How Do I Become a Cybersecurity Specialist?
Do you have a passion for computers and networking? Are you interested in fighting cybercrime? Cybersecurity experts are in demand. Security professionals protect a company’s digital assets while building up and strengthening digital infrastructure.
The fact that it’s such an appealing profession leads many people to wonder how to get their foot in the door. Earning a degree is one of the best and easiest ways to fully prepare for a long career in cybersecurity. But to understand why that’s the case we’ll need to examine just how much goes into the profession.
Cybersecurity Related Certifications
One of the most important parts of a degree is how it can be used as a stepping-stone to a wide variety of certifications. A degree program creates a strong foundation in several areas related to separate certifications. This makes the degree program a perfect way to begin working on some of the industry’s most respected certifications. An AAS in cybersecurity prepares you for the following certifications:
CompTIA A+ is often one of the first certifications IT professionals obtain after a degree program. This is because the CompTIA A+ exam is focused on the fundamental aspects of computers. Learning about cybersecurity means knowing how to work with the many parts of a computer and network. By the time you have finished a cybersecurity degree program you will have learned a large amount of the material covered by the A+ exam.
The Network+ certification relates to a cybersecurity degree program in a similar way. Cybersecurity involves creating and strengthening the security of both internal and external networks. Network+ certification is designed to show expertise in areas relating to those networking concepts. By understanding how to work with network security you get a head start in preparing for the Network+ certification exam.
Security+ has some overlap with much of the information presented in a cybersecurity degree program. The Security+ certification exam covers the most significant methods of attack and defense within the digital space. These subjects include elements like SQL injection, malware, and network overloading. The material on the Security+ is a subset of the larger material covered by a cybersecurity degree program.
Linux is one of the most popular Unix variants for both personal and professional environments. Linux+ certification covers every aspect of installing, managing, and securing the operating system. Given Linux’s popularity, a cybersecurity degree program will cover those systems in detail. This makes it a perfect way to get a head start for Linux+ certification.
CySA+ certification can be thought of as the flipside of Security+. It’s more focused on behavioral analytics as a preventative measure. However, the CySA+ measures specific areas of knowledge related to the same end goal. This also highlights why a cybersecurity degree can cover so many subjects. CySA+ and Security+ are both security related certifications from CompTIA. However, the subject of cybersecurity is so large that it takes multiple certifications to cover topics within that larger set of knowledge. In a similar way, a full degree covers much of the material related to these certifications.
Pentest+ certification takes the specialization seen in CySA+ to the next level. It’s primarily focused on penetration testing and vulnerability assessment. It also touches on more obscure elements of security like non-technical testing and active reconnaissance. A cybersecurity degree program is especially useful for certifications like Pentest+. Penetration testing is often seen as a self-contained topic. That is, it’s commonly given cursory attention in many other subjects related to cybersecurity. When you learn about cybersecurity it’s assumed that you will take on penetration testing as an additional focus at some point. But a cybersecurity degree program will provide the level of coverage for penetration testing needed to work through Pentest+ certification.
How a Degree Impacts Career Prospects
A degree isn’t just useful as a platform to work on certifications. Studying for a degree program provides a huge wealth of knowledge that can be applied to different professions. This is in large part due to how broad the subject of cybersecurity is. Earning a degree doesn’t just qualify you for a single position. In fact, there’s many different career paths associated with cybersecurity. There are so many options that it’s impossible to examine everyone in detail. But we can look at the most significant career paths available after gaining a degree in cybersecurity.
Linux Security Specialist
Linux security specialists are one of the biggest supporters of cybersecurity. The Linux operating system is well known for its dedication to security principles. However, it’s also known as one of the most complex operating systems on the market. Linux has been leveraged in everything from advanced servers to Android and even space missions for NASA. And each of these platforms has unique security concerns. Understanding Linux security is a huge advantage for those who’ve earned a cybersecurity degree. It opens career paths for anything related to Linux. And that’s a huge range of options.
Ethical hackers are another career path that’s in demand. The position involves using hacking skills to help. If you pursue this career path, then you’ll use the skills gained through a cybersecurity degree to break into systems with the full permission of its owners. By finding security holes you’ll be able to point out areas that need further securing.
Penetration testing is another rewarding career path that makes use of a cybersecurity degree. It’s similar in some ways to ethical hacking. Like ethical hacking, penetration testers use hacking techniques to attack a system. However, penetration testing puts special focus on the attempt to penetrate a system’s security to find vulnerabilities. And like ethical hacking, you are looking for vulnerabilities so that the website can be secured after detection.
Network Defense Specialist
Network defense is an option for people who want a more traditional approach to cybersecurity. Ethical hacking and penetration focus on defense through responses to attacks. But you can also harden a network by working on a ground-up approach. This involves considering network defenses as a design ideal and working your way through the system. This also involves incident responses, working to leverage the infrastructure against attacks and general network monitoring.
Digital Forensics Specialist
Digital forensics specialists take part in a newer career path. However, it’s also among the most exciting uses of a cybersecurity degree. You look at a cybercrime scene and attempt to trace how the crime occurred. The investigation works in a similar way to a detective investigating a physical break in. As a digital forensic specialist, you need to track down the source of a digital crime. But you also need to exercise additional finesse in preserving all evidence and maintaining the integrity of a breached system. The process is performed to find objective data to use in court cases or criminal investigations.
How Long Are Cybersecurity Degree Programs?
It’s clear at this point that a cybersecurity degree opens many doors. The degree program qualifies you for a variety of career paths. And you can expand on that even more by leveraging what you have learned to qualify for certifications. But how much time does it take to complete a cybersecurity degree program?
Attending full-time, you can complete a cybersecurity degree program in 63 weeks. The most impressive part of this is how much benefit can be gained within a fairly short period of time. 63 weeks is enough to open great career paths and set down a framework for future certifications.
Want to Learn More?
The Associates of Applied Science in Cybersecurity training program is designed to teach you the skills for entry-level employment in the Cybersecurity industry. The Cybersecurity training program prepares and supports you in obtaining several certifications in support of your cybersecurity career including CompTIA’s A+, Network+, Security+, Linux+, Pentest, & CySA+.
The mission of Peloton College is to be the premier provider of hands-on training and education by providing students and graduates with the necessary skills to secure occupational careers. Contact us today to learn more.