Cybersecurity, the cloud, and business intelligence. What do these 3 topics have in common, you ask? They’re all in incredibly high demand and atop IT hiring manager’s wish lists. The issue for employers is that there’s a lack of qualified workers for these positions. With nearly every industry needing IT professionals, from construction to financial services, the competition for such talent is at an apex (see: the IT skills gap). IT professionals who possess these skills, however, are rarely in search of work. In this blog post, we take a look at 5 of the more in-demand IT skill sets, define them, and talk about what’s needed in order to get started in that field.
In-Demand IT Positions
Cybersecurity is “the practice of protecting electronic data, networks, computer systems, and other confidential information.” Professionals are needed in this field to keep businesses secure and to guard against cyberattacks, whose main goal is to sabotage business processes, extort money from users, or access, steal, or destroy sensitive information. When executed, these attacks can cripple a business.
Here’s how to get started in the field of cybersecurity:
- While many in the cybersecurity field are self-taught, a computer science or related degree is a good place to start, as these will likely expand your job options.
- There are a multitude of fields within cybersecurity, so you’ll need to choose your path based off your personality and interests. Conduct research on the different fields using resources such as No Starch Press (a publishing company specializing in technical literature) and the Awesome Infosec Github page (a crowd-sourced collection of educational resources).
- Network with others in the industry via online channels (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn) and join in-person groups (ISSA or ISACA, to name a couple).
- Learn up on programming fundamentals, being able to read and understand a programming language is a good start and a good skill to have. Other general security skills include: Security and networking foundations; Logging and monitoring procedures; Network defense tactics; Cryptography and access management practices; Web application security techniques.
- Volunteer, intern, and conduct projects on your own. These can take the place of professional experience and can help land you your first job.
Cloud computing security or, more simply, cloud security refers to a broad set of policies, technologies, applications, and controls utilized to protect virtualized IP, data, applications, services, and the associated infrastructure of cloud computing.
Here’s what’s needed to be a cloud security professional:
- Security expertise is essential. As a niche skill, cloud security requires knowledge of risks, threats, vulnerabilities, and compliance. Skills in broad areas, such as system configuration, cloud architecture, virtualization, identity management, malware protection, encryption, and authentication methods are also needed.
- A certification! Hiring managers all over have issues filling these jobs because candidates lack the required training and certifications. So, certifications to go after would include the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) and Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP).
Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the internet.
Here’s how to start a career in cloud computing:
- Acquire a solid foundation and gain a baseline understanding of the foundational concepts, to begin. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the current market leader, so it would make sense to begin gaining experience on that platform.
- There are many roles to consider within cloud computing (e.g. architecture, security, operations), and you’ll need to choose an area of specialization. Utilizing this Cloud Academy learning path should help you narrow your focus.
- Once again, become certified. AWS certifications are among the most in-demand certifications, as AWS is the most mature cloud computing platform, but it’s not the only one. You could also consider a Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform certification, to set yourself apart. For those just starting out, though, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification, via Cloud Academy, may be the way to go. This certification covers many of the foundational concepts you will need to know across domains.
Cloud Architecture refers to the various components in terms of databases, software capabilities, applications, etc. engineered to leverage the power of cloud resources to solve business problems. Cloud architecture defines the components (i.e. on premise resources, cloud resources, software components and services, middleware) as well as the relationships between them.
Here’s how to become a Cloud Architect:
- It may be a familiar refrain but it still holds true, the easiest way to break into this field is with a computer science or related degree.
- Then, gaining a foundational base about the basic concepts of cloud computing is a necessity. You can consult this cloud computing career path article to get yourself started.
- Gain some practical experience using some cloud computing tools such as the aforementioned Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (all are offered for free).
- Join a reputed training institute or take online courses to learn from industry experts.
- Become certified. While it’s not required for an entry-level position, it will (again) open the door to new opportunities. Taking any of these 5 online courses for cloud computing will help you prepare and pass the certification exam.
Business intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help executives, managers, and other corporate end users make informed business decisions.
Here’s how to break into the field of business intelligence or, more specifically, how to become a Business Intelligence Analyst:
- Earn an undergraduate degree in information systems, computer science, data science, business administration, engineering, economics, or a related field that gives insight into business processes and organizational operations. Learning as much as you can about data (as well as Excel and SQL) is essential for succeeding in this career.
- Upon graduation, look for data analyst, business analyst, or data report writing job openings. These jobs will offer you opportunities to query SQL, model and analyze data, and define and manage the scope of projects – all tasks that a BI analyst performs.
- Become certified. For a BI analyst, one of the best certifications to get is Microsoft’s Certified Solutions Expert: Data Management and Analytics. This certification will prove that you have the skills necessary to design and use SQL to deliver data-based solutions. Another option would be TDWI’s Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP).
- Be patient. Most roles require at least 4 years of work experience, while others will require up to 8 before being hired as a BI Analyst. Though, once you’ve developed the necessary skills, gained relevant work experience, and become professionally certified, you’ll be well on your way.
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