Studying for a career in IT in college can lead you in many different directions, and one option available is to specialize in handling the mission-critical process of incident response.
So what is this exactly, how can you get into it as an aspiring IT professional, and where can this lead you further down the line?
What is IT Incident Response?
Cybercrime is a growing threat for businesses, and so IT security team members aren’t just expected to prevent attacks but also to help deal with the repercussions of a successful breach.
This is effectively what IT incident response involves. You plan to handle the fallout of hacks and put these procedures into action in worst-case scenarios.
What Qualifications are Needed?
You don’t strictly need a degree-level education to get into IT incident response, but the reality is that if you want to go far in this field, it will give you a major leg up.
Studying computer science, IT, or cybersecurity at university will show prospective employers that you have a deep understanding of and interest in the systems you’ll be responsible for managing.
There are also professional certifications to take on board, if you choose, in order to become part of a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).
This includes the Certified Computer Security Incident Handler (CSIH) accreditation, although you’ll need a decent amount of experience working in cybersecurity before you can apply for such courses.
What are the Stepping Stones to Certification?
You’ll not usually be able to walk straight out of college and into an IT incident response role. Instead, you’ll typically work for a few years in a more junior position within the same sphere.
That way, you’ll get to grips with software that can visualize the full incident lifecycle and also be managed and mentored by more seasoned security pros who can impart their knowledge to you.
You might even experience a genuine breach as part of your early work experience, which will be invaluable going forward.
You don’t need to be too picky about the job you take at this point, so long as it’s IT security-related.
Whether you find work after college as a network admin or as a security officer, it will be part of building your resume up to the point that IT incident response roles are within your grasp.
What Skills are Important?
Aside from the aforementioned usefulness of a good grounding in computer science, IT, or cybersecurity, anyone who wants to get started in IT incident response needs to have other soft skills that lend themselves to the job.
Being calm under pressure is an obvious asset since when you do need to jump to action, it will be in an emergency scenario when a cyber attack has taken place.
This intensity isn’t for everyone, and keeping your cool will set you apart from the pack.
Being a good communicator is also necessary since you’ll be working with diverse teams and collaborating across departments to achieve your aims.
What are the Career Prospects?
In terms of salary, IT incident response professionals are well compensated because, of course, they can save companies millions if they can instigate a quick recovery from a cyber attack.
Experienced analysts make over $100,000 annually, and starting salaries for IT incident response pros are at $90,000 on average.
Getting started in this area of IT in college could be both rewarding and exciting, so long as you don’t mind the additional stress that inevitably comes with responding to security breaches.
For the right person, this career path will be almost impossibly appealing.