How to Become a Cybersecurity Architect (Self-taught without a Degree)

By | April 26, 2023

With the rise of technology and the internet, cybersecurity has become a critical concern for businesses and individuals alike. Cyber threats pose a significant risk to sensitive information, and cybersecurity professionals are in high demand to protect digital assets.

Cybersecurity Architects are some of the most highly sought-after professionals in the industry, responsible for planning and designing secure information systems. The job is highly lucrative, with reports indicating an average salary north of $100,000 per year.

However, one might wonder, can you become a cybersecurity architect with just experience, even without a degree? The answer is yes, and here’s how.

Learn Networking

Since cybersecurity architects work with software and hardware components to secure systems, understanding computing basics is crucial.

Networking, in particular, is the backbone of cybersecurity. Understanding how you can connect devices physically and virtually will help you identify vulnerabilities and secure networks.

Learn how to design topology diagrams for different architectures, understand how packets are routed, and learn network protocols. Some of the fundamental protocols to learn include TCP/IP, HTTP, and DNS.

Get Hands-on Experience

To become a cybersecurity architect, you must have practical knowledge of cybersecurity tools and technologies. Start with free online courses, download virtual machines, or build your own homelab. By experimenting with tools and technologies, you can build practical skills, which will help you stand out in the market.

Here are some tools you should consider learning:

  • Firewalls: learn the different types of firewalls, firewall policies, and filter rules configuration.
  • SIEM: Security Information and Event Management systems are used for real-time analysis of security alerts generated by hardware or software. Learn how to configure and manage them.
  • IDS/IPS: Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems help detect and prevent malicious traffic from entering or exiting networks. Learn about detection methods, rules creation, and policy management.

Obtain Cybersecurity Certifications

Certifications prove that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to work in the cybersecurity field. They are also a great way to gain credibility as you progress in your career. Here are some of the top cybersecurity certifications you should consider:

  • Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP): one of the most prestigious certifications in the field, CISSP covers eight domains, including security operations, software development security, and asset security.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): designed to test your knowledge on identifying vulnerabilities in networks and systems, it teaches ethical hacking techniques.
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): certification that tests your knowledge and skills in managing, developing and overseeing an organization’s information security department.

Learn Programming Languages

As a cybersecurity architect, you need to have a comprehensive understanding of programming and scripting languages. This knowledge allows you to develop security tools or modify existing ones to fit your needs.

Start by learning programming basics such as syntax and programming constructs before specializing in a language. Some of the most popular programming languages used in cybersecurity include Python, C++, and PHP.

Join a Community

Joining a cybersecurity community is an excellent way to network and learn from industry experts. Choose your desired community based on your interests and the expertise required. Some of the most popular communities include:

  • Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP)
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators Group (NCSAG)
  • Information Systems Security Association (ISSA)
  • Cybersecurity Special Interest Group (SIG)


Becoming a cybersecurity architect without a degree may seem like an uphill task, but it’s entirely possible. Start by learning computer networking basics and gain practical experience. Obtain certifications to enhance your credibility and become proficient in programming languages.

Finally, connect with other professionals in industry communities to stay updated on the latest cybersecurity trends and technologies. By following these steps, you will increase your chances of succeeding in the cybersecurity industry as a self-taught professional.

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