Cybersecurity has been one of the fastest-growing areas of IT for some time, and there is no end in sight. IT professionals with security skills are in top demand for the sixth straight year,* as organizations worldwide race to hire cybersecurity personnel to protect and defend the network. That’s where you come in.
You could be next to enter the fascinating field of cybersecurity, even if you don’t have a technical background. If you have an eye for detail, a knack for problem-solving, and a willingness to do the work and learn new skills, the cybersecurity industry needs you.
Read on to learn more about today’s landscape of cybersecurity opportunities, the security professionals thriving in it, and how Cisco certifications can guide you to your first role in a Security Operations Center (SOC).
Cybersecurity opportunities beckon
Cybersecurity threats are complex and ever-changing, with devastating consequences for organizations. When cyber attackers gain access to sensitive digital assets, they have carte blanche to weaponize that data as they please. For example, the global average cost per data breach was US$4.35 million in 2022. In the United States, that number skyrocketed to $9.44 million.**
Considering the measure of these figures, it isn’t hard to understand why cyber attackers are so relentless. They have the advantage in an incredibly unfair fight. After all, attackers only need to exploit one vulnerability, while organizations must secure all of them.
Today’s rapid pace of digital transformation, combined with organizations’ eagerness (read: desperation) to overcome business continuity challenges, offers hungry hackers a spread of unsecured access points so ripe for exploitation, they’re practically salivating. Evolving security threat tactics alone are difficult to anticipate; amid advancing technologies such as deploying cloud infrastructure, and evolving business needs like providing remote network connectivity?
It’s less of an impromptu attack, and more like a constant battlefield.
Organizations everywhere are building robust security teams to address increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. The problem, is there simply aren’t enough candidates in the job pool for organizations to level the playing field against cyber attackers. There are more than 2.72 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide today.*
It’s a good thing more people like Kevin are springing up in the cyber industry. Kevin Brown, a CyberOps analyst, currently holds the CCNA and CyberOps Associate certifications. He didn’t start out with a background in tech, though. In fact, he says he hadn’t even used a computer until he joined the Marines about 30 years ago.
“I took an aptitude test that indicated I’d make a good communications specialist. So, in the Marines, I learned to install and configure networking infrastructure,” he recalls. “Eventually, I found my way into the cybersecurity realm.”
Kevin’s opportunity in cybersecurity sprung from a conversation with a friend about his experience with endpoint management, anti-virus software, and vulnerability management. “It turned out to be the perfect role. Once I settled in, I was eager to expand my networking expertise, so getting certified seemed like the obvious thing to do.” Looking back over his eight years of experience in IT, he says his superpower is resiliency. “Be someone who moves fast and can wear a lot of hats.”
Cybersecurity professionals must be quick on their feet, responsive, inquisitive, work well under pressure, and of course, be well-trained. Jenny Guay, a senior network security analyst with 12 years of experience, says taking initiative has made a strong impact on her career in opening new doors. When Jenny decided to make the leap into cybersecurity, she was among the first to earn the CCNA CyberOps (now the CyberOps Associate) certification.
Cybersecurity was the right move. “I love the hunt for information — figuring out where a threat came from, what’s behind it, and who’s behind it,” she says. “I find the whole investigation process really exciting and enjoyable.” Her big break arrived before she had even taken her CCNA CyberOps exam, when she interviewed for a position as an operator in a Security Operations Center (SOC). “I knew the subject matter inside and out because it was the same material as what I had just studied during the Cisco course.”
Few things are quite as motivating as an inspiring success story like Kevin’s or Jenny’s. After all, there’s something special about those who thrive in their career, fulfilled by meaningful, satisfying work that makes a difference. And that contagious enthusiasm — how can you resist? Then the thought enters your mind.
If they did it, maybe I can, too. Let’s see what it takes.
How you can become a cybersecurity success story
You already know that when an opportunity comes knocking at your door, time is of the essence. You need to move — quickly — before it’s too late. But what you may not realize is that you have the power to create the same career-defining moment for your future. They say, “good things come to those who wait.” I say, great things come to those who chase them.
It isn’t a coincidence that Kevin and Jenny both share an eagerness to learn and jump at new opportunities. That’s what made them excellent candidates for cyber careers. And you can be one, too. If you are willing to take initiative and “chase” this opportunity, that is. If the formula for success is being in the right place at the right time, then a massive part of the equation (the part we have the least control over) has already been handed to you:
There has never been a better time to pursue a cybersecurity career than now.
While the cybersecurity skills crisis can feel like a nightmare for organizations, it could be your dream come true. By 2025, the cybersecurity workforce gap is estimated to increase to 3.5 million unfilled security roles ranging from entry-level to expert.***
Whether you’re a seasoned network engineer or just starting out, you have a place in the growing field of cybersecurity — the fastest-growing career sector. If you have a degree in computer science, a background in IT, systems engineering or infrastructure, proficiency in languages/tools such as C++, Java, Node, Python, Ruby, Go, or Power Shell, you’re already on track to enter the cybersecurity field.
If you lack the technical skills or experience, we can help with both. Cisco training and certifications enable you to demonstrate your passion and place you on a learning path that prepares you for the real world. That being said, more than half of cybersecurity jobs require at least one certification.
We have four; two CyberOps and two Security certifications:
- Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate
- Cisco Certified CyberOps Professional
- CCNP Security
- CCIE Security
As you navigate your way towards earning a certification, you learn, train, and certify that you have the knowledge and skills to defend an organization’s most sensitive digital assets. And hiring managers know it. For example, the CyberOps Associate certification aligns with entry-level roles in a SOC, such as a security operations analyst or security incident responder. And if you can recall Jenny’s story from earlier, she was hired for her first cybersecurity role before she had even taken her CyberOps certification exam.
Hiring managers know they must consider more than a candidate’s skill level alone. A cybersecurity professional, for example, should have:
- The knowledge of various social engineering threats, such as phishing (hacker attempts to gain sensitive information, typically via email) and baiting (when a hacker uses a false promise to get you to install a malware-infected device on your computer).
- The ability to be highly organized, calm under pressure and attentive to detail.
- The skills to identity real-time cyber threats and implement security measures to combat them.
Managers hire for knowledge and ability. They rely on training to build skills. That means your attitude, willingness to learn, and curiosity are powerful indicators of your potential, even if you lack on-the-job experience. If you’re brand-new to the world of IT, you aren’t alone. We all start somewhere. And if you are already working in tech, strengthening your security skills is critical to securing the network and addressing the cybersecurity skills gap. After all, we all must do our part.
Build security skills, certify, and join the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.
Thanks for reading! So, tell me in the comments: Can you see yourself in cyber? Can you see yourself as a next-generation cyber defender?
*Cybersecurity Workforce Study: A Resilient Cybersecurity Profession Charts the Path Forward, (ISC)², 2021.
**Cost of a data breach 2022: A million-dollar race to detect and respond, IBM, 2022.
***Cybersecurity Jobs Report: 3.5 Million Openings In 2025, Cybersecurity Ventures, November 2021.
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