How To Get Into Cybersecurity With IT Experience
The cybersecurity career path offers one of the fastest-growing job outlooks for professionals with IT experience. As digital technologies advance, organizations rely on blockchain, open-source cloud environments, and data intelligence. Unfortunately, with the introduction of these new technologies, cybercriminals are making it increasingly complex for security teams to detect and prevent malicious activity and cybercrimes.
Amid the pandemic, online fraudulent activity, account takeovers, and the use of malware hit an all-time high. As a result, more organizations seek professionals who specialize in cybersecurity to protect their customer information, assets, and reputation.
Learn more about how to get into cybersecurity, including the top industry skills, certifications, job outlook, salary, and possible future of the growing industry.
Why Should I Get Into Cybersecurity?
The global security market expects to see a 14.29% consistent annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2022 through 2030. This fast-growing industry unsurprisingly has a job outlook to match. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. (BLS), information security analysts will see a 33% job growth through 2030, which is a much faster growth rate than the national average of 8%.
What Is Needed to Work in Cybersecurity?
Most cybersecurity positions require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related specialization (such as computer science or software engineering), experience in a related field, and at times, a certification. Professionals with a master’s degree or higher are more desirable hires for employers and are eligible for managerial and senior leadership roles. Organizations and employers also look for professionals with specific technical and soft skills.
Cybersecurity Job Skills
Cybersecurity professionals need both technical skills and soft skills to succeed in the cybersecurity industry. Let’s look at three skills in each category that will benefit professionals on a cybersecurity career path.
- Security Incident Handling & Response: Cybersecurity professionals are responsible for mitigating risk and responding to security attacks if and when they occur. From malware and ransomware to phishing and DDoS attacks, the ability to respond to many forms of security incidents is, of course, the number one skill for rising cybersecurity professionals.
- Operating System Acumen: Cybersecurity professionals need to grasp several operating systems, including Linus and Windows. They need to handle programming languages like Java, C/C++, and scripting languages, including PHP, Python, and Perl. As new programming languages emerge, cybersecurity professionals must be prepared to upskill and reskill.
- Data Management and Analysis: Data and analytics are increasingly tied to security risks. Cybersecurity professionals who understand how to manage and analyze data are critical players in identifying, designing, and implementing effective strategies for protecting data.
Other hard skills for cybersecurity professionals include an understanding of:
- Application Security
- Business Continuity
- Cloud Security
- Data Security
- Database and Infrastructure Security
- Disaster Recovery
- End-User Education
- End Point Security
- Identity Management
- Mobile Security
- Network Security
- Collaboration: Many cybersecurity professionals work with large teams, communicate findings to leaders and stakeholders, and lead presentations about current risks, processes, and areas for improvement. Collaboration and effective communication are two essential soft skills for cybersecurity professionals.
- Attention to Detail: Information technology involves a lot of information, from billions of data points to millions of intelligent and automatic algorithms. Although technologies can detect and streamline minute details, cybersecurity professionals must display an acute attention to detail to track changes and identify risks.
- Curiosity: One of the most exciting features of the cybersecurity career path is that the market, job requirements, and tools are constantly in flux. Those working in cybersecurity are on the frontlines of cutting-edge technology and need to learn the latest tech skills to get ahead of the risk landscape. As a result, these experts must be curious about what’s coming next and leverage this curiosity to protect individuals, organizations, and governments.
Other soft skills for cybersecurity professionals include:
- Critical Thinking
- Organizational skills
- Project management
Cybersecurity Certifications and Training
The IT industry values certifications. According to the United States News & World Report (U.S. News), 91% of employers seek an IT certification when hiring for cybersecurity roles. A Master of Science in Cybersecurity equips students to earn credentials that will improve their job prospects, including:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- AWS Solution Architect - Associate
- AWS Security Specialty
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified Network Defender (CND)
- Cisco CCNA - CyberOps
- Cisco CCNA
- CCNP Security
How Can I Transition From a Career in IT to Cybersecurity?
Completing an education in a general IT program is an excellent pathway to a career as a Computer Programmer, Software Engineer, Database Administrator, IT Technician, Network Engineer, or Web Administrator, to name a few.
However, U.S. News recently ranked an Information Security Analyst #1 in their 100 Best Jobs list. U.S. News also reports that in 2022 there will be approximately 47,100 open jobs and a median salary of $103,590 per year for cybersecurity professionals.
There's no better time to specialize in cybersecurity due to the booming job market and competitive salary opportunities. There are several tangible steps you can take to move from a career in general IT to a career in cybersecurity.
1. Train in General IT
Gain experience in a starter IT job to gain familiarity with computer science and IT applications that will support a career in cybersecurity. General IT jobs will teach the fundamentals of administering and configuring systems, networks, database management, and coding.
