How to Get Into Cybersecurity: Tips, Strategy and Skills

Between an educational background with a cybersecurity online degree, experiential learning opportunities and certifications, there are many ways to get your start in the important and fast-growing field.

When Italy native Dr. Angelica Marotta ’17G graduated from the University of Pisa with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, she wasn’t sure where she wanted her career to take her. She received multiple job offers but still felt she hadn’t found her true professional identity. That is until she discovered cybersecurity.

Marotta knew she needed to learn more to break into the field. She searched for a program to meet her needs and found Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) fit the bill. As an international student, the online programs allowed her to continue working in Italy and earn a master’s degree with a cybersecurity-focused concentration.

Today, Marotta is a researcher in the field both in Italy and with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Sloan School of Management, exploring how businesses around the world are implementing information technology (IT) security practices. Galvanized by her educational and professional experience, Marotta earned a doctorate in cybersecurity in 2022. (Cybersecurity doctorate programs are not currently offered at SNHU.)

The field introduced her to a new world of possibility. “In cybersecurity, you may face issues that didn’t even exist when you started studying this particular subject,” said Marotta. “It’s likely that you’ll find yourself working on something you’d never expect.”

Marotta is just one of those unlikely people now working in the fast-growing field of cybersecurity.* According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the cybersecurity role of information security analyst is projected to grow by 32% through 2032 — much faster than the national average.* In 2022, the median salary for this role was $112,000, BLS reported.*

What is Cybersecurity All About?

As a cybersecurity worker, you could help create and enforce IT security policies to protect against cybercrime.

A cybersecurity job description may include working with an organization to ensure compliance with government regulations. You could even be hired to hack into companies’ software and IT infrastructure to help identify and strengthen areas of vulnerability.

Cybersecurity is a fast-growing field with diverse opportunities available.* No matter what cybersecurity career path you take, you’ll need specific skills and training to succeed in the field.

Is Cybersecurity a Good Career?

As more individuals and organizations around the world become dependent on technology for their day-to-day operations, cybercrime has also become more common, from identity theft and phishing schemes to computer viruses and data breaches.

The National Council on Identity Theft and Protection reported that as of 2023, 33% of Americans had faced some form of identity theft in their lives, with a new case occurring every 22 seconds. And the frequency of such attacks is only expected to increase.

An annual report by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) noted that data breaches in 2022 were the second-highest number of events in a single year. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) internet crime report, Americans lost over $10.2 billion from cybercrime in 2022, a $3.3 billion increase from 2021 (FBI PDF Source).

It’s not only adults who are at risk of being victimized by cybercrime — a recent AARP-sponsored report stated that children are increasingly at risk for identity theft as well.

It’s no surprise, then, that cybersecurity jobs are also on the rise to protect against these threats. The need for skilled workers in the field is so high that the nonprofit Information System Audit and Control Association’s (ISACA) 2022 report noted a sharp increase in hiring and retention difficulties within cybersecurity due to demand.

“There is a shortage of cyber talent, and employers know it. This was the trend before the pandemic hit and is even more pronounced,” said Dr. Trebor Evans, a chief information security officer (CISO) and SNHU adjunct instructor. “Now more than ever, opportunities are abundant for entering the cyber field.”*

Consider Your Cybersecurity Career Interests

When getting started in cybersecurity, consider your interests and ideal work environment to determine an area of specialization.

“Today, computers and digital media are everywhere,” said Rodney Royster, an adjunct faculty member at SNHU with more than three decades of experience in the cybersecurity field. “Almost every business or industry you can think of operates within this space. So, in short, a cybersecurity degree holder can work everywhere. The question here should be, where can they not work?”

Cybersecurity analysts are in high demand across many industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, law enforcement, transportation and power and utilities.* Job descriptions vary within the field of cybersecurity itself, Royster said.

