Obtaining cyber security qualifications can solidify your career progression and also help you further develop as a professional in the field of cybersecurity. Unlike other industries, in cyber security you can't simply learn on the job, information security qualifications are a must. Professionals need to be certified in the field in order to obtain a cybersecurity role.
Rutherford’s specialist headhunters have gained a clear understanding of the key stand-out cyber qualifications employers seek when considering hiring cyber professionals. We will explore the best courses available to gain qualifications, detail the importance of technical and management skills and how they can impact your effectiveness in the role.
Over the last decade, the demand for cyber professionals has increased due to the consistent rise of cyber threats. Many businesses have been forced to assess their critical business needs, introducing security functions and teams. You can learn more about this in Rutherford’s ‘Building out you cyber security team’.
However, hiring managers and specialised recruitment firms, such as Rutherford, noticed the skills shortage amongst professionals when searching for talent in the candidate-led sector. The rate of cyber security job openings has skyrocketed four times more than the typical occupational growth rate, this labour gap continues to grow as organisations seek talent with qualifications due to the positive impact it has on industry knowledge and awareness.
What Degree Do I Need for a Cyber Security Career?
There are various ways in which you can gain qualifications in cyber security, many universities and colleges offer cyber security courses and degrees, which can give you the skills and knowledge required to enter the profession. Within the sector, there are several specialisms and niche focuses that require trained professionals.
Most cyber security undergraduate degrees cover the basics of the field, allowing cyber professionals to specialise in their chosen interests whilst having a broad understanding and knowledge of the sector. The variety of topics covered range from information systems to cyber defence, to digital forensics. Whether you are a budding cyber security professional or interested in switching careers here are some of the most common degrees candidates undergo.
1. Computer Science
A computer science degree offers foundational computing knowledge. You will learn technical skills alongside both theory and principles of computer science. Like most degrees, you will have the option to delve deeper into specific areas within computer science, including machine learning, software development, cybersecurity and cloud computing.
2. Computer Programming
This highly sought-after skill, commonly known as software development or engineering, can be applied in all industries. To learn computer programming there are a variety of courses you can take: Python, Java, C++ etc. During these courses you will write, debug and compile code, to develop software that will combat malicious hacking activity, protecting anything from on-site networks to cloud networks.
3. Database Management
This is one of the most valuable areas of cyber security due to the masses of valuable business information databases contain. Hackers have a history of stealing, destroying or modifying data. There is a variety of courses that will enable you to attain a database administration degree from Structured Query Language (SQL), to Database Administration, to Database Security. You will learn about various databases from Microsoft, Cassandra and Oracle.
4. Computer Hardware Engineering
You will learn how to design, build and test hardware. There are many different types of hardware from RAM, hard disk, CPUs, circuit boards, and network hardware. You’ll gain the ability to perform diagnostics and make recommendations.
5. Network Administration
The role of a Network administrator is to oversee connections between devices, software and functions. You will oversee the day-to-day activity of these systems and asses for any updates, repairs or support needed. In a network administrators programme, you will learn how to evaluate the performance of systems, upgrade and repair. Router Configuration, Application Deployment & Security, VPN Technologies, and Cloud Computing are some courses included in the programme.
6. Cloud Computing
Post Covid-19, as organisations switch to cloud computing systems from onsite networks, the need for cloud computing engineers has skyrocketed. Studying this course will enable you to manage cloud computing systems. The security of these systems has become a critical business need as they are accessible via the Internet, making the platforms prone to hackers. It’s important to note the three big cloud providers are: Google Cloud Platform, Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.
7. Information Technology Management
Communication is vital in a management role, especially within information security, you need soft skills as well as technical skills. Within a managerial program, you’ll learn operations, risk management and leadership qualities. Information technology managers supervise all networks, data, software, hardware and the cyber experts who manage them.
8. Information Security & Assurance
This position handles the protection of systems, securing only authorised access to data. Information assurance is ensuring the urgent availability of the organisational data. Studying infosec and assurance means gaining the skills necessary to configure access controls, and detect, protect and solve network security threats. Network Security, Ethics and Information Assurance, and Risk Management are some of the courses covered within this degree.
9. Computer Forensics
As a computer forensic analyst, you’ll be able to collect, investigate and protect data from computing systems. As well as having the ability to recover corrupted or deleted hard drives, no digital evidence will go unnoticed with an effective forensic analyst. Alongside technical skills, you’ll also learn about criminal law and court proceedings, as it’s common for computer analysts to be called in as expert witnesses in high-profile court cases.
10. Machine Learning
As a form of artificial intelligence, machine learning uses massive amounts of data to aid algorithms and improve its predictions. Whilst studying, you’ll learn about regression algorithms, neural networks and decision trees. Typical courses covered range from Neural Networks, Machine Learning Algorithms, Python, Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
What Qualifications do You Need to Work in Cyber Security
(ISC)² conducted a survey in the united states and found that 70% of cyber candidates were required to have a certification by employers. There are a number of professional qualifications which are available from organisations such as the British Computer Society (BCS) and CompTIA that will help you enhance your CV and desirability to hiring managers. Some of the most popular qualifications for cyber security are Entry-level IT certifications, it show employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to work in cybersecurity without a degree.
In order to further develop your career in cyber security, it is important to keep up with the latest developments in the field. One way to do this is to undertake a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certification. This can involve attending conferences and seminars, reading industry publications or undertaking online training courses. CPD will not only help you to keep up with the latest trends but will also show employers that you are committed to your career in cyber security.
As mentioned before, when it comes to working in cyber security, technical skills are essential but it is also important to have good communication and project management skills. This is because many roles in cyber security involve working with other professionals, such as network administrators and software developers. As such, it is important that you are able to effectively communicate with other members of a team.
Management qualifications can also be beneficial in a career in cyber security. This is because many organisations require managers who have the ability to effectively lead a team. If you are interested in a management role, then it is worth undertaking a qualification such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) from the ISC^(R).
A career in cyber security may seem daunting when considering what qualifications to take or what path to follow. However, you may already possess a few crucial technical skills which can help you become a strong information security professional, such as the following:
Attention to detail
Great organisation skills
Outside of the box thinking
Strong communication skills
Confident decision making
Strong analytical skills
An eye for spotting trends in data
Cybersecurity is a consistently evolving field. As the advancement of technology increases so does the sophistication of cybercrime. As a security professional, it's important to stay up to date and carry out ongoing learning/upskilling on the latest cyber threats, programmes, software, and developments in the field to best protect your organisation.
Do You Need Real-Life Experience to Work in Cyber Security?
For a career in cyber security, real-life work experience isn't necessary, but like in most fields it can be useful to gain tangible experience working in your desired field.
Whether you are considering changing careers or are seeking an entry-level security role, with little to no experience, it can be beneficial to highlight your transferable skills as opposed to lack of work experience.
Although having prior experience, through an internship or volunteering can be advantageous, detailing relevant existing skills can also help you stand out from the crowd.
By undertaking infomation security qualifications and courses, you can enter this evolving and highly paid profession. There are many aspects of information security for candidates to discover, explore and learn.
As digital transformation continues to spread amongst organisations, institutions and industries, the need for cyber security professionals increases in order to effectively protect businesses from online threats. If you’re considering a job in the field, you may find one of the specialised degrees and courses mentioned above of interest to help kickstart your cybersecurity career.
Looking for Cyber Security jobs within the financial services and professional services industry?
Rutherford might be able to help you. Our specialist governance recruitment firm has an entire team dedicated solely to cybersecurity roles. Get in touch with us today to see if we can help you with your search, or peruse our current vacancies.