Cybersecurity is an industry that is definitely in the IT spotlight. With stories of major hacks and ransom requests in the news and the hype around TV shows like Mr. Robot (featuring a cybersecurity engineer by day and hacker extraordinaire by night) many people are curious to learn more about our mysterious industry.
We’ve talked to students from all walks of life who have decided to dive into the field of cybersecurity or are seriously considering it. What we’ve found is that many of them have similar questions but are hesitant to ask them. So, if you’re ready to make a career change into cybersecurity, or curious about what it takes to succeed in a cybersecurity role, look no further! Here are the top questions we get at Evolve Academy about the cybersecurity biz.
- What does a “cybersecurity analyst” actually do?
In short, a cybersecurity analyst protects an organization’s data, hardware, software, and networks from cybercriminals. The analyst's primary role is to understand company IT infrastructure in detail, monitor it at all times, and evaluate/remediate threats that could potentially breach the network.
- Do I need to know a programming language to get into cybersecurity?
Not necessarily! While learning a programming language can be beneficial to a career in cybersecurity, it is by no means required for several career paths in the industry. Many entry-level roles will use little to no programming in their day-to-day operations. For those interested in moving into a security engineer role, programming ability will be a core skill. However, for most entry level roles, core knowledge areas will rely more heavily on the knowledge of networking and operating systems. It’s most important to familiarize yourself with the systems and processes that form the foundation of the technology you will be securing.
- Do you need a degree to get a job in cybersecurity?
While you don’t need a formal degree to start a career in cybersecurity, relevant certifications, such as CompTIA Security+ or Certified Ethical Hacker will help with your job search. Professional certifications show hiring managers that you have the drive to pursue cybersecurity and possess the fundamental knowledge to work in the field. Above all, hiring managers want to see evidence that you have the hands-on skills to do the job. Seek out ways to demonstrate your ability, such as volunteering, developing your own home lab, and taking part in cybersecurity events/competitions such as Capture the Flag.
- What if I’m bad at math, can I still become a hacker?
While math is a big component of computer science and networking, in the world of cybersecurity, the focus is more commonly centered on pattern identification, solving puzzles, and the ability to critically analyze. While some basic math skills are used, an advanced understanding of formulas and mathematical theory is not required.
- I don't have a technical background; can I get a job in cybersecurity?
Good news! There is “no one size fits all” path to joining the cybersecurity industry. Cybersecurity is a field with a low barrier of entry and some of the most accessible resources available. Individuals from all walks of life have successfully joined the field after transitioning from an unrelated industry. Earning security-related IT certifications, performing freelance work and personal projects, volunteering, and taking part in competitions and related events are all wonderful ways to add pertinent technical experience to your resume. Bootcamps and certification intensive training courses are becoming increasingly popular as an accelerated way to learn the necessary knowledge and hands-on skills needed to break into the cybersecurity world.
- Am I too old to start over in IT?
Despite what you might see in Hollywood’s portrayal of the IT industry, there is no age limit to start a career in cybersecurity. In our experience, we have helped students from ages 16 to 60+ start their career in cybersecurity. Whether you are viewed as someone new to the field and full of potential or seasoned and ready for management, there is opportunity in cybersecurity at all ages. Beyond that, the perceived “digital divide” between generations is rapidly closing. If someone is willing to learn and adapt, they can become a great cybersecurity professional, no matter what age they enter the field.
- What are the best free resources to get started?
There are a number of free resources available online that you can use to start learning the core concepts of cybersecurity. Websites like Coursera and Udemy offer several free courses created for those who are new to cybersecurity. Another popular resource is the website Hack the Box which provides Capture the Flag exercises for students at all levels; you can try your hand at working with the tools cybersecurity professionals use daily in offensive security engagements. Evolve Academy also has a free Cybersecurity Fundamentals course where students can watch videos and complete in-browser hacking labs to strengthen the skills they need to transition into the field of cybersecurity.
- What is the expected salary for someone starting out in cybersecurity?
The cat is out of the bag when it comes to the high earning potential in the cybersecurity industry! We’re pleased to report that graduates from our Evolve Academy start with an average annual salary of $68,000! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average starting salary for a professional in cybersecurity falls between $50,000 and $70,000 annually. For someone more established in their cybersecurity career, the median annual salary is $103,000.
- What is the projected job growth in cybersecurity?
IT has set the bar high in terms of projected job growth, and cybersecurity is no exception as one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As the demand for technology increases, the need for cybersecurity professionals will always follow. Currently, it is estimated that there are over 500,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions in the U.S. alone, with an additional 16,000 new jobs opening every year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a growth of 33% industry-wide from 2020 to 2030.
- Can I work remotely as a cybersecurity professional?
Like many other jobs in the field of IT, cybersecurity positions are often well-suited to remote work. The ability for a flexible schedule and work from home opportunities is another major factor that appeals to workers looking to make a career change. While the option to work remotely will ultimately depend on your employer/industry, it is clear from a brief scroll through open positions posted on online job boards that a vast majority of cybersecurity roles welcome the option to work from home.
Ready to learn more about Evolve Academy and the hands-on training we provide? Schedule a no-pressure, 10-minute chat with one of our academy advisors! We’d be happy to answer any and all of your questions.