Ask a Career Coach: 4 Cybersecurity Job Tips for Career Changers

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Last updated on June 27, 2022

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Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field as employers across all industries look for qualified candidates. With years of experience helping career changers, Eleven Fifty Academy experts, Pat Rhodes (Vice President of Career Services) and Nick Birch (Co-Founder and Vice President of Learning) share their top four tips for anyone getting into the cybersecurity field today. Plus, find out how Eleven Fifty Academy’s all-encompassing Cybersecurity Bootcamp gives students the skills, hands-on experience, certifications, and job readiness they need to launch their careers.

So Pat & Nick, why should someone launch a cybersecurity career now?

It’s hard to tell if a field will be fully resistant to a recession, but cybersecurity is needed everywhere and in all sectors. Since there are always new hackers and technologies are constantly changing, cybersecurity requires people that are willing to continue to learn. There is a great need for cybersecurity professionals now and in the immediate future. Even if the cybersecurity job market were to slow down, it would just go from red hot to hot.

Tip #1: Certifications are nice to have but not a must.

Cybersecurity certifications are nice to have, but they’re not a necessity to launch a cybersecurity career. Many cybersecurity roles are simply looking for someone with some skills and the capacity to learn rather than someone with specific certifications. A certification may get someone through an applicant tracking system, but that only gets them to the interview. 

Cybersecurity certifications are more helpful when advancing the cybersecurity career ladder. Many Eleven Fifty Academy cybersecurity students look for advanced certifications as they progress. For example: The CISSP certification is a typical certification for more advanced and technical cybersecurity professionals. 

Tip #2: Cyber security employers care about your soft skills too.

It's difficult to succeed in a cybersecurity career without good soft skills. Strong communication, working well on a team, and a desire to continually learn are what employers look for and are all essential to cybersecurity professionals who want to build a successful career. Cybersecurity doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so anyone starting a career should also be comfortable educating an organization on good cyber hygiene practices, including two-factor authentication and best practices for outside emails.

Strong foundational skills are important, too!

Cybersecurity requires specific technical skills as well. Entry-level cybersecurity professionals should have an understanding of network infrastructure, the OSI model, and how firewalls work. They should understand the basics of taking apart and repairing a computer with the correct component. Troubleshooting methodology is highly recommended to perform best practices, too.

Tip #3: Be open to all job opportunities.

Landing your first cybersecurity role is an important step to building a career and it pays to be open to all opportunities: full-time salaried roles, contract work, apprenticeships and internships. When evaluating different cybersecurity roles, ask yourself what size company you want to work for and what kinds of responsibilities and projects you are looking to do. That said, don’t set rigid limits — explore all of your options. And remember that you’re interviewing a company just as much as they’re interviewing you! 

At Eleven Fifty Academy, our cybersecurity students have access to our diverse employer network, including companies like DXC Technology, Health & Hospital Corp. Reveal Risk, Scale AI, SMC. Many Eleven Fifty students find employment in these organizations.

Contract Work vs Full-Time Work: How to Choose

First, it’s important to understand that many contract cybersecurity roles get the same benefits as full-time workers within an organization. Contract roles can be a good way to eventually gain full-time employment at a company, but keep in mind that it can take six months to a year for this change to happen. There are advantages to both and ultimately it depends on what the candidate is looking for.

Should recent bootcamp grads consider apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships aren’t necessary to launching a new cybersecurity career, but bootcamp graduates should absolutely consider them. Apprenticeships are also useful for students that might need some additional training and are ready for real-world experience. 

For example, a recent Eleven Fifty Academy cybersecurity graduate is currently doing an apprenticeship with a Fortune 200 company. The company provides a salary for the apprenticeship, and the graduate receives training that makes them more marketable down the road. She also gets that company brand on her resume, which will send a positive signal to any company she applies to when finding her next job.

Tip #4: Stay humble, keep learning, and network!

Continuous learning, even outside of the cybersecurity field, is essential. Once you get into an organization, map your career path, and learn how to get where you ultimately want to be. Find out which certifications and responsibilities you need in order to advance your career. Beyond that, it’s important to stay humble and constantly build your network.

Making a Career Change into Cybersecurity with Eleven Fifty Academy

Eleven Fifty Academy’s Cybersecurity Bootcamp gives students the skills they need and the experience that allows employers to hire them with confidence. The bulk of our program is oriented around preparing students for the CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications that are widely recognized by the industry. These certifications aren’t easy to get, and yet we have much higher than average pass rates at Eleven Fifty!

Another leg up we have in our learning experience is that we put students through a live-fire range that simulates cyber-attacks and shows students how attacks start, where attacks come from, and how to defend against them. Our students don’t just read about it — they actually do it and that’s a pretty unique experience. This gives them an advantage when speaking to employers.

Career Services supports our cybersecurity students with career readiness workshops, LinkedIn workshops, mock interviews, job negotiation, as well as working with employer partners to bring opportunities to graduates. We also teach graduates about job titles to search for because the skills they gain in the cybersecurity bootcamp can apply to more than just typical cybersecurity roles.

Typical Cybersecurity Jobs & Salaries of Eleven Fifty Academy Cybersecurity Grads

There are a vast array of opportunities for Eleven Fifty Academy Students and not all of them are entry-level. Typical job titles for our graduates may include Security Analyst, Cyber Threat Analyst, Cybersecurity Analyst, and other similar positions. Some of our graduates go on to work in IT roles

The typical salaries for entry-level cybersecurity grads at Eleven Fifty Academy are between $55,000-$70,000 per year.

Younger students with less professional experience tend to end up in entry-level roles whereas students with previous experience can land higher-level roles. For example, we had a student who was a technical project manager complete the cybersecurity bootcamp. He ended up in a penetration testing role, which isn’t considered entry-level.

Find out more and read Eleven Fifty Academy reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Eleven Fifty Academy.

About The Author

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps. With a background in writing, teaching, and social media management, Jess plays a pivotal role in helping Course Report readers make informed decisions about their educational journey.

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