You’re interested in how to become a cybersecurity strategist, right? With a decade in this field, I can confidently say it’s an exciting job because I can protect firms from cyber threats and be a digital defender.
Everyone will have their path, but my 10-step guide below will make it easier for you to pursue this career. From getting the education and experience to building a network and developing leadership skills, you’ll know how to do this.
A cybersecurity strategist is a person who protects a firm’s computers and data from online attacks. To do this, they create and apply new technologies and methods. Also, they make plans to keep the firm safe from hackers and viruses.
As a cybersecurity strategist, I often work with stakeholders to align security objectives with business goals and manage incidents. Also, I conduct security awareness training.
In short, this job is vital in:
- Protecting data and systems
- Mitigating cyber risks
- Ensuring the company has a secure digital environment
Getting this job is a long process that needs knowledge, experience, and skill. Refer to the steps below to build a foundation for this position and succeed!
1. Obtain A Bachelor’s Degree
A cyber security bachelor’s degree provides you with a deep knowledge of the landscape of this field. You’ll gain a well-rounded base vital for any strategist, including:
- Operating system
- Threat analysis
- New technologies, for example, AI and blockchain
So how to obtain this degree?
First, look into different universities or colleges offering cybersecurity programs. Next up, get your high school diploma or GED sorted out. Can’t chase that degree without the basics, right?
If you’re still in high school, focus on math, computer science, and anything related to technology. Once you’re in a university or college, start knocking out the needed courses like programming, network security, and cryptography.
Typically, this program lasts four years. Thus, focus on cultivating knowledge in these four years so that you can apply it after graduation.
2. Gain Experience
Now that you have a Bachelor’s degree, it’s time to level up and gain real-world experience. I recommend starting with entry-level jobs. Cybersecurity Analyst or Security Engineer is a great way to get your foot in the door.
In this step, you should learn from your colleagues and take advantage of any training opportunities offered by the company.
If there’s a local cyber security company or non-profit that needs help, you can offer your skills. So you can do good for the community and build your experience.
3. Pursue Higher Education (Optional)
Pursuing higher education is an optional but kickass step to make your career path more favorable. So why is it important?
Firstly, higher education can give you a deeper knowledge of specific domains and help you specialize in areas that interest you the most.
Secondly, a higher degree will open doors to more senior-level roles, like chief information security officer or CISO. In other words, you will have a higher rate of getting those jobs than people who don’t pursue higher education.
You can start by researching advanced degree programs like Master’s or Ph.D. in this field or related disciplines. Remember, always choose reputable universities or institutions with strong cybersecurity departments and faculty.
Distance learning or online courses are an option if you don’t have much time to travel or have a job.
Of course, you should weigh the cost and time investment of pursuing higher education. I recommend exploring scholarship options, financial aid, and part-time programs to make it manageable.
4. Obtain Relevant Certifications
To improve your resume, I recommend aiming for other certifications like:
- CompTIA Security+
- Network Security Administrator
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
These certifications will set you apart from others with similar qualifications in a competitive job market. They provide a tangible way for employers to assess your expertise. Hence, you have more job chances and higher salaries.
5. Build Network
Building a network is connecting with others in the field, learning from them, and staying up-to-date. Here’s how to do this if you don’t know how to start:
- Attend cybersecurity events, like conferences and meetups, to meet experts and make friends.
- Join online platforms (LinkedIn and forums) to chat with others and share what you know about this field.
- Help others when you can. Being generous with your knowledge makes people remember you.
- Joining professional organizations like (ISC)² or ISACA.
Remember, it takes time, but having a network will give you support and open doors to exciting chances.
6. Develop Leadership Skills
As a cybersecurity strategist, you’ll make critical decisions, manage teams, and guide projects. Thus, being a confident leader will inspire trust and respect from your colleagues.
To start building those skills, I recommend taking on more duties in your current role. For example, you can volunteer for leadership chances, like leading a project. If you have a chance, you can mentor new team members. This hands-on experience teaches you how to handle challenges and motivate others.
Besides, communication is vital, both written and verbal. Being able to convey ideas clearly will help you lead well and gain buy-in from stakeholders.
7. Stay Informed About Current Threats and Attack Vectors
Staying informed about current threats and attack vectors is crucial because the cyber landscape changes fast, and new threats pop up all the time.
To do this, you will need:
- Follow news and blogs about this field to keep up with the latest trends and attack techniques.
- Join mailing lists and subscribe to security podcasts for real-time updates.
- Follow security experts on social media for valuable insights.
Here are my bonus tips: I participate in forums and communities to access shared experiences and knowledge from fellow pros. I also attend webinars to learn from leaders and get a sneak peek into emerging threats.
8. Develop Analytical Skill
Why are analytical skills crucial for your journey? These skills enable you to dissect problems, analyze data, and identify potential threats in systems. They help you make informed decisions and devise plans to safeguard digital assets.
