IT security has become a growing concern for every individual and business, no matter what industry, or company size. In years past, IT and cyber security were concerns that were contained to governments, militaries, and the world’s largest organizations. But, as we enter an era where doing business means being connected, there are more opportunities for hackers and cyber criminals to corrupt data, steal money, and compromise businesses data.
With these emerging threats has come a new opportunity in the IT security field. As more threats emerge, businesses need more specialized protection from their IT departments, and as a result, the career opportunities are endless. If you’ve considered a career in IT security, the time has never been better to start your career. With an abundance of training opportunities and hiring opportunities, a move into information technology security can ensure employment opportunities for years to come.
What is the typical entry level role for an IT Security job?
When you land your first role in IT security, you’ll likely have a title like Junior Security Analyst, Junior Information Security Analyst, or simply called an IT specialist. So, these are the titles that you’ll want to search for if you are just getting started in the field. Keep in mind though, that many companies have created their own unique titles. IT is also an emerging field with many new opportunities, so it is likely you’ll encounter a number of titles that are unique to specific companies, or created in response to a specific project. Remember to scan all job postings thoroughly. If you feel confident that you can take on a job and figure it out – apply. IT is all about learning on the job, and having the confidence to develop new skills quickly might be enough to get you an interview.
Junior roles are most often offered by larger companies, who may already have an established system, protocol, and IT team in place. There will generally be daily tasks, research assignments, or monitoring needs that the junior IT security professional will be able to handle, and this is the perfect place to get your start. In a team with different professional levels, you can learn your junior role while having the opportunity to shadow those who are further in their career. These opportunities can teach you how existing systems are selected, developed, and maintained securely – preparing you for future opportunities.
One thing you may make note of is the fact that even “entry level” roles in IT still require some kind of experience administering security. To ensure you have a little work to show, we recommend that you do some freelance work, or volunteer for a charity or non-profit, providing some basic services, so you have something to get your foot in the door. You might also consider your current employer, and if there are any projects you can take part in to get your start.
So what does an IT Security Professional actually do?
You might wonder exactly what an IT security professional actually does all day, and the answer is, it truly depends on where you are working and what you are working on. Junior IT security professionals are generally given a bit of a framework to structure their time, and you may find that you have daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that must be conducted to keep systems up to date and secure. Beyond this, you may also need to conduct research, install new programs, troubleshoot emerging issues, and prepare for upcoming updates on the system, and these tasks will vary day to day.
The short, though not very specific answer is that you will need to do whatever needs to be done to keep your IT systems secure – and the nature of what exactly this means can change over time. With emerging threats, program issues, and mandatory updates, IT security professionals sometimes find themselves facing issues that are completely unexpected, and that is all just part of the job.
In smaller companies, you may be responsible for securing IT, as well as assisting other employees with general IT concerns. In this case, you may need to also provide education to ensure your colleagues understand their own role in IT security.
What type of background gets hired for entry level IT Security job?
As IT security becomes a growing concern for every business, a number of courses, programs, and certificates have emerged from notable schools all over the world, attempting to train the next generation of IT security. If you’re just starting out with your career choice, you may consider taking one of these courses as an introduction to the skills you’ll need.
That said, a degree isn’t the only option to get started, and may not even be the best option. When it comes to IT security, hard skills are in demand. A willingness to learn, and an innate ability to predict threats and work to avoid them are the key skills you’ll need to get started. Potential employers looking for entry level IT security professionals generally want to see some type of degree or education in computer systems or IT, combined with some hard skills administering networks, or understanding basics.
There is a lot to learn, and it can be hard to know where to start if you decide to teach yourself new skills. The best way to get started is to look at the job postings in areas you’d most like to work. Learning a bit about the programs they use, and developing the skills they are specifically requiring will help guide you in selecting skills to develop.
Your role as an IT security professional
As a junior, or entry-level IT security professional, you can expect to do a lot of research and rote work as you learn about the system you are working with.
The best opportunities to work in internships and junior roles will come from larger companies, with more complicated IT structures. The reason for this is that the job of security is so large that junior professionals can take on some of the lower level work – an excellent opportunity to learn and prepare for advancement.
A typical junior role will ask for the following skills and experience for junior-level IT security professionals:
- A degree: Many companies require a degree in their job postings. Often, these employers are looking for a degree of any kind, with some form of related experience to computers, security, or engineering.
