The first and perhaps most important thing to know about cybersecurity jobs is there is a growing number of them throughout the world. The demand is high and there is an immediate need to add new members to this profession. That has also kicked up the types of training available to help individuals enter into this exciting profession. Here is a closer look at everything you need to know about cybersecurity jobs.
Various cybersecurity jobs call for specific certifications. These sometimes have a greater precedent than college degrees. That is because there is a specialization required in all cybersecurity jobs and a certification tests the knowledge of cybersecurity professionals in certain areas. It is sometimes a catch-22 because training is needed to pass these certification exams, thereby requiring individuals to invest in some type of formal education.
Cybersecurity academic programs typically advertise the fact that they prepare students to pass the pertinent industry certifications. The majority of cybersecurity job postings will list requirements and that often includes specific certifications. Experienced cybersecurity professionals tend to have multiple certifications, although there are some basic ones that help those starting out on this career path. Here is a look at some of the more popular certifications held by professionals in the cybersecurity industry.
- CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) – This certification is needed to attain entry-level positions. This is one of the foundations of a cybersecurity professional that allows individuals to get their foot in the door of this industry.
- CompTIA – There are a variety of CompTIA certifications as its Security+ credential is excellent for those starting out in the profession. Many bootcamps and certificate courses train students in the essentials needed to pass the CompTIA Security+ certification, as well as a host of others.
- CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) – A concentration on risk, management, governance and compliance is at the heart of this certification.
- CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) – This certification includes a concentration on auditing as well as the control, assessment and monitoring of information systems. Another respected certification, holding a CISA can help advance the career of a cybersecurity professional.
- GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) – This is a different type of certification that indicates that an individual possesses technical capabilities in a very hands-on manner. Holding this certification denotes expertise in forensics and intrusion detection.
- CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) – This is one of the most widely-recognized certifications as it can be a segue to upper-level positions and higher salaries. Many cybersecurity positions with the Department of Defense require this certification.
Cybersecurity Job Training
Starting a cybersecurity position is unlike many others. While there is on-the-job training, there is a certain set of skills and a knowledge base that must already exist. This is a very specific industry and without a sound grasp of the fundamentals and general concepts, an individual will not be able to carry out job duties, even at an entry-level position. The educational pathways to becoming a cybersecurity professional exist down a few different avenues. For those looking to fast track their educational journey, cybersecurity bootcamps are available. These are rigorous 24 to 36-week courses that pack a ton of information into an array of class sessions. There are also Bachelor and Master Degree options for those looking to take a more conventional path. However, the end goal of each option is to be equipped enough to pass certification exams and handle the day-to-day job duties involved with cybersecurity positions.
On-the-job learning does take place, although companies are always looking for new hires who already have an established set of skills. New employees can be trained in a variety of areas, but need to have the appropriate cybersecurity background to begin working in their specific role. Therefore, those who are interested in a career in cybersecurity should expect to undergo some type of educational training en route to employment. Nevertheless, the need for cybersecurity professionals has shortened the time frame that exists between the start of education and the point in which an individual is hired.
Types of Cybersecurity Jobs
There is an array of cybersecurity jobs that are vital to the success of an organization. Some of those positions may seem somewhat similar, although there are nuances that make each job unique in itself. Here is a look at some of the common cybersecurity positions available.
A systems administrator position is often considered an entry-level position, presuming the candidate has adequate training. The systems administrator oversees the setup and maintenance of a system. The other job duties include monitoring system performance, network communication, while also setting up any necessary repairs to faulty hardware. This management of the system is expected to be maintained on a daily basis as that could also require the installation of hardware, setting up security policy and having the capability of troubleshooting any mishaps with the system. There is a significant amount of responsibility at entry level, although that indicates the significance of cybersecurity positions.
Average Annual Salary: $58,936 to $80,360 (ZipRecruiter)
A network administration holds the duty of maintaining an organization’s network on a day-to-day basis. This involves attending to any issues that may occur, such as the installation and repair of any necessary hardware or software. Monitoring network performance is another daily objective, as well as problem solving for employees in regard to their own system. Larger organizations have a number of network administrators working for them and qualified candidates may expect to land this type of position right out of college. There is an analytical aspect involved as network administrators are constantly analyzing the organization’s network. And while this may seem like a similar job to a systems administrator, each position has different roles.
