While cybersecurity is deeply rooted in the tech and digital space, you might be surprised to find that many cybersecurity jobs don’t require coding or programming skills. Cybersecurity professionals can find careers with both technical and non-technical backgrounds. To succeed in the field of cybersecurity, it is far more important to be analytical, solutions-driven, and well-versed with technology.
Still, learning to become a coder or programmer can open the door to additional opportunities. Many high-level cybersecurity positions (like CISOs) require advanced programming knowledge in addition to information technology skillsets.
More importantly, working in cybersecurity doesn’t necessarily mean staying in the tech field – sectors like finance, healthcare, education, and government all require data security and protection.
What Skills Do I Need to Start a Cybersecurity Career?
Most entry-level cybersecurity jobs don’t require any background coding experience. What’s more important is to have a passion for learning and a strong ability to think critically and efficiently. Soft skills are just as important as hard skills to succeed in cybersecurity, which include:
- Critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving skills
- Ability to learn quickly and adapt to a changing environment
- Adept understanding of different technologies
- Strong communication skills to work within teams or convey information
- A detailed-oriented mindset to analyze data
Non-technical positions usually begin as cybersecurity analysts within an incident response or security audit team. Because the threat landscape is constantly evolving, anyone in the field must stay informed of the latest cybersecurity technologies and trends. Entry-level cybersecurity roles need to become well-versed in the following fundamental areas to be able to respond to cyber attacks or patch vulnerabilities:
How Can I Get Into Cybersecurity?
The best way to learn more about cybersecurity and get into the industry is to start getting exposure to the latest news and explore the various fields you can specialize in. Each field represents a different opportunity to explore a unique cybersecurity career path. From entry-level security jobs to experienced cybersecurity specialists, here are a few steps to take to dive deeper into the field:
1. Take Cybersecurity Courses
Whether you take an in-person or online class, cybersecurity courses are great for introducing you to fundamental concepts and helping build up your cybersecurity skills. You can take online courses through institutions like Coursera, Khan Academy, edX, Udemy, and more.
Cybersecurity roles can generally be categorized into three areas:
- Technical roles
- Management roles
- Business roles
Technical positions like security engineers or security architects may require higher knowledge of programming and coding skills. These roles typically work hands-on with the data in IT support, security or penetration testing (pen testing), and threat response.
Management positions are less technical but still require a working knowledge of most cybersecurity principles. Managers should have a strong business sense and team leadership experience.
Finally, business roles may not even need prior knowledge of basic cybersecurity concepts. These roles typically include sales, marketing, or customer service. These are the least technical roles, proving that almost people with varying experience can work in cybersecurity.
2. Get Cybersecurity Certifications
While you may not be required to read lines of code, getting professionally certified can help funnel you into a cybersecurity career much quicker. You can find bootcamps online through various colleges or academies that provide cybersecurity training. Each additional certification you earn can add to your skillset and teach you how to navigate commonly used security tools and technologies.
Even if you have a computer science or computer engineering background, you’ll probably still need to acquire a few certifications to demonstrate mastery of your coding skills.
Some of the most common entry-level certifications include:
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Security Fundamentals (recommended for beginners)
- CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA Security+ (recommended for beginners)
- (ISC)2 SSCP (Systems Security Certified Practitioner)
- Cisco CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)
- GISF (GIAC Information Security Fundamentals)
More advanced certifications that require more experience but still don’t require coding knowledge include:
- CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor)
- CISM (Certified Information Systems Manager)
- (ISC)2 CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
3. Learn More About the Industry
Because the digital environment is constantly evolving, the only way to keep up is by reading the latest news in cybersecurity. You can do this by:
For general security news around the world, sign up for UpGuard’s weekly newsletter to see how cybersecurity affects every corner of society. Other places like LinkedIn, Reddit, and HackForums can be good starting points for getting involved in the cybersecurity community and engaging with other interested people. Many of these forums provide materials for both beginners and experienced professionals.
How Can I Learn Coding?
If you’re interested in taking your career to the next level, learning security programming and coding can help you better understand how things work behind the scenes. Depending on your specialization, you’ll also want to understand how all mobile and computer systems work, including Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android.
- Classes – For many people, you can start your education in college and take cybersecurity and IT-related classes to get early exposure to the field. You can also find online courses with certified instructors that can teach you coding as well. It’s an excellent opportunity to find out if cybersecurity aligns with your future goals and even narrow down to which career path you want to take.
- Coding Bootcamps – For others, coding bootcamps are one of the best ways to get intensive training in learning coding languages. Although it’s possible to teach yourself, coding is highly technical and detailed, and having dedicated teachers may be more beneficial in the long run. Most importantly, the only way to become proficient is to keep practicing because it’s not a skill you can master in just a few months.
- Self-Learning – If you’re confident in your ability to pick up skills by yourself, there are plenty of free and paid resources to access online for more practical experience. You can also find mobile apps dedicated to teaching coding languages to beginners. Many Youtube channels also have comprehensive videos to teach the uninitiated.
For general programming and web application development, here are the best programming languages to learn first:
- Python (highly recommended for beginners)
For web developers, the most commonly used languages are
Which Cybersecurity Jobs Don’t Require Coding?
Here are some of the most common non-technical cybersecurity jobs:
Which Cybersecurity Jobs Require Coding?
The following technical roles require extensive knowledge of programming and coding: