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The cost of cybersecurity breaches in 2018 alone was more than $654 billion. This includes 2.8 billion pieces of data from consumers that were exposed and potentially stolen and sold on the black market. To protect a business from highly sought-after consumer data, cybersecurity jobs are in heavy demand. However, finding ways to get into this newly emerging career field is still tricky. Here are some ways to navigate the pathway to a cybersecurity career while having some fun along the way with games and networking—beyond IT.

Applicable Computer-Based Starter Careers

If you’re transitioning into cybersecurity from another career field, there is a good chance your background can give you a head-start on success. For example, skills from working in IT and computers in some capacity or other often translate into the cybersecurity sector. You’ve gained a unique perspective on how IT and computer programming works from your personal experience, giving you an edge.

If you are interested in IT or computer programming, a career as a computer software engineer or IT technician is a good place to start. Jobs in web administration, network engineering, IT customer service or database administration are also applicable. For those who have a background as a computer systems analyst or system administrator, this is a natural pathway as well. These careers all give you the background you need to effectively pursue a career in cybersecurity. Make a list of any of the programming skills and IT technologies you have used when working in these careers and include these on your college program application.

Basic Skills for Cybersecurity Students

By the time you graduate from an accredited cybersecurity program, such as the Cybersecurity concentration we offer here at Post University, you should have developed certain skills. This involves being adept at networking and database management, as well as web applications and systems administration. These IT skills are fundamental for any cybersecurity professional in order to provide expert services for IT clients and businesses.

In addition, you also need to be able to manage daily IT operations. This includes storage and security for networks and server equipment along with applications. You are also in charge of managing the users of these systems. Therefore, you need to have customer service skills in IT, specifically to be able to provide maintenance and repairs for employers, staff, and customers.

How to Get Started With a Cybersecurity Career

For students who lack any of these skills and are just getting started, there is a pathway to success. Start with learning how to code—it’s absolutely essential for becoming a cybersecurity expert. Of course, you will learn more coding skills as you progress through your studies, but coming into a cybersecurity program with some coding experience is a definite plus.

At Post, we provide you with the background you need to manage clients and customers from the individual level to enterprise-size businesses. Along with learning the language, we also provide opportunities to get hands-on experience working with the types of computer equipment you’ll work with in the field. You’ll also learn what it takes to:

Rebuild Computers

In order to understand how to protect the security of computer systems, you have to understand the basic technology behind how this equipment works. Prepare for a career in cybersecurity by taking apart computers and rebuilding them. Choose to use existing terminals and old computers you have or invest in a gently used netbook to get started. This hands-on practice of working with computer hardware is a great way to learn the behind-the-scenes of computer programming.

Construct a Cybersecurity Lab

You can also construct a cybersecurity lab with multiple PCs connected to a wireless router via a firewall. The connection should have a network switch and other essentials to mock a computer lab. From here you can practice hacking into the security of your own system. Start by learning how to properly secure the server network and terminals. Then see how efficiently you are able to hack the system from a variety of methods. This is the best way to get into the mindset of the future cybercriminals you will be detecting.

Participate in Cybersecurity Contests

Did you know that you can play games involving cybersecurity that are actually fun? There are Capture the Flag competitions held for cybersecurity. According to Cisco, conferences for cybersecurity featuring Capture the Flag events have been around since 1996. These competitions let individuals of all skill levels test their cybersecurity strengths in a real-time event. This challenge helps stimulate and develop insight and experience into how cybersecurity and cybercriminals work. The Capture the Flag game is set up and played like a Jeopardy game. Topics that are included in the gameplay have been Steganography, Scanning, Physical Security and Cryptography.

Network in Cybersecurity

Yes, networking in cybersecurity often refers to the IT side of the issue. However, there are other forms of networking going on behind the scenes at these cybersecurity conferences and CTF events. You have the opportunity to mix and mingle as you network with other cybersecurity students, experts, and hackers, too. At these events, you can learn a great deal about the niche areas of cybersecurity, which can lead you to sharpen your career focus. You are better positioned to take the most appropriate coursework to help you develop your cybersecurity background.

Start Today

Ready to learn more? Contact Post University today and start taking advantage of the opportunities afforded with the Cybersecurity concentration of our Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems degree program.