As cybercriminals learn new techniques and discover vulnerabilities in IT systems, cyber security experts have to stay ahead of the curve. This requires you to stay up-to-date in the areas of programming, IT, mathematics, cryptology, and much more.

Why Start a Career in Cyber Security

By 2021, it’s estimated that the total cost of damages caused by cybercrime will amount to nearly $6 trillion, which is greater than the annual cost of all natural disasters and the size of the global illegal drug trade. As a result, the market for cyber security is expected to become a $300 billion industry within the next five years. Simply put, there couldn’t be a better time to begin your career in Cyber Security.

However, as the need for qualified Cyber Security professionals increases, it seems that it’s getting harder for employers to find the talent they need to protect their data. According to a recent report from Cybersecurity Ventures, our planet will experience a shortage of 1.8 million cyber security professionals by 2022, representing a 20% increase from 2015. And, 66% of current cyber security workers state that there are too few workers to address threats at their current workplace.

This not only affects businesses, but it affects us too, as we trust others to store our sensitive data on their servers. After all, we would care about the effectiveness of a bank vault if it means that the money we save in our account is less safe. Therefore, we should all care about Cyber Security, as it plays such an important role in our daily, digital lives.

So, if you feel the calling to become a Cyber Security expert and defend our digital society, there are many ways to get started now.

#1: Learn Various Programming Languages

A job in Cyber Security often requires you to get as close to the hardware and IT infrastructure as possible. For this reason, you’ll want to learn a variety of both high-level and low-level programming languages. Ironically, “low-level” programming languages are actually much more difficult to learn, since they are less like a human language than a high-level language. This is because lower-level languages are much closer to the computer’s native language (assembly code) and have lower levels of abstraction.

For a career in Cyber Security, C and C++ are essential low-level programming languages to learn, given that they provide you with access to systems processes, RAM usage, and much more. If not properly protected, hackers can easily exploit weaknesses in low-level code and take over the most basic functions of your IT infrastructure. However, with a solid understanding of C and C++ code, you’ll be able to identify malicious code and remove it as soon as possible.

Additionally, some high-level programming languages like JavaScript are used in back-end web development, which makes it extremely important to know for protecting online information. Some hackers implant malicious code into the back end of websites, resulting in the theft of digital information that users submit into fields on webpages. Without a good knowledge of JavaScript, you may not notice these kinds of backdoors until it’s already too late.

And, since most hackers are after valuable data, they often focus their attacks on databases. SQL, which is one of the most popular languages for querying and fetching information from databases, is often used in hacking attempts. As a result, you’ll need to know how certain database management languages, such as SQL, work to protect your organization from attacks on databases.

#2: Start Your Education

Because Cyber Security is a relatively new profession, there aren’t too many established Cyber Security degree programs out there. Today, many experts in the field began in a related area, such as IT or Computer Science. Fortunately, many universities are starting to offer Cyber Security programs, including “Powered by Woz U” partners like Belhaven, Bethel Tech, and University of the Potomac.

Instead of trying to “piecemeal” together an education with bits of information from multiple sources, Woz U Cyber Security programs already contain the entire core curriculum you need to know for a career in Cyber Security. These include subjects like cryptography, risk analysis, network and system administration, and much more. Of course, your education shouldn’t stop there. Continue to seek out resources and gain experience on the job. Learn more about Woz U Cyber Security courses.

#3: Look for “Bug Bounties”

For those interested in penetration testing or “ethical hacking,” there are plenty of opportunities to practice your skills and make good money in the process. A “bug bounty” is like a contest where companies ask people to find flaws or weaknesses in their IT infrastructure. Those who do find the bugs are then rewarded a sum of cash, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Winners of bug bounties are often given perks like being added to the website’s hall of fame or getting their name put up on their website. These honorable mentions are great resume-builders and can help you jumpstart your career in Cyber Security.

#4: Study Up on Math and Cryptography

Cryptography is the process of writing and solving codes and forms a major part of Cyber Security. Encryption protects the data that is stored and transferred online by obscuring the meaning. The intended recipients of the information possess a decryption key that unscrambles the information and makes it readable. However, hackers are always working to reverse engineer these decryption keys and access the information that they have managed to steal. High-level mathematics play a large part in cryptography and many modern advances in cyber security have actually been made by mathematicians. Therefore, if you want to know how to outsmart the bad guys, you’ll need to brush up on your algorithms!


Cyber Security is a highly fulfilling career that requires you to continue learning and upgrading your skillset. As cybercriminals learn new techniques and discover vulnerabilities in IT systems, cyber security experts have to stay ahead of the curve. This requires you to stay up-to-date in the areas of programming, IT, mathematics, cryptology, and much more. Fortunately, if you’re a graduate of a “Powered by Woz U” program, you get lifetime access to our updated coursework, which is designed by experts in the field. Rather than going back to school to learn about new advances in Cyber Security, you can log in at any time using your Woz U account and refresh your knowledge.

Sound intriguing? Follow us on social media and stay tuned to our official blog for more information on starting your career in Cyber Security, Data Science, and Software Development.