A Beginner’s Guide to Breaking Into the Tech Industry

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Pursuing a rewarding career that offers a sense of purpose and fulfillment is a top goal for many career-aged adults. They search for careers that allow for impact and a path for continued growth and success. 

If you’re looking to transition into a secure and rewarding career, cybersecurity may be the right fit for you. In tech-saturated California, just about every organization relies on internet connectivity to keep their operations functional; however, they may not always account for every vulnerability within their networks. 

Citizens are also at risk of having their identity or financial information stolen or having their devices and files infected with malware. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of identity theft complaints in California increased by almost 50%. As a result, cybersecurity professionals are growing in demand to help maintain the first line of defense against these online criminals. In other words, California is long overdue for cybersecurity upgrades. 

fingerprint security

What Skills Do I Need for a Cybersecurity Career?

You don’t need to be a computer whizz to pursue a tech career. Many professionals in the field pivot from unrelated backgrounds or train from scratch with a degree or accelerated career-prep program. Those who pivot from non-tech sectors, including customer service, business administration, or even hospitality have already developed useful skills that can be easily applied to a cybersecurity role.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are non-technical skills that make it easier to navigate the professional landscape, such as critical thinking, effective communication, and a keen eye for detail. The soft skills you build throughout your professional career are not usually specific to one industry so you won’t have to worry about whether or not your current job is equipping you with the right soft skills for a cybersecurity career. 

Important soft skills for cybersecurity:

  • Innate curiosity
  • Determination
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Communication (written and verbal)

Hard Skills

The exact hard skills you will need to develop will vary depending on the type of career path you want to pursue. Most people think being a cybersecurity professionals means spending all of your time in a server room tangled in wires. In reality, “cybersecurity professionals” can look very different from role to role. While the titles and functions may differ, there are some basic hard skills every professional must possess.  

Important hard skills for cybersecurity:

  • Proficiency in cybersecurity fundamentals
  • Ability to test networks and vulnerabilities
  • Working knowledge of Python and other programming languages
  • Understanding mitigation and security measures
  • Performing data analysis and digital forensics

With the right training and skills, almost anyone can excel in a cybersecurity position and help defend data for people worldwide.

Upskilling for Experienced Professionals

New types of cyberattacks and constant technological innovation ensure that the cybersecurity landscape is always changing. It’s important to continue learning new skills and stay updated on new developments in the space, which is why even those with years in a particular field can benefit from taking specialized courses. 

Agricultural workers, for example, make up a large part of California’s workforce and need to stay up-to-date with new smart devices and learn how to protect them and the networks they run on. Someone with a cybersecurity background can help make an impact by keeping these technologies and those who rely on this industry safe.

smartphone security

Is Cybersecurity Right for Me?

Cybersecurity is an excellent option when considering a career path. For starters, if you are naturally proficient with computers or tech-savvy in general, cybersecurity can be a space where you use your interests for good. 

Speaking of doing good, cybersecurity professionals do help make a difference in their organizations and communities. They defend and protect sensitive information and secure the critical networks we rely on on a daily basis. Similar to police officers, firefighters, and detectives, cybersecurity professionals can play a critical role in areas like criminal justice and community management. 

Job security plays a large role in the allure of this career path. As demand for qualified professionals continues to increase, there is an enormous talent gap that is making cybersecurity one of the more consistently in-demand career paths out there. Every industry, whether it’s goods and services, entertainment, manufacturing, etc., has a need for cybersecurity and IT as long as their employees are relying on internet connection and technologies to keep their operation running. 

Becoming a Cyber Professional With No Previous Experience

No experience? No problem! The first step towards becoming a cybersecurity professional is getting proper training. 

Cybersecurity Training

Whether you’re inexperienced or you want to sharpen your current skills, there are a few ways to get the training you need. 

The traditional route of a four-year university program can be a great way to meet like-minded individuals, grow your network, and learn the fundamentals of computer science. Many undergraduate degrees offer information technology, computer programming, or cybersecurity-adjacent courses to help you gain knowledge, learn techniques, and retain theoretical information. However, many people find that a four-year degree is not suitable for their lifestyle due to financial, familial, or other considerations. 

Self-training can be a great way to expose yourself to an array of concepts and techniques at a fraction of the cost. Eager learners can find free resources, internships, online classes, networking opportunities, and study the subject on their schedule. With enough self-training and discipline, you may be able to gain globally recognized certifications; however, the learning curve can be quite steep if you’re a beginner with no previous exposure.   

Accelerated career-prep programs are a great option if you’re looking for flexibility and a program that delivers hands-on training based on your level of experience. This route of training is usually favored by many thanks to their flexibility, price tag, and fast pace. 

With the CSULB Cybersecurity Professional Certificate Program, learners finish in under a year—which means you will be qualified to start applying for jobs in the field in less time than most traditional schooling options. Rather than getting a degree, students receive a Certificate of Completion after 400 hours of extensive training and practical learning, including cyber labs and simulations of real-life cybersecurity scenarios to gain real experience! 

working from home

Certifications

When talking about “breaking into the industry,” hands-on training and a working knowledge of the fundamentals is enough to get you started. If you want to stand out from the crowd, however, getting certified is your best bet. Industry certifications show employers that you’re proficient in a particular area or function. Some cybersecurity roles require specific certifications but these are the recommended cybersecurity certifications for beginners:

  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA): Penetration Testing

Start Today. Defend Tomorrow.

Want real training with real pros? The CSULB Cybersecurity Professional Certificate Program offers online classes led by active cybersecurity experts who are passionate about transferring their knowledge and experience to you via hands-on training and simulation labs. Learn the relevant techniques professionals are using in the cybersecurity field today and prepare for some of the more recognized certifications in the industry. 

Get serious about your cybersecurity career. Get in touch with our admissions advisors by calling 562-359-4787 or filling out the form below.

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