Cyber Security – Career Opportunities and How to Get Started

Malware and ransomware attacks are on the rise. Industry experts estimate that by 2025, cybercrime could cost the world $10.5 trillion a year. Cyber security breaches are not only expensive for companies but dangerous for everyday users who could have their sensitive data stolen. The cyber security talent crunch has now created thousands of unfilled positions. Here are some cyber security roles that you can consider and how you can embark on a fulfilling cyber security career.

Why Cyber Security?

Cyber security is a growing sector that is seeing high demand and close to zero unemployment. As concern for cyber security and the need for data compliance rises across a myriad of industries, organizations are scrambling to hire cyber security personnel. Hence, people who are trained in cyber security have the benefit of choosing from several positions.

Because cyber security skills can be applied to almost any industry, cyber security professionals can choose to work in an industry that aligns with their interests. From the basic cyber security skillset, professionals can move on to specialize in different facets of the field such as analysis, strategic thinking, and forensics, or work towards leadership positions.

Since cyber security skills are in demand, salaries for cyber security positions are often higher than most professions requiring similar qualifications. According to Glassdoor, a cyber security professional in the United States can expect an estimated total pay of $96,456 per year. Furthermore, survey results show that 96 percent of cyber security professionals are happy with their jobs and 87 percent are pleased with their earnings.

Cyber Security Career Paths

Incident Response Analyst

In the event of a cyberattack, an incident response analyst is the first to respond. They identify threats and work to contain and minimize the effects of the breach. Then, they investigate the source of the cyberattack, evaluate the damage, and put together incident reports. Their job may also include implementing security changes to avoid future cyberattacks.

Information Security Analyst

An information security analyst is responsible for monitoring network security and performing regular assessments and improvements. Their responsibilities include maintaining firewalls, installing system updates and patches, using assessment tools to discover and address network vulnerabilities, and reviewing access logs and data security compliance.

Security Engineer

A security engineer is a mid-level cyber security position. Their responsibilities include planning and implementing security strategies, performing security audits, overseeing incident response teams, creating automated scripts, and researching possible emerging threats. Aside from academic qualifications, experience is an important factor in this role.

Forensics Analyst

While forensics analysts were formerly employed in law enforcement and defense, they are now in demand in private enterprises as well. A forensics analyst analyzes digital evidence to investigate the source of a security breach. They have to collaborate with several different departments to examine numerous sources of data and identify areas of compromise.

Chief Information Security Officer

A chief information security officer (CISO) is a senior executive position that is accountable for ensuring the cyber security of the organization. A CISO has to make key decisions regarding threat response strategies, overall security implementation and protocols, and liaise with law enforcement when required. As the demands on the qualifications, skills, and experience of a CISO are considerably high, their salary is significantly greater.

How to Start a Career in Cyber Security

The first step to starting a career in cyber security is an undergraduate degree. Most jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or information systems. Note however that if you are planning to go into cyber security engineering, it is more prudent to take an undergraduate degree in engineering with a focus on cyber security instead.

Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider adding to your qualifications by earning more relevant industry certifications. Many positions require specific industry certifications or vendor-specific certifications. Some cyber security industry accreditation bodies are Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and CompTIA Security+.

Direct experience in the field is the next step. Cyber security is an ever-changing field, thus practical experience is essential. Many entry-level cyber security positions do not require applications to have a relevant work history, so you can gain real-world experience on the job. Volunteering with a cyber security group or organization is another way to gain working knowledge and experience as well as network with other professionals.

As you seek to expand your career opportunities, pursuing an online Master of Cyber Security degree can help you to move up to more senior positions or cross over to a different field of specialty. A master’s program will equip you with important abilities such as project management skills and knowledge about law, policy, and governance.

Similarly, if you are already an IT professional and want to transition into cyber security, completing a master’s degree in cyber security is a good way to get qualified.

Cyber security is a challenging and exciting field that offers excellent remuneration and career prospects. As the world becomes increasingly connected, data security is of utmost importance. By pursuing a career in cyber security, you position yourself at the forefront of protecting user privacy and maintaining the integrity of your organization’s computer systems.