Average Annual Salary: $69,182 (ZipRecruiter)
This job requires individuals to remain one step ahead of hackers and potential attackers. This requires constant learning as cybersecurity specialists are entrusted with the task of identifying the security measures that should be in place. Cybersecurity specialists also detail these measures to other employees in a way that it can be understood. CA specialist will also diagnose possible security threats and risks. That would, in turn, lead them to develop strategies to defend against attackers. The continued testing of security methods and strategies remains an ongoing chore. Cybersecurity specialists are sometimes referred to as cybersecurity technicians and play a key role in overseeing a company’s daily activity. It is important to have a strong grasp of network systems when taking on this kind of position.
Average Annual Salary: $92,00 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
This is a unique position because the needs of a specific company more clearly define the role. Different analyst positions come with different profiles. For example, an IP (information protection) analyst typically attends to duties pertaining to data loss protection. A person in this position does not need to be as technically sound, but must have a firm grasp of business practices because their duties involve assessing abnormal business behaviors. For the most part, cybersecurity analysts run security assessments as well as security audits. These tasks help in updating an organization’s incident response plan. It is basically an ongoing task of assessing security, identifying weaknesses so that the overall security can be strengthened.
Average Annual Salary: $99,730 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
This is a popular and necessary job in the cybersecurity industry. A Penetration tester conducts security tests and ethical hacking in an effort to identify the weaknesses with an organization’s network and system. After these tests are completed, pen testers will produce reports showing the results and communicate the findings to staff members. Pen testers also consult with staff members to explain testing results while also recommending ways to mitigate those issues. Pen testers are able to locate vulnerabilities within software and applications and their performance is a proactive form of risk analysis. These efforts could lead to the prevention of significant attacks on an organization’s system.
Median Annual Salary: $103,000 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
This position requires a thorough information security audit of an organization. Information security audits identify vulnerabilities in a system while the primary objective is to determine the overall health of a system. Auditors need to understand the specifics of the entity in order to identify risks, threats and vulnerabilities. That will require some research or pre-existing knowledge into the organization itself. Many large organizations conduct regular security audits as a precautionary measure as well as a way of maintaining their corporate system. This requires a security auditor to be well-versed in a variety of areas. There are entry-level positions available for security auditors, although more experienced auditors demand a higher fee. Internal auditors are typically on the higher end of that pay scale as they are normally hired as a consultant and not an in-house hire.
Average Annual Salary: $60,000 to $80,000 (Infosec Institute)
Being an incident responder is an important job as these individuals are dispatched when there is an attack. However, that role is not limited to times of extreme crises. When an issue occurs, these are the individuals who are called upon to come to the rescue. For that reason, incident responders need to have extensive knowledge of firewalls and regulating traffic flowing into an internal network. Understanding DDoS attacks is another requisite as incident responders need to know how to mitigate attacks. Incident responders also conduct penetration tests and security audits, as well as risk analysis. There is a wide range of salaries for incident responders as some can climb well over $100k per year.
Average Annual Salary: $92,000 (Infosec Institute)
This is more of an advanced-level position as a cryptographer uses algorithms for the purpose of encrypting sensitive data. The job duties also extend to setting up secure systems for the software. There are also crypto-analyst jobs which are closely related. These positions require the decoding of data through the use of mathematical encryption to make the text readable. This is a very technical position, one that requires extensive training. The top-end cryptography jobs are usually found in New York City as those annual salaries can approach the $200K mark. Location plays a key role in the annual salary amount as does the type of entity. Government agencies and larger organizations typically require the services of a cryptographer.
Median Annual Salary: $149,040 (ZipRecruiter)
These individuals are entrusted with the chore of building a system or a network and then maintaining it as well. Developing security policies is a corresponding task as cybersecurity engineers install necessary hardware and firewalls while also supervising any changes. This job is described as a frontline type of position in which engineers construct ways to safeguard against threats, whether it involves the system or the network. Each position has a different set of roles and responsibilities. The position is sometimes referred to as an information security engineer. There are other types of cybersecurity engineers and they include data security engineers, and information assurance engineers. There are nuances to each role, although the general responsibilities and duties remain relatively similar.
Average Annual Salary: $106,000 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
This position is often referred to as an IT security manager and the job duties may differ, according to the size of an organization. There are also different types of cybersecurity managers. Technical managers oversee security systems, which include encryption, pen testing, firewalls and more. Managers typically lead a team that is entrusted with the configuration and deployment of the system. A program manager takes on a role that is more strategic in nature. This involves more engagement in mitigation and risk management. Many times, job duties extend to overseeing teams that deal with data privacy problems and third-party risk. Monitoring the system, conducting audits and working with teams to reduce risk are also objectives of all cybersecurity managers.
