Before all of the different cyber events this past year, cybersecurity was already a bit of a hot career field. The needs continue to grow. In fact, according to CyberCrime Magazine, “the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs is expected to grow by 350 percent, from one million positions in 2013 to 3.5 million in 2021.” If that isn’t a sobering statistic, here’s one that is even more shocking from the same report, “… of the candidates who are applying for these positions, fewer than one in four are even qualified, according to an MIT Technology Review cited.” So the career field is going to have 3.5 million unfilled jobs, and the applicants that are applying aren’t even qualified for the job. That is terrifying. Having the right programming languages at your disposal is the key to getting into the cybersecurity field.

Cybersecurity Talent Gap

Cybercrime is a scary thing, especially with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) where everything has to be connected to the Internet. With a talent gap this big, it would seem easy to decide to get a career in cybersecurity, but how do you know what qualifies you? The qualifications can be difficult to define and the certification options are vast. CEH, CISSP, GIAC, CISM, Security+ are just a few of the well known cybersecurity certifications. At, they estimate that of all the unfilled cybersecurity positions available, up to 59% require at least one certification. Additionally, there are a handful of prestigious universities that are offering cybersecurity boot camps, which can really enhance your resume and boost your marketability. While there are so many cybersecurity jobs unfilled and so many options to get qualified, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Where to Start with Programming?

Most would tell you to get a degree in a cybersecurity discipline, or go out and get the latest technical cybersecurity certification. I’m here to tell you, while those are both great ideas, they are also expensive and require a ton of time. I’m not here to rain on the certification or degree parade, but there is a much easier and quicker way to get your foot in the metaphorical cybersecurity door… learn programming! Programming is used heavily on both sides of the battlefield. White hat hackers and black hats both need to be proficient in certain programming languages. My suggestion is to find a book, or a training program online/in person that will help you learn a programming language. Which language to start with? Let’s explore several of the common languages used in cybersecurity defense.

1. C and C++

C is a great language to start with, even if you don’t have much programming experience. This is something you can start learning on your own while you already have a day job. When you get free time at night, you can work through labs and read books on it to practice. C++ is regarded as the older brother of C and is equally as useful when it comes to a career in cybersecurity. Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of C++ once said, “C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot; C++ makes it harder, but when you do, it blows your whole leg off.” That should give you an idea of how powerful a language it is. The C language is widely used among operating systems to leverage access to system processes and RAM, both things you don’t want black hats having access to. Two free options to start learning C and C++ are and

2. Python

Python is one of most sought after languages when it comes to cybersecurity. It is among one of the easier languages to learn, and becoming proficient at Python will increase your marketability. Python is really considered more of a scripting language. A programming language relies on a compiler to translate the program into code, whereas Python uses an interpreter which allows the code to be translated one line at a time. I wouldn’t spend too much time focusing on this difference, instead learn them both! Where C and C++ help you write code that accesses low level computer functions, Python lets you build cybersecurity applications and tools that you can use to thwart network attacks among others. Learn Python from, I’ve been at it for awhile there! You can also pick up Mark Myers book, A Smarter Way to Learn Python.

3. JavaScript

If web design gets you excited, you might want to take a look at learning JavaScript. There is an increasing need for securing websites, and JavaScript will help you learn how to apply certain tools to the design in order to secure it. JavaScript, like Python, is also a scripting language and is used to design web pages that are interactive in nature, to include mobile apps for tables and phones. JavaScript is a much more specialized language compared to C and C++ which have much broader uses. Nevertheless, there are online organizations that are looking for qualified individuals who know JavaScript to help keep their web businesses protected. Think about this, what would happen if Amazon was hacked and down for 3 days because of it? How much revenue would be lost? Individuals well versed in JavaScript can code utilities to secure those 24/7/365 web interactions. Learn JavaScript at, a service provided by training company PluralSight.

Go Forward and Learn Programming

Sometimes, the best way is to learn at your own pace in programming/scripting to prepare for the cybersecurity career field. But, certifications are a game changer once you have the base knowledge, and degree programs are key, as well. In fact, most of those programs will include modules on programming that will help you along as well. However, know that programming is one of the key skills you will need to develop to grab one of those cybersecurity jobs, be qualified for it, and excel at it.


Check out the Top 10 Certifications for Cleared Professionals.

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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 (