Jobs in Cybersecurity
A little about myself: I have over three decades of experience in IT, including cybersecurity. I’ve been teaching IT certifications for a few years now, helping people get jobs in cybersecurity. As part of who I am, I like to help people, so I participate in a few IT study groups in Facebook-land so I can share my knowledge and experience with those who are needing help getting hired in cybersecurity. So, how does that lead to the title of our blog today? Let me answer that question with a question, the answer to which is another question.
“I want to get into cybersecurity. What cert should I get next?”
What do you think is the number one question I see in all those groups? Several times a week, I see this one: “What cert should I get next?” or the equivalent. What do you think is the number one area people are trying to get into? Cybersecurity.
Short answer: I can’t tell you. Nobody can tell you, especially not in a Facebook group.
Better answer: You can tell yourself, but you yourself must do the research. I’m here to give you the tools you need to do that research!
Know Your Market
You need to know your market. Is there a cybersecurity need where you live?
Thankfully, CompTIA has an online tool for us to help do this research, a website called Cyberstates. Feel free to open that link in another tab or window and follow along with me as I help you learn how to use the site.
My personal favorite tool is the Interactive Map. It’s going to open with a default view that shows you a national map with shades of blue showing where the jobs are to be found; the darker the blue, the more jobs. If, for example, you live in a huge state like Texas or a densely populated state like California, this might not be the best use of the tool, so let’s dig a little deeper.
First, let’s start by clicking the drop-down arrow next to “Total Tech Sector Jobs” and select “% of Workforce in Tech.” Now, we see the map presented in shades of yellow to green, with the darker green being the highest percentage. The map changed quite a bit, didn’t it? Now, we can see things on a per capita basis instead of just raw total numbers, where places like Texas and California will always dominate because of the high total populations.
Next, click on your state—or on a state to which you are willing to move to get work. OK, it zoomed in. So what? It will make sense as soon as you change the view from “States” to “Metro Areas” by selecting that radio button on the left (above the drop-down we’ve already used). Now we can see some more meaningful data when it comes to our job search for getting hired in cybersecurity. Is it reasonable for me to find a job where I live? Sure, there is a huge demand nationwide for cybersecurity, but that need tends to be concentrated in the major urban centers. Using my own home state of Texas, we see that Austin has a huge percentage, followed by Dallas, San Antonio (my own home), and Houston.
I’m going to click on San Antonio. Go ahead and click on your own area—either where you live or where you want to go. This didn’t really change the map at all except to highlight the major metropolitan area, but don’t get frustrated! It’s time to scroll down to see some helpful demographics. When we scroll down, we see quite a few helpful pieces of information.
The “Tech Job Postings” graphic tells me that there are (as of this writing) nearly 25,000 tech job postings in the San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX, area! Cool beans!! This means there is a lot of need and a lot of people getting hired in cybersecurity.
Now, I’m going to look at the “Leading Tech Occupation Jobs” section. Sweet!! There are nearly 4500 specifically in cybersecurity. This means I can find that job in the career path I desire to enter.
Can I make a living on it, even if I am qualified? Let’s take a quick peek at the “Tech Occupation Wages” section. “Median tech wages are 92% higher than median national wages.” Holy guacamole!! Considering the fact that San Antonio’s cost of living is several points below national average, I’m looking at a pretty good return on investment if I spend the time and money to get into cybersecurity here.
Am I Qualified?
Now comes the big question with which we started: “What cert(s) should I get?” To learn that, we must research the job postings themselves, so we’ll need a job search site, which will help you in getting hired in cybersecurity. I’m going to use Dice.com, but feel free to use your own favorite, whether it be Indeed or CareerBuilder or whatever.
I found, in a quick search, a job posting for “Information Security Professional- Vulnerability Management.” First, I’m going to scroll through, scanning the job description and responsibilities to see if this is even something I want to do. As I near the bottom of the posting, I will find sections like Education and Qualifications. In this case, it says I need a high school diploma (Good; I’ve got one of those) and certification in “Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) or CompTIA Security+.” Guess what? I do not have the first two, but I do have the last one! That means I have met both the education and certification qualifications for this job and getting hired in cybersecurity.
But what would I do if I had not met the requirements? Well, CISSP has a hard requirement of “at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the (ISC)² CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).” OK, that rules out all newcomers. What about GIAC? Oy, vey! Their most basic cert costs $1,899!! So that leaves Security+. I think I can manage that one.
OK, I found where I need to go to get the jobs. I found a job that I want to do. I found a certification that qualifies me for the position. It’s time to go get certified!
Sign up for a certification class. Buy a study guide. Watch online video courses. Do whatever it takes to get yourself there based on your own learning style, budget, and time management. There is no shortage of resources available to you, so get to it!
Your cybersecurity career is waiting for you.