This is a
Let’s open it up
We live in a digital age. Technology powers everything from phones and laptops to hospitals, airports and banks. To defend the UK, we need to defend that digital world – so the UK government are training young people like you to become future cyber security specialists.
Cyber security might sound like a secretive sector. But the truth is, we’re a diverse network of supportive people – both tech and non-tech roles – united by our mission to keep the UK safe and protect the world we love. And with our university bursaries and degree apprenticeships, you can join us.
Who are CyberFirst?
Some of our industry members
The university bursary
- The bursary isn’t means-tested: you can apply no matter your financial situation
- The bursary is flexible – you can be studying or planning to study any degree course at any UK university
- You don’t need to be a tech genius or know how to code: if you have the ability, our Academy gives everyone that foundation knowledge
- With industry members from Thales to Airbus, you’ll work with well-respected brands
- You don’t need to be a coder, but you do need the drive and aptitude to protect our digital world
- Our bursary students must have UK national or dual UK national status
- We look for exam grades or predictions of BBB at A Level (or equivalent to 120 UCAS points) in any subject, as well as a GCSE (or equivalent) in Maths at 6 or above
The bursary scheme opens a lot of doors, and it’s made applying for graduate jobs so much easier. The hands-on experience and support is invaluable.”
Aliya, Bursary student
It’s been so nice joining a community of experts who treat all us students as equals – and, of course, the £4,000 bursary has been beyond helpful.”
Ethan, Bursary student
The degree apprenticeship
But how will you balance your degree and your work? Well, you’ll complete a series of learning and work placements. Some might be completed virtually at home and some might be at our sites in Cheltenham, Manchester or Scarborough. It means variety in what you do, where you work and study, and the chance to grasp both the academic and the practical sides of your role.
The key thing is, at every step, you’ll have our full support as you learn and grow, both in your role and in your course.
- You’ll gain a BSc (Hons) degree in Cyber Security from a respected UK university, with no tuition fees to pay
- You’ll earn a starting salary of around £20,000 a year, working on live projects for GCHQ
- You get exactly the same degree as any university student – but with the advantage of extensive work experience
- With plenty of paths and a constantly evolving industry, your career has huge potential
- You don’t need to be a coding genius: in fact, you don’t even need to know how to code yet, but you do need to have the aptitude and be willing to learn
- You need the drive and passion to learn to protect our digital world
- Our degree apprentices must have UK national or dual UK national status
- You usually need to have been resident in the UK for ten years before applying (but we do assess each case individually)
- We look for exam predictions of BBC at A Level (or equivalent to 112 UCAS points), as well as a GCSE (or equivalent) in Maths at 5 or above
As a CyberFirst Degree Apprentice, there are loads of opportunities to learn and everyone wants to see you succeed.”
Daniel, Degree Apprentice
I didn’t really know what to expect beforehand, but we’ve been integrated so well within the business. I feel really valued as an apprentice, everyone’s been so supportive.”
Isabelle, Degree Apprentice
Cyber security can seem closed off – but our podcasts give you an inside view. With professionals from the NCSC and industry member Marie Curie, as well as some of our bursary students and a former apprentice, they’re essential listening for beginners in our industry.
Get to know our world
Let’s bust some myths
You have to be a coder to apply.
False! We ask for an aptitude for tech and the will to learn, but you don’t have to know how to code yet. If you’re a beginner, why not start with the NCSC’s cyber glossary?
Only hackers work in cyber security.
False! From project managers to legal experts to technical writers, cyber security is home to all kinds of vital non-technical roles.
Cyber security is essential to day‑to‑day life in the UK.
True! Whether it’s protecting flight paths, securing bank accounts, or preventing power outages, cyber security protects every aspect of modern life.
Cyber security is a recent fad; not a stable career path.
False! The more we rely on tech, the more we need cyber security. That means it’s a forever growing sector – with an increasing skills shortage. You’ll always be in high demand.
Cyber security is a diverse industry.
True! We’re an inclusive network of employers for people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds and for people of all gender identities. You’ll find room to be yourself here.
My soft skills will matter in cyber security.
True! Your soft skills will be vital here. If you can take a tricky concept and make it simple, or talk easily to all kinds of people, you’ll do well.
I could work with all kinds of businesses through CyberFirst.
True! We’re a government scheme but with plenty of industry members – from Deloitte to BT; HMRC to the Bank of England – so you’re starting a career with huge potential.
It’s difficult to apply for CyberFirst.
False! Because we’re a government scheme, there are a few more steps – like security clearance – but we’ll support you and make it a straightforward process.
I can apply for both the bursary and the apprenticeship.
True! As long as you meet the eligibility for both schemes, you can apply for either or both. Of course, if you gain a place on both, you’ll need to choose one!
How to apply
As long as you’re eligible, you can apply for either or both schemes, , and you’ll start with the application form. This is where we’ll ask you to provide information that confirms your identity, nationality, where you live, your age, academic qualifications and expected grades. It’s also your opportunity to say more about you in your own words. It takes a bit of time to complete but you can save the information and come back to complete it.
We’re proud to say that we’re a Disability Confident employer, dedicated to providing guaranteed interviews to all candidates with disabilities who meet our minimum criteria, so please let us know if that applies to you.
Once you’ve successfully completed the application form and met all the eligibility criteria, you’ll be invited to take part in an online assessment. It sounds daunting but previous applicants have really enjoyed this part of the application process. The assessment is looking to test your aptitude alongside what you already know. We’re also looking at how committed you are to finding out information to solve problems. Our top tip is to try these practice exercises. You’ll need to create an account first, read the instructions carefully and take your time to work through the challenges.
Normally, this will take place either in Gloucester or Scarborough and usually lasts half a day. Dependent on the COVID-19 situation though, you might be invited to a virtual assessment centre. Either way, you’ll have a personal interview and a number of short assessments. We try and make it as relaxed as possible so we get to see the real you and all that you have to offer. Good luck!
If you do well in your assessment, we’ll give you a conditional offer, meaning you’ll join us if you pass security clearance.
You’ll find more on why we need vetting in the next section, but for now, please note that bursary students will only need Security Check vetting (point 6) while apprentices, who’ll be based on site at GCHQ, will need Developed Vetting (points 6-8).
Vetting helps us check we can trust you with sensitive data. The questionnaire will explore your character and your personal circumstances.
For roles that need higher security clearance, we’ll check your records to make sure you’re eligible to work in a secure organisation.
For roles that need higher security clearance, you’ll have an in-depth vetting interview, answering personal questions around all aspects of your life.
Congratulations! If you’ve passed security clearance, and you have achieved the required grades, we’ll confirm your offer and your start date. Please note that the process of vetting can take up to nine months.