From Technician to Professional

Changing your perspective from that of a technician to that of a professional can boost your career, no matter how far along you may be. Certainly, the earlier you make this pivot, the better. The Daily Dot’s Aaron Sankin explains just “how much money you could make with a career in cybersecurity.”

Approaching your job as a professional means you begin to take control of your own professional development. It means you begin to see opportunities for leadership and, then, seize them. It may mean you join a professional organization, or start one yourself. And it means when you are done with “work” for the day, you stay plugged in. Being a professional expands your horizons, broadens your perspective, and increases your awareness of how what you do relates to a much larger picture. And being successful professional can mean your time and expertise are worth a good deal more valuable to the field.

Beyond The IT Security Basics

In the information-technology world—the IT world—being a professional means changing perspective from just understanding how things are (which is immensely important and has its place) to imagining, anticipating, and preparing for how things could be. And then leading. That’s essentially the IT field’s distinction between a technician and a cybersecurity professional. And, I think, it’s the distinction between tech and professional in any field. Sankin cites Information Systems Security Association’s Cyber Security Career Lifecycle program director Candy Alexander: “the difference between cybersecurity professionals and everyone else in the information-technology sector isn’t just a matter of skill set, it’s also a matter of mindset.”

“’Technologists,’” Alexander explains, “’want to see how something runs’ . . . . ‘Security people want to see how something breaks.’” As in many fields, cybersecurity professionals get the technical side of things, but crossing over to professional grade means getting well beyond the basics. “’That’s a caveat’” she says, “’ we are IT, but we’re more than that. We have to learn what they learn, but then jump ahead and learn the threats and vulnerabilities and the mitigation to control those risks.’”

Imagining, anticipating, responding . . . leading.

Beyond The Cyber Pay

And then there’s the pay jump. Data Security Analysts are on the lower end of the spectrum at average salaries of $54,000 or a few dollars more. Chief Information Security Officers, however, range around $195,000—sometimes more, sometimes less.

Sankin and Alexander miss an important point. Beyond the potential pay advantages, when it comes to seeing the world as a professional, I’d say there’s a necessity to adopt a set of professional morals and values relevant to your field—even if you have to sit down over a few evenings or weeks of evenings and quietly figure out what they should be. Then, you conduct yourself according to those morals and values.

You live by them.

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.
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