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Getting a Job in Cybersecurity – update

The question in many people’s minds is, does one need a College Bachelor’s degree or higher (Masters, Phd) to have an IT job?  

The surprising answer, for many, is no. If you search for areas of IT like web development, cybersecurity, software development, mobile app development, and help desk support, you will find that a college degree is not necessary to apply. It is certainly helpful but not a limiting requirement.

What is more important is to demonstrate the type of skills and aptitudes that are common for people with these positions.  Examples:

    • Web/ App Developer: Prove that you have a handle on HTML, Python, Ruby, CSS and JavaScript and that you can use these languages to create attractive and functional web products.
    • Cybersecurity Specialist: Demonstrate experience in a help desk, technical support or networking role and complete cybersecurity training to land one of the hottest IT jobs today. Employers often give preference to candidates with cybersecurity certifications like CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+).
    • Help Desk Technician: Prove that you have the knowledge and skills to help people solve complex technology problems in a corporate environment. Help desk technicians need to be able to troubleshoot and resolve hardware, software, and network issues

The skills and aptitudes typically required are:

    • It is essential in software and web developer roles, where you’ll be expected to come up with bright ideas to create and enhance new products. In other roles, your creativity will come in handy as you come up with innovative ways to address technology concerns.
    • Problem-solving. It is the most important skill to have in tech. If you know you’re tenacious about figuring out solutions, you’ll excel in the field.
    • Attention-to-detail. It is required if you’re trying to fix a line of code or identify a cybersecurity threat, and this skill will get you far in IT.
    • Collaboration within a team. Being able to work within a group to solve problems or implement new solutions is very important. And sometimes, doing it within tight schedules and pressurized environments.

Proving that this is actually true, here are some interesting stats from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: 

    • 26% of IT workers in the US do not hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher
    • 69% of CompTIA certification candidates do not have a degree (source: CompTIA Post Exam Survey)
    • 49% of 2.3 million IT Jobs postings did not require College Degree (2017)
    • 31% hiring growth for Cybersecurity Analysts between 2019 and 2029, growing much faster than average in other careers.

How to Get Started?

OK, you want to try to get an IT job in Cybersecurity. So how do you get started?  Here are our recommendations:

  • Get technical certifications. There are a number of organizations providing self-paced online courses in a wide range of disciplines, including Cybersecurity. A few examples:

a) EDX. An online education provider created by Harvard and MIT. Founded in 2012 they claim thousands of A good example is the “NYUx’s Cybersecurity Fundamentals Microbachelors Program”.  This is a serious adult education program consisting of 9 courses. It is designed to be self-paced with typical duration of 1 year. At the end, the student is considered ready for the CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam.
The cost of this program is approx. $1,500.

b) IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate. This IBM sponsored 8-course Professional Certificate will give you the technical skills to become job-ready for a Cybersecurity Analyst role. It is self-paced typically requiring 8 months to complete. When completing the program successfully, the student receives a Professional Certificate.  This program is available in English but it offers subtitles in different languages like Arabic, French, Portuguese, Italian, Vietnamese, German, Russian and Spanish 

c) Nexus at University of Michigan. They offer a Cybersecurity Professional Bootcamp.  This self-paced program can be completed in less than a year. It is designed for working adults able to go through the sessions on evenings and weekends.  An interesting angle is they include a 30-hour Test Drive free of cost which will give the student an accurate picture of the cybersecurity field and the work that typically needs to be performed. All this before committing financially to the program.

  • Bachelor’s Degree. For comparison’s sake, let’s look at 2 online Bachelor’s degree programs among the many choices:
    1. Western Governors University (WGU). Bachelor’s Cybersecurity Degree and Information Assurance. This program boasts 14 top certifications that allow you to start boosting your résumé before you even graduate. This whole online cybersecurity program is designed to help you earn while you learn, giving you cyber security certification options and allowing you to continue to work while pursuing your online cyber security degree.

Unsurprisingly, the cost is higher than for the technical certifications above. Depending on how long it takes you to complete it, the cost can range from 1 year : $8,500,  2 years:$17,000,  3 years: $25,500.

The program consists of 34 courses and up to 14 CompTIA certifications, included as part of the cost.

    1. Purdue University Global. Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity.  This is a program offering 5 concentrations:Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) Certification, Cloud Computing, Data Management, Game Development, Programming and Analytics. They offer a 3-week introductory course. This is a no-cost course intended to make sure the student is making the right decision before committing financially. Just like WGU, the cost is dependent on how long it takes the student to complete the coursework. They offer credits for prior learning and experience which make the length of the course shorter and thus cheaper.

 As you can see, a Bachelor Degree program is going to be more involved and take longer to complete than a technical certification program. On the other hand, the Bachelor Degree program probably gives you a stronger base with many more options. But, on the other hand, having a new set of credentials quicker that can get you to a new, better paying job, sounds like a significant advantage for the technical certification programs.

Job Outlook

As seen before, the outlook for jobs in the Cybersecurity field is very good.  The prediction is that these types of jobs will grow 31% faster through 2029. Seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4%.  The average salary of a cybersecurity analyst in the US now is $76,603 per year. Pay in this field starts from $53,000 per annum and goes up to $117,000.

Job title examples:

We recommend you to take the University of Michigan Cybersecurity Professional Bootcamp 30-hour free course to see what these jobs are like before committing to any of these programs. Like with anything significant and challenging, you have to like the work a lot before you can expect to be successful.

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