By Kris Tanaka
SecureWorld Media

One million.

That's the number of available cybersecurity jobs in 2016. Furthermore, that number is projected to increase to six million by 2019.

If you are just starting out on your career path or if you are thinking of a mid-career change, make sure you take a look at one of the hottest industries to work in right now - cybersecurity.

Where do you begin? 

We asked Alex Wood, principal consultant at Elevation Security Consulting, about his first cybersecurity job.

"Like many people just graduating from college, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with myself. Although I only took one formal computer science class, I had always been interested in computers and had worked as a support person in the college computer labs. Since it was the late 90s, there was plenty of demand for anyone with computer skills. I managed to get an entry-level help desk job.

After working on the help desk for a while, I learned that one of my co-workers was transferring to another department to do penetration testing. After learning more details about what the job entailed, I was intrigued. You could actually get paid to try to break into computer systems? I kept my eye out for openings in that department until I managed to get hired into a security operations position. That was the beginning of my long journey in cybersecurity. I worked there for a number of years and learned a whole lot of differing skills."

What does Alex look for in new hires?

"One skill that helped me in my journey was a curiosity to learn. I got most of my training from exploring, building and breaking systems to figure out how they worked or solving problems on the job. You need to understand how systems or networks really function on order to know how they can be broken. Once you know how they can be broken, you have a much better understanding of how to protect them. Having that curiosity to learn as well as learning on your own is one of the skills that I look for."

Alex Wood has over 16 years of experience in security. In addition to serving as principal consultant at Elevation Security Consulting, he is currently the Director of Risk Portfolio Management for a healthcare company. Previously he managed security programs and services at several major companies in different verticals.