Transitioning from IT to Cybersecurity: A Step-by-Step Guide to Update Your Skills

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Transitioning from a career in IT to cybersecurity is a bold and strategic move these days. As the demand for cybersecurity professionals continues to grow, updating your skills can open up numerous opportunities in this field. In this blog, we provide a step-by-step guide to help you understand how to update your skills and qualify for cybersecurity roles.

Cybersecurity: Be in demand

The field of cybersecurity is growing every year as companies realize how imperative it is to protect their networks and data. According to the Cybersecurity Ventures 2019 Cybersecurity Market Report, worldwide spending on cybersecurity is expected to exceed one trillion dollars by 2025. As companies struggle to keep up with the rising threat of cyber-crime, they're having one major problem: they can't find enough qualified candidates.

That's right, cybersecurity specialists are so in demand that the number of open positions has outstripped the number of qualified applicants by as much as two to one in some industries. So, what's holding applicants back? About one-third of information security jobs require a cybersecurity certification, compared to 23 percent of all IT jobs.

So, what steps should you take if you're looking to expand your IT skill set to cybersecurity?

Step 1: Assess your current IT skills

Start by evaluating your existing IT skills and identifying areas that overlap with cybersecurity. Look for relevant experience in networking, systems administration, database management, or software development. Assess your strengths and weaknesses to determine the areas where you need to enhance your knowledge.

Step 2: Understand the cybersecurity landscape

Immerse yourself in the cybersecurity domain to understand its various aspects. Research the current threat landscape, emerging trends, and the skills in demand. Explore different cybersecurity domains such as network security, application security, incident response, and governance.

ACI Learning tip: A great way to do that is to follow industry leaders and subject matter experts on social media, YouTube and through podcasts. We love following our own friends here at ACI Learning, who share the latest tech and cybersecurity industry news through the popular Technado podcast.

Step 3: Choose a path

Based on your interests and existing skills, select a specific cybersecurity path to pursue. This could be network security, application security, penetration testing, security operations, or any other area that aligns with your goals. Focusing on a specific path will allow you to target your learning efforts effectively.

ACI Learning tip: Learn more about popular cybersecurity career paths in this blog.

Step 4: Acquire foundational knowledge

Obtain a solid foundation in cybersecurity by acquiring fundamental knowledge. Start with the basics of security principles, network protocols, operating systems, and secure coding practices. This will provide you with a strong base to build upon.

ACI Learning tip: Learn more about the cybersecurity skills gap here.

Step 5: Enroll in cybersecurity training programs

Explore formal training programs, online courses, and certifications that specialize in cybersecurity. Look for reputable organizations and institutions that offer comprehensive training in your chosen path. Some well-known certifications include CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).

ACI Learning tip: Learn more about our smart, on-demand training options.

Step 6: Gain experience

Practical experience is crucial for transitioning to a cybersecurity role. Seek opportunities to apply your knowledge in real-world scenarios. Consider volunteering for cybersecurity projects, contributing to open-source security tools, or participating in bug bounty programs. Building a portfolio of practical projects will demonstrate your skills to potential employers.

ACI Learning tip: Our Practice Labs allow learners to practice their new skills in safe, lab simulated environment.

Step 7: Engage in Capture the Flag (CTF) Challenges

Participate in Capture the Flag (CTF) challenges and competitions. CTFs are cybersecurity challenges designed to test your skills across various domains. They provide hands-on experience in solving real-world security problems and enhance your problem-solving abilities.

Step 8: Network in the profession

Networking plays a vital role in any career transition. Engage with the cybersecurity community by attending industry conferences, joining online forums, and participating in local meetups. Networking can lead to valuable connections, mentorships, and potential job opportunities.

ACI Learning tip: We believe that connecting to others in the industry is critical to succeeding in a cybersecurity role. That's why we provide engaging webinars and live events on social media, as well as opportunities to connect in person.

Step 9: Continuously learn and stay updated

Cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field, so it's essential to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies. Follow reputable cybersecurity blogs, subscribe to industry newsletters, and join professional associations. Continuously learn and enhance your skills to adapt to the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

ACI Learning tip: Our ACI Learning Hubs provide a unique set of services including more traditional learning modalities, instructor mentor support and career services support.

Step 10: Obtain industry-recognized certifications

As you gain expertise in your chosen cybersecurity path, pursue industry-recognized certifications. Certifications provide validation of your skills and knowledge, making you more competitive in the job market. Research certifications relevant to your chosen path and invest time in preparing for and obtaining them.

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