In a global economy in which the narrative is overwhelmingly one of automation and the decline of the traditional workplace, one industry is seriously bucking the trend: Cyber security. The boom in the number and variety of Internet connected things, and the systems that support them, has created a $120b industry around the world with a talent shortfall in the skills required of over a million jobs. Australia is no exception to this trend, and with digital services domestic and international coming in at 7% of the economy and rising, it's a serious growth area. So how do you transition from other areas of IT to cyber security?
Starting from scratch
For young people looking for a stable career path in an uncertain world, cyber security represents a great investment. It's an industry nowhere near its peak, and one lacking in new talent, so it attracts a very favourable pay scale too. Average pay stands at $7k USD more than other IT jobs, with an average salary of $88k USD a year. It also goes without saying that job security is high, too. A tidy sum for anyone to consider. Cyber security is available in a range of college and apprenticeship qualifications, and while it's not 100% necessary to have a BA or BSc in the field, it can help boost your promotion and hiring prospects as well as your earning potential.
For existing IT professionals worried about the future or just looking for that next career change, cyber security also presents an amazing opportunity for career progression. For all the advantages of formal qualifications, the bread and butter of cyber security work is practical experience and understanding the systems you'll be working to protect from top to bottom. Whatever field of IT you work in, there's always a corresponding field of cyber security to work in. For example: web developers transfer easily to website and online security experts, network admins make great forensic security specialists, while exchange administrators can easily convert to working in email and phishing security.
Building your experience
Regardless of how you plan to enter cyber security, constantly building your knowledge and familiarity with the industry is the best way to stand yourself in good stead. This can be achieved in a variety of practical and non-practical ways, all the way from reading the latest news and participating in expert forums on security subjects to building your own mock security systems and volunteering your time as an amateur to charities or online security projects. There are also hundreds of courses, programmes, certifications and training in security and security related fields like coding languages or Massive Open Online Courses that can formally boost your skills. Not only will these be of genuine practical use in the field, they'll also look great on your resume when you make applications.
Join the community
Like many fields in IT, security is a serious global community of experts and volunteers alike helping each other to share and disseminate information in the form of blogs, newsletters, podcasts and videos. Immersing yourself in that community, lending help and expertise, and just being visible is a great way to get your foot in the door.