Thinking of breaking into the field of information technology and make a good cyber security career for yourself?
Pursuing a cyber security career takes perseverance, dedication, and tons of work. But the efforts are rewarded since aspirants get to enjoy day-to-day tasks protecting companies from cyberthreats and use critical analysis skills to solve real-life problems in digital domains. Technology is essential to every organization and companies prioritize in securing their computers, end-point devices, and Cloud data architectures. A single cybersecurity attack can cost companies millions and the losses don’t stop at the financial scale.
Studies conducted by researchers show that job satisfaction levels among cybersecurity workers is high since they face plenty of challenges at work that pick their brains. In addition to that, employers offer high pay packages and lucrative investments in advancing the careers of advancements. More than 6 million cyber security career job roles are vacant which means that currently there is a huge shortage of professionals.
North American employers pay the highest salaries with the lowest salaries being paid by organizations in Latin America. The average pay for an Cybersecurity Analyst is $99,730 a year and individuals with a Bachelor’s Degree are eligible for applying for this position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for cybersecurity professionals is expected to grow in the coming years. Because of the increasing rates of cybercrime, organizations are looking for qualified professionals to join their teams.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a field that deals with computer systems, networks, and programs used for safeguarding financial and legal assets of organizations from cybercriminal threats. Implementing effective cybersecurity practices is becoming a problem for organizations since hackers are getting more creative and sophisticated with techniques. Today, this has created a huge demand for professionals and users who have extensive experience are rewarded with lucrative careers.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a cyber security career, you’ll probably realize that there are different subsets of specializations such as cryptographer, information security analyst, incident responder, security specialists, etc. Entry-level jobs include roles such as system administrators, IT specialists, network engineers, and network engineers. Job opportunities for mid-level and advanced professionals exist as well with the security head and cybersecurity architect being top positions in organizations with the highest pay. Cyber security career professionals are well versed in ensuring that security measures comply with legal and regulatory bodies, which means the systems they create and implement within organizations align with core global security practices.
Types of Cyber Security Job Roles
- Network Security Engineer
A network security engineer is responsible for overseeing an organization’s cybersecurity systems and has a promising cyber security career outlook. He/she identifies vulnerabilities in networks, applies security patches and updates, and uses various tools of automation to quarantine and counter online threats. Managing firewalls, routers, switches, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) by using network monitoring software are also included among their responsibilities.
The starting cyber security career pay for a Network Security Engineer in a company in India is INR 4 lakhs but it can go up to as high as INR 8 lakhs depending on professional skill sets, certifications, and number of years of experience.
- Information Security Analyst
Information Security Analysts are in charge of making sure the company’s security systems and network perimeters are kept up-to-date. These professionals design incident response plans that help organizations safeguard their digital assets from various cyber threats and attacks. Most information security analysts are responsible for maintaining a documentation of the company’s cybersecurity measures and perform penetration testing to scan for vulnerabilities in networks. A Bachelor’s Degree is required for applying for this role and individuals can demand high pay packages in this cyber security career path.
- Forensics Expert
Digital forensics professionals are responsible for collecting, preserving, and analyzing digital evidence for the purpose of tracing down criminal threats. The role of forensics experts begin when a data breach has occurred and damages have been done to the organisation. Computer forensics cyber security career experts have a sharp eye for detail and use incident analysis skills for solving criminal cases related to corporate espionage, hacking, online frauds, and acts of digital terrorism. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the career outlook for forensics experts is projected to grow up to 14% between 2019 to 2029.
Computer forensics experts uncover hidden information and document evidence to make it presentable to the courts of law. These cyber security career professionals are also responsible for preparing the evidence before a trial proceeds and mostly serve law enforcement agencies and criminal justice systems. Knowledge of hardware and software operating systems, malware analysis, and digital storage methodologies are the prerequisites required to make an entry into this cyber security career path.
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
The title of Chief Information Security Officer belongs to the person who is in charge of the overall security and operations of the organization. Most companies have a CSO who protects data and defends companies from cybercriminals. The term CISO is interchangeably used with CSO who is only responsible for corporate security. Chief Information Security Officers in the cyber security career domain oversee the security functions within the organization.
