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Skills and qualifications needed for a career in cyber security

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Rebekah Valero-Lee Candidate Advice

With data breaches becoming a pressing problem for a growing number of businesses across a wide range of industries, the demand for highly skilled cybersecurity professionals is on the rise. In fact, as many businesses move online and become more technologically advanced, the issue of information security is only set to increase in priority.

As such, for individuals with an interest in IT, computer science or cyber-crime, cyber security could be a very fruitful career path. However, since cyber security is a particularly broad field and information security specialists can have a diverse range of responsibilities, not to mention work in a vast number of industries, information security specialists will need a comprehensive skill set.

Skills needed for a career in cyber security

Not sure if you’re cut out for a career in cyber security? Well, if your interest is sparked by the idea of becoming an information security analyst, penetration tester or a computer forensics investigator, you may already possess a few skills crucial for one of these roles. A competent information security professional will need:

  • Strong analytical skills and a keen eye for spotting trends in data
  • The ability to make decisions with confidence and show initiative
  • To be able to work effectively under pressure and meet tight deadlines
  • Have a keen attention to detail and work in a logical and objective fashion
  • To be well organised and able to manage their own time
  • The ability to work creatively and think outside of the box
  • Strong communication skills, as well as the ability to adapt communication styles to suit different audiences
  • To have a clear understanding of confidentiality issues and relating laws
  • An inquisitive nature and a keen interest in the IT sector

 Cyber Security Qualifications

If you believe you possess several of the skills above and have a passion for information security, you may want to think about pursuing a career in cyber security. If you’re at the start of your professional career, one of the best ways to get into the information security sector is to take a relevant degree subject.

Although in some cases it is possible to move across from other IT roles into a cyber security position, this is becoming more difficult as cyber security careers increase in popularity. If you’re interested in a cyber security career, one of the following degree subjects will help you along the career path:

  • IT
  • Cyber security
  • Computer science
  • Forensic computing
  • Network engineering
  • Networks and security
  • Mathematics, physics or other STEM subjects

If you’re already working in the cyber security sector, you may want to take a few other cyber security qualifications to further your career. With a whole range of industry related certifications out there, it’s important that professionals only take modules that apply to their specialism. Here are a few extra qualifications available that cyber security specialists might want to consider:

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

Great for professionals just starting out in cyber security, this qualification only requires one year’s experience and provides the perfect opportunity for individuals to prove their technical skills and security knowledge.

To gain the SSCP qualification, individuals will need to have a comprehensive, up-to-date knowledge of all the skills and information required to thrive in this industry, with modules covering topics such as risk identification and cryptography. Finally, those studying for the SSCP will be assessed by a three-hour exam.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The most commonly held qualification amongst information security specialists, the CISSP is often essential for career development in this industry. Individuals will need to have around four or more years’ experience and tend to be of consultant or managerial level.

The qualification covers eight cyber security disciplines, including asset security, security engineering and identity and access management, before culminating in a six-hour exam. The certification is a globally recognised achievement of excellence and is one of the requirements of the ISO/IEC Standard 17024.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

A qualification for professionals with at least five years’ experience working in the industry, the CISM certification is a great way to further your career. You must have completed the required five years of work experience, which includes at least three years in an information security management position, before you obtain the qualification. To receive the accreditation, you must have completed your work experience within 10 years’ prior to submitting the application.

If you’re looking to further your career, why not find out if you could progress quicker in a new position? Take a look at our latest IT job listings to see if you can take your career to the next level.