- Data management: Most employers looking for IT security specialists are looking for someone with experience and understanding of managing data, including background in CRM systems, and Excel
- Network Security: IT employers are looking for a background in understanding, maintaining and securing complicated networks
- Personal Skills: There are a number of personal skills that will serve you well in IT, and these are the key to a successful career. Almost all employers seek:
- Someone who can work well in high-pressure situations
- Someone capable of solving problems, no matter how difficult
- Quick-learners, and self-motivated individuals who are looking ahead
- Those who work well on a team, and on individual projects
- The ability to quickly understand systems, and learn to use new technologies is essential
Some of the world’s most renowned IT security specialists have no formal training or background on the subject.
What platforms/companies are constantly hiring for entry level IT Security positions?
If you’re just getting started in the IT security field, you’ll want to search carefully for opportunities, and you may have to try out a few positions to find the right fit for you. Generally, you’ll want to look at businesses that are mid-size or larger, for two reasons: first, you’ll want the opportunity to work with fairly complex systems so you can advance your skills and your career opportunities. Second, you’ll want the chance to learn from a multi-level team, and larger companies are a great place to start this out.
Ninja Jobs is one of the most active online platforms for finding and applying for IT security jobs. Created and operated by professionals in the IT field, this job board has helped thousands of professionals connect with new opportunities. Ninja Jobs is one of the most efficient job boards to visit in your job search, since many large companies (such as Pepsi, Home Hardware, and Facebook) post jobs and search for applicants on this board.
InfoSec Connect was created in responded to the emerging demand for IT security professionals. Created, run, and operated by security professionals with firsthand experience in the industry, InfoSec is an excellent hub to try if you’re looking for entry level positions that are available. But, the site goes above and beyond to provide trends, insights, education, and networking opportunities. If you’re looking to get into the IT security field, be sure to bookmark, InfoSec.
LinkedIn is one of the top networking sites in the world, and it is particularly helpful for certain branches of the IT security field. LinkedIn tends to be slightly more helpful for those who have advanced in their careers, but there are plenty of entry-level opportunities available for those seeking them. Keeping an up to date LinkedIn profile is particularly important for IT security professionals. Since credentials are still being developed, having a solid network on LinkedIn with connections that can vouch for your skills, experience, and achievements will make you much more likely to land the position you seek.
Companies all over the world are hiring IT security professionals, so chances are, you’ll be able to find something local if you’re serious about your career. If, however, you’re looking for the best possible employer, we’ve got a list of some of the best employers of IT security professionals.
Capital One is a global player in the credit card market, and as a result, cybersecurity has become a huge priority for this giant. Capital One is rated an excellent employer, and often has IT positions available at many different levels, with different focuses. As a bonus, they are known to pay well and promote from within, so Capital One is an excellent place to begin your new IT security career.
Boeing is best known for their aircraft production, but this corporate giant is also involved in communications, satellite maintenance, and a number of intelligence and security projects that connect them with the global market. With a massive operation, opportunities are often open for all levels of IT security employment. Boeing has a focus on employee support and training, so you can be sure that any position you land here will benefit your IT security career in the long run.
Cisco is a name you’re definitely familiar with, and one of the best places to start off your securities career. With an impressive development record and a number of educational tools that employees can access for free, Cisco is the perfect place to start your career
Salesforce provides opportunities for experience in IT security in two ways. First, the company is consistently hiring professionals at all levels, and the chance to work with this CRM giant provides excellent experience. Second, many people make a side career by administering Salesforce for small companies, which can be just the experience you need to land your first salaried IT security position.
SAP is a global leader in technical development, with a number of different projects, properties, and industries they are involved in. The IT security needs for SAP are huge, and they are constantly looking for new team members to help support innovation. SAP is a wonderful place to consider working because they have many locations, and because there are IT security positions of all levels available – meaning you have the opportunity to grow within the company.
General Motors is a company that is consistently hiring IT security specialists for different projects, though you may be surprised to find that GM is so invested in security. As the car industry develops, GM has become very future-facing – researching self-driving car technology, and purchasing Lyft. GM has long been known as an excellent and considerate employer, and being part of the next phase of growth would be an excellent opportunity for any IT professional.
Dropbox was ahead of the curve in terms of cloud storage, and had to be future-ready to protect all of the data they store and protect. A true innovator, Dropbox continually hires IT security for all levels, for special projects, and for support in development work.
Expedia has a global presence, and handles data from clients, customers, and hundreds of source websites. As a result, managing IT security for Expedia is a massive operation, that requires frequent hires. Working with this travel expert is a great way to learn IT security from every angle, and to be on the cutting edge of new developments in security.
The IT security field is bursting with opportunities for anyone with a passion to learn, a knack for technology, and an ability to solve problems under pressure. A career in the IT security field is a lucrative one, offering years of employment opportunities that can take you around the world.