How to Get a Job in Cybersecurity

By: Rachel Miller
icon icon icon icon

This post originally appeared on Fullstack Academy's blog.

If you’re reading this blog post, you likely already know that cybersecurity is booming. Maybe you’ve read about the projected 3.5 million open jobs in cyber by 2021 or learned that—despite the pandemic’s impact on the economy—the career opportunities in cyber continue to grow. But how do you actually get a job in cybersecurity? Read on to get answers to some of the most-asked questions about launching a cyber career.

Do You Need a Prior Technical Background to Get Hired?

No—you don’t need a prior technical background or work experience to get your first job in cyber. In fact, 70–80% of Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp grads who earned jobs had no tech experience before the bootcamp. We’ve had alums transition from previous careers in marketing, event-planning, and a range of other fields.

A “secret” to getting your first job in cybersecurity is knowing how to leverage skills in your previous work to make you stand out to employers. Helping grads navigate their career switch by leveraging past skills is one of the most important goals of the Fullstack Cyber Career Success team. 

How Do You Get Trained?

To get the skills you need for your first cybersecurity job, there are a few major training options. The most common methods include university undergraduate programs and master’s programs or tech bootcamps.

The Cyber Bootcamp route is beginner-friendly and has no degree prerequisites. At Fullstack, the part-time program lasts six months and spreads the learnings over classes that meet twice weekly in the evenings and on Saturday mornings. Additionally there is the immersive, full-time bootcamp, which lasts three months and is much more rigorous. 

All the programs mentioned above will prepare students for entry-level cybersecurity jobs like Cybersecurity Analyst.

What Specific Skills Are Employers Looking For?

Thriving in a cybersecurity career requires a well-rounded individual who has mastered the technical aspects as well someone who works well on a team. A solid training program should prepare you for both. Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp teaches both the technical expertise and soft skills you need to launch a successful cybersecurity career.

A Passion to “Live and Breathe” Cybersecurity

Employers are looking for individuals who have a thirst for knowledge to keep current with cybersecurity news, bloggers and social media in their spare time while applying their constantly evolving skill set with side projects that demonstrate their ability to solve cybersecurity problems in real world situations.  In order to do this, a firm background in technical skills and expanded soft skills must to nurtured.

Technical Expertise

In a recent episode of Breaking into Cybersecurity, former Gilt Groupe CISO and current Security Scorecard CEO Aleksandr Yampolskiy shared, “No matter how big the organization, a good cybersecurity professional needs to have a great technical understanding in order to be effective—even if he or she is not doing all of those tasks.”.

To get you set up for success technically, Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp leads you through a five-part curriculum covering:

  • Foundations (AWS basics, Linux Command Line, Computing and Networking Concepts),
  • Security Essentials (Data Encoding, Basic Cryptography, Networking and HTTP, System Administration, Security Concepts)
  • Red Team (Ethical Hacking, Penetration Testing Methodology, Attack Types, OWASP Top 10),
  • Blue Team (Threat Modeling, AWS Best Security Practices + Tools, Firewalls, System Hardening, Identity and Access Management, Log Hunting, Splunk, Incident Response). 

Last, you’ll complete a Final Project, which will be a powerful tool as you apply for your first role.

Soft Skills

Soft skills and the ability to collaborate are important in any job, but they are especially critical when working in the cybersecurity field. According to Fullstack Director of Academics Veer Dedhia, Fullstack prioritizes collaboration because it’s essential to being a successful cybersecurity expert.

Veer says, “A job in cybersecurity requires teamwork and communication, both soft skills that are equally important as the technical know-how. You often have to provide 24-7 coverage, which requires shifts and may even include teams in different time zones.” 

He continues, “Documenting and communicating incident state is paramount to ensuring that your coworkers can pick up where you left off. Larger incidents require escalation to incident management teams, which must operate as a cohesive team.” Naturally, given these demands, communication is essential. 

According to Veer, “Growing in a cyber career requires learning these soft skills, especially to communicate technical concepts to nontechnical audiences. At Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp, we train all of the above alongside our rigorous technical training.”

Cybersecurity Certifications

Gaining certifications throughout your career empower you to advance into higher paying roles because they demonstrate a proven understanding of key technical skills. 

Below are some common certifications to aim to achieve as you move toward your first cyber role. All these certifications are earned by Fullstack Cyber students during the program.

CompTIA Security+

Often recommended as the first security certification a candidate should earn, the CompTIA Security+ certification establishes core knowledge and provides a springboard to intermediate-level cybersecurity jobs.

Amazon Certified Cloud Professional

Cloud services are an increasingly popular toolset in technology today. Having this certification shows proficiency and knowledge of the AWS Cloud environment.

Splunk Core Certified User

This certificate demonstrates proficiency with Splunk, a popular tool used in the cybersecurity industry.

Additional certifications that Fullstack grads can work toward with extra studying include: CISSP Associate, GSEC, OSCP, AWS SysOps, AWS Cloud Security Specialist, and Splunk Power User, all of which can help you stand out during the job search. 

Getting Your First Job

There are many techniques you can use to get your first cybersecurity job offer.   Fullstack Cyber Career Success team supports grads in creating important job search resources such as building a technical resume and technical LinkedIn page as well as providing networking best practices, and interview preparation assistance.

Your dedicated Career Success team member is there to serve as a soundboard, advisor, and coach throughout your job search. Your time with our career success team will include everything from workshops to one-on-one office hours to phone chats before big interviews.

And on top of all that, the team will be working behind the scenes to recruit employers for our in-house networking event, find openings that are right for you, and stay up-to-date on the latest recruiting trends to make sure they prepare you for everything.

Looking Ahead: Cyber Career Growth Potential

There are many opportunities for advancement in a cyber career path. Surprising to most people is that an entry-level cyber professional can, in as little as one year, increase their pay to $102,000 as a Penetration Tester. 

After four years in the field, they can work their way up to a Cybersecurity Architect role with an average salary of $129,000 (source: cyberseek.org). It’s worth noting that this is just one example of what your career path could look like as an ambitious cyber expert. As with other industries, everyone’s path will be different. 

Today, the New York, Newark, and Jersey City regions have nearly 30,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions, according to CyberSeek, and the supply of cyber workers is very low. Since the job demand will continue to grow higher as more and more businesses need to protect themselves from cyber threats, now is a perfect time to launch your cyber career.

Apply to the Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp today or check out our free Hacking 101 video series focusing on current cyber threats or try our free Cyber OnRamp course to learn Linux Command Line for beginners.