What You Need to Know About a Career in Cybersecurity
As we continue to evolve and become a more digital world, the need for cybersecurity is also increasing. In addition, the demand for qualified personnel to fill specialized positions is also expected to increase as well. If you’re interested in the field of cybersecurity but aren’t sure which role is right for you, it’s okay. Since there’s a wide variety of jobs within the niche, it’s important to know what they are and if you have matching qualifications.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is how IT professionals keep information, network and applications safe from hackers. Some of the most vulnerable entities include hospitals, financial institutions and retailers. In addition to traditional hackers who gain access into these systems, we also need protection from bots, adware, spyware and ransomware. Any of these threats can not only destroy a company or medical facilities records, but also breach clients’ personal information and even steal money from accounts. For this reason, the need for qualified security specialists continues to grow.
Entry Level Position
If you’re just entering the field, you may want to apply for an IT position to get your feet wet. These roles include network administrator, IT help desk support and software developer. If you’ve just completed your degree, or have previous experience, you can also apply to be a junior information analyst. You’ll need to understand cloud computing and have at the very least, rudimentary IT skills. It’s important to note that this role typically requires you to hold a college degree in either Information Technology or Cybersecurity. If paying for tuition is an issue, you can apply for student loans through a private lender to earn your degree. Private lenders have a variety of repayment options to fit your budget and usually lower interest rates overall.
Once you earn your degree, there are a number of positions you can have in the field. If you choose security engineering, you’ll use your skills and knowledge to construct online defense architectures. Some of the most important skills you need to possess include:
- Critical thinking
- IT networking and computation
- Excellent Communication
You’ll also need to possess the following certifications, which include CISSP, SSCP and CompTIA, to name a few.
Incident Response Team
If you work well and thrive under pressure, becoming an incident responder might be right for you. In this position, you’ll monitor a company’s digital networks to identify areas of threat. If found, you’ll be the individual who responds to investigate any possible breeches. To thrive in this role, you should have an eye for detail, be well-versed in technical writing, and have extensive knowledge about forensic software programs. You also need to possess specific certifications including CCFE, ECIH and GCIH. All three of these pertain to incident handling and forensic examination.
As you gain valuable experience in your current role, you may even want to advance in your career. You can either stay within your current company or look for more fruitful positions elsewhere. Some of the most common positions in upper management. Cybersecurity managers are responsible for the company's entire computing systems. In addition to the responsibilities set forth for this role, you may also be in charge of other teams, such as entry-level security and IT teams.
The most senior-level position you can hold is a chief information security officer. In this position, you are considered a C-level employee. You’ll be in charge of operations, financial planning and budgets and the creation and management of security policies. In addition to holding a degree, usually graduate, you’ll need to possess excellent leadership skills, have comprehensive understanding of risk management strategies, and be able to work in a position of authority while still being collaborative with others.
If you prefer to work for yourself, you can still have a lucrative career in this field. It’s not uncommon for those who’ve worked in cybersecurity to branch out on their own as consultants. If you choose to go this route, you’ll work with companies who need someone to test their current security systems and give recommendations on how they can improve. Similar to working full-time for a corporation, consultants need to be proactive in their testing for potential breaches in data. Consulting may be the right choice if you want to work to be your own boss. To be successful, you should have a deep understanding of vulnerability testing, know how to offset any potential threats and have comprehensive knowledge of encryption.
Experienced cybersecurity professionals have an enormous earning potential, even if you’re just entering the field. And as you advance in your career, your annual salary will also increase as well. To give a better idea of your earning potential, entry-level employees could earn as much as $59,000 a year whereas chief information officer’s nets as much as $200,000. Keep in mind that the exact figures are determined by the company you work for, your role and your skillset.