn To Manage Stress

If you are the type of person that is unable to work while under stress then this is not the right industry for you. Cyber security is an incredibly stressful field to work in and the stakes will be high – sometimes, you will be working with highly sensitive data and may even require clearance which can be exciting, but does mean that the work is stressful. You need to be able to handle pressure, be ok with people shouting at you and be able to stay calm in the middle of a crisis. While these tend to be characteristics, you can learn how to manage your stress which will help if you think that this is an area that you might struggle with.

Look After Yourself Outside Of Work

Following this point, you also need to know how to look after yourself outside of work. Cyber security is not a typical 9-5 and there will be times where you are on call, so it can be hard to switch off and enjoy time away from work. The key is to make the most out of your time, lead an active and healthy lifestyle, find ways to de-stress and try to keep your work and professional life as separate as possible. Burnout is common in this industry but can be avoided when you know how to look after yourself outside of work along with learning how to manage your stress at work.

Make Your Applications Stand Out

As mentioned, it is true that there are shortages in cyber security and it is predicted that there will be 350% growth in open cyber security positions from 2013 to 2021 but it is important to be aware that it will become competitive. Cyber security can be a rewarding, lucrative and secure field to work in so there will be a rush in the coming years to fill these gaps so it is important that you know how to make your applications stand out from the crowd. 

Obviously, having relevant experience and a good cyber security degree is important, but you can also stand out from the crowd by creating a portfolio of your work along with collating reviews and testimonials from people or businesses that you have worked both with and for. You should also be tailoring your application to each individual job role and work on your interview technique – remember that communication skills are just as important as technical skills so you need to demonstrate these in the interview and be able to present yourself well. If you are unsuccessful with any applications, be sure to ask for feedback and take what they have to say onboard.

Build Your Professional Network

Much like in any industry, having a large professional network is useful for increasing your professional reputation and making contacts that could help you in your career will be important. Your cyber security degree is a good time to start to build your professional network along with any experience that you already have, but you can increase your professional network by attending relevant industry events and online – there are lots of excellent cyber security online communities where you can make helpful connections as well as get support in your career.

Hopefully, the information in this post will help you to excel and stand out from the crowd in a cyber security role. Cyber security is a growing field and there is a big job gap to fill. There are many perks such as great job security, focusing on important and rewarding work, and lucrative salaries, but it will become competitive and this is work which not everyone will be well-suited to and will require a range of skills to succeed so it is important that you know how to excel and find success.


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