How To Become A Cybersecurity Expert (Step-By-Step)

Becoming a cybersecurity expert in 2023 can often be a tough step within someone’s career, especially without any prior technical, or cybersecurity experience. Whilst tough, it can be done with a bit of determination and willpower.

In todays blog post, we take a look at how to become a cybersecurity expert, with step-by-step guides and information to help you flourish once in a cybersecurity career. 

How To Become A Cybersecurity Expert (Getting Started)

So, how do you become a cybersecurity expert? This question is extremely broad, so we’re going to break it down bit by bit. Whilst it is possible to jump straight into a career within the cybersecurity industry, we wouldn’t recommend it. 

First Steps: Get Technical Knowledge

The first step to becoming a cybersecurity expert is to develop your technical mindset. Cybersecurity focuses on a very specific part of technology, but knowing how all the different components fit together is crucial for anyone working in cybersecurity. 

If you’ve not got any professional technical knowledge, I would recommend starting in a technical role first. This may be something like an IT Support Desk analyst, or a Network Engineer to get some of that knowledge and experience with problem-solving. 

Note: This isn’t required, but will help you long-term and overall improve your ability. 

Once you’ve got some of that knowledge, I would suggest using some of the resources we’ve listed below. This will help you understand how cybersecurity works in real-world situations and will broaden your knowledge. You can also find some useful cybersecurity keywords and terms here on Hakubi to help get by. 

Read More: 68 Cybersecurity Key Terms you Should Know

Getting the Job: Get your Resume (CV) out there!

Once you’ve got some technical experience and knowledge and feel ready to fly – simply getting your resume out there will help you a great deal. Once your resume is updated, start applying for jobs within the cybersecurity field. These should be entry-level, so possibly a SOC Analyst, or an IT Security Trainee. 

You’ll likely find that if you fit their criteria, you’ll get an interview quite quickly due to the demand for technical cybersecurity staff. If you can’t quite get interviews or jobs, then here are some suggestions to help you.

Get more Experience

  • Whilst it’s common, your experience may be letting you down. To best combat, this, getting an internship/apprenticeship at a cybersecurity firm, or services firm that offers a SOC can be beneficial long-term. This also helps with on-the-job learning.

Get Certifications/Accreditations

  • Although it seems less important now, certifications and accreditations for completing exams can be the difference maker when applying for cybersecurity roles. Getting some entry-level cybersecurity exams/courses will not only improve your knowledge but will show you’ve completed training to a certain level. 

Read More: 5 Best ‘Starter’ Cybersecurity Exams

There were better candidates

  • Whilst we’re sure you did great, unfortunately with such an in-demand job, there are many already established cybersecurity experts job hopping for more money or less pressure. This means that they will likely go ahead of the queue of people without such experiences. Whilst this can be a bummer, don’t let it stop you from applying and doing your best, as you never know when the call might come in. 

Fun Fact: I’ve interviewed candidates and hired people with plenty of experience who haven’t met my expectations, however, have called previous candidates 5-months later to offer the job to them. 

How To Become A Cybersecurity Expert For US Government

Becoming a cybersecurity expert anywhere can be quite tricky if you’ve not got much experience or technical know-how behind you. Getting a job for the US government, specifically in a cybersecurity capacity is even trickier. Without knowing the US government’s specific requirements, the chances are you’ll need;

  • 7+ Years of Cybersecurity Experience
  • Top-Notch Cybersecurity and Technical Knowledge
  • Work within Policy, Regulations, and other Compliance requirements.
  • Have a Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity, Computer Science, or equivalent. 
  • Have CISSP Certification or Equivalent (Certified InfoSys Security Professional).
  • Likely be a US Citizen for 5+ Years (not confirmed – but likely for security clearance reasons). 

Whilst this might feel out of reach for you right now, cybersecurity experts often move around, and whilst you might only be getting started – 5-10 years might come very quickly and you’ll find yourself working in a government building near you. 

US Goverment Cybersecurity Job Qualifications
US Government Cybersecurity Job Qualifications

In the meantime, feel free to better yourself, and your knowledge, and become the best expert you can be before applying to give yourself the best chance of success. 

Learn How To Become A Cybersecurity Expert (Best Resources)

Personally, I wouldn’t be where I am today without some excellent cybersecurity resources and tech heads around me. Whilst finding the right, like-minded people to discuss all things cybersecurity, there are some resources we think will be perfect for you. Let’s take a look at just some of them that can help you learn how to become a cybersecurity expert.

