How to Get Into Cyber Security

In our interconnected world, cyber security is extremely important. It's no surprise that many people are exploring how to get into cyber security or reroute their current career path. Luckily, there are several options.

At DeVry University, we offer an Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security as well as a variety of other technology-focused degree programs to help you start building your career. In this article, you'll learn some key elements of what you need to know about this rapidly expanding profession as we explore the following topics:

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What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is a discipline within the technology field that involves data, networks, computer systems and information security. The goal of cyber security professionals is to keep these digital spaces safe from cyberattacks and other breaches.

These days, everyone needs to have a basic understanding of how to protect their information online. In fact, the very act of keeping secure passwords for your accounts on the internet is an act of cyber security.

Of course, professional-level cyber security is far more complex than just installing antivirus software on a home computer. People who work in this field engage in a variety of practices that help keep data safe, from establishing and setting up best practices for a company, to simulating a hacking attempt to discover a system’s weak points.

What Background Do I Need to Get Into Cyber Security?

While some candidates may already have a background in IT or network management, you don't necessarily need to be a tech pro to work in this field.

Pursuing an education in cyber security before applying for jobs in the field might help you prepare to make the transition. Earning a degree or certificate in cyber security can help demonstrate to future employers that you have learned vital skills related to this industry.

At DeVry, we offer an Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security, an Associate Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking, and a Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Cyber Security Programming that can help you build skills focused on keeping data and customers safe from digital attacks.

What Qualifications Could Help Me Pursue a Career in Cyber Security?

In addition to a certificate or degree, the following industry certifications may also help you stand out while pursuing a career in cyber security:

  • CompTIA A+: This certification demonstrates your ability to perform troubleshooting, hardware, operating systems and network-related tasks.

  • CompTIA Cloud+: This certification confirms your ability to troubleshoot, set up and manage cloud computing systems securely.

  • CompTIA LINUX+: This certification shows employers and other cyber security professionals that you know how to use the Linux operating system to manage networks and devices.

  • CompTIA NETWORK+:This certification verifies your knowledge of emerging technologies and how to build and maintain a network.

  • CompTIA PenTest+: A particularly valuable certification for cyber security professionals, this test verifies your offensive capabilities. In a cyber security setting, these skills can be used to test the efficacy of security systems by simulating a cyberattack.

  • CompTIA Security+: This certification confirms that you can perform basic cyber security functions.

  • EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker: : This certification indicates you are capable of performing hacking tasks that can be used to test the security of a network.

  • EC Council Certified Network Defender: : This certification verifies that you are able to create strong, secure networks and programs. It's highly recommended that cyber security professionals pursue this credential.

By combining one or more of these industry certifications with an undergraduate certificate or degree, you may be able to distinguish yourself from other candidates when seeking a job.

How Long Does It Take to Prepare for a Cyber Security Position?

Because there are so many different paths and specialties within the cyber security field, there’s no specific amount of time it would take to earn a degree. But in general, most positions within this industry usually require at least a bachelor's degree. Most bachelor's degree programs take roughly four years to complete. At DeVry, our Bachelor's Degree Specialization in Cyber Security Programming can be completed in as little as 2 years and 8 months1.

What Programming Languages Do I Need to Know to Pursue a Role in Cyber Security?

Programming language requirements may be different between jobs, and some jobs may look for candidates who know certain programming languages over others. However, there are some languages that are worth knowing no matter where you wish to work:
 
  • PHP: This is the primary programming language for creating websites. It's a favorite language of hackers and can be used to initiate denial of service (DoS) attacks on servers. You may consider learning this language to help you defend a websites against attackers.

  • JavaScript: As the core language of the internet, JavaScript, or Java, is vital to any cyber security professional. Understanding this language can help you protect your own website while remaining aware of what malicious script looks like when encountered.

  • Python and SQL: Python is renowned for its flexibility, while SQL directly relates to managing stored data. Understanding both languages can help you stand out when the time comes to begin your career search.

What Kind of Careers are in the Cyber Security Sector?

As the world becomes more reliant on web services and digital assets, cyber security becomes more important. Thanks to the expansion of technology across nearly every industry, there are a variety of different specialties and disciplines that offer distinct career paths within the cyber security sector2.

  • Forensics Expert: Computer forensics experts are called in in the hopes of tracing the attack back to the source. These professionals analyze cyberattacks in order to collect evidence and identify the perpetrator of the attack.

  • Cyber Security Specialist: These professionals work alongside IT professionals to develop and test systems. Their primary duties involve looking for weaknesses within existing security, creating best practices for employees and building secure networks.

  • Information Security Analyst: An information security analyst protects networks and data through the application of defensive software. They mostly focus on keeping sensitive data safe, though they may also work on general system security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is expected to grow, on a national level, by about 33% between 2020 and 20302.
  • Software Developer: While not directly in the realm of cyber security, software developers need to know how to protect the systems they create and the data they collect. Many of the skills you can learn in a cyber security bachelor's degree program are applicable to software development.

  • Computer Programmer: Coders and programmers typically need to know how to keep their software programs protected and safe to use. It’s one reason why it’s helpful for a computer programmer to have some background in cyber security as well.

Take the First Step Toward an Education in Cyber Security

At DeVry, we have a long history of helping people build the skills they need as they work toward their chosen technology. We’ve developed our Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security to stack3 with our Associate Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking and our Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology with a specialization in Cyber Security to help you get on your way as soon as possible.


1 Not including breaks. Assumes year-round, full-time enrollment.
2https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.html Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location.
3At the time of application to the next credential level, an evaluation of qualifying transfer credit will occur and the most beneficial outcome will be applied.