Roadmap to a Cyber Security Career for Beginners

Roadmap to a Cyber Security Career for Beginners

Ready to create your cyber security roadmap (aka IT security roadmap)? You may be wondering how to get started.

Cyber security professionals face a wide range of challenges when it comes to career planning.

That’s because cyber security is a growing field that has nowhere to go but up, and it can be overwhelming to try and learn everything at once.

To help you out and get you on track for a successful career as a cyber security expert, we created this quick guide to getting started and creating your own personalized roadmap!

Table of Contents

The roadmap to a cyber security career for beginners…Click below to jump to a section!

What Is a Cyber Security Roadmap?

Why Is a Cyber Security Roadmap Important?

Which Degree Is Best for Cyber Security?

Cyber Security Roadmap for Beginners

Cyber Security Roadmap Example

What Is a Cyber Security Roadmap?

You need to know where you want your career to go and how best to get there; your goals may be different from those of an expert in the field, but as a beginner you’re mainly interested in learning more about cyber security and figuring out how to make it a career.

That’s where an IT security roadmap comes in; it’s a career plan that helps you get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be) as a cyber security expert.

Why Is a Cyber Security Roadmap Important?

The cybersecurity industry is becoming increasingly complex making it difficult to stay on top of everything that’s going on in the field.

An IT security roadmap helps by providing a visual representation of how your goals fit into the larger organization’s goals, as well as give you milestones on how and when to achieve them.

By developing a roadmap early on in your professional life, you can build a solid foundation for future success – both at work and beyond!

Let’s look at some of the ways a cyber security roadmap can help:

It helps you decide your education

Some cyber security jobs require a bachelor’s degree, while others will accept those with an associate’s or no degree at all.

If you already have experience in IT or cybersecurity, then maybe you don’t need a college degree at all; however, if you don’t have experience, attending college or grad school is a favorable alternative.

For example, if you have years of experience as a network technician, then obtaining a network security certification is probably your best bet. If instead you’re interested in security risk and compliance but have no experience, then you may want to consider a degree in Management Information Systems.

Whatever your interests and needs, a roadmap really helps to lay out a plan to determine if a cyber security degree or certification is right for you.

Read here if you want to know if getting a cybersecurity degree is worth it!

It helps to keep you relevant

By revisiting your IT security roadmap every so often, you’re able to identify the specific skills you need to develop.

It also lets you know what skills and experience are needed for each position along the way so that when it comes time for advancement, there will be no doubt about whether it’s right for you.

By continuously improving your roadmap, you can use it to help build a customized skill set that fits your career goals.

After that, you’ll be able to see where you’ve been, where you’d like to head, and the professional development opportunities needed to help you advance.

It helps to prevent cyber burnout

Professionals that’ve worked in cybersecurity know that cyber burnout is real, and it’s not unusual to put career planning off to the side to deal with work-related issues. But that’s what makes the roadmap even more important.

The last thing you want is to be overworked to the point where you’re now heavily focused on performing your job responsibilities and not spending enough time growing.

By reviewing your cyber security roadmap every six months, you can keep focused on your career goals, the skills you want to learn, and maintain the timetables you’ve set for yourself.

Which Degree Is Best for Cyber Security?

If you’re still concerned about getting the right degree to get a job in cybersecurity, it depends on what you want to do with your career and your experience level.

If you already have some technical knowledge and just need formal training to make yourself more employable, then taking classes online can help fill in some of the gaps in your education and build up your resume.

But if your goal is to become an expert who can lead large teams of people in industry or go into research for major corporations or government agencies, then maybe earning one of the coveted master’s or doctoral degrees is best for building up the skills needed for such high-level positions.

If you’re asking what type of degree is needed to be successful, then any Cybersecurity or IT degree (cybersecurity, networking engineering, computer science, information systems management, etc.) will get you started on the right track for learning about cyber.

To put it another way, there’s no such thing as the “best” degree for cyber security!

Cyber Security Roadmap for Beginners

There’s really a lot that goes into planning for the next five years of your life, so it’s important that you create a cyber security roadmap with a mentor to help guide your career.

Step 1: You first need to assess what skills, knowledge and experience you currently possess, and identify your interests. There’s no sense in creating a plan for something in which you have no passion for. List all the areas where your skills, if any, exist within cyber security (e.g., incident response; forensic analysis; cryptography; etc.). If there’s an area that isn’t listed here but still interests you, consider adding it!

