In an era where digital crime is the norm, the skills to protect our online data is needed more than ever.
Cyber security has thus been a sought-after field in recent years, with Australia needing nearly 17,000 additional workers by 2026. This, paired with a severe skills shortage, has sparked colossal demand for those with the right security skills and experience - with plenty of roles now veering well into the six-figure salary range.
As such, it’s no surprise the sector has welcomed plenty of new aspiring professionals looking to launch an exciting career in this fast-growing industry. However, with the field’s increasing rate of development, it helps to have the right practices, discipline, and mindset to stay relevant and competitive as you progress in your cyber security career.
Below, we explore the benefits of continuous professional development as a cyber security expert, and the many ways to achieve this below.
The importance of further training
While formal education and training are an often recommended pathway into cyber security – simply graduating from a single certificate, diploma, or degree isn’t enough. With the sector undergoing constant growth and development, the skills considered competitive now may be slightly outdated in a couple of years (or earlier).
It’s thus important to invest in continuous learning, helping you stay ahead of the curb and on top of the latest skills trends in cyber security. Fortunately, aspiring security professionals now have a vast range of cyber security training options available – with many catering to various emerging and sought-after specialties such as ethical hacking, cloud computing security, and networking. Constantly upgrading your skills through these programs will keep your skillset sharp, valuable, and in-demand among potential employers in the industry. In addition, plenty offer nationally (or even internationally) recognised security certifications, further verifying your expertise in the field.
AIICT, for instance, offers a few cyber security courses aligned to the latest industry standards and demands. Students can learn the critical skills of network security, incident response, penetration testing, and more – with a focus on the practical, “work-ready” skills to get them prepared for new security roles and opportunities. Each course is also delivered online, helping them train at a time, place, and pace that works best for them.
How to achieve progression in your cyber security career
Of course, climbing the cyber security ladder not only requires the right education – but the dedication and commitment to succeed and grow in the field. Below are a few more tips to help you advance in your professional journey.
Optimise the industry resources available
As discussed, a devotion for continuous learning and development is critical. Formal programs and courses, however – aren’t your only sources for industry information. Plenty of online resources such as forums, reports, videos, and articles related to the field can help complement your training and provide you with additional insight.
Fortunately, the cyber security community boasts a plethora of various online hubs and websites such as Security Focus, Cybersecurity Insiders, ISACA Engage, and the Australian government’s ACSC site to help you stay updated on the latest industry news, developments, and opportunities.
Additionally, real-world conferences such as the Australian Cyber Conference and Cyber Security Summit are valuable events for gaining insights straight from industry veterans and organisations. They also offer you the chance of broadening your professional network and potentially opening new doors of career opportunity.
Taking advantage of these events, platforms, and various industry resources can help keep your knowledge fresh and adaptive to ongoing changes in the field. In turn, you’ll more likely to stay a competitive and valued asset in the cyber security sector.
As with any career journey, it’s important to set both short and long-term goals as you strive for success. Examples of short-term goals for aspiring security professionals may include unlocking a new skill, taking up a new course, or picking up a new tool. Long-term goals may involve specialising in a new role, advancing to more management-level positions, or completing a personal (or collaborative) project, such as developing your own security app or software.
Be sure to also celebrate your wins as you go along, helping motivate you for the next milestone. Keeping track of your progress can also help you review your goals and ensure you’re on the right track. You may find the need to pivot to a new specialty or plug up any skill gaps you’ve overlooked – especially as the security field continues to bear new skill demands and technologies.
Put your newfound knowledge to constant practice
While training under sought-after security courses and certifications is recommended, your new skills are only as effective as your level of practice.
Take the time to apply your newfound knowledge to varying contexts. Those currently employed, for instance, may start out by integrating their new skills into their current role. A cloud computing professional may help administer tougher security measures onto their organisation’s platform, or a software developer may incorporate stronger protective features into their new app or program. Doing this can help exercise your new skillset and builds upon your practical experience; while helping you take note of areas you can improve.
Alternatively, professionals may decide to enter a new role altogether, where they can focus on honing their skills and learning from real-world cyber security challenges.
On the other hand, those just entering the job market may find their start through internships and personal (or collaborative) projects. Such opportunities are highly recommended for helping you have a feel of the industry and the various expectations placed upon cyber security professionals.
Look into specialisations
What better way to hone your cyber security skills than mastering a specific specialty?
Depending on your interests or current skillsets, it may be worth exploring a specific cyber security role to form your expertise in. The field offers a vast selection to choose from – including roles that concentrate on cloud computing, AI, networking, or ethical hacking.
This can arm you with a more technical (rather than a generic) skillset that applies to more sought-after – and often high-paying – specialised positions. You’ll stand out as someone with a high level of excellence in a focused area, rather than having adequate knowledge across various cybersecurity roles.
Establish a disciplined routine
Lastly, it’s important to remember that the journey of lifelong learning is a disciplined one. To successfully stay in touch with ongoing security trends and developments, dedication and resilience is key – so be sure to commit a substantial amount of time to honing your skills and learning new ones.
With formal training, the hours you set aside will depend on the length and depth of your studies. AIICT’s courses recommend at least 20 hours of study per week for diploma courses, while shorter ones (such as our Certified Cyber Security Professional bootcamp) can be successfully completed with 15 hours of dedicated learning weekly.
Discipline, however, isn’t just exclusive to formal education – but to your regular practice and exercise of skill. Be sure to constantly challenge yourself throughout your cyber security career, taking the time to learn from experience, personal ventures, or from fellow industry peers.
Want to build your skills in cyber security?
As mentioned, AIICT offers a number of training programs in cyber security: our Certified Cyber Security Professional bootcamp course (comprised of internationally-renowned certifications by CompTIA); and our nationally-recognised ICT30120 - Certificate III in Information Technology (Elective Focus Basic Cyber Security) and ICT50220 - Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security).
All programs are aligned to the latest cyber security skills demands and industry standards – ensuring your knowledge stays ever-relevant and valuable in this dynamic field.
Best of all, each course is delivered online, helping you train according to your needs and schedule.
Advance your career in cyber security today, and enquire with us on a course.