How to Break into the Cybersecurity Industry in Florida

10/09/2021


Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing fields in the nation, and for those looking to pivot into the tech industry, it’s a great career path to pursue. If you want to start a career in cybersecurity but are not sure how to begin, this guide can help.

Here are some questions we’ll answer throughout this guide:

  • What do cybersecurity professionals do?
  • What skills can I transfer from my previous job? 
  • How can I start a career in cybersecurity without experience? 
  • What industries are hiring cybersecurity professionals in Florida?
  • What entry-level jobs are there in cybersecurity?
  • How much do entry-level cybersecurity jobs pay? 

With more than 460,000 cybersecurity job openings across the nation and over 20,000 open cybersecurity positions in Florida alone! There has never been a better time to pursue this lucrative career path. 

What Do Cybersecurity Professionals Do?

Cybersecurity professionals protect sensitive information, networks, programs, and devices from cyberattacks and security breaches. 

As new technologies emerge and transform the way we live and work, organizations need highly-trained cybersecurity professionals to protect their data, networks, and computer systems from malicious attacks. 

Plus, cybersecurity is a critical need for many businesses and organizations—especially since cybercrime reached historic highs during the COVID-19 pandemic, as companies shifted from in-office to remote work.

If you are new to cybersecurity, we encourage you to get familiarized with popular industry terms by checking out our brief introduction to some of the most essential cybersecurity terms.

What Skills Can I Transfer From My Previous Job? 

The cybersecurity field is not just limited to tech-savvy people. With the proper training, anyone can pursue a career in this industry. Whether you are new to the field or come from a technical background, you’ll find that your non-technical skills will help you throughout your cybersecurity career. 

Here are a few skills all cybersecurity professionals must have: 

  • Communication: Communication skills are essential in cybersecurity. You must present technical information clearly and concisely to teammates who do not have a deep understanding of cybersecurity, which will require clear and open communication. While cybersecurity is a technical field, you will need to explain your work to coworkers with different levels of cyber knowledge. 
  • Problem-Solving: As a cybersecurity professional, you’ll need to discover the problem, determine the cause, and develop practical solutions quickly. Any problem-solving skills and natural curiosity you have will serve you well in this career. Asking questions, wanting to know how things work, and reflecting on your decisions will make you an even better cybersecurity pro. 
  • Collaboration: Cybersecurity professionals often collaborate with teammates and other departments, so a collaborative attitude and team-player attitude can take you far in this career. Working well with others and keeping and cultivating relationships with those around you will help you in your role. 
  • Adaptability: Cybersecurity pros face new challenges and problems every day. Adapting to new situations is just a part of the job. Technology evolves quickly, so it’s important to stay informed on the latest industry trends and be willing to change directions on short notice. 

The truth is, anyone can learn technical cybersecurity skills with the proper training and hard work. But if you have the “soft skills” listed above, you’ll be much more competitive in the job market.  If you already have those skills, you might be ready to start training in practical cybersecurity skills like threat intelligence, incident handling, auditing, risk management, and penetration testing.

How Can I Start a Career in Cybersecurity without Experience? 

The barriers to entry to the cybersecurity field are not as steep as you might think. Whatever your previous professional experience and academic background, you can train in cybersecurity and be ready to enter the workforce in less than a year.

Are you working in a related field? People with experience in technology or IT probably already have many of the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the cybersecurity field. However, there are many industry-specific certifications that can help you stand out in the cybersecurity job market. You can choose to self-study or take a quick refresher class, or you can commit to a more structured and comprehensive cybersecurity course.

Are you new to the tech field? You can gain in-depth knowledge and hands-on skills by training with structured career-prep programs like the University of Central Florida Cyber Defense Certificate, which is designed to help you gain the in-demand skills that IT security recruiters look for in candidates.

With 100% live and online classes, our part-time cybersecurity program will take you from novice to cybersecurity professional in just 10 months. You will be taught by experts working in the field, and train on a state-of-the-art virtual platform that includes cyber labs and threat simulations that mimick real-world scenarios.

launch a cybersecurity career with the UCF Cyber Defense Professional Certificate

Top Industries Hiring for Cybersecurity Professionals in Florida

Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand, especially in Florida. Tens of thousands of open positions in this industry remain unfilled because of a lack of skilled professionals, with over 20,000 open positions in Florida alone.

Let’s take a look at some of Florida’s core industries in need of cybersecurity professionals.

Defense and Homeland Security

Florida has one of the largest defense industries in the nation, with 20 major military installations and three unified combatant commands.

In addition to that, about 73,000 defense contractors carry operations in Florida, making it a state with a severe need for cybersecurity professionals. From cybersecurity to defense aviation, Florida ranks fourth in the nation for high-tech employment.

