If you’re looking for a new career that will give your work more meaning and challenge, a cyber security career is an exciting option. Cyber security specialists work on the front lines of a thriving global industry, addressing advanced cyber threats, protecting businesses and their customers, and developing deep technical expertise along the way.
Beginning a career in cyber security also provides a future-proof career path. Cybersecurity specialists are in high demand in the United States, and the number of cyber security jobs is growing exponentially — but there are not enough trained professionals to fill these cyber security jobs. Indeed, the Cyber security Ventures 2019 Cybersecurity Almanac predicts that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cyber security jobs globally by 2021.
With an ever-expanding scope, the cyber security industry offers significant opportunities for both entry-level and experienced professionals — it’s also a path to meaningful and rewarding work.
Additionally, the Coronavirus increased the demand for cyber security skills. According to one report, approximately 80% of cyber security threats now leverage COVID-19, and coronavirus themes have been used in nearly all types of cyberattacks, including business email compromise (BEC), credential phishing, malware, and spam email campaigns. Cyber security experts have never been more critical than they are today in order to safeguard businesses, individuals, and their data during this global crisis.
However, it is not always clear how to enter the cyber security industry — or what it entails.
There are numerous unanswered questions in the cybersecurity industry.
What do cyber security professionals do? What skills are required to work as a cyber security analyst? Where should your job search begin? What are entry-level positions in cyber security? What does an entry-level cyber security position pay? Even better, how much do experienced cyber security professionals earn?
Furthermore, why is cyber security critical?
We’ve compiled insights, tips, and everything else you should know about cyber security in this Cyber Security Careers Guide with our Head of Education, Dr. Bret Fund — formerly of SecureSet Academy — based on his years of experience in the field.
What cybersecurity skills do you require?
If you have a technical background, cyber security offers some excellent opportunities. For instance, IT professionals and military security specialists frequently make the transition to cyber security in search of a new challenge and a fulfilling, stimulating — and occasionally more lucrative! — career.
However, if you lack a technical background, this career field is not closed to you. Indeed, it is readily available, and the cyber security industry is in desperate need of you! Numerous cyber security career paths do not require a technical skillset for entry-level positions, and you can develop technical skills as you advance in the field. That is why soft skills are critical in the cyber world.
Companies will hire individuals for cyber security roles based on their ability to demonstrate the necessary skills, which becomes more important than having an advanced university degree.
The best advice is to begin by determining which career path you wish to pursue and then equipping yourself with the necessary cyber security skills.
Career paths in cybersecurity
When the majority of people consider cyber security, the first image that comes to mind is that of a movie hacker – a rogue character in a hoodie typing furiously at a glowing screen in a dark room, attempting to hack into a government or corporate computer system.
Indeed, there are “hacker” jobs available in the cyber security industry — they are referred to as Pen Testers. These are essentially “ethical hackers” hired to attempt to compromise an organization’s systems and identify vulnerabilities in order to predict and prevent future threats. Businesses hire Pen Testers to form “red teams” to assess their systems in order to prevent future cyberattacks and serious asset loss or data breaches.
This is an exciting and critical career path in cyberspace, but it is not the only one! There are numerous additional cyber security jobs available in the industry. In broad strokes, cyber security jobs can be classified into two broad categories: analysts and engineers.
To appreciate the fundamental distinctions between cyber security analysts and engineers, consider the computer network of a business as a Formula 1 race car.
Cyber security analysts are similar to F1 drivers in that they are constantly monitoring the car’s operation and the environment. They understand when something is wrong with the car (i.e. the computer network) and when something is wrong with the way it functions, but they have no idea how to get under the hood and fix it.
Cyber security engineers are similar to Formula One engineers in that they understand the nuts and bolts of how the car’s systems operate. They design the systems that enable the car to operate efficiently (i.e. the computer network), have a technical understanding of how to resolve issues, and ensure that the system is fine-tuned and functioning properly.
The wonderful thing about the cyber security industry is that it allows for multiple entry points and subsequent pivots. For instance, if you lack a technical background, you may wish to begin as a cyber security analyst and then transition into engineering after completing additional education. As your career progresses, cyber security provides the flexibility and freedom to transition and try new things.
Thus, how do you enter the field of cyber security? You can choose based on the type of work you’re interested in and the skills you currently possess.