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Building a successful contracting career in cyber security

The demand for cyber security specialists has skyrocketed in recent years as businesses recognise the importance of robust data protection systems. For professionals in this field, contracting offers an appealing opportunity to command competitive rates and gain experience across various industries and systems. In this blog post, we will explore how to build a successful contracting career in cyber security.

Choose your career path

Cyber security is a broad term and professionals considering a future in contracting will need to decide where they want to specialise. Once you have decided which area you want to specialise in, you can pursue projects and training to equip you with the skills you need to excel.

Specialisations in audit, application/implementation, and advisory fields are common and offer contracting opportunities. Each specialisation requires distinct skills, such as:

  • For advisory specialists who provide consultative services to companies, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the technologies available, coupled with a strong sense of business acumen in order to tailor their advice to the specific needs of the business and understand how it can impact other priorities.

  • For professionals hoping to specialise in audit roles, experience with establishing robust processes and ensuring that stakeholders receive appropriate training to use these tools effectively is essential.

  • While implementation specialists can find success as generalists, demand is generally highest for specialists who are able to find a niche by becoming experts on a particular system or tool. However, professionals who take this approach need to be conscious of the need to constantly update their knowledge to ensure that their skills remain relevant. 

Seek out varied experience

Regardless of specialisation, it is crucial to gain a broad range of experience as a contractor. Working with businesses across different industries will expose you to varied priorities and challenges.

Early in your career, take any opportunities available to work on varied projects. When looking to take on contracting roles, employers will look for professionals who can demonstrate a wide range of experience across the whole lifecycle of systems implementation.

While working for a range of employers is one way to gain experience on different projects, you can also achieve this by volunteering for varied projects within a single role.

Pursue relevant qualifications

Employers increasingly value specialised qualifications in the cyber security field. Acquiring specific certifications can set contractors apart from their competitors. Before entering a career in contracting, acquiring these can help you stand out from competitors when looking to secure a role.

Depending on which specialism you are looking to pursue, the following qualifications can help equip you with a solid understanding of your field and demonstrate your expertise.

  • CISSP – This qualification is highly regarded by employers among contractors who are looking to move into an advisory role.

  • CISA – For professionals looking to pursue a career in cyber security contracting as an audit specialist, this qualification.

  • CISM – The Certified Information Security Manager qualification is highly valuable for professionals looking to forge a contracting career in technical advisory roles.

  • CEH and GPEH – ertified Ethical Hacking and General Protocol Error Handling qualifications are extremely valuable for professionals looking for contracting roles helping to test clients’ cyber security systems.

  • GSEC: GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC) covers essential security principles, with a vendor-neutral approach. It equips individuals with foundational knowledge crucial for entry-level roles in cybersecurity, providing an understanding of key concepts in the field.

Learn to be adaptable

The lucrative opportunities offered by contracting can appeal to many professionals, as can the opportunity to work across a broad range of projects and for a variety of businesses in different industries.

However, it is important to note that contracting is less reliable than a permanent role. Contractors must actively pursue new opportunities and seek longer projects to ensure a steady income. Working with a recruitment agency can be a helpful strategy for finding new contracting roles and leveraging personal contacts. 

Register your CV with our specialist tech recruitment team, and they will be in touch if there are any suitable roles for you.

Conclusion

Contracting in the cyber security industry presents exciting opportunities for professionals. With high demand and a skills shortage, contractors can command competitive rates.  

While there are challenges, such as the need to actively pursue new opportunities, contracting offers the chance to gain diverse experience across industries and enjoy unparalleled flexibility. By specialising in a specific area, pursuing relevant qualifications, and staying adaptable, professionals can build a successful contracting career in cyber security.

Whether you're a junior professional starting out or an experienced specialist looking to make a career change, the world of cyber security contracting is full of potential. Take the first steps towards building a rewarding and profitable career in this rapidly growing field and apply for our open cyber security jobs today.

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