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What 6 things should you know before your first cybersecurity job?

We asked the experts, and they have the good stuff.

By Sebastian Bowman, Darius Willis, and Katy Munden Hays.

The cybersecurity field is exploding and more professionals are desperately needed in the field. That’s what everyone says anyway. And still, sometimes jobs are hard to come by. Since we provide cyber defense, offense, and education, we asked some of our staff this question: What 6 things should you know before your first cybersecurity job? The answers are enlightening for anyone aspiring to join the field or to achieve a new security position.

1. Understand networking.

When entering the cybersecurity field, it is quite important to start with a strong base of IT skills that you can build on through your career. One of the most important skills is networking. The foundation of networking is the process by which computers are able to communicate with each other. Networking is responsible for how files are transferred and texts are sent or is the reason your computer might lag so much when you play CoD (or any other game). Trying to secure a network without understanding networking is like navigating a maze blindfolded versus doing it on paper. You may stumble upon a solution by chance, but seeing the bigger picture is much more effective. Certifications and courses alongside them, such as the CompTIA Network+ + and CCNA, are perfect to learn the broad topics of networking. These are also the golden standards to demonstrate you know networking on your resume!

A woman works on a laptop at a desk in a golden light-filled restaurant.

2. Know programming.

It can help your career immensely if you know how programming should look, so that you can spot problems in the code you review. Start by learning the basics in one programming language. Once you learn one language, you can add others and adapt that knowledge to each one. Computer programming languages are related similarly like romance languages – one can often be transposed to another without much problem.

3. Understand IT infrastructure.

What devices will you need to work with in order to secure a network? How do these devices connect together? What do these devices do in tandem? It can be a daunting task to learn how devices interact with each other so that you can build and troubleshoot infrastructure. Luckily, there's a plethora of online courses and certifications to go for that can teach you these tasks. From getting the basics with CompTIA A+ to diving into TryHackme learning paths, there are tools out there for us to take advantage of!

A motherboard and internal processor of a computer.

4. Understand customer service. Be human.

Do not underestimate this one. People want human interactions. This is one of the most important soft skills you will need to explain complex terms to users and non-technical people. You might have to keep explaining or create hands-on demonstrations for users who learn in different ways. Even if you work behind the scenes, you will always need to work with people in some capacity – internal staff, vendors, or the executives to whom you report and submit budgets. According to our security engineers, this is easy: just don’t be scary or mean.

A woman explains computer code on a large monitor to two other people at a desk.

5. Understand how business works.

You will need to know the regulations and frameworks that apply to security, such as HIPAA and GDPR, and familiarize yourself with company roles like CISO, Analyst, SOC Manager, and Security Engineer. Defining the roles you seek when applying for jobs and understanding business objectives and risk management strategies will help you align your cybersecurity efforts with company goals, effectively communicating their value.

6. Specialize.

Learn steps 1 through 5 as we discussed, and test out what you’re good at. Pursue certifications in your specialties, or take a certification prep class as a test to determine if you like that specialty.

There is no one right way to get into a job you love. It may take some trial and error. It may mean asking for help. New knowledge and certifications also could open some powerful new doors for your next career move. Stick with these tips, and you’re well on your way. And if you need even more help, we’re here for you.

A man smiles at a computer screen while he works, and other coworkers collaborate in the background.

Need help with cyber education? We got you. Come join the StandardUser Institute and learn the tools you need. We have online courses and/or study guides to help you achieve your certification goals.

We at StandardUser Cybersecurity are on a mission to share cybersecurity and cyber safety education with everyone, to make our world a better place. Are you with us? How can we help? Let us know today.

Whatever your cybersecurity challenge, we can help you keep your business running. We are a defensive and offensive cybersecurity company, using over 30 years of experience with active commercial and government work and proven security methodologies. We also educate teams and professionals who want to build on their skills. Occasionally we communicate with cybersecurity memes.

We set the standard for cybersecurity excellence.

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