How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity With No Experience in Kenya

In today’s digitally connected world, everyone relies on a stable defence program.

There is a need for individuals and corporations to ensure the safety of their information on the Internet. For this reason, cyber security awareness has become more important than ever. 

The government, organisations and individuals seek to employ cyber security experts who will safeguard their information from any cyber-attacks.

With this new job opportunity, many individuals want to take up a cyber security career because of the job demand and lucrative it is.

Some people want to get into cyber security, but don’t know how to get started in a career in cybersecurity.

Some people don’t know that they can learn other related cyber security courses like computer science, cloud computing, computer programming to become cyber security experts.

You can also become a self-taught cybersecurity expert.

The technology industry looks a lot on experience rather than education, take note.

A lot of Kenyans want to pursue careers in technology but believe that they need millions to get started.

While this is true when you attend university, you don’t have to.

Taking online courses qualifies as education, your experience matters more.

To begin a career in cyber security requires dedication and persistence. Your competition as a cybersecurity expert comes from individuals with a computer science degree in college.

How to Start a Cyber Security Career With No Experience

If you are passionate about cybersecurity, chances are, a career in cybersecurity might be for you.

Cyber security jobs require excellent communication skills and a good work ethic. Good educational background is also of key importance. These are among the items that will be listed on the job description page.

Having no work experience is excusable for most firms, but if you are seeking a cyber security career, there are things that you must do, especially with no academic exposure.

  1. Evaluate your present job role

What job role are you in now?

What do you do?

What are your responsibilities?

Can you match up your presentation skills with any of the skills required in cyber security?

If you have found a new interest in cyber security, evaluate your skills to see what will enable you to have a smooth transition into a cyber security career.

There are many people who have talked about ditching their old jobs to pursue a passion for something else, unrelated, even with no previous work experience in that field.

A cyber security career requires that you learn about recent cybercrimes and technologies that you must keep up with at all times. 

  1. Educate yourself 

Organisations seek to hire qualified employees for high salary job opportunities in the cybersecurity sector.

Among the things required for entry into cyber security, a career will include a STEM (Computer) related degree and good work experience or apprenticeship, to show that you could learn as you worked.

Different organisations will require different sets of qualifications, but the pivotal point is the same.

Find out what typical cybersecurity jobs look like and learn about the skills needed for cybersecurity. 

When you do not have the education experience, it may be something you need to start off with before you decide on that career.

You do not have to go back to college to get a degree, there are certain certifications that employers deem important and having them will give you an edge when you take this career.

Important certifications to get you started in a cybersecurity career include:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • CISSP- ISSAP

Depending on your level of knowledge, you can either take a beginner, intermediary or advanced class.

You can take courses on cybersecurity on sites such as Coursera and edX. 

  1. Understand important technologies used. 
  • Programming languages. A cybersecurity specialist must understand the programming languages which can either be acquired from school or by taking a professional course to learn that.
  • Learn the basic coding skills to understand different programming languages.

Examples of programming languages include Java, PHP, Python, C/C++ etc

What Other Interesting Cybersecurity Should You Learn?

Cloud

Many organisations are moving to the cloud.

Cloud computing services provided over the Internet (or “cloud”), enable sharing of resources, software, and information that are provided to computers and other devices on demand.

There have been cyber attacks launched on cloud providers by hackers that have resulted in stolen and destroyed information.

As you start your career, take this as a key task in understanding how these hackers work and the nature of their attacks.

Look into how security can be enhanced in cloud systems.

This will give you a competitive advantage in your career, even with no experience. 

Machine learning and Deep learning

Machine learning and deep learning are used in Artificial Intelligence.

This is the science of getting computers to learn and act as humans and process, interpret and make use of large complex data. 

Encryption technology

Encryption is the process of obscuring information to make it unreadable without special knowledge, key files, or passwords.

Government agencies, firms and organisations need cybersecurity experts to keep their information secure from hacker attacks.

Understanding how encryption works and how it keeps on changing and improving is a good starting point in your cyber security career.

Network

Contact cyber security professionals and socialize with them.

Chat them up.

Learn what is needed from you as you start your cyber security career.

Networking will expose you to new information about how they are hiring and you might even land yourself a job in the process.

You can look up cyber security professionals on LinkedIn and reach out to one of them for mentorship. 

Practice critical thinking/data analysis

A cybersecurity career requires individuals who are able to think on their feet and make informed decisions.

This is one of the few tests that you will take during your interview to see your critical thinking abilities.

