Apprenticeship, Your Pathway to A Rewarding Career in Cybersecurity

By Tony Marshall
President and CEO
Innovative Systems Group

Last week I shared information about the growing demand for people to fill jobs in cybersecurity. If you are interested in learning more about cyber jobs, you can read that blog here.  And, if you’ve ever thought about a job in cyber but thought it would be too difficult to get the training you need to get started, apprenticeship programs could be the solution. Apprenticeship programs, like the one we offer at Innovative Systems Group (ISG), offer a valuable way to learn the about the field and get paid while you gain the skills you need to be successful. Apprenticeship programs also offer a way for employers to train current and potential employees to fill these critical, often hard to fill positions.

Simply put, apprenticeship is work-based learning. The development of cyber skills will require a combination of education, training, andexperience. Apprenticeship is a coordinated, efficient way of going through these steps in a well-defined manner. This process is analogous to the process of learning to drive a car. You must read the drivers’ manual. This stepis education. You have to drive around a few parking lots or dirt roads. This stepis training. Then you move to the next step which is drivingon streets with veteran drivers. This stepisgetting experience. If you short change any part of this three-step process, you will be an insurance company’s nightmare. And, just like learning to drive, spending more time studying the driver’s manual will not make you a better driver. Once you understand the material,it’s time to move to the next step. If you make the proper investment in each step,you can have a long and successful career.

Apprenticeship is a well-timed pathway to developing highly skilledcybersecurity professionals. As each of us explorescareer opportunities, we have to consider the long-range viability of our choices. There was a time in this country that jobs as coal miners, elevator operators, and pony express drivers were the careers of choice.  However, emerging technologieshave led to the creation of new and exciting jobs. While exciting, these changes in technology can be very disruptive. It is imperative that each job seeker considers the long-term viability of their employment pursuit. As society automates and we see the Internet of things (IoT)extend to our vehicles, appliances, homes, toys and more, the importance and viability of cybersecurity will increase.

Currently, we see cyber-relatedsalaries skyrocketing. This jump in salaryis a function of low supply and high demand. However, if your only motivation for a cyber-related career is money, I would not recommend you pursue this career. You should only pursue a career in cybersecurity if you believe it would be fulling work. Working in any job that does not provide fulfillment can lead to a miserable existence.

Apprenticeship is a great development tool to get young professionals engaged. It requires the employer to make an investment in the employee and the employee to trust the employer to help them to develop. As the employer invests in the employee, the expectation is that the employee loyalty and appreciation will grow leading to less turnover and higher productivity. As an employer, I recognize that my teams are only as good as the talent that I can employ, so making this investment is not a problem. Apprenticeship is also a great way for new professionals and workers who change careers to gain even more experience and access training to advance and make those transitions.

In summary, my company investedin apprenticeship, andit has been a tremendous benefit to us helping us find, hire, and retain extremely talented people. If you are looking for an in-demand career where you will be able to command a better than average salary, consider cybersecurity. If you are interested in getting connected to an employer that is going to assist you in your development consider employers who offer robust and active apprenticeship programs.

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