Clue up in cyber security before you finish school

cyber security careers
Higher education can alleviate the cyber skills shortage – but high school is a great place to start. Image: Shutterstock

It’s never too early to learn the skills needed to land a next-gen gig in cyber security

Connected homes, cloud computing and eCommerce are just some of the market trends creating cutting-edge cybersecurity careers for tech grads this year. And with 52 job titles to choose from and one million positions currently advertised globally, it’s an alternative IT pathway seriously worth considering.

Here, we hash out how you can start to skill up in all things cyber before you’ve even finished Year 12.

1. Get basic skills online

Keen to learn cyber security skills from the couch? Fluency in code will help big-time – especially if you end up studying cyber security at tertiary level!

Start with Scratch, the simple, free block coding program to get the basics! You can also choose to learn other programming languages like JavaScript or Python – along with the coding app for beginners, Grasshopper or the hundreds of Hour of Code activities.

2. Find like-minded mates!

… because learning with others is more fun! Join a cyber security or tech club or start your own. Try Code Club NZCode Club Australia or Tech Girls Are Superheroes!

3. Do a hackathon!

Hackathons are a great way to get a taste of what computer science involves – particularly if the topics are cyber security-led! Like a giant tech party, hackathons are full of teamwork, problem-solving and genuine businesses that you can help out – whether it’s decoding an epic bug or upping a company’s security systems. 

Search for something near you, and check out this guide to setting one up yourself.

4. Enrol in a short course

With AustCyber predicting the Australian economy will need around 18,000 new employees by 2026, the legends at Grok Academy are on a mission to empower students to seize the opportunities of the future through short courses and classroom comps!

Head here to find a course to suit literally every level. 

5. Do an internship

If you’ve done some further study at Years 12 level, check out graduate internships – a diverse range of companies offer programs where you revolve around their workplace learning new sets of skills and getting paid.

Cyber security in the classroom

According to certified instructor at the SANS Institute and managing director at Ankura, Josh Lemon, there is loads we can do while still at school to help bridge the cyber security skills gap – and eventually land a next-gen job.

Stick with what you love! In terms of the core subjects offered at high school, stick with what you enjoy! No specific career in cybersecurity requires high performance in core subjects such as English, Maths, Science. However, there are careers in the industry that lean towards those with a strong interest in some of these areas! 

cyber security careers
As the Cyber security Managing Director at Ankura, Josh leads the APAC Digital Forensics Incident Response practice.

“Of course, if you’re strong in English, that could help you in communicating and storytelling, or if you are strong in Maths, that may let you explore more of the analytical or technical roles. But overall, I’d encourage students to take subjects that interest them or that they enjoy. 

“Taking at least one computer-based subject would be ideal, but students shouldn’t limit themselves to thinking this is mandatory.”

Get on-the-job experience! “An excellent opportunity for high school students to prepare themselves for the industry is work experience or work placements. Work experience provides students with an insight into how the industry operates and what a cybersecurity expert’s role is.”

Try and get to a conference or event! “High school students can attend cybersecurity industry conferences! During these conferences or events, students have access to industry research and new cybersecurity techniques being performed in the field.”

Your ultimate guide to cyber security careers

If you’re keen to bust cyber crime as your 9-5, we’ve got you! Get across the following reads, and be sure to check out our Discover Cyber Security Careers section.

Download our free Information Security Analyst Job Kit

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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