It is important that you know how to quickly respond to cyber threats or attacks in order to mitigate risks.

What are the Soft Skills Needed for Cybersecurity?

Before starting a career in cybersecurity, you need soft skills. You may think that because cyber security is a technology field you don’t need soft skills.

The following are soft skills needed in cybersecurity and they include:

Communication Skills

You need communication skills in order to communicate or translate your concepts to others in non-techie backgrounds.

Management Skills

Because cybersecurity is a growing field in Kenya, you may find yourself in a managerial position.

A manager is an organiser, a planner and a leader.

You must know how to delegate duties, communicate your findings to others and also how to lead a team.

Problem Solving Skills

Are you a person that runs away from problems or are you proactive?

A problem solver looks for solutions to problems rather than becoming the problem.

Persuasion/Influence Skills

As you work in cyber security, you will realise some weak points in your company’s firewall or would also need to hack to find out how to fix problems.

You need to persuade management above you to ‘ethically hack’.

Persuasion isn’t forceful but coming up with detailed ideas and communicating them to the right person in order for them to take action.

You need to communicate clearly if you want to become persuasive.

Use the person’s/company’s language.

For example, did the company say they want to protect their data from theft because they want to become the number one trusted company by its customers?

Literally, use these words against them; that’s how persuasion works.

Independent Skills

You will work by yourself because most Kenyan companies haven’t invested their money in cybersecurity or protecting their data from theft.

Can you work by yourself?

Are you a self-driven person or must you wait for instructions from the boss?

Independent thinkers are proactive and detect problems before they happen and come up with solutions.

Leadership Skills

As a cyber security expert, you’re a leader, act like a leader.

A leader doesn’t spend time gloating superiority over other departments.

Rather, leaders work with people, understand their departments and what they do or the challenges they face in their departments and help them solve them.

Loyalty Skills

Cybersecurity is a growing field and companies are willing to pay millions of shillings a year to maintain an expert.

Are you the dillydally member of staff that love to move from company to company because of a pay increase?

You need to remain loyal and work for the company you believe in.

Check the company’s values before applying to work with them.

Also, loyalty means never sharing information with others about a company’s data or how they protect their firewalls.

You need to keep the information about your company secret, sign a non-disclosure policy to never tell.

Creativity Skills

Hackers get creative every single second. Are you a creative cybersecurity expert?

Creativity means coming up with problems and solutions before they even happen.

Research Skills

If you don’t love researching, you won’t make an excellent cybersecurity expert.

You need to know the trends and what’s happening in the cybersecurity industry and technology industry as a whole.

Learning Skills

Become an open-minded person that’s ready to learn all there is about cybersecurity and the tech field as a whole.

A learner comes up with not only problems and solutions but also gets ahead/become an expert.

Customer Service Skills

You need to know how to communicate with your clients as a cybersecurity expert.

What are the needs of the company and how can you help them?

Are you listening to what they are not telling you? Investigate and communicate your findings to them.

How Do I Build CyberSecurity Skills?

Get certificates/degrees

Go study online by joining MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for example on FutureLearn, MIT Open Courseware, Open University, edX.

Join professional groups with people in cybersecurity as mentors.

Attend cybersecurity conferences.

Find and attend meetups online on cybersecurity

Listen to cybersecurity podcasts

Watch free training videos on cybersecurity on YouTube, Ted Talks on cybersecurity and Stanford university free cybersecurity classes.

What are the Top Skills Needed for Cybersecurity?

The following are the top skills needed for cybersecurity and they include:

Problem-solving

Do you love problems or do you run away from problems?

Cybersecurity experts don’t run away, they love problems.

Because in problems they get to exercise their creativity.

Tech aptitude

To become a cybersecurity expert, love tech and every field in it.

You can learn cloud computing. robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and how to programme or software engineering.

Knowledge of security

Knowledge of security doesn’t mean physical security but how companies get affected by hackers or how they store data and how to deal with any surprise attacks.

Attention to details

Attention to detail means you leave nothing to chance.

You keep yourself updated on what’s happening to your company’s data, the trends and what to do.

Attention to detail also means the ability to predict what and how a company needs to secure its data/information.

Communication skills

Communication skills are important for a cybersecurity expert because you will be working with individuals from departments and need to communicate messages to them about the company’s security.

Also, communicating is important for you to take instructions on what to do in order to improve a company’s security.

Computer forensic skills

You need to know what to ‘diagnose’ or how to investigate as a cybersecurity expert.

