How to get Started in the IT and Data Security Field

Photo courtesy of Flickr: Dennis Hamilton

Are you looking to switch career paths and get into the ever fascinating data security field? Maybe you have a background in the tech industry, or perhaps this is your first foray into information technology and you want to start down the road to an IT security career. If so, you have come to the right place – in this blog post I am going to tell you how to land that data security job and get off on the right foot in your new career.

What Is a Data Security Job?

Before you can start your new, shiny IT security career, you should have a firm understanding of what a data security job entails and take inventory of what skills you currently possess to see if you will be a match. Doing so will also let you know your weaknesses and give you an idea of what abilities you need to beef up.

At its core, data security is all about – well, securing data! It is a broadly defined field with many career paths to choose from, but at the end of the day it is all about protecting a network or database from outside (and sometimes inside) infiltration.

Data integrity is crucial to pretty much every business, whether it be an online store, a site that uses any type of transactional (credit card or e-commerce) information, or even a user database (think healthcare industry and so forth). Because of this, a data security job will always be in high demand, especially as companies continue to incorporate and rely more and more on technology.

Since the fields available to those seeking an IT security career vary so widely, your best bet is to become a specialist – seek out a particular niche and build your skill set there.

Some common fields on the networking side of the data security arena include network security engineer, network security administrator, and systems security administrator. Other growth and hot bed areas include cloud computer security and information security in virtualized and enterprise settings as well.

Another hotbed is application security, as mobile devices continue to explode onto the scene and IT users become more app-centric.

Tips for Getting a Job in the IT and Data Security Field

Knowing the career path you want to head down and brushing up on your skills in that area is a great way to start, but because of the sensitive nature, you will really want to try to get as much "proof" of your abilities as possible before you begin your job hunt.

That proof comes in several forms. Having a relevant degree in some form of Information Technology is good. Picking courses specific to data privacy and security, as well as networking and mobile security are also great for talking points during your interview, beefing up your resume, and of course, increasing your abilities.

Taking certification courses (and obtaining those certifications of course!) will go a long way towards landing you that data security gig. Having a certificate in hand can easily put you ahead of the competition.

Never underestimate the power of networking – the social kind that is. Traditional networking –think college professors, friends in the industry, mentors, and so forth – is something that every person, no matter what field they are in, put their energy into. You never know when those relationships will pay off in the form of a job, or better yet, a career.

LinkedIn, Facebook, G+, and Twitter are other avenues to pursue. On top of giving you access to other individuals in your field, many companies post job offerings through these venues, and they are a great way to get more information about the company you are interested in. Just remember that whatever you post on these social platforms is visible to the general public, and as such, can come back to haunt you; always behave appropriately!

Finally, always prepare for the interview. Google common data security job interview questions, really know your subject, and prepare some scenarios that you can use to demonstrate your abilities. If you have no past experience, prepare a made-up scenario that could occur in the real world and discuss how you would handle it.

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