A cybersecurity consultant is the backbone of every digital business. They work on various facets of every organization.
- From identifying vulnerabilities and potential risks to building protection strategies;
- From guiding the IT teams to strengthening the security support.
They secure data repositories, information systems, and network infrastructure.
The worldwide cybersecurity market size will reach 366.10 billion by 2028. And that’ll only grow bigger. You’ll need more than degrees and certificates in cybersecurity to nail the space.
Don’t worry! We have the roadmap ready for building a career in cybersecurity consulting. So let’s get started.
Step #1: Get a degree in cybersecurity
You’d want to crack the bachelor’s degree in one of these majors:
- Cybersecurity (recommended),
- Information Technology, and
- Computer Science.
Most of the companies that hire cybersecurity specialists would prefer a master’s degree in majors. So it’s a great plus if you have an ethical hacking and/or digital forensics degree.
Step #2: Gain professional experience in information security
Your biggest learning curve as a cybersecurity consultant comes with practical application.
Let’s say you worked under different roles for 2 to 5 years in enterprise cybersecurity. You’ll learn identifying security loopholes, fixing patches, and dealing with lots of common attacks.
You’ll also need advanced cybersecurity expertise and technical skills to provide consultation to your clients.
Also, many cybersecurity certifications require professional experience in IT security as a prerequisite. Well, it sounds like a vicious loop, but you can gain professional experience in two stages:
Stage #1: Entry-level roles
You can work as a:
- IT security engineer,
- Incident responder,
● Security technician, or
- Penetration tester.
These roles can help you set the proper foundation for your career as a consultant.
Stage #2: Advanced roles
The next level involves getting deep into the nitty-gritty of cybersecurity and the liabilities associated with the role. So, you can go for advanced roles like:
- Network administrator,
- Cybersecurity manager,
- System administrator (senior level), and
- Cyber forensics analyst.
Step #3: Start earning certifications in IT security
Once you’ve completed two years as a cybersecurity professional, apply for certifications. Read job descriptions with their requirements and prepare yourself accordingly.
Check out the list of top cybersecurity certifications that are a requirement in most job listings.
- CompTIA Security+ (Requirement – CompTIA Network+ certification and 2-year experience in IT administration)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) (Requirement – 5-year, paid work experience in at least two domains of CISSP CBK (Common Body of Knowledge))
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) (Requirement – 2-year experience in Information Security)
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) (Requirement – Sound knowledge of TCP/IP networking, Windows and Linux administration, Basic Bash/Python Scripting)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) (Requirement – 5-year experience in Information Security in which three or more years of experience should be in Information Security Management))
- Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) (Requirement – 4-year experience in Information Security or related fields and knowledge of Network+ and Security+)
- EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) (Requirement – 2 or more years of experience and continuing education)
Step #4: Develop Skills of Cybersecurity Consulting
Some argue you need skills. The others argue you need certifications and degrees. We say why not have both? That’s having a cake and eating it too.
You can put these two skill types in your cybersecurity portfolio.
Set #1: Soft Skills
If you’re very fluent and persuasive while interacting with everyone in your team and beyond, consider it as a cherry on the top.
Look! You’re responsible for explaining a lot of things to your clients and IT teams. Honing soft skills won’t get you cyber expertise, but help communicate your thoughts much precisely and in a structured manner.
So, focus on soft skills that teach you:
- Leadership: to effectively manage security teams and take the initiative in solving critical issues
- Communication: to convey your ideas and solutions clearly to the client as well as your teams
- Critical thinking: to competently analyze the observations and facts and give an apt judgment
- Ethics: to stay on the “good side” and follow the organization’s policies and procedures before implementation
- Time management: to be productive while being vigilant.
Be open to learning more skills as you work and interact with more people. 🙂
Set #2: Hard Skills
We have already worked a bit on this part. You will learn most of the technical skills through your
- certifications, and
- work experience.
But here’s the list of competencies you should think about:
- Penetration testing: get into the boots of the attackers and the defenders to find out how vulnerable applications and software are.● Ethical hacking and coding: think like a hacker, models threats, and propose solutions accordingly.
- Firewall management: become a breach expert who detects and prevents breaching, takes timely backups, and understands fail-safe features.
- APT (advanced persistent threat management): learn about multi-stage attacks like phishing and social engineering, which requires knowledge of network access control.
- Encryption techniques: cybersecurity space is incomplete without encryption techniques. Use them to prevent data theft and cyber-attacks.
Step #5: Apply for the role!
Look for cybersecurity consultant jobs on platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc. to name a few. There’s a gig consultant fad going all over the world. You can find yourself some opportunities there too. Or you can also choose to work as an in-house consultant.
Over to you!
If you’ve already taken notes, what are you waiting for? Start applying for the role. Look for colleges and universities that offer courses in cyber security. Also, make a list of certifications you wish to earn and prepare a strategy to gain work experience accordingly.