Desire to learn

Have an open mind to learn, to accept information not only related to cybersecurity but to other related fields like cloud computing, machine learning and programming.

Understanding hacking

Ethical hacking or the understanding of what or how a hacker can interrupt is important as a cybersecurity expert/analyst.

If you understand the weaknesses, then you can deal with the problems or know how to fix the problems.

FAQs on How to Start a Cybersecurity Career With No Skills/Experience

  1. Is it hard to get a job in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a growing field and getting a job isn’t hard.

2. Does cybersecurity pay well?

Yes, you can earn millions of shillings per year.

3. What qualifications do I need for cybersecurity?

You need a degree in IT/Computer Science.

But you can work in cybersecurity without a degree.

4. How much does cybersecurity training cost?

The amount you spend on cybersecurity depends on the quality.

For example, if you get hands-on training/exercises, expect to pay more.

You also pay more money if you go to the university to obtain college degrees/certificates.

5. How long is cybersecurity training?

The length it takes to complete your cybersecurity training depends on the number of hours you spend training.

Remember, after your theory learning in school, ensure to keep learning.

Cybersecurity, like all the fields, keep changing every day.

Keeping yourself abreast with what’s happening in the cybersecurity field means becoming an expert and predicting what may happen before others do.

6. Can you get into cybersecurity without a degree?

YES, YOU CAN GET INTO CYBERSECURITY WITHOUT A DEGREE.

I had to use caps to emphasise the word there.

The belief in Kenya is that those without degrees are useless. In the technology field, your experience comes first.

7. Can cybersecurity be self-taught?

Yes, you can learn cybersecurity at home. You can begin by watching lessons on YouTube and reading blogs on cybersecurity before moving onto paid classes on platforms like Udemy or Skillshare.

8. How can I learn cybersecurity for fere?

To learn cybersecurity for free, jump onto platforms like YouTube, blogs on cybersecurity and on Coursera, Edx, Future Learn.

9. What’s the best degrees for cybersecurity?

Best degrees for cybersecurity include:

Computer Science

Computer Programming

Database Management

Computer Hardware Engineering

Network Administration

IT Management

10. Can you work in cybersecurity from home?

Yes, most technology fields allow you to work from home and cybersecurity allows you to work from home.

The technology field is a field of solutions and you can provide solutions working from home/virtual meetings.

11. How many hours a week do cybersecurity work?

At the beginning of your cybersecurity career, you may work more than 40 hours a week.

To develop yourself as an expert increase your working hours.

And even after becoming an expert, dedicate your time to becoming the best cybersecurity expert.

12. What pays more, cybersecurity or programming?

Programming does pay more.

You can learn programming as a way of becoming the most desirable employee in your field.

Having a combination of skills means employers coming for you and you never going to them.

Resources on Getting Started in Cybersecurity Without Experience/Skills in Kenya

What’s Cybersecurity and Why Does It Matter in Kenya?

10 Common Types of Cyber Threats in Kenya and Their Solutions

IT Support Jobs in Kenya: How to Get a Tech Job Online Without Experience

Easiest Tech Jobs to Get Into in Kenya in 2022 and Beyond

Tech Startup Ideas That Could Change Kenya and Kenyans Into a 2nd World Nation

Most On-Demand Hard/Tech Skills According to Linkedin for Kenyans

Getting an entry-level position job as a cybersecurity expert is easy plus the pay is awesome.

To gain not only money or fame, put in time, energy, determination and perseverance to become an expert in cybersecurity.

Because cybersecurity is a growing industry/field, the likelihood of making lots of money or a name for yourself is easy.

Don’t learn cybersecurity only, combine your education with another related field like machine learning, cloud computing or programming to make lots of money.

All technology industries are growing in Kenya so you won’t face competition in the industry.

Understand that companies/employers don’t know why they need technology experts or even cybersecurity experts, you may spend a lot of time educating them than doing the job.

Also, don’t expect to earn a lot of money from small businesses/companies.

But expect to earn more than a million dollars a year managing lots of companies or working for yourself.

Sharpen your skills and get an education before starting your cyber security career. Remember you can start a career in cybersecurity without a degree, you only need lots of experience.

Are you also in the belief that technology is the answer to the massive unemployment in Kenya?

The technology industry may not solve all the unemployment issues but may cater for half, at least?

Are you worried that you need to get a degree first before working in the tech industry and that’s why you believe cybersecurity isn’t meant for you?

Are you planning on starting a career in cybersecurity without experience/skills in Kenya?

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