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How to Transition From Software Development to Cybersecurity

Software Development to CybersecurityA career as a software developer can be very exciting – from building apps that your friends and family use daily to developing systems that run devices and control networks. While this is a great career path, did you know that all the experience you have in software development can smoothly transition you into a cybersecurity career?

If you currently work in networking, software development, systems engineering, financial and risk analysis, IT support or security intelligence, you’re in luck because CyberSeek has outlined cybersecurity career pathways that begin with these roles, called feeder roles. They have skills that overlap with those needed by cybersecurity professionals.

Developer to Cybersecurity: The Skills You Need

Your experience in software development gives you knowledge of topics like computer programming languages and software systems, and these skills can help you begin a career in cybersecurity, because cybersecurity requires skills from many related fields of information technology. You could even merge these two branches of IT and become a security software developer!

In the United States, there are currently over 1.6 million open jobs in the developer feeder (yes, you read that right!) that request the following cybersecurity skills from potential software developer candidates:

GENERAL TECH SKILLS REQUIRED

CYBERSECURITY SKILLS TO ADD

Java

Information Systems

Software Development

Cryptography

SQL

Information Assurance

Software Engineering

Security Operations

JavaScript

Information Security

The general skills are all skills that you should make sure potential employers know you have, as they are the top-requested skills in this category. The above listed cybersecurity skills are particular skills that software development programmers should add to their skill set to help learn about security issues, and improve your chances of landing a new cybersecurity job.

How to Learn These Skills

CompTIA certifications cover the skills you need to move from software development to cybersecurity, and each certification has a full suite of training products so you can tailor your studying to how you learn best.

If you’re not sure which certification is right for you, take a look at the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway. CompTIA Security+ validates the baseline skills needed to perform core security functions, and CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) and CompTIA PenTest+ cover the intermediate skills needed for defensive and offensive cybersecurity, respectively. Once you have some experience under your belt, CompTIA Linux+ is the perfect complement to your cybersecurity skills.

Once you choose which certification is right for you, download the exam objectives to see what’s covered and then select your training solution. You can take a class, like CompTIA Live Online Training, or self-study with CertMaster eLearning solutions.

CertMaster Learn

CertMaster Learn is a self-paced, comprehensive online learning experience that helps you gain the knowledge and practical skills necessary to be successful on your CompTIA certification exam, and in your IT career. CertMaster Learn helps you stay on track with your studies, while robust analytics bring awareness of strengths and weaknesses.

CertMaster Labs

CertMaster Labs make it easy for you to practice and apply your skills in real workplace scenarios in preparation for the certification exam. All lab activities use real equipment and software, are based on scenarios found in the workplace and align with CompTIA exam objectives.

CompTIA now offers integrated Learn + Labs for most CompTIA certifications, giving you a streamlined learning experience. Learn more here.

Developer to Cybersecurity: The Education You Need

According to CyberSeek, the following educational requirements represents the percentage of online job listings requiring either less than a bachelor’s degree, a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree:

  • 6% do not require a bachelor’s degree
  • 72% require a bachelor’s degree
  • 22% require a graduate degree

Most of these software developer job roles require some type of formal education, like a degree in computer science, and IT pros should keep this in mind when searching for a new job.

Learn About the Other CyberSeek Pathways and Feeder Roles

Systems engineer

Networking

Security intelligence

Financial and risk analysis

IT support

How Long Does It Take To Get Into Cybersecurity?

Since you already have IT experience, getting into cybersecurity shouldn’t be as difficult for you as those starting from scratch. Regardless of where you’re at in your IT career, if you're looking toward a cyber career, we always recommend checking out the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway. The pathway consists of the four CompTIA cybersecurity certifications, Security+, PenTest+, CySA+ and CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+).

The pathway is intended to help people get into the field of cybersecurity. IT pros can enter at any point, depending on their IT experience, existing certifications or course of study.

Developer to Cybersecurity: The Jobs You Could Get

There are not many entry-level job titles in this category. The software developer job roles that transition well into a cybersecurity role are more mid-level and advanced-level job titles with several years of experience, as seen below.

Developer to cybersecurity
  • Cybersecurity engineer: Cybersecurity engineers work to build and maintain a system that’s safe against cyberattacks and malware
    • .Relevant skills to have: Intrusion detection, network security, application security
  • Penetration tester: If you work in penetrating testing, aka, an ethical hacker, you are trained to think like a bad guy. This role's goal is to help organizations improve their security practices and minimize vulnerabilities to prevent theft and damage. 
    • Relevant skills to have: Python, problem-solving
  • Cybersecurity analyst: A cybersecurity analyst detects cyber threats and then implements changes to protect an organization.
    • Relevant skills to have: UNIX, project management, threat analysis
  • Cybersecurity architect: A security architect develops and maintains an organization's computer network security.
    • Relevant skills to have: Communication skills, network security

Developer to Cybersecurity: Average Salaries

The average salary among these job roles is $121,463. This data from CyberSeek is valuable during your job search to ensure you are being offered a fair wage.

What Is The Job Outlook & Future For Cybersecurity Developers?

According to Cyberseek, demand for cybersecurity jobs increased by 43% from May 2021 to April 2022, compared to a nearly 18% increase in demand across the entire employment market.

The same Cyberseek data also demonstrates that gaining cybersecurity skills is imperative for a developer now more than ever. There was a 92% year-over-year growth in cybersecurity demand for software developers and engineers.

Developer to Cybersecurity: The Certifications You Need

CompTIA Certifications

According to CyberSeek, of the 1,600,000+ job openings in the software developer feeder role, the following certifications are most commonly requested by IT employers.

  • CompTIA Security+: Validates the baseline skills necessary to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career.

Other Certifications

  • IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Certification
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Transitioning to a cybersecurity career from software development isn’t a huge stretch. Many of the skills you already have can set you up for success in cybersecurity. With its detailed, actionable data about supply and demand in the cybersecurity job market, CyberSeek is a great resource to help you learn what skills and certifications are necessary for the cybersecurity job of your dreams.

Check out the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway to see how CompTIA certifications can help you get into cybersecurity and advance your cybersecurity career.

About the Author

With more than 2,000 members, 3,000 academic and training partners and tens of thousands of registered users spanning the entire information communications and technology (ICT) industry, CompTIA has become a leading voice for the technology ecosystem.

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