Essential Soft & Hard Skills for Today’s Cybersecurity Professionals

Cybersecurity threats can be a problem for essentially any organization with data to protect. And in an increasingly digital world, that means cybersecurity professionals are in high demand. In fact, a study from the Global Information Security Workforce Study estimates that by 2022, there will be a cybersecurity workforce shortage of around 1.8 million jobs.

But what are the most in demand cybersecurity skills? How about the most basic cybersecurity skills you’ll need to find an entry level position? What would you want to thrive in the field? Below you can learn more about the skills necessary for success. And if you’re not yet fully acquainted with the field, you might want to start by brushing up on exactly what is cybersecurity

Skills Needed to be a Cybersecurity Professional

You can divide the skills needed to be a Cybersecurity professional into three main groups. The first group include hard skills, which mostly involve the technical skills necessary for cybersecurity careers. 

The next group are soft skills, which include things like leadership ability. Some soft skills can be just as essential as hard skills, while others can help you thrive professionally. 

The third group is experience, which is a demonstration of your soft skills and hard skills. While there’s ultimately no substitute for job experience, you can gain some experience through formal education, like earning a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity.

Technical Skills Required for Cybersecurity

As the most numerous skills necessary, the technical skills required for cybersecurity are a good place to start looking through career requirements. It’s worth keeping mind that the specific skills required for cybersecurity will vary somewhat from one career to the next, since there are many different kinds of cybersecurity positions. But broadly speaking, a cybersecurity engineer skill set might include: 

  • A functional understanding how operating systems are built and managed
  • A firm understanding the fundamentals of computer networking & cloud computing
  • An ability to being able to build and evaluate network architecture, 
  • Proficiency in programming languages like Java, Python, and C++
  • Familiarity with MySQL database platforms
  • Understanding protocols for detecting and preventing firewall breaches
  • Firm understanding of basic antivirus principles, VPNs, and firewalls
  • Mastery of security audits

Broadly speaking, you’ll need to learn how network infrastructure works so you can understand the ways it can be exploited. That essentially involves teaching hacker skills, to understand how systems might be breached and to prepare defenses to those kinds of cybercrime assaults. 

The skill set learned in a cybersecurity program may appear daunting. You may be wondering… is a cybersecurity degree worth it? Taking a closer look at career numbers and student perspectives can help answer that question. These programs also incorporate several marketable skills that can be developed outside of a rigid cybersecurity curriculum.

Soft Skills Needed for Cybersecurity

Technical skills are far from the full picture. Like nearly all tech fields, working in cybersecurity requires being comfortable with a series of soft skills. Again, the soft skills needed for cybersecurity can vary somewhat depending on your position. Below you will find a few important examples of flexible skills that would benefit a career in cybersecurity.

Research & Commitment to Learning 

Even experts in a field don’t know every single thing there is to know. Being able to fill the gaps of your knowledge in a swift and accurate way can be a critical job skill. Cybersecurity is a field that is constantly evolving and requires vigilance in staying compliant and knowledgeable about changes as they develop.  Anyone who enters the field will have to be committed to learning new cybersecurity skills to keep pace with the change of technology. That might mean learning an array of entirely new skills consistently throughout your career.

Verbal & Written Communication  

Communication skills are always among the top desired job skills in any industry. As with most tech jobs, cybersecurity positions often involve working on a team, which often requires attributes of strong communication skills. You may also need to interact with people who don’t share your technical expertise and explain what kind of solutions might be most appropriate for any given problem. Likewise, technical writing is a skill independent of verbal communication, and it can be especially valuable for those who are working in the interconnected world of tech.

Leadership & Networking

Depending on your professional goals and trajectory, leadership can be an important skill depending on your job role. Regardless of your rank within an organization, hiring managers often value leadership ability as an important trait because it signifies a greater potential for growth and advancement. Networking skills are another important skill set to develop in cybersecurity. Being able to share your own ideas and theories with like minded individuals is an excellent way to further advance your own skills in the industry. 

What Makes a Good Cybersecurity Professional?

Many talented professionals learn cybersecurity job skills independently, but a majority go on to earn an accredited degree in the field. In the fast-moving world of tech, formal education can ensure you have the latest up to date information, and provide you with the groundwork to further advance your skills in a real world setting. Education allows for brainstorming and interactions with other similar minded learners, which can provide networking opportunities and build soft skills like teamwork or communication. It can even provide a more efficient path for learning, especially for novices in the field. 

Earning a degree also helps prove you have certain skills, which can be a huge advantage over self-trained individuals in many circumstances. While more fundamental job skills might be provided through an undergraduate degree in cybersecurity, the advantage of training is most pronounced with a postgraduate degree like the Master of Science in Cybersecurity.

Further specialization into cybersecurity and systems administration might allow a student to narrow their focus into a subject like computer forensics. That would mean learning more about protecting assets and preventing breaches means understanding consequences of different failures, as well as understanding potential failure points. The higher level skills developed with a career-targeted MS can have an enormous impact.

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