Salaries for this position vary widely depending on geographic locations, reputation of companies, and their sizes. There is a huge shortage for professionals who are Chief Information Security Officers around the world but the good news is that this position offers lucrative salaries starting from $217,768 in the United States.
- Penetration Tester
Penetration testers have to be excellent in programming and exhibit knowledge of various security tool suites. Most individuals applying for this role are proficient in Python, PowerShell, and Bash. Cyber security career experts with the most experience excel at penetration testing and organizations value certifications such as Offensive Security Certification and GIAS Certification. There is a degree of managerial tasks involved with this role which means organizations also look for CISM, CISA, and CISSP certifications.
- Vulnerability Assessor
A cyber security career as a vulnerability assessor means spending time assessing vulnerabilities in security systems, procedures, and policies. These tests are used as a blueprint for making improvements in organizations for cybersecurity measures.
The findings of vulnerability tests are used to pinpoint critical flaws in systems. It’s a fact that companies invest a lot of money into taking care of their IT security issues.
- Cybersecurity Manager
Cybersecurity managers identify security gaps in systems, monitor them, and produce reports which are sent to the management department. Managers who opt for a cyber security career are in high demand and seen as experts in organizations. In essence, this is a technical role that involves being responsible for designing and implementing network security policies and procedures. Cyber security career managers also establish guidelines for transmitting information across organizational networks, test firewalls and data processing workflows, manage intrusion detection, and take care of priority threats immediately.
- Security Architect
Pursuing a cyber security career as a security architect involves designing, building, testing, and implementing testing strategies and protocols within organizations. A security architect gives a bird’s-eye-view of the organization’s security weaknesses and reviews their whole IT infrastructure. Most security architects require strong leadership and communication skills besides being excellent at their jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is a 5% employment growth in this cyber security career domain which is projected to occur between 2018 to 2028.
What Degree Is Required?
In general, a cyber security career professional must have a solid background in Computer Science fundamentals and hold a Bachelor’s Degree. Companies look for at least 2 years’ of work experience in specializations such as incident detection, penetration testing, and forensics. Individuals must have a keen eye for detail, be comfortable working in fast-paced environments, and stay up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity trends and practices in order to excel in this field. A majority of aspirants start their cyber security career as entry-level system administrators and slowly work their way up in the profession. To become a cyber security career specialist, it is recommended to get a Master’s Degree later or a Ph.D and have mastery of core security technologies and methodologies used by organizations to protect their assets.
There are many companies offering internships to students who can gain significant exposure and experience before deciding to make a cyber security career in the technology industry. To work as a cybersecurity professional in the U.S., individuals require a CompTIA+ Certification at the bare minimum. You can also take up the Stanford Advanced Cyber Security Program and learn from the world class leaders in Cybersecurity in the 6-month online course.
A Day in the Life of a Cybersecurity Professional
Cyber security career professionals usually spend their days looking at lines of codes, analyzing data, and monitoring security systems to actively scout for threats. However, this is a big generalization and a true day in the life of a professional depends on the role they’ve signed up for.
A Solution and Security Engineer is busy designing business use-case security solutions for organizations. On the other hand, a Cybersecurity consultant provides intellectual services to organizations by advising them on how to improve their security measures. Most professionals in a cyber security career spend 8 to 10 hours in the office and some work as small business owners.
There are 9 to 5 job opportunities available in this domain and those who want to work on their own terms go the freelancing route. Every job role is unique and the number of hours one clocks in depends on where they currently are in their careers. The best way to learn fast is by approaching a mentor and learning from their cyber security career experiences.
5 Reasons to Choose a Cyber security Career
Here are 5 good reasons why individuals prefer choosing a cyber security career in technology:
- Unlimited Career Growth – Cyber security career jobs and opportunities present unlimited career growth options since aspirants are continuously learning and staying at the top of the field. Every day there are new threats emerging and various technologies being released. Cyber security career professionals have to be specialists in an area and wear many hats when it comes to protecting organisational assets and maintaining their security operations. Aspirants have a burning passion for excelling in what they do as a result of that which means they’re always honing their skills.
