The cybersecurity industry was experiencing a major skills shortage long before Covid changed the world. Globally, the sector is deficient to the tune of two million people, while in Australia 18,000 roles need to be filled.
Recently, Australia’s federal government committed $1.35 billion to enhancing cybersecurity capabilities, with the funds being spread out over the next 10 years. This not only represents Australia’s largest ever investment in cybersecurity, it’s also a rare acknowledgement of the long-term importance of tech-based industry. This shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that cybercrime costs the Australian economy $29bn each year.
That all presents a fantastic opportunity, both for young tech enthusiasts looking for their first job, or IT vets looking to forge a new career in a thriving industry – one that’s simultaneously rewarding intellectually and financially. The supply and demand issue has meant that the average salary for a cybersecurity professional in Australia has ballooned from AU$117,000 to AU$239,000.
What’s more, that demand is only increasing. On the one hand, the digital transformation of businesses (of all sizes) has been a great driver. On the other, now that 70% of us are working from home, the pressure on business networks and security has become even greater… and cybercriminals know it. Attacks have increased 330% since the start of 2020, and a cybercrime now gets reported every 10 minutes in Australia.
In a world where job security is at an historic low, now’s a great time to move into IT security. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
The cybersecurity skills gap and who should be interested
Anyone who’s analytically minded, loves solving problems and is passionate about IT would be well suited to a job in cybersecurity. The work can be challenging, as it requires you to think on your feet, pay meticulous attention to detail and be wary of evolving threats. Workloads often involve periods of building, designing, monitoring and optimisation-based tasks, with sporadic crisis management – there's rarely a dull moment.
If you’re considering a move into the industry, it’s worth being aware that despite the high demand, employers routinely state that a lack of qualifications and hands-on training make potential employees hard to find. This cybersecurity skills gap is underlined by a recent, global, ISACA report. Its survey of employers found that:
- 62% of respondents said that their organisation’s cybersecurity team was understaffed
- 57% currently had unfilled cybersecurity positions
- 32% said that it took six (or more) months to find a qualified cybersecurity specialist to fill a role
- 70% said that less than half of cybersecurity applicants were under-qualified
- 89% said that a lack of credentials, experience and qualifications was a major issue they faced when hiring cybersecurity workers
Underemployment is not a term you hear too often in the current economic climate, but if ever there was a career that fit the description, it’s cybersecurity. With frequent forecasts saying that the threat landscape will only continue to get worse, it’s fair to say that there’s a rare, high degree of futureproofing associated with this career path too.
How to acquire essential cybersecurity skills
The first steps to adopting a career involve training, certification and accreditation. This is where Australian training institutions like Open Colleges can help. Obtaining industry-recognised cybersecurity qualifications can help beginner’s secure their first job, or IT pros can use them to enhance their existing experience and move into a new role.
It’s important that any IT certifications you’re looking to acquire are recognised by accredited bodies like the Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT). Organisations like this have multiple members from within the industry, and these members will recognise and even contribute to courses in an effort to produce workers that they themselves can subsequently employ. Graduates typically find themselves in an environment where affiliates come looking for them – another stark contrast with the current employment market.
An example is Open Colleges’ Certified Cybersecurity Professional course. It’s an interactive, online course that teaches learners the skills that employers are looking for right now. It includes three globally recognised ISO- and ANSI-accredited certifications issued by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), whose 20-year experience has seen it become the world’s leading provider of vendor-neutral IT certifications.
The Certified Cybersecurity Professional course is split into three main components, starting with comprehensive training in the core skills for IT support and then diving into more detailed instruction on networking, malware, penetration testing, risk management and security in general.
The first course component provides credentials that prepare learners for tech support and IT operational roles. It starts by going through the basics of installing hardware and display components before pushing through to networking, security, troubleshooting, backup and recovery, and much more.
The next component covers more-advanced topics related to IT infrastructure and the management of networks, with essential training in the areas of design, implementation and security.
The final component comprehensively covers the core skills required for a career in IT security, such as identifying malware, implementing security protocols, preempting attacks and more. It also teaches key capabilities beyond the technical aspects, including how to communicate to non-specialists from other business divisions.
A full list of the course’s content components can be found here. In all cases, learning takes the form of online courses, webinars hosted by a mentor (and industry experts), practice labs and examinations. With an investment of 10 to 15 hours per week, the entire course should take most students around 6 months to complete.
On the fast track
After successfully attaining certification, graduates can also join AIICT’s Industry Partner Program, which connects them to businesses that are recruiting for cybersecurity roles. While the course can’t guarantee subsequent employment, it will arm learners with all the skills they need to embark upon this in-demand career journey.
Open Colleges’ next Certified Cybersecurity Professional intake is on December 1, 2020. Sign-up today and you’ll arm yourself with the best tools for entering this thriving, vibrant and rewarding industry.
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