The demand for qualified information security professionals has never been greater than it is right now. Cybercrime is on the rise, and according to CompTIA analysis of Burning Glass data, will lead to a 30% increase in cybersecurity jobs between 2019 and 2029 – the largest increase among major IT job categories.
Lomar Lilly, a senior information security consultant working in Jamaica for Symptai Consulting Limited, holds multiple CompTIA cybersecurity certifications, including CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+), CompTIA PenTest+ and CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP). CompTIA spoke with him about his professional experience, and he offered direction to those interested in entering the cybersecurity field.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
A typical day for me includes working with people on projects in an agile fashion.
By this, I mean integrating security checks and audits into the development lifecycle of projects during the development phase. This optimizes application security before projects are released to production.
On other days, I work on projects focused on reverse engineering, malware analysis or penetration testing.
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How does your job in IT compare to other 9-to-5 jobs?
I have worked many 9-to-5 jobs outside of IT, and I can say with confidence that those jobs are incomparable to what I’m now doing. Watching the clock, waiting for lunch and looking forward to the end of the workday basically sums up how I remember spending my time in previous jobs.
Now, being in a cybersecurity role in an engaging environment, my work life is very different. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said to myself at the end of the workday, “What? It’s 5 o’clock already?”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Because of this, it’s tough to get bored. I greatly enjoy the opportunities to learn and love the fact that I am constantly learning in my role. Sure, finding and exploiting security vulnerabilities is fun, but learning about different approaches, tools and resources is even more enjoyable.
When I add all of that knowledge and experience to my IT arsenal, I am more effective in my field. There is almost no better feeling than when I have conducted a highly successful penetration test or vulnerability assessment that gives clients either peace of mind or a wake-up call.
Do you have any advice for people who are new at cybersecurity or interested in getting into the field?
Definitely. If you are interested in developing a career in information security, you should start building a network of cybersecurity professionals.
Once you’ve begun that, take these two steps:
- Find a seasoned professional to mentor you.
When I became interested in cybersecurity a few years ago, I was a full-time developer, and I didn’t know there were many job options in the cybersecurity field. After finding a mentor, I quickly realized that there are a lot of opportunities available. Also, understand that it’s fine to have more than one mentor, as long as conflicting advice isn’t being offered.
- Record your goals and work toward them.
Whether your goals are to earn a new certification or acquire a new position, record all of them. Once you’re serious about meeting your goals, give yourself deadlines and work toward them. This also comes back to having a mentor to help guide you. Cybersecurity is a huge field, so having your goals recorded will help you stay motivated and focused.
In your opinion, how would someone know if they are a good fit for a cybersecurity role?
There are some fundamental traits I feel a good candidate should have to succeed in cybersecurity:
- Passionate about serving others
- Willingness to work methodically
- Desire to learn and explore problems
- Appreciation for small details
- Openness to new challenges
- Bravery to step out of your comfort zone
If most of these qualities describe you, there’s a great chance you’d be successful in cybersecurity. If they don’t, you may quickly find information security dull and tedious. Pursuing a career in cybersecurity needs to be about more than just money.
The CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway validates the skills needed to succeed in cybersecurity. Learn more about the pathway and download the exam objectives to see what’s covered by CompTIA cybersecurity certifications.