When IT leaders talk about their employees improving their skills, these days much of the conversation revolves around soft skills. The ability to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience, for example, is important as IT becomes more integrated with overall business functions and innovation within the organization. Leadership, interpersonal skills, project management skills, and organizational skills are also listed as priorities for managers, but even with the increased priority being placed on those intangibles, technical skills, especially in the realm of security, still matter.
Why security? Cybercrime is a global threat, and is no longer simply a technical issue or a matter of installing the latest security tools and calling it a day. Cybersecurity is a complex, field, that needs to be approached from a number of different angles. Cybersecurity professionals need to have the technical skills to not only identify threats, but also to develop proactive responses and implement new technology quickly. And while your education and experience can take you far, true mastery of any subject requires an ongoing commitment to improvement and time spent in further study.
There are several other great reasons to work on your technical skills as well.
1. New Career Opportunities
One of the best reasons to improve your technical skills is the potential for new career opportunities that expanded knowledge can bring. Currently there is a major skills gap in cybersecurity, and an expected shortage of more than 1 million cybersecurity workers in the next five years. The main reason for the shortage is the lack of professionals with adequate skills, so taking the time to complete computer classes online, earning security certifications, and developing those skills can create new career opportunities with higher salary-earning potential.
2. Additional Opportunities for Your Employer
Not only does improving your security technical skills benefit your career, but it can also help create opportunities for your employer — which by extension can benefit your career. Companies contracting with the federal government or government contractors must meet certain criteria for security credentials, and building your technical skills can qualify you to fill the necessary roles. Again, this allows career growth for you, but can also help your employer grow and improve profits via new contracts they wouldn’t qualify for otherwise.
3. Ever-Changing Threat Landscape
The security landscape changes every day, with new threats popping up all the time. Meeting the challenge of cybersecurity in this environment requires agility and an understanding of the threat landscape. The protection protocols that worked in the past are not always going to work today or tomorrow, so staying one step ahead of cybercriminals requires an ongoing commitment to skills development. Employers want professionals who not only know what the latest threats look like, but have the analytical and technical skills necessary to respond to those threats and protect the network. If you can’t keep up, you will be left behind.
4. Contribute to a Culture of Security
While technological solutions to security threats are important, security also relies heavily on the human element. All of the technical protection in the world is not going to work unless the people accessing networks are committed to security and understand the risks. As you develop your own technical skills, you move into the position of being able to educate others and develop policies and protocols that contribute to the culture of security that will keep the enterprise safe. Your technical expertise puts you in the position of being a resource for education and training for others — and a leader in the realm of cybersecurity.
5. Increased Earning Potential
Finally, you can’t overlook one of the most tangible benefits of improving your technical skills: The chance to earn more money. The typical IT certification results in a salary increase of about 15 to 25 percent, with subsequent certifications leading to promotion and additional salary bumps. Simply put, to reach the higher levels of earning potential, you need to continually improve your technical skills in security.
Of course, the best reason to invest in advanced technical training is because you want to achieve it for the personal satisfaction of improving your skills and developing your career potential. Whatever your reason, the important thing is to do it, and put yourself on a path toward becoming a cybersecurity expert.