Moving from IT to Cybersecurity

Moving from IT to Cybersecurity

IT specialists have been part of the business landscape for decades, and are integral to the operation and management of a company’s technological assets. But positions in today’s cybersecurity world can be far more advanced than traditional IT positions.

Starting a Career in Cybersecurity

As an IT specialist, you’re already familiar with many aspects of administrating a company’s network. You bring experience, technical ability and fluency with the language of computers, firewalls and virus protection. You probably have some knowledge of coding and most likely are familiar with a corporate environment. So why would you make the leap to cybersecurity?

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics lists many different levels of information and technology specialists and their average salaries.

  • Computer Support Specialist: Assists users with various problems and plays a supporting role to IT; an average salary is $51,470.
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator: Responsible for the day-to-day operations of a network; they make an average of $77,810.
  • Computer Programmers: Write and test code so computers can run applications and software; they average of $79,530.
  • Computer Systems Analysts: Design information systems that help both the business side and the tech side of a company; they make an average of $85,800.
  • Computer Network Architects: Design and implement complete data communication networks and their cybersecurity infrastructure. Salaries for this position average $100,240.

With every level of higher education and experience, a person can expect more challenging tasks, more responsibility and a higher salary.

How to Get into Cybersecurity

The NJVC, an information technology support company used by the federal government and the Department of Defense, suggests that a professional in the IT field who hopes to become a cybersecurity professional should first decide which area most matches his or her background.

"Cybersecurity is a wide-ranging field with varying requirements and skill sets," says NJVC’s website. "It is a wide collection of disciplines reflecting the overall mission, using various methods and technologies to protect IT systems and data against compromise and attack.

"Specialties include a focus on information or network devices, or computer systems or software applications. Some cybersecurity professionals are process-driven, working on security policies and documents. Others are hardware-driven, configuring and modifying and maintaining a suite of hardware products to protect IT systems. Still others are software-focused, building Websites and applications that are resistant to external tampering and that deliver intended results and utilize protected data in a secure manner."

Professional certifications are respected ― and sometimes required ― in the information technology industry, and are valuable for any IT specialist who wants to boost his or her skillset and cybersecurity profile. A few certifications to consider include:

  • GIAC Security Essentials: The GSE Security Expert (GSE) certification is considered the most prestigious in the industry. It consists of a multiple-choice test and a 2-day lab exam that includes an incident response scenario and multiple hands-on exercises. It has prerequisite certifications.
  • CISSP Certified Information Systems Security Professional: A certification that covers multiple dimensions of security and risk management, engineering, communications and software development.
  • SSCP Systems Security Certified Practitioner: A next step, SSCP certification signifies your competency in such areas as risk identification, monitoring and analysis, incident response and cryptography.
  • CISM Certified Information Security Manager: CISM certification can mean career advancement and higher salary levels. It certifies your competence in designing, managing, overseeing and assessing information security programs.

How to Become a Master in Cybersecurity

Should you consider transitioning from IT to cybersecurity? There are a number of possible benefits to such a move, including increased autonomy in your career, higher salaries and a wide-open job market.

"Comprehensive computer and network security requires professionals who can step beyond traditional IT roles to design, execute and evaluate solutions that can stand up to today’s increasingly sophisticated attacks," says the University of Delaware, which offers an online master of science degree in cybersecurity. The 30-credit degree program can be completed in as few as two years.

"Businesses are scrambling to hire IT professionals with knowledge and experience in cyber-security," writes Kelly Sheridan for Information Week. "A shortage of skilled cyber-security practitioners is leaving organizations across all industries vulnerable to attack."

Find more information on the master’s in cybersecurity program offered by the University of Delaware Online.

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