Are you intrigued by the idea of pursuing a career in cybersecurity but find the IT landscape overwhelming? If so, you’re not alone! Many people in the IT or cybersecurity field didn’t start with a degree in those areas or follow a traditional path. (Lance Spitzner is one example of a security expert who was a history major and rode main battle tanks for a living before moving in the security realm.)

The demand for cybersecurity professionals is on the rise, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 33% employment growth for information analysts between 2020 and 2030, surpassing the average employment growth rate for all occupations. This industry is constantly hiring, offering diverse opportunities across various roles and competitive salaries. Don’t be deterred by the notion of not being an IT person, programmer, or computer scientist. A technical background is not a prerequisite for success in cybersecurity, as many skills can be acquired through training programs, boot camps, certifications, and internships.

Effective communication, problem-solving abilities, and collaboration across departments or organizations are crucial for information security teams. By embracing professionals with diverse backgrounds and experiences, teams can become more agile and balanced, enabling them to anticipate issues more effectively.

During National Cybersecurity Career Awareness Month, individuals have a unique opportunity to investigate various career pathways in cybersecurity. The following ten resources may prove valuable as you explore your options.

  • Cyber Career Pathways Tool: The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) offers an interactive website to explore work roles and core attributes (e.g., tasks, knowledge, skills, and abilities) associated with each role, as well as actionable insights related to those cybersecurity roles.
  • This website lists current job openings in the federal government and provides tools and resources for 5 distinct audiences: job seekers, current federal employees, federal hiring managers, students, and universities.
  • CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service: A unique program that provides scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a cybersecurity education (up to 3 years). Those who receive scholarships must agree to work for the federal government in a cybersecurity-related role after graduation.
  • Cybersecurity Talent Initiative: Undergraduate or graduate students in cybersecurity-related fields (e.g., computer science, engineering, information science, mathematics) are ideal candidates for this program. Benefits include a 2-year government placement, cross-sector networking, mentorship, leadership development, and student loan assistance.
  • A website offering an interactive “heat map” that shows the current supply and demand in the cybersecurity market. You can also explore career pathways with an interactive tool highlighting common cybersecurity roles, opportunities to advance, as well as more information about salaries, credentials, and skillsets related to each role.
  • Cyversity:  is a non-profit association that supports the education and career advancement of underrepresented women and minority cybersecurity professionals. Resources include scholarships, mentoring programs, outreach, volunteer opportunities, and regional chapters.
  • ISACA: A professional membership organization that helps cybersecurity professionals grow their skills and knowledge through personalized training, certifications, educational resources, and a global community of industry leaders and experts.
  • (ISC)2: A nonprofit membership association for cybersecurity leaders that offers training, globally recognized certifications, and job postings, as well as networking and collaboration opportunities.
  • LinkedIn: A global network where job seekers can discover new cybersecurity-related career opportunities and connect with other professionals in the field. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, sign up for a new profile and search on the hashtag #InfoSecJobs for the latest job postings.
  • SANS Institute: An organization that provides a cybersecurity training, certifications, scholarship academies, degree programs, cyber ranges, and research.

This list of resources is intended to be a starting point as you explore different career pathways. Another way to learn more about cybersecurity career paths is by speaking to people in this field and discovering what they’re passionate about.

The University of Chicago IT Services team is always open to discussions with those seeking careers in cybersecurity or considering options in the future. The Information Security team will be hosting a Cybersecurity Awareness Month Tech Talk, October 10 at 2pm, to provide more information and debunk some myths. You can register here. We’d love to share our stories with you!