What should I ask myself before taking an online Cybersecurity Course?

With the country facing a current shortage of 2,300 workers in cybersecurity – there’s no better time than now to enter the field. Aspiring professionals are currently spoiled with a massive selection of opportunity, only set to grow with the expected demand of 17,600 additional specialists by 2026.

Fortunately, recent efforts have been made to meet this rising skills gap – including the rapid development of relevant education pathways. Student demand for cybersecurity training has grown exponentially, forecasted to only grow stronger in time. Keeping in step, education providers are now offering more study opportunities than ever before (plenty of these delivered online)– with graduate numbers expected to quadruple to 2,000 a year by 2026.

With the multiple career pathways, generous salaries, and high job security it offers, it’s no wonder the security field has grown into one of tech’s most attractive sectors. For those looking to pursue a course online, we outline four important questions to consider before taking the plunge.

Why do I want to study cybersecurity?

The first question to ask yourself is why you’re choosing to pursue cybersecurity in the first place.

Is it to launch a dedicated career in the field? To upgrade your current IT skillset? Or to simply explore your employment options in tech?

Whatever the case may be, it helps to outline your goals for undertaking the course. This can help in crafting a clear, solid action plan once you’ve acquired your qualification. For example, students seeking full-time employment can research on any available internships or job placement opportunities to pursue during or upon completing the course. In some cases, the program may even provide support for these on-the-job experiences. The Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT), for example, connects graduates to potential employers through their Industry Partner Program.

Those simply looking to upskill in tech or explore the career opportunities available may benefit from undertaking a course on cybersecurity basics – offering them a feel for the sector and the common activities involved.

It may also help to assess whether cybersecurity fits your personal work style and personality traits. In general, the field seeks out strong communicators, collaborators, and digital natives; as well as the highly methodical and analytical. Those working in cybersecurity must also be willing to commit to a “lifelong learner” mindset, in which they dedicate their time to continuously upgrading and building on their industry knowledge.

Should I specialise?

Aspiring security specialists have a wide range of focused skills areas to choose from; applicable to those with entry-level, mid-level, and advanced-level industry experience.

Entry-level professionals can specialise their security skills in areas of web development, network engineering, and systems engineering. Those with more experience may wish to explore specialised roles such as a security analyst, penetration tester, and cybersecurity consultant. Those with advanced skills and experience may find a fulfilling career in cybersecurity management, engineering, or architecture.

While it helps to start building your security career through more generic, basic cybersecurity training, experts often recommend deciding on a potential specialty before diving in. Finding your focus will not only aid you in your job search – but can also help you better market yourself to potential employers or clients.

Kevin Beaver of Security Intelligence advises asking oneself the following questions: Are you a more technical or business-savvy person? Are you a good communicator? Do you prefer working behind a desk all day, or being up on your feet interacting with others? What are your current strengths in the field?

Considering these can help one determine the industry areas that best fit their skills. Of course, it helps to keep in mind the areas, activities, and roles that interest you most. 

Do I need additional training or knowledge beforehand?

While plenty of entry-level cybersecurity courses have no training or educational prerequisites; students may benefit from brushing up on basic computing or programming skills. These can help prime you for the subjects covered in your course, helping you achieve greater study success.

Preparation can be as simple as doing quick research on industry facts – such as the certifications available, the skills high in demand, and popular career opportunities. To further equip yourself, you can also get familiar with computer basics, such as how operating systems work, networking protocols, common security measures (i.e. firewalls, VPNs, and anti-virus software), and so on.

Students are also recommended to brush up on their soft skills, since (as mentioned), the cybersecurity field demands a high level of communication and interpersonal skills. Professionals in the field are often required to present concepts to those who may not have the same technical background or experience. As such, students must learn to explain complex ideas in clear, concise, and plain language; exercise active listening, and have the confidence to present to and collaborate with others.

Additionally, getting used to disciplined, solid work habits (i.e. consistently updating your knowledge, having enthusiasm and adaptability, being inquisitive, etc.) will not only prove valuable for any cybersecurity career – but can also assist you throughout your student journey.

Do I have what I need to take an online course?

Finally, ensure you have all the necessary requirements to pursue and complete an online course.

A desktop or laptop computer, a solid internet connection, and familiarity with basic computing functions are all essentials to begin your online learning journey. Most digital courses are delivered through a designated online student portal, though communications (or networking) may also take place through third-party messaging and social media platforms. Being familiar with these online environments can thus help make your student experience a far easier one.

Having a designated study space can additionally help creating a more productive student experience. Whether it’s a section of your bedroom or an actual home office – be sure to have a space that offers the quiet and distraction-free environment you need.

Also consider how well an online course will fit your preferred learning style. Are you an independent learner who can take initiative in organising their own schedule, research, and daily tasks (or are willing to adopt this routine)? Or do you fare better in a physical classroom, learning through face-to-face interactions? With an online course – all activities, communication, and assignments are typically purely digital, so keep this in mind before diving into one.

Ready to take up cybersecurity?

If your answers point to potential future in the cybersecurity field – AIICT’s got just the program to get you started.

Comprised of three CompTIA certifications (A+, Security+, and Network+) our Certified Cybersecurity Professional course offers all you need to explore the fundamentals of IT support, networking, and digital security. Diving into concepts of penetration testing, virtualised networks, risk management, and more – students will be well-equipped to begin a security career, armed with qualifications from a globally-recognised IT leader.

Best of all – the course is delivered completely online, help you tailor your studies according to personal needs and schedule.

Dive into the world of cybersecurity, and enquire with us today.