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How to Start Your Information Security Career?

Sometime ago I posted a question on LinkedIn and an article here about the benefits of being graduated in Infosec. The topic generated almost a hundred replies, and the discussion quickly changed to “How to start an Information Security Career?”

After a bit of researching on the topic and talks to successful professionals, I was able to put together some interesting facts:

In a 2009 ranking of the 50 best jobs in America, the information technology sector accounted for 17 slots. Of these, information security jobs enjoyed some of the highest job growth, seeing a 27% increase in jobs over the past ten years, which should not be surprising since security threats and consequently stricter regulations are emerging all the time, all over the world. An information security career basically involves protecting one of the most valuable assets of a company or organization: Its information. The threats are countless: from malware to hackers, and unhappy employees to natural disasters. The career requires fine skills and can be very lucrative, with the top IT security professionals able to command big paychecks.


One good thing about an information security career is that the barriers to entry are fairly low, since the skills can be self-taught. However, while a formal degree in computer science is not an absolute necessity, having one may prove to be a major factor in a firm’s decision to hire you. Many potential employers will also ask you for a professional certification in information systems security. But nowadays, the main obstacle to get into the Security field is experience. To be considered for any Information Security Job most companies will want several years of experience (around five is preferred). This might sound a bit like the chicken and the egg problem: how to have experience if you can’t get the job, and vice versa? As I said before, you just need to plan.

Fortunately, there are alternative ways you can start your information security career:

  • One is to establish your credentials in a related information technology career before applying for information security jobs. For example, you can begin as a network administrator, gaining experience in how to secure networks as well as how they can be penetrated, before moving on to become an information security engineer. That’s exactly how I started my career around 14 years ago.

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66 comments to How to Start Your Information Security Career?

  • Marcos Paulo

    Are you Brazilian guy? That’s cool! I am also, I’m 19, and I’m starting my course in computer science now … Anyway, I enjoyed your article, I am also looking to expand my world view, to facilitate my learning ..

    Big hug, Adriano!

  • Marcos Paulo

    Vc é brasileiro cara? Que legal! Eu tbm sou, tenho 19 anos, e estou começando meu curso de Ciências da Computação agora… Enfim, gostei muito do seu artigo, estou buscando também ampliar a minha visão de mundo, para facilitar no meu aprendizado..

    Grande abraço, Adriano!

  • Mohammed Zubair

    Hello,I’m MCA Second year student and I’d Like to do in information Security field in IT industry.
    Plz suggest me any course related to this and if possible send mail.

  • Hi Adriano,

    i am working as security system admin, in an indian company , i have abt 5yr of experience in networking,security,and little bit in system admin.

    i have done Cisco ccnp security certification,and willing to learn infosec,so that i can have dual specialization network security and information security.

    Pls suggest me, how should i start in infosec.

    Regards,
    Ashraf

  • divya

    hai.im going to complete my b.tech(cse) this year and im interested in doing cyber security course.so what courses would you suggest me? what is the basic knowledge for cyber security?

  • Mukesh Buchiya

    i am B.A. graduate. and doing LLB (Law), i want my career in Security Department. but i have not NCC ‘c’ certificate. how can i join security dept. please replay me. thank you.

  • Manav Pardeshi

    I am in 12th grade and I want a career in cyber security so what courses would you suggest ? Thanks

    • Mike

      There are a number of options are you can consider. You can go to college, and major in Information Systems Security. All you have to do is Google colleges that offer Information Systems Security and the state you live in, and many results will come up. You just have to commit a few hours of researching which colleges have a course outline as to what classes you wish to take, and which you want to avoid. I am completing my degree online, and Information Systems Security is my major. I don’t recommend online colleges to those who are young, as online colleges are mostly for people who have a career and want to further education, those who are in a rush to a complete a degree by a deadline, and those who are actively serving in the military.

      Hope this helps!

  • trisbox

    hi i am currently working as a logical access admin which simply gives access to users to the system, will yo uconsider this as a it security job?

    i am also planning to be an it security, and i dont have any background in it system and network administrator job, i wonder if it is a pre requisite to have a background experience in it sys and network job?

  • vatsal

    can any security certification like EC-CEH get me an entry level job in this domain ?

  • Vineet

    hi,
    I am working in retail industry from last 6 years but now i want to leave retail industry and want to make my career in information security. Please advise

  • What is the best IT Security training institute available right now ? Any suggestions .

    Thanks

  • Ron Naidu

    Hi Adriano,

    Thank you, nicely written. I will look into your suggestions.

    Ron.

  • thanks for such a valuable information
    this is what exactly iam searching,
    iplanned to leave this field
    due to lack of right information
    thanks for giving me right direction
    i`ll put all my effort to become security cunsultant

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