TryHackMe – For Hands-On Scenario-based Learning

If you’re a hands-on, real-world scenario type of person who wants to know how it feels to work in cybersecurity (or at least at the worst of times) – then TryHackMe is perfect for you. TryHackMe allows you to sign-up and learn how attacks can happen, how to defend against them and much more.

Not only does TryHackMe show you the attacks live, but also helps you with terminology and code languages you may need to use. Whilst they do have a paid plan, the free one works well for us! 

SANS Security Resources – For Relevant Cybersecurity Training

SANS (Sys Admin, Audit, Network, and Security) is one of the largest research and training organizations for all things cybersecurity. Whilst they have exams, certifications and other paid-for aspects – we would highly recommend their community.

You can find the SANS Cybersecurity Community here, which will allow you to sign-up for free and communicate with other cybersecurity experts. Not only this, but you’ll find yourself going through their Cyber Aces courses and workshops to better your knowledge. 

SANS Security Resources to help Become a Cybersecurity Expert

Cybrary – Flexible, Constantly Updated Cybersecurity Learning

Cybrary is fairly new in the grand scheme of things, however, does not disappoint with its content. Publishing new lessons each week, their already massive catalogue of information, training packs, and labs will help give you a massive helping hand into a cybersecurity career.

Unlike TryHackMe where content is specific and in one format, Cybrary has several ways you can learn the same material, making it ideal for anyone no matter how you learn. 

Twitter Experts – For the Latest News, Tips, and Tricks

Twitter in itself can be a weird and wonderful place for people but is a thriving hub for all things cybersecurity. Whilst you might not learn specific information about the general cybersecurity industry – Twitter experts often post many bugs, vulnerabilities, and tips and tricks to help new people get into a career. 

Some of the more notable ones have to be Dave Kennedy (@HackingDave), Binni Shah (@binitamshah) and Brian Krebs (@briankrebs) who are all notable, and well-respected within the industry. There are many more, but these are just some that I actively wait for posts from! 

Binni Shah Cybersecurity Expert
Binni Shah (@binitamshah) on Twitter

YouTube – Best Place for Video Content

Whilst YouTube may be a distraction for many of us, there are some great Cybersecurity researchers on there, and one of my favourites is Computerphile and Cyberspatial. Just like Twitter, there are hundreds you can look for – but these are just two that I like to watch to improve myself.

Frequently Asked Questions around Cybersecurity Careers

Where do I start to become a cyber security expert?

I would recommend starting in a technical role for 6-12 months, if not longer before looking for an entry-level cybersecurity job. This may start off as an IT support desk analyst, before moving into a 1st Line SOC analyst, before moving up in your career. 

What are the top 3 skills for cyber security experts?

3 Skills you need for cybersecurity vary, but for the most part, you’ll need to be a problem-solver, as you will be solving problems every single day. You’ll also need a vast technical mindset (although you might not need this straight away). Lastly, I think strong attention to detail is a must, to ensure that no security threats slip through.

How hard is it to be cyber security specialist?

Personally, becoming and staying a cybersecurity specialist is not tricky, or demanding. Whilst learning everything can be tough, once you’re in the career it can be a very simple day-in-day-out before you start to run into any major challenges. 

Again, this is very dependent on your workplace and environment, as a company with 10 devices will be boring, whilst a company with 1000 devices will be quite fast-paced. 

Are cybersecurity experts in demand?

Yes! Cybersecurity experts have been in demand for a number of years, with an increase occurring since around 2014. This is in part to the need for business security, as more attacks are happening. Without proper protection and analysis from an expert, these attacks have a higher probability of success. 

Can I learn cyber security in 6 months?

Definitely! Cybersecurity experts typically come from technical backgrounds in some shape or form, and whilst it might seem counterproductive, learning technical know-how before getting into cybersecurity will help you massively. Whilst 6 months is possible, I would recommend 12-24 months for a fuller understanding. 

Is cyber security a stressful job?

In all honesty, it can be. Depending on your workplace and the support around you, cybersecurity can feel very stressful at times, especially when working with information/attacks you’ve never seen before. Whilst stressful, it can be often rewarding, and the stress is very much temporary. 

Read More: Is Cybersecurity a Good Career?

Our Conclusion

Overall, cybersecurity can be quite straightforward, although it may seem scary at first. Getting started and eventually into a career is the first step to a life-long career protecting businesses that we love.

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About the Author

Charlie K

Charlie has been working with technology since the age of 6, and has skilled up on all things technical. Cybersecurity is one aspect that has never failed to disappoint. After several years in the industry, Charlie is branching out to help others get into the industry.

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