From testing the enemy’s defences to securing organisations’ critical business assets

Posted on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 by Faye CoppNo comments

SaluteMyJob is excited to be teaming up again with Abertay University to deliver a second pilot programme to support members of the Armed Forces community on their journey towards a promising and exciting career in ‘ethical hacking’ or penetration testing. In this article, we discuss why we believe military personnel are well-equipped to become great ‘ethical hackers’ - and why this career journey is a great starting point into cyber security.


Technology plays a significant role in the military and Armed Forces personnel often possess many of the technical skills and experience needed for cyber security roles. Military personnel are instilled with a security mindset, are exposed to networking and communication systems, to cyber and information security and many will have experience with the intelligence side of technology and the associated risks. 

There is a notable shortage of penetration testers and we believe members of the Armed Forces Community are well-equipped to fill this shortage. It's an ideal role for those with a security mindset, who possess military security skills and experience, and are trained to analyse the enemy's plan and means of attack.

In order to help people from the military community gain the skills to become an ethical hacker or penetration tester, SaluteMyJob is once again teaming up with Abertay University, the UK’s leading provider of advanced ‘Ethical Hacking’ courses, to deliver a pioneering programme to support members of the Armed Forces community on their journey towards a promising and exciting career in a field where there is a significant skills shortage. 

abertay course

Students from the last Abertay course with SMJ

The partnership with SaluteMyJob, Abertay University, and the Cyber and Fraud Centre Scotland will offer a short, tutored ‘Penetration Testing Course’ to serving personnel, veterans, reservists and military spouses. The course will help students develop a critical understanding of the tools used to examine the security of a device or network and is a great starting point for people looking for a career in cyber security. 

The programme, open now for applications, comprises four stages, starting with preparatory online training.  Following which, students will be enrolled onto an intensive eight week ‘Penetration Testing Course’. This training will be delivered by the academic team in Abertay University Cyber Security Division and will be delivered entirely online.

Upon completion of the programme students will have the opportunity to sit the CompTIA Pen Test+ exam and have an opportunity to gain a recognised qualification in Cyber security.  

SaluteMyJob is already working with a number of employer partners to provide paid work placement opportunities and employment into permanent roles from the summer onwards, allowing participants to apply their learning in practical and commercial environments. 

Stephen Broadbridge served in the Army for six-years and is currently studying for an Ethical Hacking degree. Stephen said: “Abertay really is 100% the best place to learn the skills and begin a career in cyber security. The Penetration testing modules teach you industry relevant skills and exactly what you would be doing for a penetration test. I’d say pen testing is the best place to start because, quite simply, it's fun. You get to play cyber criminal and once you find a vulnerability or something interesting you can go down that rabbit hole for hours.” 

And why do you think ex-military personnel are well-suited to cyber roles? Stephen said: “I remember the phrase ‘nothing is squaddie proof’. A squaddie will always find a way to break something that seems to be unbreakable, especially when it's claimed to be unbreakable. It’s the same for Cyber.”

Jack Grieve

Jack Grieve, served in the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, after hearing about the Ethical Hacking Abertay degree course, as being ‘the best in the world’, has now graduated and is a Cyber Security Consultant. He believes pen testing is a great career path for military personnel: “It covers most parts of cyber security and allows you to be on the pointy end of the stick (which is similar to the military), so there are many similarities in terms of approach. Pen testers require a lot of technical knowledge in the subject to achieve their goals. You will need to understand things like networking, programming, and digital forensics, but that should be a breeze with the correct mindset!”

And why do you think military personnel are well-suited to cyber roles? There is more overlap than meets the eye between ex-service personnel and the cyber security industry. The drive and determination of every soldier and officer in HM Armed Forces is clearly widespread and predominant. This often gives you the edge over civilians. Putting yourself in the head of the enemy is another great skill to have when working in cyber security. It allows you to understand how cyber criminals think, which allows you to solve problems faster. Knowledge in physical security is also a great skill. Understanding the layers of defence that you have been taught in the forces relates directly to cyber defence.

“The opportunities are truly endless. The cyber security industry is crying out for ex service personnel due to the skills they bring to the table. You could go down the academic route, or straight into industry with the right knowledge and contacts. Overall, the world is your oyster, and cyber security teams should be crying out for your skill set!”

If you're a competent IT user, willing to learn and have an interest in gaining the skills to become an Ethical Hacker or Penetration Tester, then this is for you! 

What’s more it's FREE - no need to use up ELC or IRTC grants and no course fees.

Find out more and apply here.


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