Average Annual Salary: $136,625 (ZipRecruiter)
Information Systems (IT) Manager
An IS manager is in charge of a team of IT professionals. Most IS managers have a specific area of focus. That could mean one IS manager is in charge of network security while another manager may be in charge of Internet services. However, the general duties pertain to the information systems. The role requires managers to plan, install and maintain upgrades of software and hardware. This is far from an entry-level position, but rather one that requires experience. IS managers may also be tasked with recruiting and training employees. IS managers typically have to put a disaster recovery plan in place and most organizations require them to conduct regular audits. This position is an all-encompassing one as IS managers have to attend to a lot of different job duties. It is a position that is helped immensely by gaining experience in other cybersecurity roles. The pay is also rather lucrative across the board.
Median Annual Salary: $146,360 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Systems analysts spend a good deal of their time diagnosing issues with database programs as well as resolving user issues. The job also involves advising management on the specific areas of productivity. This requires technical skills as well as the ability to engage in interpersonal communication. There is also a need to stay updated on the latest technologies so that infrastructures can be updated and employees can be adequately trained. Most job listings for a systems analyst call for a Bachelor’s Degree in cybersecurity or computer science. There are different levels of systems analysts as more experienced ones are typically allotted more responsibilities within an organization. There are entry-level systems analyst jobs available, but more experience allows individuals to demand a higher annual salary.
Median Annual Salary: $90,920 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Demand for Cybersecurity Jobs
One of the reasons that there is an ever-expanding need for new cybersecurity professionals is due to the rise in cybercrime. According to the FBI, cybercrime has escalated by 300 percent since the beginning of 2020. That compounds the already high number of annual cybercrimes. These crimes result in the loss of millions of dollars for large organizations. Security breaches increased by 11 percent in 2019 and those numbers just keep going up. That bodes well for cybersecurity professionals as a growing need will demand more jobs and higher pay.
Compared to other industries, cybersecurity holds a greater need for jobs. Even a dip in demand would put the number of open cybersecurity positions far ahead of many other sectors. Also, consider the number of targets for hackers grows every day. Most people own multiple devices and most businesses rely on employees who utilize multiple devices. That expands the target for hackers and implores for a stronger line of defense against attacks.
The reliance on technology is greater than ever as it seems as though the entire world is now online. Local, state and national economies rely on technology for so much of their functionality. That expands the need for an adequate defense and opens up new roles for cybersecurity. And since cybersecurity is still a relatively young industry, there has yet to be an overlap of generational workers that inundate the job market. Most financial transactions are also conducted online and protection from attacks is no longer relegated to actual bank volts and physical security. Money now resides in data and hacking is a new type of theft in which businesses of all kinds are susceptible. That means traditional security teams have been replaced by cybersecurity teams and specialists. In the digital age, cybersecurity professionals act as a much-needed line of defense.
Cybersecurity Job Projections
Those who invest in a career in cybersecurity have more job security than most other professions. With no unemployment rate, qualified cybersecurity professionals have a wide range of options. The industries that are required to follow compliance regulations continue to grow and part of maintaining that compliance is having a qualified IT team. Without it, companies could be subject to large fines. Comparitech has estimated that the cybersecurity job growth will increase by 32% by the year 2028.
The advent of AI is not going to eliminate the need for cybersecurity professionals as more than three-fourths of IT departments already use some form of AI or automation. There are different projections for the growth rate of each individual cybersecurity and, as a whole, there expects to be a continued boom in the available jobs. The main issue has been that there is not enough qualified individuals to fill all those vacancies.
High Annual Cybersecurity Salaries
A recent study conducted by Comparitech showed that the average cybersecurity salary is $92,728. The state of Virginia posted the highest annual salary for cybersecurity professionals at $111,780. The lowest of all states was Maine where cybersecurity professionals still earned an average of $82,220 per year. These salaries do not require years and years of schooling, although some form of education is generally needed to begin rising through the ranks of the cybersecurity industry. Ongoing education is also important in this sector due to its fluid and innovative nature.
Applying for a Cybersecurity Job
When applying for any cybersecurity position, it is important to provide proof of certifications. This will accompany the proof of a complete education. However, since cybersecurity is always evolving, many employers want to know how an individual has been staying up on the latest industry trends. This can be accomplished by attending workshops, seminars while also engaging in continuing education. There is always something new to learn in the world of cybersecurity and it is important to show prospective employers that these skills are being learned.
Networking is also another key component of landing a cybersecurity job. Word of mouth could wind up being the source that connects an individual to his/her cybersecurity job. The cybersecurity community is one that shares a unique language and is not something outsiders can fake their way through. Getting involved in the cybersecurity community could open some new doors and pint the way to employment.