Does cybersecurity require coding?

If you’re curious about a career in cybersecurity but aren’t sure whether coding is for you, you’re in luck. Although cybersecurity is a career rooted in technology, coding isn’t required for certain roles, especially entry-level ones. In fact, many career changers go into cybersecurity with transferable skills that don’t include coding or computer science.

Learn more about the role of coding in cybersecurity, which coding languages are used and when they’re required, and what your career options are if you’re a non-coder. We’ll also tell you how to receive the proper training required to become a viable candidate and land an entry-level position in cybersecurity.

Understanding cybersecurity roles

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word “cybersecurity” might be a hacker sitting behind a computer furiously typing complicated code, but this is far from the truth. Cybersecurity encompasses a wide range of careers, from technical to managerial to business, each with a range of responsibilities and cybersecurity skills needed.

Technical roles include those that analyze security threats. implement cybersecurity measures, simulate cyber attacks, and identify vulnerabilities in networks and systems. In these roles, you can expect to need coding knowledge.

Managerial roles include those that oversee an organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy, develop policies and budgets, and oversee a team of professionals. In these roles, a technical background and understanding of coding would be beneficial, although you wouldn’t be executing technical tasks.

Business roles include marketing, sales, or consulting. In these roles, you wouldn’t require coding but would need to have a firm understanding of cybersecurity in general.

Joseph Harisson, CEO of IT Companies Network, emphasizes the importance of problem-solving vs. coding for those starting in cybersecurity. _“You don’t always need to be good at programming to start working in cybersecurity,” he says. “In many jobs for beginners, you need to be good at thinking through problems and knowing how to teach others about staying safe online.” _ Cybersecurity is also a great option for those looking to change careers, due to a variety of transferable skills that can make one successful in this industry.

Does cybersecurity need programming?

Coding is not a requirement for non-technical positions; however, for technical roles, you will need to know how to code. For example, coding knowledge would be required if your role involved tool development, scripting for automation, or penetration testing and hacking. If your role involved policy analysis, compliance auditing, cybersecurity sales, marketing, or consulting, coding wouldn’t be a requirement. Having said this, understanding coding or having a technical background can give you a leg up amongst your peers or other candidates when job hunting. It’s always an advantage to “speak the language” of other teams you’ll be collaborating with, and could be the difference between getting to work on certain projects or being considered for a promotion.

“As you get more experience, knowing how to code can help, especially for making tasks easier or looking into security issues,” says Harisson. “But, it's not just about being able to write a lot of code. Understanding how code works can be just as useful.”

Cybersecurity jobs that require coding

Here are some examples of roles that will require programming knowledge:

  • Penetration tester (ethical hacker)
  • Security engineer
  • Malware analyst
  • Security code auditor
  • Cryptographer
  • Cybersecurity software developer
  • Security automation engineer
  • Application security engineer
  • Digital forensics analyst

Can I do cybersecurity without coding?

Yes, you can have a career in cybersecurity without coding. Here are some examples of roles that don’t require previous experience with programming languages:

  • Information security analyst
  • Governance, risk, and complication (GRC) analyst
  • Cyber threats analyst
  • Security operations centre (SOC) analyst
  • Incident responder
  • Cybersecurity policy analyst
  • Cybersecurity compliance manager
  • Cybersecurity consultant
  • Information security analyst

Learn how AI is changing the world of cybersecurity and what it means for the skills required.:

What coding language is used in cybersecurity?

It’s important to note that cybersecurity, scripting, and programming are two different things.

Scripts are typically smaller programs written to automate specific tasks or perform simple operations. They are often used for tasks like automating system administration tasks, parsing log files, or conducting basic network scans. Scripts are generally easier to write and understand, with a focus on simplicity and efficiency.

Programming involves developing larger, more complex software applications or systems. Programmers write code to solve complex problems, implement algorithms, and build software solutions from scratch. Programming languages offer greater flexibility and functionality, allowing for the creation of diverse software applications beyond simple automation tasks. Think of a script as a specific spice in a dish, while programming is the whole blend of ingredients that make an entire dish.

Popular scripting languages in cybersecurity

  • Python: A beginner-friendly scripting language used in tasks like network scanning, automation, and developing security tools.
  • PowerShell: Developed by Microsoft for tasks like system administration, incident response, and automating security operations in Windows applications.
  • Bash: Often used for tasks like system administration and log analysis for Unix-like operating systems, including Linux and macOS.
  • JavaScript: A versatile scripting language used for tasks like web scraping, automating web browser interactions and developing custom security tools.
  • Ruby: Used for tasks like automation and developing web-based tools on Unix-like operating systems.

Popular programming languages in cybersecurity

  • C/C++: Widely used programming languages, used for developing software like cryptographic libraries, operating system components, and security tools.
  • Java: Commonly used for building enterprise applications, security tools, and secure software solutions.
  • JavaScript: Used for web-based security assessments, automating web interactions, and developing custom tools.

Unsure about how coding fits into your cybersecurity career plans? Talk to our Learning Advisors for personalized guidance and insights.

Learning paths for non-coders

If you’re interested in cybersecurity but don’t have a strong coding background, there are still plenty of learning paths to explore. At the end of the day, a passion for learning and staying curious is highly valued in cybersecurity.

“Cybersecurity changes all the time, but if you're dedicated and keep building your skills, you can have a great career in this field, even if coding isn't your thing,” says Harrison.

1. Cybersecurity bootcamps

Cybersecurity bootcamps are intensive, immersive training programs designed to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to start a career in cybersecurity. Bootcamps typically offer hands-on instruction, real-world projects, and career support to help students develop practical cybersecurity skills and transition into roles in the cybersecurity industry. Get a detailed look at how Lighthouse Labs’ Cybersecurity Bootcamp prepares you for the field, with or without prior coding knowledge.

2. Self-guided learning

Although it can be complicated to learn to code yourself, it isn’t impossible. You can use free resources to get your feet wet before diving into a full program. There are also YouTube channels like Traversy Media dedicated to teaching programming languages, frameworks, and coding concepts to beginners.

3. Coding challenges

Code challenges are a great way to reinforce your learning, as coding requires lots of practice and iterations to perfect. Websites like LeetCode and HackerRank offer coding challenges, algorithmic problems, and coding exercises to help learners practice problem-solving and coding skills.

Kickstart your career in cybersecurity with Lighthouse Labs

Lighthouse Labs’ Cybersecurity Bootcamp gives you the fundamental knowledge, technical skills, soft skills, and hands-on experience to start your career upon graduation. The full-time Bootcamps can get you job-ready in as little as 12 weeks, while part-time Bootcamps are stretched over 30 weeks to allow you flexibility with work or other life circumstances. You’ll learn server administration, network security, threat modeling and analysis, incident response, and more—all with access to industry experts and mentors.

Lighthouse Labs’ Cybersecurity Bootcamp teaches the following tools and frameworks so you can get a leg up over other candidates when job hunting:

  • Python
  • SSL/TLS Certificates
  • WinSCP
  • NIST SP 800-52, NIST SP 800-57 and NIST
  • Apache Web Server
  • Encryption Standards, Protocols and Rules

The program also emphasizes soft skills like problem-solving, communication, and teamwork, which are important in cybersecurity roles that don’t require coding, like managerial and business positions.

Dive into cybersecurity with confidence, regardless of your coding background with Lighthouse Labs.

Coding vs. No-coding Infographic