TrainACE - IT and Cybersecurity Training Blog

Three Popular Cybersecurity Career Paths

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 26, 2023 11:04:00 AM / by Paul Ricketts

Today’s information technology and cybersecurity industries are exploding with job openings – especially in the metro Washington, DC area. There are more available positions in these fields than there are qualified professionals to fill them. There is no better time to begin a cybersecurity career than right now. Whether you are just out of college or you are transitioning from another IT role, getting started in cybersecurity is a solid choice.

In Washington, DC, a quick search of open cybersecurity jobs brings up thousands of available positions with some of the most successful organizations in the country. Companies like General Dynamics Information Technology, Lockheed Martin, Comcast, Capital One, numerous governmental agencies, and many others are nearly always hiring cybersecurity experts.

There are numerous different career paths you can take in cybersecurity. Some security professionals want to work in roles involving white hat hacking and thwarting cybercriminals, while others want to pursue higher-level leadership positions. Whatever path you choose to take, all cybersecurity careers have to begin with general IT skills and experience.

Some of the most popular entry-level IT jobs that may be a stepping-stone for cybersecurity career seekers include:

  • Network Administrator
  • Systems Administrator
  • Database Administrator
  • Web Administrator
  • Web Developer
  • IT Technician
  • Security Administrator
  • Computer Software Engineer
  • Network Engineer

In addition to the experience and knowledge you gain on the job, you should supplement your skills with outside training. You can do this by taking IT courses and obtaining various certifications. For those who are just getting started in IT, an introductory course in IT and cybersecurity will be beneficial. From there, you should consider some of the beginner certifications offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). CompTIA A+ certification proves that you are proficient in computer repair, maintenance, and technology fundamentals. It also provides you with enough knowledge to ensure that you make informed decisions about your IT career path.

The CompTIA Network+ certification is also one you should get no matter where you might end up with your IT career. This certification ensures you have the skill set needed to manage basic network infrastructure efficiently. It also demonstrates that you have the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot that infrastructure. The Cisco Certified Network Association (CCNA) certification is a vendor-specific credential that is also beneficial for almost every IT professional.

Once you have these essential skills under your belt, you may decide to work toward a career as a Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker, a Security Architect, or a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Here’s what those paths may look like.

Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker Career Path

A penetration tester, or ethical hacker, looks for vulnerabilities in IT networks, systems, and applications using the same types of tactics and with the same knowledge as a criminal hacker. They use an array of tools to simulate cyberattacks, identify any weaknesses, and help their organizations mitigate those vulnerabilities.

Penetration testers and ethical hackers may follow a career path like this:

  • Attain early level certifications and experience in the IT industry or obtain a degree.
  • Obtain an entry-level IT role.
  • Obtain specialized skills in ethical hacking with penetration testing training and certifications.
  • Enter a beginning penetration testing role.
  • Advance to a security consultant, security architect, or other senior penetration roles.

The following certifications are suggested for the various levels of penetration tester/ethical hacker roles:

  • Beginner: CompTIA Security+
  • Mid-level: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Management-level: CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP)
  • Senior-level: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Security Architect Career Path

As a security architect, you will be responsible for designing, building, and deploying network and computer security for your company. You’ll be tasked with designing complex security structures and maintaining them. Typically, the security systems that you’ll be designing are for combatting malware, hacker intrusions, and DDoS attacks.

Security Architects may follow a career path like this:

  • Attain early level certifications and experience in the IT industry or obtain a degree.
  • Obtain an entry-level IT role, such as a systems administrator, security administrator, or network administrator.
  • Advance to a mid-level role as a security analyst or engineer.
  • Enter the role of a security architect.

The following certifications are suggested for the various levels of the Security Architect career path:

  • Beginner: CompTIA Security+
  • Mid-level: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Management-level: EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)
  • Senior-level: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Career Path

The role of a CISO is to lead an IT security department of a company and its team. This senior-level position is tasked with establishing, implementing, and managing an organization’s vision and protecting all technology assets and sensitive data. The CISO typically reports directly to the CIO or CEO of the organization.

CISOs may follow a career path like this:

  • Attain early level certifications and experience in the IT industry or obtain a degree.
  • Enter the industry as an analyst or programmer.
  • Advance to a security analyst, consultant, engineer, or auditor.
  • Obtain more advanced training and IT certifications.
  • Begin in an IT management role that supervises an IT security team.
  • Attain further degrees (for example, MBA) or certifications with a management focus.
  • Get promoted to the CISO role.

The following certifications are suggested for the various levels of the CISO career path:

  • Mid-level: Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Management-level: Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Senior-level: Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP)

Training in Washington, DC for Every Cybersecurity Career Path

There are so many different career paths you can take within the IT and cybersecurity industry. They all require certain skills and knowledge – some overlapping and some specific to the role. At TrainACE, we have industry experts to help you with training and certifications for whatever path you choose. If you're in the metro Washington, DC area, contact us today to get started on your cybersecurity career path. 

Paul Ricketts

Written by Paul Ricketts

Originally from the UK, Paul Ricketts is the Director of Marketing at TrainACE in Greenbelt, MD. Having started out in the field of Geographic Information Systems, Paul has a wealth of experience in a wide variety of industries, focused on tech., graphics and data analysis. Having finally settled in the field of marketing, he has spent the last 8 years fine tuning his skills in the art of communication and persuasion.

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