Most people that want to get into Cybersecurity think of working for a business, while working in the private sector does offer higher wages you shouldn’t overlook working in the armed forces, especially early in your career. The military can be a good way to jumpstart your cybersecurity career, they have a huge demand for cybersecurity professionals and they have a massive budget for training and education reimbursement. Some people think of the military as an oppressive establishment, other people think its extremely honorable to serve your country in any capacity. I’m not going to get into the moral aspect here but I do believe that there are a lot of benefits to working within the military especially when you’re young (18-24). Here are my top reasons why I would suggest someone consider going into the military if they are interested in starting a cybersecurity career:
Benefits of working with the military
Good Training: The military typically providers a large amount of training, much more than you can expect to find in the private sector. In my experience getting on the job training can be difficult to secure outside of the very basics that you need to do the job. In contrast, the people that I know that have gone the military route have gone through a huge amount of training and that can be very helpful at the start of your career when you don’t have a lot of experience.
Reimbursement: If you go into the military there are usually a lot of options for getting reimbursement for school, housing and even meals in some cases. If you’re someone that doesn’t have the money to invest in going to college or a cybersecurity bootcamp, the military can be a really good way to make a living and cover a lot of your living expenses.
High demand for cybersecurity: Just given the nature of the military’s operations they have a big demand for having good cybersecurity people. Firstly, they have a need to make sure that their operations are safe from hackers outside of the country. For example think of the United States relations with Russia, China and North Korea and the amount of times that the US has claimed that Russia or China has hacked into the US government or vice versa. Therefore, the military has a need to train and keep cybersecurity professionals that is mostly unmatched in the private sector. Secondly, they need good hackers that can help government agencies perform cyber espionage against other countries. This can mean hacking into other governments and extracting information, as well as developing really complicated malware that can be used to disrupt important parts of other nations economics. There are people called cyber arms dealers that write really complicated and sophisticated malware and sell it governments.
Security clearances: One of the things that makes you valuable for cybersecurity is your ability to get and hold security clearances. If you work in the private sector getting security clearances can be quite difficult but if you go into the military, you can get secret clearances very easily. If you decide to transition out of military having those security clearances can be very helpful in your career in the private sector.
Low barrier to entry: One massive problem that you have if you go to college after high school is that you have to spend a huge amount of money and time getting an education and there’s no guarantee that you will have a job waiting for you when you’re done. Even entry level jobs require a certain amount of experience, which makes it difficult for people to get jobs in their field straight away. Roughly 73% of people that graduate don’t even get a job in their field. With going into the military, if you have a basic level of fitness, no medical conditions and can pass a drug test you can get in. If you’re willing to put in the work to get in shape and you have the discipline to make it through the training and stay away from substances that are prohibited you can get into the military and start making money right after high school.
It teaches discipline: Having been to college and lived on university campuses, I don’t think college does a good job of preparing you to be a more mature adult. For the most part your around young people that are there to have fun and not really incentivized to take life seriously at this point. I would argue going into military could help you develop discipline, toughness and a work ethic that would help you a lot later on in life.
I think it’s a mistake if you don’t at least consider going into the military. Most people coming out of high school immediately think of college. Some people think it’s the best way to make money, some people want to get away from home or go to parties and enjoy college life. It can definitely be fun but if you’re someone that wants to jumpstart your career, your adult life and you’re okay with working hard and having fun the military may be a good way to go. It can save you a ton of money, give you a good skillset and from the people I know, they have made some of their closest friends from going through bootcamp and working in the military. I’m a little bias because I have a lot of respect for people that go through that, but if any of this made sense to you I would suggest you speak to a military recruiter in your area and just see what they have to say, it doesn’t come with any commitment to just talk to the recruiter.