There is no question that working in network security has its perks. To begin with, there is no shortage of jobs. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that there will be 3.5 million job openings in the cybersecurity field by 2021. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows steady job growth for network security professionals, predicting a 28 percent increase from 2016-2026 with an annual median salary of $98,350. Yet although these facts make network security a smart field to get into, they are not the only draw to these jobs.
Working in cybersecurity is exciting. Security professionals face a daily battle against cybercriminals. In fact, the Breach Level Index shows that more than 6 million records are lost or stolen daily. This fuels the wide range of job opportunities in network security, including:
- Network security analysis
- Security awareness
- Threat hunting
- Research and intelligence
How Do You Prepare for a Career in Network Security?
To prepare for a cybersecurity career, it helps if you undergo formal training to learn basic techniques that provide you with the skills necessary for these jobs . However, experience is also important. It helps to get into the workforce early as a network security professional. The more hands-on experience you have, the more likely it is that you will understand how to stop attacks against the company you work for. Yet it is not only network security experience that makes a person successful in this role.
Experience in many other areas translates well into cybersecurity. For example, if you have worked in IT or communications, you likely have a great deal of technical knowledge that will help you. People with experience in physical security often find that their skill set transfers to cybersecurity rather easily as well.
In addition to experience that prepares you for the challenges you would face in a network security career, you also need to cultivate soft skills. Problem-solving is crucial in the cybersecurity field. Your job will require you to find solutions to problems. Critical and proactive thinking is another area that you need to be strong in. Cybersecurity is likened to solving puzzles. You need to analyze the problem in front of you, figure out what happened, and then find out how to stop it, and ideally, you protect the organization before the problem can even arise.
Cultivating the Right Technical Skills
Of course, working in network security also requires you to demonstrate strong technical skills. According to TechGenix, these are some of the most in-demand skills in the cybersecurity field:
- Networking: In addition to understanding networking infrastructure, you also need to have a strong knowledge of the different network communication protocols. An understanding of TCP/IP helps you better analyze packets sent across the wire so you can find malicious traffic or other anomalies that may indicate an attack or data exfiltration.
- Security: Not only do you need to have a strong understanding of network security best practices, but you also need to understand how different solutions, such as antivirus programs, firewalls, and intrusion detection/prevention, work.
- Incident response: Cybersecurity professionals don’t think about if they will be attacked; they think about when they are attacked. Responding to an attack by conducting an investigation that involves forensic studies and log viewing helps you understand what happened so you can address that problem. Disaster recovery is another vital area of response because you have to help get your company’s systems back online as quickly as possible when there is an attack.
- Communication and documentation: Part of the job includes documenting investigations, proactive measures, and other events that help you and others identify possible threats more quickly. You may also need to present findings to members of management and help train others on best practices when it comes to network security.
Prepare for Your Career Ahead of Time
The best path to success is through the right career training program, which will help you prepare for the best possible job in cybersecurity. Any training program should include options to help you earn certifications that demonstrate your knowledge and capabilities in the field of network security, including:
- CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA Security+
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) (Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator)
Having any of these certifications on your resume lets potential employers know that you have the right foundation for success in this field.
If you are looking for a career in the technology field that is not only exciting but also makes a difference, then network security may be the area for you. Every day presents a new challenge in the ever-changing threat landscape, which will offer a fulfilling career. If this is an area where you might want to take your career, let’s talk and see how we can help you start down the path to becoming a cybersecurity professional.