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How to get into cyber security in Australia without a degree

By Fi Darby

If you've decided cyber security is for you, you’ve made a good choice. With fantastic job opportunities, exciting pathways and plenty of scope for progression, this is one of Australia’s strongest growing careers. In this article we take a look at how you can get a job in cybersecurity even if you don’t have a degree.

How do I become a cyber security specialist in Australia?

  1. Make sure you understand the industry
  2. ​Keep teaching yourself
  3. Start gaining qualifications
Also known as information security analysts and ICT security consultants, cyber security specialists work with organisations to safeguard their information technology systems from internal and external threats. Job descriptions and roles are varied but you’ll need to have a keen interest in computer systems and coding before you get started.
If the idea of combatting cybercrime interests you, you’ll be pleased to hear you don’t necessarily need a degree for entry into this progressive industry. Once you start talking to experienced cyber security specialists, you’ll find many of them obtained their qualifications and skills through online study or in-house training.
If you’re not a graduate, the key to successful cyber security job applications is to build up your resume with evidence of both practical experience and theoretical knowledge. Below we have three top tips on how to become a cyber security analyst.

1. Make sure you understand the industry

There are plenty of options if you want to work in cyber security. Deciding which specific paths you would like to follow will help you make decisions about future courses and qualifications. The key to getting this right is information, so make time to talk to a variety of people who are already working in the information security industry. We have a few ideas below to help you do this.

Reach out to your existing network

Informal conversations can be really powerful. Mention your interest in cyber security to enough people and you’ll hopefully end up with a few job leads, as well as plenty of useful tips. Make sure you talk to people who are new to the industry as well as expert technicians.

Access online webinars

If you’re lacking in people confidence, online webinars and events can be a great place to make contacts. Talking to people online is only a first step though. Build confidence in cyberspace then consider some face-to-face networking opportunities. Black Hat have ongoing offerings, as well as an impressive back list of information security events.

Attend physical conferences

Attendance at a physical conference looks great on your resume and gives you something to discuss during interviews. These have been on hold for a while but are starting to return. The Australian Cyber Conference is in Canberra and Melbourne this year. The BSides hacker conference in Canberra will be back in 2023.

Get involved with your local cyber community

There are opportunities for meetups and group events all over Australia. How about discovering more about emerging topics with Cybersecurity Melbourne, learning how to Hack The Box with the Sydney Chapter of the OWASP or attending a Canberra breakfast networking event with Women in ICT

2. Keep teaching yourself

If you’re interested in cyber security, you’re probably already building your skills through personal projects. Continue with this and make sure you record all your successes for your resume.
In the ICT industry, teaching yourself can help you build a truly solid foundation for further qualifications. There are plenty of online videos available, as well as forums and software development platforms.
Check out the Australian Cyber Security YouTube channel and collaborate with other developers on GitHub. To further ensure your knowledge is up to date, make a point of reading and researching the Alerts and Advisories notifications from the Government’s Australian Cyber Security Centre.

3. Start gaining qualifications

For most employers, there really is no substitute for traditional cyber security certifications and qualifications. The good news is that you don’t need to study at a degree level before you start an internship or find your first cyber security job. According to the Government’s Labour Market Insights1 website, only over a third of ICT security specialists have a qualification level below bachelor degree level.

What qualifications do you need for cyber security?

A day in the life of a cyber security specialist can be varied and interesting. As well as a working knowledge of telecommunications and computer systems, you’ll need to develop a key set of personal skills. Online courses in this field can help you strengthen your problem-solving skills, lead a team in an ICT environment, and apply your analytical thinking skills.
Certifications are highly valued in this industry, so look for a cyber security course that will initially give you a broad base of experience before you focus on a particular niche. This Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security) takes between 18 and 24 months to complete and can be studied at your own pace. Designed especially for people pursuing work as network security professionals, it includes a strong combination of personal and technical units and aims to build skills such as:
  • Managing client problems
  • Developing incident response plans
  • Applying critical thinking
  • Interpreting threat data
  • Managing virtual computing environments
  • Designing security architecture  

Is cyber security in demand in Australia?

According to the Labour Market Insights2 website the Australian employment prospects for cyber security specialists are extremely positive. With the workforce expected to show very strong growth in the five years from November 2021, this sector is likely to employ over 104,000 Australians by 2026. This means that wages will continue to be well above average. Median full-time weekly earnings for ICT security specialists in Australia is currently $2,342.
With the rapid speed of development and levels of change we’re continuing to see in the IT industry, the figures above are likely unsurprising. Companies place high priority on systems security and are happy to invest in regular training and development to make sure their specialists keep their skills up to date and effective.

Your next step towards a career in cyber security

Employers across Australia recognise that cyber security training is important. They are prepared to take on candidates who can demonstrate a thirst for the specialism and an eagerness to learn. What better way to kick start your cyber security career than with a nationally recognised online qualification? Get in touch with our team today to find out more.
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