You could work as a forensics analyst, helping investigate cybercrimes and trace the activity of cybercriminals. You could also work as a security architect, building and testing digital protections for IT infrastructure. Those roles could steer you toward becoming a chief information security officer, leading a team of analysts to set company IT security policy.

Ready to take a deeper dive? provides detailed information about supply and demand in the cybersecurity market. It offers an interactive map showing where the jobs are and an interactive career pathway, with common jobs by title, how to get there and what average salaries are.

Is Cybersecurity Hard To Learn? Explore Degree Options

Getting started in cybersecurity requires foundational knowledge of IT practices, computer technology and math. Luckily, there are a growing number of options for cybersecurity education.

Approximately 85.5% of entry-level cybersecurity job postings seek at least a bachelor’s degree, according to Cyberseek. A cybersecurity master’s degree could help you specialize in a specific area of the field.

“Your technical skill set should include knowledge of networking and firewalls. You should also have the ability to protect networks, operations, client systems and data,” said Faryal Humkar, a career advisor at SNHU.

For Cyndie Ramirez ’18, a cybersecurity degree program not only helped her land a security analyst job before graduating but also inspired her ultimate career goals.

Ramirez was working on an associate degree in computer networking when she first discovered a love of cybersecurity. (Computer networking associate degrees are not currently offered at SNHU). While she was initially nervous to enter what she saw as a mostly male field, a professor encouraged her to explore her interests further. This exploration eventually led to a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree from SNHU and a full-time job in the field.

“I found myself fascinated with trying to build networks secured in every way possible so intruders could not gain access,” Ramirez said. “I then knew right away I wanted to gain my bachelor’s degree to be the front-line team that investigates intrusions and helps mitigate them.”

If you’re looking for a degree program to help you build knowledge and confidence in cybersecurity, look for signals that a university is committed to their program.

In 2023, the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity at SNHU became a validated program of study by the National Security Agency (NSA). As a designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD), SNHU met the federal government’s strict criteria when it comes to excellence in cybersecurity education, said Jonathan Kamyck, a senior associate dean of STEM programs at SNHU.

What Do You Need to Get Into Cybersecurity?

A cybersecurity degree is an important step toward your IT security career, but gaining hands-on experience can be just as powerful when it comes to finding a job in the field.

“I encourage my students to start applying to cybersecurity internships once they start taking their core classes. One to two internships before you graduate will set you up for success and give you the experience you need after you graduate,” said Humkar. “It can also lead to a job opportunity at the company you are interning at.”

Finding an internship or getting involved in a student organization is a great way to get real-world experience, build your professional skills and make key connections in the field. Your academic experiences can also aid your career search.

“I also recommend adding one to two academic projects on your resume that you completed in class that relate to cybersecurity. This can show employers relevant skills you learned in the classroom,” said Humkar. “A career advisor can assist you with developing a strong resume to highlight this.”

The National Cyber League (NCL) is a nonprofit that provides a virtual training ground to develop cybersecurity knowledge. Kristina Greenshields ’18, who earned a bachelor’s in IT with a concentration in cybersecurity, said her participation with the NCL was instrumental in preparing her to find work as a cybersecurity specialist.

“Without my advisor pushing me to join (the NCL), I wouldn’t have had the confidence I had to talk to people about cybersecurity in interviews,” Greenshields said. “It gave me the hands-on experience that I needed in conjunction to my degree classes.”

In a recent competition of colleges and universities nationwide, SNHU ranked 65th. In this competition, students got to test their skills on real-world cybersecurity tasks.

If you’re hoping to break into the field fast, consider earning a certificate in cybersecurity on your way to a cybersecurity associate degree or bachelor’s degree.

In just over six months at SNHU, for instance, you could add a credential from an accredited program to your resume, and it will completely overlap with the courses you need for the university’s undergraduate cybersecurity degree programs. The certificate program offers an overview of technology tools and software, computer networking basics and problem-solving training that can help you position yourself for some entry-level jobs.

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