How to Start a Career in Cyber Security with No Experience, If you want to start a career in cyber security, but lack experience, there are two main ways you can get your foot in the door. You can gain experience through on-the-job training, or you can go back to school and complete certification programs to build up your skills. Both approaches offer unique advantages, but it’s important to understand how each works before making your decision.
How to Start a Career in Cyber Security with No Experience
- Stop dreaming about it, and begin doing something about it
- Consider your options
- Build your network
- Develop your skills
- Get started with CTF challenges
- Practice, practice, practice
- Let employers know you exist
Stop dreaming about it, and begin doing something about it
You’ve been sitting around thinking about a career in cyber security, and you think it would be perfect for you. But before you start spending money on classes or certifications, there are some things that you need to do first. Before you jump into anything, it’s important that you give yourself every opportunity to succeed.
For most people, figuring out how they can make their dream job into a reality is an overwhelming task at best. That’s why I decided to create what I call The Ultimate Guide for People Who Dream of Working In Cyber Security but Have No Way of Getting There! This guide will give you all of my secrets from getting started, school options, skills needed, and more!
Consider your options
Do you have computer-science degrees or specialized certifications? Are you looking for full-time employment or opportunities for freelance projects? There are many paths that can lead to careers in cyber security. You might want to start by identifying what your interests are, then think about which companies and organizations you want to work for, and where it might be easiest for you to find an entry point. There’s no single path toward entering one of today’s hottest careers, but all roads lead through personal research and networking. If that’s not your thing, don’t worry—the experts will get there eventually.
Build your network
It’s one thing to learn about cybersecurity—and quite another to apply it. Once you have your foundation, get practical training and experience as quickly as possible. There are two primary ways of doing so: by taking courses, and by getting involved in projects that integrate what you’ve learned. The hands-on approach has a number of benefits: it helps you develop an understanding of how to apply information in new situations; it can give you valuable insight into how security experts approach problems, and it shows potential employers that you are willing and able to put your knowledge into practice.
Develop your skills
As you read through this, you may be thinking I have no experience, but I’d like to break into cyber security. How do I get there? The good news is that with some dedication and effort, almost anyone can develop core skills. To do so, you’ll need to start by educating yourself on how hackers operate, what makes their attacks successful (and unsuccessful), and how companies are defending against them.
There are plenty of free resources online—from books to blogs—that will help you learn more about these topics. One great resource for beginners is SANS Institute’s Computer Forensics Tool Testing project (CFTT). This open-source tool allows users to test out different forensic tools without having any prior knowledge of how they work or what they look like. It’s also an excellent way for people interested in cyber security careers to learn more about how these tools work before investing time and money into certification courses or college programs.
Get started with CTF challenges
There are several good ways to gain exposure to cyber security without any previous experience. One of those is CTFs, or Capture The Flag challenges, which involve teams of people trying to solve various difficult-to-crack codes and puzzles. Online platforms like VulnHub offer virtual machines loaded with challenges where participants can compete against each other or even work as part of a team. Don’t worry if you don’t understand anything—at first—because you won’t be alone!
Many companies have an internal CTF program for employees as well, offering another avenue for participation. And some folks make it fun by doing CTFs for free time; finding a group on Slack that works together or independently through challenges is also an option.
Practice, practice, practice
Despite what you might think, you don’t have to be a security expert or even work for an IT company to start breaking into cyber security. While it would be helpful if you already had some basic understanding of how networks function, security companies are also interested in hiring people who come from non-technical backgrounds (for instance, accountants or sales managers).
Don’t worry—they won’t expect you to know anything about network infrastructure at first. The best way to get started is by simply researching various aspects of cyber security and getting your hands dirty. This can be as simple as trying out hacker tools on your own computer or investigating password-cracking techniques on a simulated network.
Let employers know you exist
You can try connecting through LinkedIn, or simply go out and attend local events or conferences where people who work in cyber security might be. However you find them, though, it’s important that you’re meeting them face-to-face. At these events and meetups, make sure you know what cyber security roles exist at their companies so that when your resume comes across their desk they can easily connect your background to an open position at their company. That will increase your chances of getting noticed.
Your resume is just as important as your cover letter and for that reason, it’s crucial that you learn how to write one. Your resume should be well organized, demonstrate your experience in cyber security and emphasize your soft skills. To stand out from other applicants, make sure you customize each part of your resume for every job posting you respond to, demonstrating that you are invested enough to follow through on applying for a specific position. This will allow employers to immediately see your level of interest when reviewing applications.