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Business Transformation Q4 2023

Starting a cybersecurity career: why an IT background is no longer required

iStock / Getty Images Plus / gorodenkoff

Ed Parsons

CISSP, UK and Europe Director, ISC2

As the cyber workforce remains severely understaffed, the profession needs to embrace entry-level talent to create a safe and secure cyber world.

Amid the current threat landscape, adoption of new technologies and increased regulation, there’s an unprecedented demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals. It’s estimated we need 73,439 professionals in the UK alone to safeguard digital assets. 

Cybersecurity capabilities in the UK 

Only 54% of UK cybersecurity professionals believe their organisation has adequate tools and people to respond to cyber incidents over the next few years. The scarcity of skilled workers and the pressing need to boost the workforce are now pushing UK organisations to look beyond traditional approaches to resourcing. 

Only through strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity workforce can we bolster the UK’s cyber resilience and support its ambition to be one of the safest places to do business online. 

Embracing alternative training pathways 

Many cybersecurity professionals have IT backgrounds, with some pursuing a formal education path to earn a degree in computer science or a related field. While this traditional pathway has produced many highly skilled experts, it leaves the profession with diversity challenges and facing intense competition from other technical disciplines.  

Meanwhile, research shows that non-technical attributes and experience, such as problem-solving skills and effective communication, have developed into critical requirements for success in the field. Professionals now require a unique combination of skills and attributes that extend beyond technical proficiency.  

Fortunately, people with a natural aptitude for cybersecurity can develop technical expertise. Findings show that entry and junior-level hires with non-technical backgrounds are often ready to handle technical assignments within six months. 

People with a natural aptitude for cybersecurity
can develop technical expertise.

Updating tech hiring practices 

Organisations play a pivotal role in broadening recruitment strategies. Hiring managers must work with HR to ensure alignment on job descriptions, realistic expectations of candidates and a focus on recruiting for the right skillsets — not limited by specific degrees or certifications. 

Welcoming entry-level tech talent 

Understanding the need to provide individuals from all walks of life the opportunity to pursue a cybersecurity career, ISC2 launched its ‘One Million Certified in Cybersecurity’ programme. ISC2 is offering its entry-level certification exam and training — free — for 1 million individuals. It’s an open invitation to aspiring professionals who share a passion for safeguarding the digital world. 

ISC2 is at the forefront of efforts to support newcomers’ cybersecurity professional development journeys. So, whatever your background, the world of cybersecurity is ready for you to explore and contribute to its ongoing mission to create a safe and secure cyber world.  

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