Cyber Career Paths

A career in cyber doesn’t have to start at college or university. There’s lots of short courses you can do or an apprenticeship is also a great way to explore the digital world by earning a qualification while on the job! 

Thinking about studying cyber at university?

There are a number of university courses you can do to get into a cyber career. It could be Software Programming, Computer Science or Technology. You can read more about each and decide which is for you here. 

Course requirements

When it comes to cyber degrees all courses will have different requirements. But it’s likely computing and IT subjects will be high on the list. Other technical subjects like physics and design technology will probably be useful too. What you’re really looking to show is your attention to detail, technical ability, and talent with numbers and programmes.

These kinds of courses will be looking for someone diligent and analytical, able to troubleshoot and solve problems on the spot. These are the kind of attributes you’ll want to show in your personal statement, especially as many cyber degrees will involve an interview.

What you can expect

You’ll learn from tutors and industry experts, starting with the basics of computing and coding. You will then move into more specialised areas that interest you the most. You will have to learn programming languages and spend a lot of time getting the theory down but most these degrees will be spent putting this into practice.

Businesses play a big role this many of these courses. Either through special projects, work placements, or sandwich years. You’ll have the opportunity to work on real problems which will give you the chance to use your coding skills and prove your worth. It could be with a company that wants to make sure its website is secure, or a firm looking to develop an app for its new product.

As technology is moving at a fast rate, you will also be challenged to think about what this means for society.

Software engineering undergraduates can expect the following tasks during their studies:

  • writing reports and essays
  • hackathons and coding competitions
  • practical and creative projects
  • attending lectures and seminars
  • real-world projects
  • hearing from industry speakers
  • placements and industry experience
  • project and teamwork.

What cyber certifications can I do?

If you’re not interested in studying cyber at university, there are lots of short courses to choose from.

Here are a few examples of cyber courses:

The CEH is an entry-level cyber security certification. It introduces you to the hacking tools and techniques used by real cybercriminals. Understanding how hackers think will help you to fix vulnerabilities you might have missed before.

The CISMP course lasts 5 days and is a good way to start a career in cyber security with no experience. The CISMP is a well known foundation-level qualification. A CISMP certification shows that you have a good knowledge of information security management.

ISO/IEC 27001 was created to bring information security under management control. It also gives best practices that include security, and corrective and preventive measures. The certification helps organisations stick to regulations and legal requirements for the security of information.

Security+ is a certification to show you have the key skills needed to work with core security functions. The course covers best practices in troubleshooting, giving you practical security problem-solving skills.

The Certified Network Defender course was created to help people with IT experience to build their skills in network security and defence. It aims to grow your understanding of digital security, detection, and response to threats.

Cisco offers free, practical courses that teach in demand tech and business skills and prepare you for a job. Digital badges demonstrate your skills to potential employers. Courses and resources are from reputable Cisco Networking Academy and developed by industry experts.

What about the DigiKnow Champions Award?

Young Scot has launched our DigiKnow? Champions Award, in partnership with Glasgow Kelvin College, to help you build the skills and knowledge needed to be protected from online threats. 

Our #YSHive project team, the DigiKnow? Steering Group, have led on design and development of the award so it has been designed for young people by young people. 

The DigiKnow Champions Award will offer the opportunity to learn in an engaging and interactive way about a variety of cyber and digital topics. 

Areas covered include:  

  • Practical digital resilience to help protect you and your devices;
  • Health and wellbeing to support positive mental wellbeing in relation to technology use; 
  • Careers and learning to identify job routes in cyber and digital and explore own skillsets. 

The Award will be split into two units, and you will gain an SCQF Level 4 qualification on completion of each of these units.

No previous qualifications or experience is required. This opportunity is open to all young people, no matter your current education or employment status.

Interested? Sign up!

How about a cyber apprenticeship?

To start a cyber security apprenticeship you need to have previous experience in IT. This is so you understand the basics of how technology works. You can gain this experience by doing a lower level apprenticeship in an IT-related course or relevant subjects at school, such as Computing or ICT.

Cyber apprenticeships will cover the training and experience you need to have a career in cyber security. An apprenticeship will also help you understand the concepts and legal requirements of cyber security.

If you want to do an apprenticeship…


  • There are many different types and levels of apprenticeships, so do your research.
  • Different levels of apprenticeships will have different entry requirements. Make sure you have the grades or qualifications you need.
  • When you do an apprenticeship, you often work while you study towards a qualification. Some people find this full-on so make sure you understand what is expected of you.

More information

For more information and resources for careers in Cyber Security or in the Digital sector visit our DigiKnow page. 

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