There are many jobs in the IT industry today that are in dire need of qualified individuals. Thanks in part to the COVID-19 situation, the need for end user computing specialists continues to rise each day. Additionally, cloud computing specialists are in high demand as workload migrations to the cloud continue to become the norm. There is one career field in which skilled individuals are by far the most in demand and for a good reason…cybersecurity. Cyber attacks get worse in scope each year that passes, and they also have become a part of our daily lives. Many of us can tell a story of a loved one, friend, colleague, or themselves that have been victim of a cyber attack.

The Cybersecurity Field is Understaffed

Attacks like ransomware, malware, spyware, and social engineering are becoming more sophisticated and abundant. The cybersecurity career field as a whole is very understaffed. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, a stunning 3.5 million jobs will be available but unfilled by 2021. Georgia Weidman, founder and chief executive of Bulb Security states, “It’s scary. Our power grid, our cars, our everyday devices — basically everything is online and able to be attacked.”

How to Get Your Foot in the Cybersecurity Door

The need for qualified cybersecurity professionals is evident, but how do you get your start in this in demand career field? There are several things you can do, follow these tips to wedge your foot in the cybersecurity door.

1. Go to School for Cybersecurity or Cyberdefense

Now is the time to enroll in an undergrad or grad school degree program focused on cybersecurity. Degree program availability is on the rise, and there are many good schools that are offering a degree in cybersecurity or cyberdefense. However, a college degree can be costly, and for some, this is not an option. For those that can afford it or can get student loan financing, there are reasonable degree programs out there. One example is Georgia Tech’s OMS Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity. Right now, the Master’s degree program costs roughly $10,000, which is a very reasonable amount for such a high demand degree. If you can afford it, go for it. If you can’t afford a degree program, there are only things you can do…

2. Get Certified

Obtaining a cybersecurity certification is one of the best things you can do to get your start in the career field. One of the best, high value certs today is the Security+ degree offered by CompTIA. Security+ covers the basics of cybersecurity to include physical security, encryption, social engineering, and more. Another great certification that will get you off on the right foot is the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) cert. The CEH is offered by EC Council and is a cert that is in high demand on government and private contracts. Do your research and find a cert that is within your reach and get after it.

3. Learn to Code

Learning to code is learning to become a penetration tester… they go hand in hand. Every cyber attack or exploit has underlying code built into it. Understanding that language and how it was used can help in the forensic aspect of cybersecurity – this is just one reason that learning coding can be a kickstarter for your career in cybersecurity. There are so many languages, more than 250; however, there are a handful that are in high demand. Learning Java, Javascript, C/C++, and Python is a good place to start. Those are the languages that are most commonly used among cyber criminals.

4. Build a Home Lab

Lastly, you can build yourself a home lab that will allow you to practice your cybersecurity skills. If you are studying for the CEH cert, having a home lab with a Kali Linux server at your disposal is crucial to the success of your exam. You don’t need much to build a home lab, and it’s not as expensive as it used to be. There are so many good “how to build a cybersecurity home lab” blog posts out there so I’ll save you the reading here.

Get your Foot in the Door, then Knock it Down

Getting your foot in the door with these tips is only a start. This is not the end, just the very beginning. There is hands on training, on the job training, and so many other things you can do to shore up your cybersecurity skills. Find what works for you, do your research, and you will find a wealth of information on how to become a cybersecurity professional. The world needs you!

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Greg Stuart is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He has 20 years of IT experience and currently works as an IT Consultant both in the private and public sector. Greg holds a BS in Information Technology and an MBA degree. He currently resides in Southeast Idaho. You can follow him on Twitter @vDestination, read his blog ( and listen to his podcast (