Healthcare and Life Sciences

Florida is known as a hub for biomedical research and life sciences. From pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies that develop new treatments, devices, and drugs, to world-renowned biomedical research institutes and healthcare establishments.

This industry is in massive need of cybersecurity experts due to the sensitivity of patient records and research material. The healthcare industry has been advancing technologically at a quick pace. More providers now keep patient records digitally and use devices that connect to the internet. That can leave a patient’s private information and the devices their lives depend on vulnerable to hackers.

Aviation and Aerospace

Home to the Kennedy Space Center, one of NASA’s two main home bases, Florida is home to one of the largest aerospace industries in the country. 

In addition, Florida is a hub for both commercial and scientific companies, with about 120 commercial airports, as Florida serves as an entry point for many tourists and immigrants from the Caribbean and South America. Companies such as Boeing and General Dynamics have major operations in Florida, as well as the military, with prominent bases in Florida, including the MacDill Air Force Base.

This tech-heavy industry requires cybersecurity professionals to protect sensitive information, making it a great field to pursue a cybersecurity career.

What Are Some Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs?

There are two kinds of cybersecurity roles: defensive (blue team) and offensive (red team) cybersecurity. 

On a defensive cybersecurity team, you’ll be responsible for defending your organization from cyberattacks by building, maintaining, and monitoring security protocols and systems.

Some entry-level defensive cybersecurity roles include: 

  • Network Security Administrator: Helps secure computer systems and networks by developing an organization’s security infrastructure and continually analyzing organization-wide systems for suspicious activity.
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst: Monitors an organization’s IT systems and infrastructure for suspicious activity and patches vulnerabilities. 
  • Information Security Researcher: Analyzes various types of malware or intrusive software developed by hackers and develops security responses. 
  • Network Operations Center (NOC) Technician: Oversees intricate network components, maintains network infrastructure, and troubleshoots network issues. 
  • Digital Forensics Examiner: Recovers, collects, and analyzes data in computer-based crimes to aid in investigations. 

On an offensive cybersecurity team, you’ll simulate the acts of a cyberattack to test your organization’s cybersecurity. This is also called “ethical hacking,” where you simulate real cyberattacks to understand how a cybercriminal could succeed at hacking your system.

Some entry-level offensive cybersecurity roles include: 

  • Penetration Tester: Performs authorized tests on IT systems to expose vulnerabilities cybercriminals could exploit. 
  • Offensive Cybersecurity Analyst: Runs vulnerability assessments to test the security of an organization’s digital infrastructure, reporting breaches and weaknesses. 
  • Red Team Operator: Remains current on all industry trends and new cyberattacks and runs penetration testing exercises. 
  • Ethical Hacker: Deploy advanced penetration tests on an organization’s systems to spot any breaches in its security setup. 
  • Vulnerability Assessment Analyst: Scans and detects weaknesses in applications and networks to advise organizations on strengthening the security of their systems. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of cybersecurity roles, we have a helpful guide that breaks down the positions for you.

entry level cybersecurity professional working on computer

How Much Do Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs Pay?

The salary of your cybersecurity position can vary depending on your location, experience, and niche. 

However, there is data out there that can give you a better picture of what the cybersecurity salary range looks like. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for information security analysts was $103,590 in May 2020.

As an entry-level cybersecurity professional, your compensation doesn’t just depend on the area in which you work. Your education and training, certifications, previous experience, and more should also be factored into your wage. 

Gain the Cybersecurity Skills Employers Are Seeking

Today, most cybersecurity professionals have studied Computer Science, Software Engineering, IT, and related courses. Although a college degree is not a necessity, you need to learn:

  • Security and networking basics
  • Logging and security monitoring procedures
  • Network defense
  • Cryptography
  • User access and controls
  • Web application security techniques

If you are interested in learning cybersecurity on a professional level, you can get in-depth, hands-on training with the University of Central Florida Cyber Defense Professional Certificate program. In less than a year, you can learn the skills you need to land a job and excel in your new cybersecurity role. 

You will have access to immersive lectures, portfolio-building exercises, virtual labs, and experiential simulations that teach critical skills such as implementing security measures, responding to cyberattacks, protecting business and consumer data, and more. 

You’ll also learn skills applicable to a wide range of cybersecurity certifications such as CompTIA Network+, AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, and LPI Linux Essentials.

The program also includes career services like resume-building assistance, interview training, LinkedIn profile optimization, and job placement assistance during and after you complete the program.

Don’t just take our word for it. See what learners who have gone through the program themselves are saying! 

Antonio Burgess 

John Hicks

Helen Danish

Want to learn more about pursuing a rewarding career in cybersecurity? Download our course catalog below to see a breakdown of the skills you can gain in our classes at the Cyber Defense Professional Program at UCF.

download our course catalog to discover our cybersecurity classes

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