Transitioning from a Traditional IT Job to a Cyber Security Role

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It’s no secret that cyber security is one of the biggest challenges facing business, politics, and private life. If experts are right, we will have 200 billion connected devices by 2020, representing a massive, unprecedented cyber security risk in ways we’ve only just begun to experience – everything from cars, to houses, to entire cities susceptible to data breaches.

Of course, experienced IT professionals are well aware of the cyber security problem, and IT is increasingly transitioning toward cyber security and information assurance. Many in the industry have begun to enroll in online cyber security degrees and certification programs, like CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), to gain the skills and cyber security job prep needed to transition from traditional IT. But how else can traditional IT professionals prepare for the pivot to cyber security and information assurance? And is it worth the hassle?

FYI: benefits of a career in cyber security

The short answer is a definitive yes: according to the BLS, common cyber security roles like Information Security Analyst will see an 18% employment increase through 2024, which makes it among the fastest-growing job sectors in the country. In total, about 200,000 cyber security jobs <aare up for grabs, and as many as 40,000 cyber security openings go unfilled every year. Those cyber security jobs are commanding a $6,500 premium over traditional IT roles according to Burning Glass, and if you’re already an IT professional, having experience and skills in cyber security can earn you a 9% pay raise. So who’s making the switch?</a

FYI: Common IT Careers that Transition to Cyber Security

  • Systems Administrators
  • Database Engineers
  • Full Stack Developers
  • Information Technology Analyst
  • Information Systems Analyst
  • Computer Systems Analyst

Tip: What You’ll Need to Know or Learn

  • How to setup and secure basic computer systems and networks
  • How to detect threats, protect systems and networks, and anticipate potential cyber attacks
  • The ins-and-outs of information security risk management framework and methodologies, including risk analysis, risk assessment and risk mitigation
  • How to implement network security solutions, detect intrusions, audit networks, and contingency plans
  • How to conduct a digital forensics investigation to retrieve data

Tip: Skills to Help Transition to Cyber Security

Experienced IT professionals may already be familiar and/or proficient with many coding and programming skills:

  • C, C++, C# and Java
  • Python, Ruby, PHP, Perl
  • Regular Expression
  • Linux/MAC Bash shell scripting

Same goes with networks:

  • System/network configuration
  • TCP/IP, computer networking, routing, and switching
  • VPNs
  • Firewall and intrusion detection/prevention protocols

FYI: Certifications to Help to Transition to Cyber Security

Certifications are one way to demonstrate a standard of cyber security proficiency. The most popular include:

  • CompTIA Security+: one of the industry standards, with over 2 million certified
  • CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker: designed primarily for United States Government agencies
  • GSEC: SANS GIAC Security Essentials: an IS certification that covers technical and practical skills
  • CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional: a top independent certification, with over 110,000 accredited
  • CISM: Certified Information Security Manager: a globally recognized accreditation with over 100,000 constituents