Cybersecurity Training Programs: Are They Right for Me?
It is no secret that a career in cybersecurity offers financial security in a field that’s continuously growing and expanding. So much so that the cybersecurity workforce is in a shortage with a projected 3.5 million professionals needed by 2021. The industry is also one that has a zero percent unemployment rate.
If you are considering a career change or are already interested in tech but lack the necessary certifications, you might want to consider a cybersecurity certification training program.
Like many growing fields, cybersecurity is very broad and includes many specializations like risk management, analysis, forensics, cloud security, incident response, ethical hacking, penetration testing, and more. Without proper experience or accreditation, there is little opportunity for a career in cybersecurity.
So how do you begin?
Unlike many career paths today, breaking into the cybersecurity job market doesn’t necessarily require a traditional four-year degree. Individuals who have no experience in the field or those who want to change their career are partaking in an accelerated track, choosing to attend professional cybersecurity training courses that allow them to learn and get certified quickly.
So what’s next? Do you just sign up with any institution that offers courses in cybersecurity? Is holding a certificate enough to get you in the door with interviewers?
Many institutions may offer the certification training you need and can even promise a quick path to receiving accreditation. But what about other benefits? How do you choose a program that’s right for you?
To help you sort out your options and decide which factors matter most to you, we’ve compiled a list of factors that you should take into consideration while conducting your program research.
How Much Previous Experience Do I need?
Consider how much computer experience the program requires as a prerequisite and how much you can handle. Although many programs don’t require formal schooling, and experience is not needed to begin a career in cybersecurity, a varied amount of computer experience and aptitude is necessary to guarantee your future success.
If you’ve always been fascinated by computer networks and systems, or tinkered with technology trying to better understand how things work, starting your career in cybersecurity might be easier than you think.
If you hold more extensive knowledge of computing systems and even have some background in IT, you might want to consider applying to programs that offer a more accelerated or advanced curriculum. If you already possess these skills, you might want to consider working towards positions in network security. If you have software development experience under your belt, you should consider programs that allow you to delve into application security.
Do you love thrillers? Are you a sucker for deadlines? Do you thrive best when stuff’s about to hit the fan? Cybersecurity requires individuals who can keep their cool in stressful situations and use their creativity to come up with solutions to help save the day.
For instance, if you thrive under pressure, specializing in incident response and working in a buzzing Security Operations Center (SOC) where every second counts could be a perfect fit for you.
If you’re more into the thrill of the chase, yet also consider yourself a cautious and contained person, you may want to find programs that will help you specialize in prevention with a focus on risk management.
On the other hand, if you’ve found a kindred spirit in Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Gadget and love figuring out how and why things happen, specializing in forensic investigations could be the field that suits you best.
You might also be an investigative type, an out-of-the-box thinker, someone who relies on their creativity for problem-solving. If that’s you, you should consider finding courses and programs in ethical hacking or penetration testing. Ethical hackers tend to keep their own company while pen testers generally thrive in a team environment.
Have you always found communication to be one of your best attributes? Do you think of yourself as tech-oriented, yet also love being around people? Think of the value you can add to a cybersecurity team as a SysAdmin who mediates between high-tech InfoSec and general office workers.
If you’re a big picture kind of person and take a holistic view of systems and how things work, you might also find your perfect niche in cybersecurity engineering or design.
Cybersecurity Pre-Training Courses
You might have decided that a career in cybersecurity is something you would like to try out. But what happens if partway through the program you learn that you are a much better forensic investigator than pen tester?
A reputable cybersecurity training and certification program shouldn’t hurl its students headfirst into the material without first getting to know the students, their skills, and career aspirations.
If you’re seriously considering enrolling in a cybersecurity training program, start out by looking for a program that offers an introductory course to ensure its students’ success in the field, helps them decide if they are on the right path, and has one-on-one instructor-student meetings to understand each student’s individual needs.
Another advantage of a program with a dedicated introductory course and one-on-one meetings is its attentiveness to individual learning styles. These meetings can help you and the instructors gauge your success in the program and effectively plan out your cybersecurity career trajectory.
As you research programs, ask to see the course materials so you can understand your comfort with the subject matter before committing. Also, consider the importance of meeting and interacting with classmates in and outside of the classroom.
What if you take advantage of all the services a cybersecurity training and certification program has to offer and still feel unsure about cybersecurity being the right career path for you? Look into whether or not a tuition refund is available if you decide not to complete the program. Plus always read the fine print.
Programs like those offered at UCF take their students’ personal success seriously. As such, these programs would rather have students who cannot commit to the program (for whatever reason) make the sensible and financially smart choice, and grant them partial refunds, rather than require them to stick to a program that doesn’t suit them.