Starting a Career in Cyber Security
Written by Edmar Nogueira, Lead Network Security Engineer at Technium
Take a moment to imagine yourself entering a public library in a different town. Your goal is to find a book that you will thoroughly enjoy, and the book must be about a man. That should be easy, right? Well, where would you start? Fiction? Non-fiction? Biographies? Finding a path in cyber security can be just as a daunting task. One of the biggest questions is, “Where do I start if I want to work in cyber security?”. In a world where economies can change like the ocean tide, some of us turn to the field of cyber security for, well, the security (Get it? Fine, I will see myself out!). But seriously, I am sure that you have heard some crazy statistics of how cyber security is one of the fields with the best career outlooks and best paying jobs. It was no different in my case. After a lot of research on which career field could provide me and my future family with the best chance of success, I ended up choosing cyber security. (Sorry to disappoint if you were looking for a flashier reason.)
The point of this article is to try to shed some light, and perhaps assist you as you consider this field. Whatever your current circumstance may be, or how old you are, you can still take action steps into this field that desperately needs dedicated and hungry people. I decided that I wanted my career in security to meet two requirements:
- I wanted to start with something a bit technical to challenge myself.
- I did not want to be pushing papers (i.e. compliance and risk management).
That was literally it! That is all I knew about what I wanted my career to be. I kept researching until I came across a YouTube channel about Network Engineering, and how many people who have pursued this track have been successful. Although I had absolutely no idea what my long-term goal was, learning the basics of networking made sense to me and met my two requirements. I started self-studying for the Cisco CCENT (now retired), and before achieving it, Technium took a chance on me. They saw a knowledge-hungry person who promised to put in the time to learn. Fast forward to almost two years later, and I now work as a Team Lead Network Security Engineer with an amazing team of dedicated engineers.
The reality of the matter is, there is no clear cut, or right/wrong path into cyber security–I am still figuring out where I want my career to take me. I realized that it is okay to not know and to figure things out as they come, as long as I am taking action steps to learn.
The biggest career advice I can give you would be:
- Take some time to research the possibilities and identify some things that appeal to you
- Define what action steps you can take TODAY
- Come up with a 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month plan:
- The 3 months will get you into a studying routine
- The 6 months will keep you studying
- The 12 months will make it a lifestyle
- Be humble, be hungry, be honorable
- Figure out your W.W.W:
- Why are you doing this?
- What do you want to achieve through it?
- Who do you want to become?
- Always assume you are the least smartest person in the room and be ready to learn!
As you dedicate time to learning new skills, you will identify what you like and do not like; you can then shift your goals accordingly. A career in an ever-changing field like cyber security is a never-ending learning process.
Deciding between keeping IT security tasks in-house or relying on a partner with specialized expertise, can be compared to managing home improvement projects. There are many things you can try to repair using the Do-It-Yourself approach. If everything goes just right, you might save yourself some money, and hopefully, you’ve got time left over to relax. But what if everything goes wrong?