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How to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist: Getting Started

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Do you find yourself spending hours glued to your phone or computer screen? If so, you are not alone! The digital revolution is alive and well, and with it, a growing need for Cybersecurity Specialists. Digital communications and operations form the backbone of most modern businesses, and with this increase in sensitive information being shared comes an increased risk of attacks and data breaches. That’s where becoming a Cybersecurity Specialist comes into play!

Be at the forefront of the all-digital frontier in this fast-growing, high-in-demand, and potentially high-paying career. In this blog post, we’ll be covering what cybersecurity workers do on a day-to-day basis, the education needed to become a Cybersecurity Specialist, how much you can expect to earn in this field, and more!

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Interested in our cybersecurity courses? Available online and on-campus with practicum opportunities, Sprott Shaw’s accelerated cybersecurity program provides you with the skills needed to become a Cybersecurity Specialist. Click below to get in touch with one of our advisors today!

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What Do Cybersecurity Specialists Do?

Cybersecurity refers to the defending of networks, computers, systems, and databases from digital attacks and intruders. Data breaches can be enormously damaging to a company—in fact, heavy breaches in larger companies can potentially cost billions in damages! 

As a Cybersecurity Specialist, you will work to build, monitor, and maintain the frontline defences that keep sensitive data safe from cyber threats. Being able to recognize, assess, and counteract threats and intrusions is a crucial part of the job, and developing creative solutions to incoming threats is what makes for a strong Cybersecurity Specialist. Those working in this field will also be responsible for a variety of duties including:

  • Locating potential system vulnerabilities
  • Developing risk-prevention plans to protect sensitive assets
  • Maintaining and updating security and antivirus software
  • Fixing software errors that may occur on the job
  • Developing security reports for company stakeholders
  • Managing system permissions and privileges throughout the organization
  • Staying up-to-date with new intrusion methods and defence procedures
  • …and more!
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If you are interested in cybersecurity and have additional questions as to what Cybersecurity Specialists do, our career advisors are a great resource! Feel free to click here to get in touch.

How to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist?

As cybersecurity is a newer industry, finding out how to become a Cybersecurity Specialist can be a bit confusing. While there are no strict requirements needed to become a Cybersecurity Specialist, those lacking education or experience in the field may have major difficulties finding a job and may receive lower-than-average earnings. It is generally recommended to receive formal education to succeed in this competitive field.

About Cybersecurity Certification & Diplomas

A Cybersecurity Diploma is crucial to starting your career in cybersecurity and will provide you with the foundation needed to build your career. Depending on the college you choose to study at, cybersecurity certificates or degrees may be available instead—some schools also offer courses in the cybersecurity field under names such as information systems or computer science.

Whether you choose to get a cybersecurity diploma, certificate, or degree, your credentials will help you get your foot in the door with employers and provide you with the skills needed to succeed in your industry. At Sprott Shaw College, we currently offer accelerated cybersecurity diploma programs that allow you to earn your diploma in 67 weeks, but program lengths may vary depending on the school you are considering.

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The other important step to becoming a Cybersecurity Specialist is gaining work experience. Hiring managers will always choose proven individuals over those without experience. If you choose to earn a Cybersecurity Diploma, it is highly recommended to gain coop or practicum experience to give you the hands-on experience needed to get hired.

If you are currently working in cybersecurity in some capacity, it may provide a substitute for practicum experience—however, more experience is always better! Practicum or coop experience could supplement the experience you already have to help make you an even stronger candidate in the job market. Sprott Shaw College currently offers both coop and practicum options with our cybersecurity courses.

What Can I Expect to Learn From Cybersecurity Courses?

With the increasing demand for Cybersecurity Specialists, the best cybersecurity classes provide real-world examples and practical experience to provide students with an edge in the hiring marketplace. At Sprott Shaw College, our Cybersecurity program marries theoretical learning and hands-on training to provide a well-rounded learning experience.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and our diploma program provides all the theoretical fundamentals needed to start a career in cybersecurity. Upon completion of the program, students will know how to:

  • Identify and describe technologies that support and drive digital communication
  • Knowledgeably discuss the changing landscape of cybersecurity threats and associated technologies 
  • Explain the most common cyber threats, attacks, and system vulnerabilities 
  • Describe the structural and procedural weaknesses that allow cyber-attacks to occur
  • Define cybersecurity concepts, tools, and technologies employed in cybersecurity 
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Of course, theoretical learning is only one part of the cybersecurity training experience. Practical experience allows students to flex their critical thinking skills with a variety of intrusion detection and defence practice simulations. Cybersecurity students can look forward to:

  • Analyzing and addressing issues associated with digital infrastructure security and developing practical solutions to minimize and manage risk
  • Evaluating technical considerations and implementing the use of secure technologies within a variety of different contexts 
  • Using digital forensic methodologies to analyze system, network, and device threats 
  • Designing and implementing cyber defence strategies, threat responses, threat investigations, and incident recovery and continuity procedures
  • Applying threat intelligence collection processes to manage risk, improve detection, and proactively prevent threats

Sprott Shaw College also provides either coop or practicum opportunities for cybersecurity students to get real-world, hands-on experience before graduation. After earning a Cybersecurity diploma, graduates can expect to work as Cybersecurity Specialists responsible for operating and conducting intrusion investigations and exploiting adversarial computing systems. For additional certifications, graduates will be eligible to complete certification exams from external assessment agencies.

How Much Do Cybersecurity Specialists Make?

Thanks to the highly-specialized skill set required, Cybersecurity Specialists are constantly in high demand. The benefit of being in demand is a thriving job market and a higher-than-average earning potential. Jobs in this profession tend to be centered around tech hubs and high-population cities, but with the advent of Covid, there is significantly more flexibility in remote working being made available.

In terms of salary expectations, earnings can range widely depending on experience, seniority, and the position title. Ranges can vary from $50-60,000 on the lower end to over $100,000 on the high end for more senior positions. The average salary according to WorkBC for Information Analysts (a close relative of Cybersecurity) is $77,167 (approximately $37 an hour).

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Ready to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist?

Sprott Shaw’s Cybersecurity program is available both online and on-campus for your convenience. This accelerated program provides you with a diploma and the practical skills you need to start your career in Cybersecurity in just over a year. For free information about our Cybersecurity courses, simply click the button below to get in touch with our advisors today!

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