- Amazing Variety – Security analysts and professionals sometimes don’t know where their cyber security career takes them. From building security systems for cars, robots, and Fortune 500 companies, the surprises are limitless since there are millions of users browsing cyberspace. Most organizations conduct their businesses online and do transactions digitally, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, which means they’re always on the lookout for professionals who can guarantee their security in the digital world.
- Fun Solving Different Challenges – The cool part about pursuing a cyber security career is the fact that aspirants have to leverage Big Data and Network Security to solve real-world challenges. They face a variety of puzzles throughout their careers and there’s plenty of avenues for engagement. When you have a thriving cyber security career, there is never a boring day at the firm or office. Security professionals also work on identifying new risks and find opportunities for creating security measures for various organizations. Every challenge is unique which is what makes a cyber security career path very interesting.
- Excellent Job Security – You never have to worry about running out of employment options when it comes to cyber security career paths. The technological landscape is growing with the internet which means companies will always be dependent on security professionals to handle various levels of their infrastructure.
- Good Pay – In India, cyber security career heads of companies can attract packages as high as INR 2 crores to 4 crores. Salaries in the U.S. go upwards of $200,000 a year depending on the skills and experiences one possesses. The financial opportunities present in this field are abundant and there’s no denying that aspirants make a decent living once they command the right skillets and certifications.
How Do You Know That Cybersecurity is Right for You?
There is no secret answer to this but we believe that having an understanding of your interests, hobbies, and personal values is important to making sure they align with your cyber security career goals. For individuals who enjoy solving problems and a variety of challenges, cybersecurity offers them avenues for exploring different trains of thought. Successful cybersecurity analysts are curious, inquisitive, and learning on a daily basis.
There is no stopping them and they are excellent at making informative decisions by pulling the experience gained from studying enormous volumes of data. Work positions in organizations are dynamic by nature for cyber security career job roles and having a clear sense of direction is a must in order to adapt and keep up with emerging requirements.
Personality Traits Found in Cyber Security Career Professionals
There are those who succeed in a cyber security career and those who don’t. The difference is in their mindset and personality traits. Here are the dominant personality traits found in cyber security career professionals that makes them A+ players in what they do. If you have any of them, you can rest assured that a cyber security career is a good match for you.
- Diligence – In a competitive environment that is bombarded with malicious threats, individuals have to stay on their toes and have an eye for detail. Cyber security career professionals are always working to finish projects before deadlines and surpass expectations. They have a flair for believing in themselves, recognizing their own achievements, and work towards making a huge impact.
- Composure – When an enterprise is under attack, losing one’s composure can cost an organization billions of dollars. Everybody faces the pressure and the same goes for a cyber security career professional. Individuals need to be able to maneuver through high-stress situations and solve problems while facing incoming threats.
- Problem-Solving Skills and Scientific Analysis – Every challenge faced by an organization is unique, like a puzzle. A dominant trait is to look forward to these challenges and confidently solve them. Problem solving and critical thinking skills go hand-in-hand when opting for a cyber security career path.
- Imagination and Creativity – Cyber security career professionals are inquisitive thinkers, day dreamers, and curious minds. A successful candidate images a variety of possibilities and prepares to expect them when they aren’t even coming. They’re great at figuring things out on their own, very self-driven, and motivated.
- Humble and Modest – Cyber security career experts are known to be humble and modest, two traits the best seem to exhibit. This is because maintaining a low-profile is key to conducting investigations and they cannot afford to stand out.
- Responsiveness – These three traits are tied together since cyber security career solutions deal with solving real-world problems. There are times when a breach happens when everybody is under suspicion. It’s up to them to clear the air, be upfront with the team about security practices, and communicate what’s going on behind the scenes. If a company accidentally interacts with phishing emails, these professionals are quick to respond to them and mitigate threats.
Ever since the beginning of the digital age, cybercrimes have been on the rise and new threats are being created. Cyber security career professionals are tasked with the duty to protect organizations and generously paid to do so. If you’ve been thinking about pursuing a cybersecurity career, hopefully our post gave you enough information to make a key decision moving forward. Join the Stanford Advanced Cyber Security Program and upskill today. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.0