Five Tips for Building a Cybersecurity Career in the Age of AI

Career-related questions are common during NVIDIA cybersecurity webinars and GTC sessions. How do you break into the profession? What experience do you need? And how do AI skills intersect with cybersecurity skills?

The truth is, that while the barrier to entry may seem high, there is no single path into a career that focuses on or incorporates cybersecurity and AI. With many disciplines in the field, there is a massive need to grow the cybersecurity workforce.  According to the (ISC)² 2021 Cyber Workforce Report, the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow 65% to effectively defend organizations’ critical assets. 

Whether you’re just starting your career or are looking to make a mid-career change, read on for five tips to help you break into the field. 

1. Evaluate your raw skills

Organizations of all sizes are facing a cybersecurity skills gap. Fortunately, the skills needed to work in cybersecurity are not strictly defined. Everyone has a different skill set and can bring something unique to the table. Evaluate your skills with the following questions:

  • Are you curious? Cybersecurity professionals investigate, ask questions, and figure out how to optimize processes and tools. 
  • Are you good at explaining concepts? Communicating with both technical and non-technical audiences, including customers, is a highly valued skill.
  • Do you like building (or breaking) things? Cybersecurity practitioners are constantly optimizing and building.
  • Do you like analyzing data? Identifying patterns and behaviors is often required when you work in cybersecurity.
  • Are you calm under pressure? Responding to reports of security vulnerabilities and active security incidents helps protect customers.

Taking a close look at your raw skills and strengths helps narrow down the roles that might be right for you.

2. Determine which areas and roles interest you

Cybersecurity touches every aspect of business, which means you can contribute in a variety of specific areas and roles, including: 

  • IT Operations – Are you technical? Are you a builder? Do you like to analyze data? Cybersecurity practitioners and teams are typically part of IT Operations.
  • Marketing and Communications – Communicating in a way that a variety of audiences can understand is essential in cybersecurity. While they may not be traditional practitioners,  marketers and PR managers are critical in the cybersecurity industry. 
  • Training – Building training programs around cyber hygiene and company policies may be right for you if you enjoy teaching. 
  • Risk Management and Compliance – Evaluating cyber risk is on every leader’s mind. Risk managers who specialize in cyber risk and compliance are valuable.
  • Architect or Engineer – Designing and building secure products and services are imperative to protecting any organization’s assets.
Infographic that shows mapping raw skills to opportunities in the field of cybersecurity.
Figure 1. Evaluate your skills in the context of cybersecurity career opportunities

3. Build connections with subject matter experts 

Connecting with experts in the areas you don’t know well can be a tremendous help as you begin your career. This is particularly true if you are interested in a career that incorporates cybersecurity and AI. 

If you have a background in data science or AI, and cybersecurity is now piquing your interest, reach out to cybersecurity professionals within your organization. Shadow them, learn from them, and exchange information. Become each other’s counterparts and figure out how combining your skills can have a positive impact on the security of your organization. 

4. Identify cybersecurity issues that AI can solve

Cybersecurity and AI are becoming increasingly intertwined. Individuals who understand both are in demand in the current workforce. More specifically, the industry needs those who understand cybersecurity and AI deeply enough to identify when, where, and how to apply AI techniques to cybersecurity workflows. 

If a career that combines cybersecurity and AI interests you, start defining use cases for applying AI to cybersecurity. What challenges do you think AI can solve? Simply identifying these use cases is beneficial to security teams and can help you hit the ground running. 

5. Invest in your professional development 

Learn from experts and invest in your professional development. Take time to research courses and events. NVIDIA offers a range of cybersecurity sessions twice a year at our GTC conferences. Many of these sessions are available year-round through NVIDIA On-Demand. You can also take courses year-round through the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute. Once you’re hired, on-the-job training is common in the field of cybersecurity.

Check out other industry conferences like RSA, Blackhat, DefCon (AI Village), regional BSides, and InfoSec. The Camlis Conference is an annual event that gathers researchers and practitioners to discuss machine learning in cybersecurity. USENIX Security Conference brings together researchers, practitioners, system administrators, system programmers, and others interested in the latest advances in the security and privacy of computer systems and networks.

If you’re interested in a career in cybersecurity, evaluating your skills is a good place to start. Then research opportunities in the field and be proactive with your professional relationships and development. 

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