2. Choose a Specialization
Once you familiarize yourself with different IT specializations, ask yourself which areas interest you. For example, an interest in system administration could lead to a career in security administration. Interest in web development could result in a cybersecurity role as a web security expert or security software developer.
3. Complete an Online Master’s Degree
A Master’s in Cybersecurity will prepare you for specializations within the cybersecurity career path and to move into leadership roles. Students develop proficiency in cloud security, machine learning and AI, secure software design, networking, penetration testing, and more. In addition to these foundational topics, coursework often includes ethical hacking, enterprise security, data mining, risk management and protection, to name a few.
4. Earn a Certification
As discussed, a certification signifies to employers that you have the foundational knowledge and meet the level of industry accepted standards necessary to enter the cybersecurity industry. Most certifications require regular updates and getting certified can be expensive, however, once you have entered the field many employers will cover the cost of certifications applicable to the position. In a Master of Science in Cybersecurity, the curriculum is specially designed to prepare students to take and pass numerous certification exams.
5. Build Your Resume
The final step to pivot from a general IT career into a cybersecurity career path is to summarize your experience and skills on your resume. Include relevant IT experience, higher education, training, certifications, hard and soft skills, and your desired specialization.
What Are the Cybersecurity Career Paths?
The cybersecurity space offers professionals a wide selection of job opportunities and career paths. Comparitech outlines 25 titles that represent high-paying jobs in the booming cybersecurity industry. Those positions and their median salaries are:
- Chief Information Security Officer: $159,877
- IT Security Architect: $153,439
- Cloud Security Architect: $149,676
- Application Security Engineer: $136,209
- Information Security Manager (or Director): $126,991
- Ethical/White Hat Hacker: $119,289
- Cybersecurity Software Developer (or Engineer): $119,072
- Penetration Tester / Source Code Auditor: $116,323
- Data Privacy Officer: $114,638
- Cyber Threat Analyst: $111,432
- Cyber Incident Responder: $110,972
- Data Security Analyst: $108,065
- Security Auditor: $105,635
- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Analyst : $105,100
- Infrastructure Analyst: $102,919
- Digital/Computer Forensics Analyst: $100,063
- Information Cyber Security Analyst: $99,815
- Vulnerability Assessor
- IT/Cyber Security Administrator: $91,661
- Information Assurance Analyst: $90,471
- Malware Analyst: $90,383
- Security Operations Center (SOC) Manager: $89,020
- Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst: $85,466
- Network Security Administrator: $81,278
- Disaster Recovery Specialist: $81,252
Get Into Cybersecurity With IT Experience
Are you interested in new technologies and cutting-edge innovation? Do you want to step into cybersecurity roles and be part of protecting individuals, businesses, and society at large from threats and attacks? The cybersecurity career path could be the right match for you and your unique skills.
The Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity at St. Bonaventure University can prepare you for the next steps toward your professional goals. The comprehensive curriculum is rooted in today’s evolving digital world and uses the latest standards, technologies and methodologies to ensure students possess in-demand skills that employers look for. Additionally, you can expect an emphasis on interactive learning and a team of supportive, expert faculty members.
Our Master of Science in Cybersecurity offers busy professionals an accessible, flexible, and rewarding online degree, with access to the following benefits:
- Certification Preparation: partnerships with leading security vendors and educational institutes.
- Affordable: Earn an affordable cybersecurity degree from a world-class accredited university:
- Top 5 Best Value Schools and Top 20 Regional Universities in the North - U.S. News & World Report
- #11 Best Cybersecurity Master's Programs - Security Degree Hub
- #22 Most Affordable Online Cybersecurity Masters - Online Value Colleges
- Support: Receive support from dedicated student support advisors from enrollment to graduation.
- Flexibility: Learn at your own pace through 100% online courses.
- Accessibility: No GMAT or GRE required; six start dates per year.
- Interactive Experience: The engaging curriculum leverages active research, live projects, and professional connections in the world of cybersecurity.
- Hands-on learning: Work with active cybersecurity professionals and engage in hands-on learning opportunities via cloud-based labs to tackle real cybersecurity challenges.
- Fast-track: Graduate in as few as 18 months.
Once you’ve submitted your application, your Enrollment Advisor will schedule a personalized session with Pouya Ghotbi, Associate Director of our M.S. Cybersecurity program. Pouya has extensive experience designing complex security systems, including DevSecOps, Software, Network, Cloud and Identity Security for Australia’s biggest publicly listed companies. Seek advice from Pouya about your career goals and ask questions to maximize your time in the program.
Discover St. Bonaventure University’s 100% Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity today.