How to Make a Career Change to Cybersecurity

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Are you considering a career change? Learn about jobs in cybersecurity and why working in the cyber industry might be an excellent option for you.

[Featured image] A woman relaxes at a desk behind her laptop and thinks about making a career change to cybersecurity.

The cybersecurity industry is a fast-growing field, as organizations increasingly embrace digitization and face growing threats that make protecting themselves and their customers more important. Simultaneously, employers need more workers with the necessary cybersecurity skills.

With this comes high salaries and ample job opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook in the cybersecurity industry will grow by 32 percent in the decade leading up to 2032, a rate much faster than average, with the median salary reaching $112,000 per year [1]. 

In this article, you’ll learn more about the benefits of working in cybersecurity, the variety of positions available, and tips to help you transition into this field. 

Read more: 10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

Why work in cybersecurity?

A career change into cybersecurity includes an excellent job outlook, high salaries, and promising career progression. Since the industry is steadily growing, employers need workers with the required skill set that graduates don’t always possess. 

Many positions are left unfilled, which poses a significant challenge in the face of a threat landscape that 75 percent of those surveyed in ISC2’s 2023 Cybersecurity Workforce Study identified as more challenging than it has been over the past five years [2]. Additionally, the survey revealed that the skills gap continues to grow at approximately 12.6 percent.

Due to the surplus of available jobs, many IT professionals are exploring how their preexisting skills, like coding and networking, can transfer to the cybersecurity industry. Additionally, professionals from various sectors, including marketing, sales, and teaching, are discovering that their skills work well in cybersecurity. 

Read more: 7 Cybersecurity Trends

What jobs are available?

The cybersecurity industry encompasses roles based on protecting networks, data, computer systems, and devices. Jobs include:

Read more: 10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

Skills that transfer to cybersecurity

Employers of cybersecurity professionals look for a specific skill set that relates to the job as well as more general technical and workplace skills. Many of the skills you already have could transfer to this new area, particularly if you come from positions in the tech field. 

Technical skills

Workplace skills

How to begin a career change to cybersecurity

A career change to cybersecurity may be easier than you think. If you have worked in an industry where you have learned relevant transferable skills, you can enter the industry without a cybersecurity degree. You might find that switching careers requires taking some courses rather than having to retrain entirely.  

Examine some steps you can take to move into the cyber industry below. 

Read more: How to Prepare for a Career Change: Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1: Assess your skills.

As many specific technical and workplace skills are vital in the cybersecurity industry, a good starting point is to look at the relevant skills role you’re interested in. From here, write down your skills and compare them to those listed in cybersecurity job descriptions. Look for any gaps. You may have many transferable skills and some you need to work on. The steps below can help you build on the skills you are missing.

Step 2: Take a course.

If you're looking to gain the skills required for a career in cybersecurity, you might consider taking a course. Although you can enroll in a degree program, you also have options that require a substantially smaller commitment. Many short online courses can help you develop the skills you need. For example, you may consider An Introduction to Cybersecurity Foundations, offered by Infosec. You could also attend a boot camp to learn and practice skills in a more focused learning environment.

Step 3: Get certified. 

Certifications offer an excellent opportunity to build your cybersecurity skills and receive documentation to share on your resume, which can be particularly valuable if you don’t have a degree or if it's in a different area. Some employers may even ask for specific cybersecurity certifications. Examples to consider include:

Read more: 10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications [Updated]

Step 4: Gain experience.

Having experience can help you successfully change careers. You’ll likely have relevant experience from your current and previous positions and want to align it with the aptitude needed for a cybersecurity role. 

Notably, your experience can come from more than just paid professional work. You can also build expertise through hackathons, personal projects, and independent learning. If you want to gain hands-on experience with a popular cloud computing platform, you might consider earning the Google Cloud Cybersecurity Professional Certificate:

Read more: How to Get Into Cybersecurity Without a Degree

Step 5: Gain an entry-level role.

Once you have experience, consider looking for an entry-level position. These positions help you build your knowledge and can be a step toward more senior positions. You’ll find some entry levels to consider, including the average annual US base salary of each below:

*All salary information sourced from Glassdoor, March 2024.

Consider a non-technical role

Many non-technical cybersecurity roles may align with your previous skills and experience. Examples and their average base salaries include:

  • Marketing manager: $90,100

  • Cyber project manager: $141,784

  • Auditor: $76,943

  • Policy writer: $73,438

  • Cybersecurity attorney: $135,205

  • Cybersecurity insurance broker: $82,926

  • Cybersecurity technical writer: $77,350

  • Compliance officer: $88,343

*All salary information sourced from Glassdoor, March 2024. 

Getting started with Coursera

Looking for ways your professional experience and current skills apply to cybersecurity is only one piece of the puzzle. Building additional skills and robust knowledge is equally essential to smoothing the transition from your current job to a new career in cybersecurity.

For example, you can explore foundational concepts and expand your understanding of the threat landscape with a course like The University of Maryland’s Cybersecurity for Everyone. You can also earn a resume-boosting credential like the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate. If you're looking for more options, check out Coursera's offerings.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Information Security Analysts,” Accessed February 28, 2024. 

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