Service Leavers & Cyber: How veterans can find their next calling in Cyber Security

May 4, 2021
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From our recent signing of the Armed Forces Covenant to the presence of ex-military personnel on our team, CAPSLOCK is a company that understands the importance of supporting veterans. We are particularly keen to encourage service leavers to identify cyber security as a viable option when they are looking for a new career pathway.

Veterans have a unique skill set that can be ideally suited to cyber security. They often have a great grasp of protecting vital assets, data governance, threat analysis, handling sensitive information, the importance of communication, and these are all skills that are in high demand in the cyber industry. In short, there are many, many transferable skills at a veteran’s disposal.

At CAPSLOCK, we want to provide service leavers with the perfect bridge from military service into Civvy Street, helping them to build upon their existing transferable skills. So, what better way to explore the links between military life and cyber security than to ask our veteran learners for their insight?

What do our veteran learners say about the CAPSLOCK bootcamp?

We have a number of learners and alumni who are veterans and service leavers. We asked three of them about their military backgrounds, what made them choose to take the CAPSLOCK course, and where they’ve used transferrable skills and experience from the military in a cyber context.

Thomas, CAPSLOCK Part Time Learner

“I've spent 6 years in the Army, initially as an artillery gunner and then as a HR Administrator/Manager and Physical Training Instructor. I was drawn to CAPSLOCK by the fact that they are trying to break down barriers to cyber security that may be present due to a lack of a university degree. They are offering people a chance to showcase life skills and experience instead. The flexibility of the Part Time course allowed me to learn whilst still serving, and the concept of Team Based Learning was something that I believed I would be able to thrive at due to my military background.

After translating my military skillset into “civvy speak”, I realised I had a lot to lend to cyber.  I regularly use corporate IT systems and manage sensitive data which is key in cyber security. I am confident in public speaking which has lent itself well when presenting our work in the classroom. The Army has instilled in me the importance of attention to detail when it comes to solving problems which allows me to see things that others might miss.

Combining these skills with the ability to make decisions whilst under physical and mental stress has allowed me to deal with the exercises and challenges on the course whilst working full time.”

*2023 Update: Thomas graduated from CAPSLOCK in 2021 and now works as an Information Security Analyst.

Dale, CAPSLOCK Full Time Learner

“I served 12 years in the British Army as a Military Working Dog (MWD) Handler, specialising in high threat counter improvised explosive device (IED) operations. My role involved training and handling search dogs in a number of deployments across the world and on UK soil to detect hidden weapons, ammunition and explosives as well as promoting the use of MWDs to other units across the Army and international armed forces.

Throughout my career I played my part in providing security and mitigating risks on the ground level. I realised that as the world moves deeper into the digital age, the threats and risk we face daily are moving more and more towards the ‘cyber warfare’ landscape and I decided that I wanted to take on this challenge.

I chose to start my cyber journey with CAPSLOCK because of their innovative approach to delivering both training and workplace readiness simultaneously. Delivering theory content and providing a practical stage to demonstrate my understanding on a range of physical labs has really helped. CAPSLOCK also has ex-military tutors and mentors. This has helped massively with the transition as they have personal experience and know exactly what I’m going through which is a massive boost to confidence during what could have been a stressful and daunting time in any transitioning soldier’s life.

During the course so far I have already relied on my transferable military skills. As a MWD handler carrying out high threat searches, conducting threat assessments was a constant thought process. Looking for vulnerabilities, potential threats and deciding how to best mitigate those risks goes hand in hand with cyber security! I’m now using the same process to identify potential exploits that could lead to a data breach and implementing controls to reduce the risk.

As a specialised job role, I would routinely be deployed and attached to other units such as infantry, engineer search teams or Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams. The ability to work independently as well as within a team has also helped during the CAPSLOCK course. It has prepared me for Team Based Learning where we tackle real time scenarios and solve the problem together, as well as being self motivated to study and research independently.

I think the biggest comparison I’ve found so far between my military career and this journey into cyber security is the defensive mindset. I enrolled onto the CAPSLOCK course with zero previous IT experience but the defensive mindset that’s instilled into every serving person / veteran really helps when putting things into context. Building FOB defence to hardening network infrastructure, conducting offensive patrols to carrying out penetration tests, generic risk assessments for live firing ranges to identifying assets and risk scores, thinking ‘where is the enemy likely to set an ambush’ to ‘how would the enemy likely try to exploit the system’. The list goes on.

The bottom line is, if you think you don’t have enough experience to get into cyber security, I can assure you now that as a serving person or service leaver, you already have the experience. You just don’t know it yet!”

*2023 Update: Dale graduated from CAPSLOCK in 2021. His first cyber role was as an Information Security Education and Training Analyst. He now works as a Cyber Security Analyst.

Matty, CAPSLOCK Part Time Learner

“I was in the Royal Navy as a Weapons Engineer. This job included looking after all the weapons and ammunition on board the ship, along with maintaining and repairing the communications devices, radars, sonars. I think for me,  the ability to already work well in a team has helped a lot on the CAPSLOCK course. So has the attitude that when things are stacked against you, you don’t stop, you dig in and crack on.

I think that cyber security is definitely a great career choice for service leavers and veterans. You’ve spent years protecting your country physically and in harsh living conditions… now you can do it again but in more comfort and with air-conditioning…”

*2023 Update: Matty graduated from CAPSLOCK in 2021. Since then, he has worked as a Information Security Executive, a Cyber Security Consultant Analyst, and now he works for CAPSLOCK as a Tutor!

CAPSLOCK is an award-winning organisation that helps people start brand new careers in cyber security. You don’t need existing IT or cyber knowledge to apply, and you don’t have to pay for the training until after you've graduated and are earning over £25,000 a year.

You can apply to join one of our cyber reskilling bootcamps:

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