7 Strategies to Switch from General IT to Cybersecurity

Modern technology has permeated nearly every pore of life, and it is here to stay, which begs the question of cybersecurity. Keeping financial and business transactions safe is extremely important, which means that IT security is definitely a profession of the future.

However, if you are aspiring to specialize in cybersecurity, you are going to have to be patient. Because it’s such a specialized industry, which requires you to have extensive experience in IT, you will have to get started by having a career in general IT first. This is some of the ideas I had about what you need to do order to become an IT security expert if you are passionate about cybersecurity and pursuing a career in it.

1. Start with a Career in General IT
Before you can focus on becoming a cybersecurity expert, you should master the fundamentals of IT, and the best way to do it is to major in engineering, science, IT, or even math. There you will learn the basics, as well as some of the advanced stuff that you will rely on later, such as administrating systems, configuring servers, networks, databases, as well as coding. Security experts need to know all of this, which is why general IT is such a good starting point.

2. Focus on One Aspect of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is a huge field, and it's impossible to be an expert on each of the subfields. This is an industry where being jack of all trades will only set you back. This means you should be very careful when choosing your IT specialization, as well. Choose one which will provide you with an opportunity to pursue a job in security, this includes network administration, which can turn into a career in network security, web development, which can prepare you to become a security software developer or a web security expert, or system administration.

4. Build a Good Resume
When looking at candidate resumes, cybersecurity companies are looking for a few things. They are looking for people with good IT fundamentals, as well as practical experience and familiarity with networks, servers, security, databases, web applications, coding, and so on. While it may not be essential, they will look for someone with a college degree, as well as relevant job experience. Apart from these, you should also include the list of soft and hard IT skills, relevant certificates, scholarships, and projects which you have been a part of.

Another thing you can do is look at the reviews of resume writing services, and choose one which will help you polish your resume. Sometimes, it's best to let the professionals do it, because you will have a much better chance of landing that job.

5. Gather as Much Experience as Possible
These days, you can pretty much teach yourself anything online and create some relevant experience yourself. You can practice coding, build your own network, start an open source project, enter contests, take courses, go to conferences, and even volunteer at various institutions of companies which have the need for security. On top of that, make sure to join groups, organizations, as well as websites and forums which are dedicated to cybersecurity. You can learn a lot, plus make a few new contacts along the way, which may come in handy in the future.

6. Learn Hard IT Skills
Populating your resume and gathering experience can take a while, which is why you should focus on learning hard IT skills in the meantime. This includes extensive knowledge of operating systems, databases, as well as C. C , C#, Java, PHP< Ruby, assembly language, network configuration, knowledge of TCP/IP protocol, wireless networking, VPNs, just to name a few. Fortunately, there is plenty of free/paid material online that can help you boost your skills, and make your resume look far more impressive.

7. Obtain Relevant Certificates
Another thing that can help your cybersecurity career are relevant certificates. For example, you can pursue a Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching certificate, which is basically an essential certification for anyone who is expected to work with Cisco hardware and networks. Also, CompTIA A certificate is one of the most sought after certificates among IT professionals, which means it's worth checking out. Other certificates which might help your cause are Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, Project Management Professional, Red Hat Certified ArchitectInformation Technology Infrastructure Library Foundation, and so on.

Switching from a general career in IT and becoming a cybersecurity professional takes time and hard work, but if you follow the steps laid out in this article, you will be on your way to becoming a skilled security expert.

Stephanie Proper is a professional career advisor and avid writer, who through her word, helps people pass an application process with success. She also runs her own website where she provides useful tips on how to write an eye-catchy resume and cover letter. 

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