By Adam King - Security Consultant at PGI Cyber
The Cyber Security industry has been growing rapidly over the last 10 years. At present, the estimated value of the market is £50 billion, which is expected to increase to £110 billion by 2020. As the demand for Cyber services increases at such a drastic rate. According to forecasts, there will be a forecast 1.5 million unfilled job positions due to the lack of skilled professionals by the end of this decade.
The average salary of a penetration tester/security consultant today is £50,000. Even for the I.T industry, this seems high for a skilled professional role with no management responsibilities, however, technical security professionals’ need a diverse skill set, and often benefit from expertise in a number of fields such as development, systems administration and networking. It takes years of training and practice in order to develop the technical competencies required of a security professional, therefore the most crucial piece of advice I can give is: stay motivated and never stop learning.
Personally, I am a strong advocate for utilising training courses and certifications as a means to develop technical ability and land your first job in cyber security. It is very important to ensure that you have strong technical foundations before pursuing qualifications specific to cyber security, however, if you do not have this foundation, a great place to start may be the "CompTIA A+ IT Certifications". This course is a great starting point for any I.T career, as it covers hardware, troubleshooting, networking, operating systems and much more in a good level of detail. By taking the exam at the end of this course, it proves to any potential employer that you have a bulletproof understanding of common technical concepts.
If you are lucky enough to be seeking a role in I.T security at an early point in your career, you may wish to get a technical degree. If you are certain that cyber security is the right career for you, then there are degrees available for this specific industry, otherwise, you may consider a more generalised degree such as computer science. It is important to stress that many cyber security courses cover the foundations of computing throughout the degree, therefore, if you have experience working in I.T, you may consider applying for a one or two year Master’s degree which accepts experience as a prerequisite.
These courses and qualifications are great for CV building, however, there are a number of other ways to get the attention of prospective employers. There are a number of cyber security events that take place each year such as BSides and 44CON. These events are great for networking with security professionals and give you access to many workshops and lectures on the latest research and developments in the field. Additionally, the Cyber Security Challenge (CSC) is a fantastic competition which often leads to job offers and free courses for those who can demonstrate their technical skills.
To summarise, the cyber security industry is growing rapidly and there are a wealth of opportunities for anyone willing to give the time and effort to land that first job. The learning curve is steep, and finding your first position is difficult, which is applicable to most specialised industries. Finally, put time and effort into growing your professional network and use that network for finding job opportunities and expanding your knowledge at every chance.