Maybe you’ve heard about the thousands of well-paying and in-demand jobs in Canada’s cybersecurity industry, but you’re not sure how to start your career in this field. The good news is that the industry is looking for new talent with a variety of backgrounds and skills.
“Cybersecurity is an increasingly complex field, so it’s essential to have diversity in perspective and experiences,” writes Enza Alexander, Executive Vice President at ISA Cybersecurity, in the article “It’s time to get more women in cyber—here’s how.”
“A variety of problem-solving approaches and backgrounds helps provide more comprehensive answers and ideas,” Alexander continues. “Cyber threats are too severe not to have all our best resources at hand.”
We’re here to help—we’ve gone through dozens of job descriptions to find the top skills (both technical and soft) required for cybersecurity specialists. Here are the top 10 skills required for a career in cybersecurity, based on researching the top skill trends within the CareerFinder Job Title Heatmap.
All sectors are seeking cybersecurity professionals, especially after the spike in cyber threats during the pandemic. Experience with security, cybersecurity and information security is at the top of the list for many jobs in the industry, which likely comes as no surprise. Knowledge of security issues from a holistic view allows you to not only offer solutions but also develop ways to implement them
A security strategy goes beyond simply crossing something off a checklist and calling it a day. Management is about seeing and understanding all the moving parts as a whole and making the best use of the resources at your disposal to develop a sustainable security plan. In the cybersecurity world, management is a key requirement in many fields—vulnerability management, systems management and incident management, to name a few—but even in fields not explicitly management-focused, having this experience will set you apart from other candidates.
Self-awareness is key for any successful candidate. You must know where your strengths and weaknesses lie in order to build upon them or to develop new skills. Besides taking credit for successes and owning up to mistakes, responsibility in the workplace also means prioritizing tasks and having strong time management skills. In an industry built around security and protection, being trusted to make the right decisions, sometimes independently and often on-the-fly, is a necessity for employers.
Cybersecurity affects everyone—it’s a shared responsibility across an organization. This highlights the importance of being able to work collaboratively, whether inside or outside of your department. As part of a cybersecurity team—a team with members who each have their own diverse skillsets—you need to learn the roles of others so that you can better coordinate and fill any gaps in expertise, leading to an efficient workflow. After all, no matter the company you work for, you all have a shared goal.
It’s one thing to find solutions, and it’s another to ensure everyone is on the same page about how to move forward. That’s where clear communication comes in. Communicating with your team will keep projects on track. Plus, in a cybersecurity role, you may be working with people who do not have the same technical knowledge as you, making it important to be able to clearly and concisely communicate critical information and suggestions.
Cybersecurity is ever evolving, and if you don’t spend time staying up-to-date, you risk being unprepared for a cyber incident. Research is an important skill for cybersecurity experts so they can stay updated on new security tools, industry trends and emerging security vulnerabilities. Being well-informed will make you more appealing to employers, and more adaptable to a variety of different fields and work environments.
With the use of cloud services on the rise, organizations need to ensure its cloud security meets company expectations. Though cloud services offer many benefits, like remote work solutions, it also creates new vulnerabilities, making cloud computing and infrastructure skills increasingly important for cybersecurity professionals.
Though it’s not a requirement to enter into the world of cybersecurity, an understanding of computer science could set you apart from others competing for the same position. Learning multiple computer languages and understanding programming concepts will give you a better idea of how websites, programs and applications are made so that you can better identify security vulnerabilities and solutions. It also opens up clearer lines of communication with any developers in your workplace, making implementing changes easier and more efficient.
Weaknesses in operating systems are easy targets for cybersecurity threats. That’s why, similar to learning computer languages, understanding various operating systems will help you find potential risks at your organization. As an added bonus, being able to work effectively in a variety of operating systems will make you appealing to a wider range of employers.
Cybersecurity is a dance between proactive and reactive solutions. Ideally, you will be identifying any threats before they happen, but when unforeseen issues do appear, you’ll need to be able to address them right away. Innovative thinking and problem-solving will allow analysts to come up with multiple ways to approach a situation so that they can decide on the best course of action. This is also what makes the industry so appealing—constantly coming up with creative new ideas and approaches keeps the job fresh and exciting.
Globally, 3.1 million cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled, according to the 2020 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study. This gap is a good opportunity for people interested in a career in the field, and there are many jobs available—if you have the required skills.
There are many ways to learn the skills that you’ll need to break into the field of cybersecurity, from on-the job-training and hands-on experience to independent learning or formal education in a related field. Here are a few university and collegiate programs available in Canada that Kevin Dawson, President and CEO of ISA Cybersecurity Inc. (a TECHNATION member and cybersecurity program partner) holds in high esteem.
If you have a job in mind, visit the CareerFinder Job Title Heatmap so you can see for yourself what skills are in demand for the cybersecurity job you want. You can then take a look at the CareerFinder Cybersecurity Education Portal to learn about training opportunities to start you on your career path.
And, in the words of Enza Alexander, “Cybersecurity isn’t just a job – it’s a calling… Protecting sensitive personal data through security awareness education, preventing a potentially devastating cyber breach, or helping customers navigate their way out of a ransomware attack – these are all hugely important, real-life activities.”
If a career in cybersecurity is something that interests you, we encourage you to explore it further and see if it’s a fit. At TECHNATION, we are always happy to see more people enter this exciting industry.