Cybersecurity Career Paths

There are millions of unfilled cybersecurity positions currently open! Are you looking to transition into Cybersecurity or considering it as a new field through and after obtaining an undergraduate degree? This page offers free cybersecurity career path information to help you along your way. This was compromised by Ken Dunham to give back to the community, after 30 years in the industry.

Let’s start by differentiating between information (IT) technology and security. IT “makes stuff work” within computing solutions to create, process, store, retrieve, and exchange data. Information security is designed to protect against unauthorized access and attacks upon computer systems, networks, and digital data. In my years of experience the author thinks of IT as foundational “Block and Tackle” with security as a layer on top of that to ensure the architecture, configuration, and operations are in place to reduce risk.

As you get started down the path of considering cybersecurity, as yourself a two foundational questions:

  1. Why are you considering cybersecurity and is it a good match to your talent(s), skill(s), passion, and areas of performance to date?
  2. Are you more of a people person and leader or “geek” engineer type. Consider this early on to help pick the best path if you’re looking to possibly get into management or leadership roles.
  3. Do you have and leverage critical thinking skills, creativity, and willingness to take risks to “think like a security person” to consider things from the adversary perspective, question status quo and what is unacceptable versus good, better, or best for security outcomes?

Cyberseek is a great resource if you think you are wired for security.  Below and related pages on this site also provide additional guidance for you:

  1. What roles in cybersecurity should I consider, starting out?
    • Covers: Aptitude, skills, interest, and career path opportunities
  2. What does cybersecurity pay?
    • Covers: Role/type, geolocation differences, and experience
  3. What degree or certifications should I seek?
    • Covers: Security +, CISSP, SANS GIAC (multiple), ISACA, and related

After reviewing the above put together a plan of action to intentionally move you forward on your path of success as a cybersecurity expert:

  1. If pursuing a degree work with your advisor, professor(s), and professional(s) in the area to gain guidance and direction based upon this primer. Come up with a plan and pursue it. Look for opportunities to work as an intern in the field before getting too far down the path of committed to a specific area of work, if feasible.
  2. If pursuing a certification gain assistance from an expert in the field already to ensure you’re following the best path forward for what you think you need as a next step certification. Reach out to your local ISSA and ISACA chapters for networking and expert assistance.
  3. If already working in the field looking to work up and over, such as into a management degree, come up with short and long term plans for how to get their and review it with trusted mentor(s) and management as appropriate.