Now, how to develop these skills?
Firstly, embrace curiosity and approach problems. My way is:
- Practicing solving puzzles
- Engaging in critical thinking exercises
- Analyzing real-world cases
Secondly, immerse yourself in data analysis tools and techniques. I mean, you should learn to interpret trends, patterns, and anomalies. They’ll help you detect irregularities in networks.
9. Create A Resume
Now, I believe you have enough knowledge, experience, and confidence to create a resume and apply for a job. Some people don’t take this step seriously, but for me, a quality resume will help you shine in the eyes of the employer.
It’s the first thing employers see about me. Thus, it must make a strong impression and highlight my skills, experience, and achievements in this field.
So how to have a quality resume? Below are some notes for you:
1/ Organize your resume in a clean and easy-to-read format.
2/ Tailor your resume to the specific roles you’re applying for. It should match the job requirements.
3/ Showcase your education, certifications, and relevant work experience. Any internships, volunteer work, or personal projects that demonstrate your skills will make it shine.
Besides, you must quantify your achievements with specific numbers and results. Employers love seeing real impact.
My pro tip: keep it to one or two pages max because nobody has time for a lengthy novel.
10. Land Your First Job
After you finish your resume, it’s time to put all your hard work and knowledge into action.
To tackle this, I recommend targeting companies or organizations that align with your values and offer the right opportunities. This process requires a bit of research.
Alternatively, you can find work from the network you’ve built up by contacting pros, attending events, and showing off your passion for the field. If there are any job openings, they will refer you to them.
Then, you must prepare for interviews. My advice is to practice answering common questions related to this field and show your problem-solving skills.
Rejections might happen, but don’t let them get you down. You should take feedback and keep improving. You’ll land that cybersecurity strategist job with perseverance and confidence.
On average, to become a cybersecurity strategist, this process takes around 5 to 7 years.
First, you need a Bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years. Then, gaining real-world experience in entry-level positions could take around 1 to 2 years.
After that, pursuing higher education might take an extra 1 to 2 years, depending on your programs and commitments.
In my case, it was seven years because I pursued a Master’s degree to have more career advancement opportunities. But some of my colleagues skip this step and focus on gaining experience. As a result, it took them about 5-6 years.
Thus, the time it takes to get this job depends on your chosen path and the speed at which you take it.
So what is the duty of a cybersecurity strategist? I’ll list some of my main tasks so you can imagine what a cybersecurity strategist’s job is like!
1. Develop Cybersecurity Strategies
I analyze a company’s security posture and design detailed plans to protect its critical assets. This task includes:
- Risk assessments
- Threat modeling
- Aligning security measures with business goals
2. Incident Response Planning
I create detailed incident response plans to ensure the team is prepared for cyber incidents, including defining roles, procedures, and protocols.
3. Conduct Security Audits
I regularly review security controls and policies to identify problems and areas for improvement to maintain a robust security posture.
4. Implement Security Measures
I lead the implementation of security technologies and best practices, like:
- Multi-factor authentication
Also, I ensure the company meets all relevant regulations and industry standards.
5. Monitor and Detect
I oversee the monitoring of network traffic and security logs to detect and respond to potential threats in real time.
6. Train Employees
I train employees to raise cybersecurity awareness and promote a security culture throughout the company.
7. Investigate Incident
In the event of a security incident, I lead the investigation to identify the root cause and implement measures to prevent similar incidents.
Besides, I stay updated with the latest threat intelligence and cyber trends to anticipate and proactively defend against emerging threats.
Finally, I work closely with cross-functional teams, executives, and external partners to build a strong security culture and foster collaboration on security initiatives.
In 2023, as a cybersecurity strategist, you can earn an average salary of nearly $127,860 per year. Of course, the actual figure might vary depending on:
- The type of company you work for
Even better, the demand for this role is only getting stronger. By 2025, there are projected to be a whopping 3.5 million job chances in cybersecurity.
So there is no reason to say this career is not attractive. If you are passionate about pursuing this career, get started now!
The answer is yes. A solid knowledge of cybersecurity concepts, strong analytical and problem-solving skills, and a passion for the field are crucial to succeed in this role.
No. A strategist develops and applies security measures to protect the company from cyber threats. Meanwhile, hackers attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and networks.
It’s the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). It needs significant experience, covers various topics, and has a rigorous exam.
They are different fields, each with its challenges. Cybersecurity needs a deep understanding of security concepts. Meanwhile, coding demands strong programming skills.
Above are my shares on how to become a cyber security strategist. Getting this job might seem like a challenging quest. But with these steps, you’re well on your way to conquering this exciting career.
From getting the right education and certifications to gaining hands-on experience, you’re setting yourself up for success.
So, remember, stay passionate, keep learning, and embrace every opportunity that comes your way!