A mate of mine called me this week to talk about a career change for him. He’s moving into IT, yay! He called the right guy.
After a lengthy chat, he said that he had spoken to a career counselor who had told him that doing a cyber security course would be a good idea because there are lots of cyber security jobs out there and employers can’t find the right people for them.
I listened to him for a while then gave him my take on the cyber security field and what I think he should do if I were someone who’s moving from being a masseur into his first IT course and hopefully IT job.
What do you think I told him? It’s simple. Start with a very general cert IV or diploma in information technology. Something that covers networking, systems and support but nothing too specific like cyber security, why? Well, there’s two reasons for this.
Support type role
First, any entry level role in IT is going to be a support type role. It’s going to be on a helpdesk giving user support. You’ll start with basic things but the knowledge that you will need and learn is still based around general networking and systems infrastructure principles. An understanding of TCP/IP, Active Directory, knowing how to create users, change passwords, use folders, and security groups as well as the cloud versions of those technologies. This is the same basic knowledge you’ll need to go into any specialist area of IT, including cybersecurity.
The second reason is simply this, he lives in Perth. And, in Perth at the moment there are not many cyber security roles despite what many people think and what many career counselors are advising. On top of that, of the cyber security roles that do exist almost none of them are applicable for graduate or junior level IT people. Those roles simply don’t exist here.
The companies that are employing security professionals are those that are big enough to have an IT team where security can be a specialist role or specialist area and that role includes all junior and senior responsibilities to do with typical security issues around the perimeter, blue team defense, log checking and threat analysis as well as the broader consulting around security mentality and security thinking throughout the organization.
So, I’ll say it again. Cyber security roles do exist. They’re not in high demand. Particularly not in Perth and very few of them exist at a junior level.
So, if you’re just starting out in your IT career, do a general information technology course. Find a solid support type role where you can cement that skill set. Then, look to specialize in cyber security or some other area when you know more about what’s available, what is genuinely in demand and what takes your interest.