Dennis Bonilla, executive dean of the College of Information Systems and Technology at University of Phoenix, agrees: “Data is currency and with the amount of information out there, criminals can find new ways of hacking into systems to steal that data. Trained cybersecurity professionals, equipped with the right tools, are best positioned to protect companies and their customer data making it difficult to compromise an organization.”
And it isnt limited to tech-fields cybersecurity touches every industry. From major utilities to retail, if you have ever considered changing your career, a future in cybersecurity may be the right fit for you.
Be prepared to take the plunge
There are a lot of reasons to pursue a career in a new field, but there are also challenges that should be considered to make the change run smoothly.
“Often people underestimate the effects of change,” says Samantha Dutton, Ph.D., MSW, program dean at University of Phoenix College of Humanities and Sciences. “When considering switching careers, there are steps you can take to minimize the effects of making that change.”
Dr. Dutton suggests making a plan that outlines how to deal with the various aspects of change. A few areas to consider include the potential financial impact of furthering your education to acquire the skills to work in a new field, especially one such as cybersecurity.
There may also be mental and emotional hurdles in your way.
“The transitional period can sometimes feel chaotic and may cause someone to second guess their decision,” says Dr. Dutton.
With some preparation and planning, a person making a career change can feel secure in the decision that they made the right choice, Dr. Dutton says.
University of Phoenix graduates Keirsten Brager and Daniel Gatz made a transition into the cybersecurity field.
A new opportunity to help others, and yourself
Keirsten Brager was trying to balance several challenges in her life when she made the decision to pursue a career in cybersecurity.
Brager was trying to provide financially for her family while also caring for her young children who were often sick. She needed the option to work remotely so that she could accomplish all that she wanted to in her career while also being there for her family.
A career in cybersecurity turned out to be the perfect fit for her.
“Highly technical roles, flexible work schedules and supportive bosses make being a successful parent and cyber professional possible,” says Brager.
“I am more confident than ever after poking a million holes in all the boulders that were in my path,” Brager explains. “Because of my trials, I am a stronger cybersecurity professional.”
Through her hard work, dedication and determination, Brager made a successful career shift. She experienced a wide range of emotions once she accomplished her goals, but mostly she is proud of the fact that her work makes other people’s lives better.
“I work at a large power utility company, so I know that my work directly plays a role in the lives of millions of people. Whether it is keeping homes cool in the summer or warm in the winter, I can identify tangible ways that my efforts have a positive impact in the communities we serve.”
Today, Brager is a security engineer and a grad student, as well as the founder of hiddencyberfigures.com. Through this site, she hopes to inspire and mentor other women who want to break down barriers in the cybersecurity field.
Protecting and serving, in the skies and on the web
Daniel Gatz was a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force until 2006 when he retired and began to pursue a career path in a different kind of security field.
After a stint in private security and loss prevention, he wanted to start a career that he truly cared about and one that motivated him. Computer science was always a hobby, so he felt a career in tech would be a good option.
But even with his in-depth knowledge and experience in tech, he knew he needed to pursue additional education to make the shift successfully.
“With any mid-life career change, there is always fear and uncertainty, Gatz says. “However, I wanted to put my passion for computers to the test.” And so he began taking classes in computer programming.
He earned his degree while working full time and earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Management.
After earning his degree, he worked on gaining experience and improving his networking skills. Shortly after, Gatz was working as an IT Consultant and worked his way up to become a Senior Analyst.
It took planning, work and dedication. But Gatz, like Brager, finally achieved his goal.
“It felt like a dream,” he says. “I never imagined that I would be jumping out of bed in the morning to do something I love and enjoy.”
Thinking of making a career switch? Take a cue from those who have already done it.
To achieve your own career change into a field such as cybersecurity:
1. Identify your passion. For Brager and Gatz, the hard work and effort of going back to school was worth it because they loved what they were doing.
2. Talk it out with someone. According to Dutton, it’s important that making a switch is feasible for you. Weigh your pros and cons so you can be positive that this journey will be fruitful.
3. Have a financial plan. The transition period may have costs such as additional education and loss of income if you stop working while going to school. Make sure you plan for expected and unexpected costs.
4. Look for flexible education options. Taking classes online means you can pursue your career in your own time, allowing you to keep working during the day and studying at night.
5. Dont give up. The road may seem long, but keeping your vision top of mind will provide motivation along the way and may inspire you to give it time and stay dedicated. According to Dutton, it may take six to eight months to ease into a new career opportunity.