Transitioning from Information Technology to Cybersecurity

Transitioning an Information Technology Career to a Cybersecurity Career
As a cyber security expert, you will have a huge range of career options as defined within the 35 job categories across a wide variety of industries (e.g. finance, hospitality, health-care, government, gas & oil, retail, etc.). IT security is a specialist field. You’re unlikely to start your professional career as a penetration tester or a security architect. So the question remains – how do you create a path for yourself to enter the cybersecurity field?

 

First start with this resource as an initial guide for your cybersecurity journey. Our goal with this guide is to help anyone interested in transitioning from a non-security career. A non-technical undergraduate and or graduate education is not a barrier to transition into the cybersecurity industry. We’ve included advice on choosing a starter IT job, tips on building your résumé and ideas for gaining practical experience.

Where to start: career path options
There is no one true path to working in cybersecurity. People enter cybersecurity from all educational disciplines – math, computer science, sociology, psychology history or even philosophy. Yet all of them share a deep and abiding interest in how technology works.  Security gurus say this interest is critical. You need to know exactly what you’re protecting and the reason things are insecure.

Train In Information Technology:

To that end, many experts suggest that you begin with a job, internship or apprenticeship in IT. This will create allow you to gain experience in fundamental disciplines like administering & configuring systems, networks, database management, cloud environments vs. physical environments, mobile vs. desktop environments, application differences between cloud and on-premise deployments and coding. You’ll also get a sense of IT procedures and real-world business operations.

Focus & Narrow Your Interests:

Because it’s impossible to be an expert in all categories, employers also suggest you focus on an area (networking security, application security, mobile security, etc.) and do it well. Think ahead 5-10 years to your “ultimate security career” then look for starter IT jobs that will supply you with the right skills. Sample career paths could include:

  • Exchange administrator → Email & Mobile security
  • Network administrator → Network security, forensics, etc.
  • System administrator → Security administrator, forensics, Identity & Access Management etc.
  • Web developer → Web security, security software developer, etc.
  • DevOps → SecOps
  • Helpdesk Analyst → SOC Analyst

Gain Real-World Practical Experience:

Finally, we recommend you gain as much practical experience as possible. Even if you’re not in Information Technology, you can accomplish a lot with self-directed learning and guided training.

Starter Information Technology Jobs:

Information Technology jobs that can lead to a career in cybersecurity are noted below:

  • Computer Programmer
  • Computer Software Engineer
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Server Administrator
  • Exchange (Email) Administrator
  • Database Administrator
  • IT Technician
  • IT Technical Support
  • IT Customer Service
  • Network Administrator
  • Network Engineer
  • Network Systems & Data Analyst
  • System Administrator
  • Web Administrator
  • Developer

Trying to narrow options available to you? The primary goal you should have is to ensure your entry-level IT position will provide some security related experience. If the job description doesn’t provide this level of clarity; what a fantastic question to ask during the hiring process!