As data breaches become more common, cybersecurity is in higher demand and more professionals will be needed to provide these vital services. While this can be a lucrative career field, most people aren’t quite sure what’s involved in getting started. A look at what it takes to break into the field of cybersecurity and the best ways to advance can help you decide if this is the career path for you.

What Experience Do You Need?
While you don’t necessarily need a background specific to cybersecurity, some computer knowledge is beneficial. You’ll be a more attractive candidate, if you’re familiar with data management, programming languages, or possess other tech-related skills.

Networking is also Important
If you’re already working in the tech field, you may have an advantage in this area. You likely already know people in the cybersecurity industry or those who work closely with those individuals. Even if you don’t, networking is fairly straightforward. In addition to in-person conferences and meetings, you can use sites like LinkedIn to network with cybersecurity professionals online.

Start Getting Educated
Assuming you’re not already working in some kind of IT profession, you should start learning the fundamentals of information technology. You can take one course at a time at your local community college, if you don’t think you can handle a heavy course load. Specifically, look for courses that teach cybersecurity basics.

Get Certified
While an education is needed, obtaining professional certifications can help legitimize your education. Certifications, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, can be used to show potential employers that you can handle the job duties associated with a cybersecurity position. Since there are so few qualified candidates in comparison to the job market, getting certified may be enough to get your foot in the door.

Experiment at Home
Many job interviewers ask cybersecurity candidates about the projects they pursue on their own time. They’re not asking just to be nosy. They want to know that your interest in this career field is genuine. By showing that you have a home lab and continuously try to learn about new techniques and innovations, you’ll be able to prove you have a passion for this type of work.

These steps will help you get into most organizations as an entry-level cybersecurity technician. However, if you really want to excel in your career and take advantage of future opportunities, continuously educating yourself is absolutely necessary. The tech industry is continuously evolving and cybercriminals are getting smarter and more inventive, so you will have to show that you’re just as ambitious by adapting to the latest innovations.