Step 2: You need to gain an understanding of the industry and be realistic in aligning your skills, knowledge, experience, and interests listed in Step 1 with where you’re headed. Don’t suddenly expect to become a cyber security consultant straight out of college.

Step 3: Decide where you want to work; do you wish to stay at your current company, or have you thought about venturing elsewhere? There are many different companies out there that specialize in different areas of cyber and have different professional cultures, including government agencies and private corporations.

Step 4: Once you’ve identified some potential employers, make sure to research their requirements for the types of positions they offer. This doesn’t mean you’ll be applying for those positions; it’s meant to give you an understanding of the general experience and requirements for those types of roles.

Step 5: After identifying some commonly preferred qualifications for the roles you’ve researched, determine what skills you’re lacking, or need to improve upon, and decide the level of knowledge you want to obtain in each area (basic, intermediate, or advanced). Include items such as certifications, degrees, workshops, tools, languages, etc.

Step 6: Associate tasks with each item listed in Step 5. For example, if the item you listed is CISSP certification, then your associated task would be to study for the CISSP exam or take a CISSP bootcamp.

If all the hard work that goes into planning out every step seems overwhelming at first glance (and sometimes even after reflecting on it), then consider breaking down the tasks into smaller chunks by dividing each section (e.g., “Planning”) into subsections (“Strategic” vs “Tactical”).

This allows individuals who may not feel comfortable thinking too far ahead at once–or even just feeling overwhelmed by their workload–to take things one step at a time without losing sight of their long-term goal(s).

Step 7: Then prioritize those tasks based on how much time, money, and effort they require. It’s important to include a timeline so that you can track your progress and ensure that you’re meeting the goals stated on the IT security roadmap. Once you’ve completed the first task, you can move onto the next task, and so on.

Step 8: The final point is often the hardest which is completing the tasks you’ve set out to accomplish and revisiting your roadmap every few months.

Cyber Security Roadmap Example

Let’s say you want to start your career in cyber security by learning about governance, risk, and compliance (GRC); let’s start by assuming you have no knowledge of cybersecurity.

Identify where your interests lay and research the GRC field to ensure your interests match your expectations. Think about where you want to work, the type of culture that fits your personality, and the different types of GRC roles that would suit you.

For GRC, examples of job titles include: GRC Analyst, Compliance Analyst, Security Risk Specialist, Governance and Risk Manager, Cybersecurity Director, GRC Security Engineer, etc. Additionally, companies will quite often include a snippet of their company mission and values in the job description to give you a basic sense of the corporate culture.

Next, try to figure out what all these roles have in common and make note of those skills you share and those that are lacking.

Using Indeed, I did some research of five companies in a particular region and found the following common requirements:

•All requested soft skills such as communication, interpersonal, and problem-solving/analytical skills.

•The ability to work multiple projects either independently or collaborate as part of a team was a common factor across all jobs.

•Be expected to manage the client expectations.

•Some projects required travel.

•Most required obtaining security certifications such as CISA, CISSP, CISM, or CRISC.

•Almost all requested a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems, Computer Science, IT or another Cybersecurity-related field. Very few stated they would be willing to exchange a college education for equivalent experience. Read here if you want to know about getting a job in cyber security without a degree!

•Most required knowledge or experience with security frameworks, security controls, and audit/risk/compliance concepts & methodologies.

•Some desired knowledge or experience with GRC tools such as RSA Archer or ServiceNow.

Then ask yourself what needs to be done to learn those skills and prioritize the ones that are the easiest to complete:

1) Toastmasters Club (ongoing)

2) Take CISSP Certification Bootcamp from ISC2 (2-weeks)

3) Self-Study CISA (1-month)

4) ServiceNow Governance Risk and Compliance Live 1-on-1 Training (3-months)

5) Obtain Bachelor’s Degree of Cybersecurity Management & Policy from UMGC (4-years)

Don’t be discouraged because some tasks may take longer than others. Just stick to the cyber security roadmap you’ve made for yourself, and slowly make your way to the end of each of your tasks.

Interested in More…

Can You Get a Job in Cyber Security Without a Degree?

5 Steps to Become a Cyber Security Manager!

How To Become a Cyber Security Consultant?

How To Get a Cyber Security Internship!

by Amit Doshi

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