It seems like there's news of a security breach every other day. So much of our personal data is online, and cybercriminals are eager to take advantage of it. Cybersecurity professionals are on the front lines of this fight, helping organizations and individuals keep their information secure and defended against constantly evolving threats.
Cybersecurity is an exciting field with a highly in-demand job market. One recent survey found that 57% of organizations had unfilled cybersecurity positions on their team. To help you learn more about what it takes to become a cybersecurity professional, we'll explore what it takes to enter the field and some of its most popular roles.
The path to a cybersecurity career
The first step on your path to a cybersecurity career is education. Cybersecurity professionals need to have a broad educational base, including knowledge of:
- Cybersecurity standards
- Cyber threats
- Network security
- Device security
- Programming languages
While discussing cybersecurity in our forums, Carolyn Y., one of our Curriculum Developers, expands on the last point, explaining how:
"An all-around cybersecurity expert ideally knows a little of every language. However, there are specific languages to prioritize depending on different areas of expertise."
6 in-demand cybersecurity careers
Cybersecurity careers are varied, and there's an option for every personality and work style. Let's look at some of the options.
Cryptography involves using encryption to protect information. For example, if you had a diary as a kid that you wrote in code so your parents couldn't read it, that's a basic form of cryptography.
Security systems use cryptography to encrypt sensitive information to prevent bad actors like cybercriminals from reading it. Healthcare, financial, business, military, and personal information all need to be protected. Cryptographers use a variety of encryption techniques to help us do so. According to ZipRecruiter, cryptographers make an average of $145,356 per year in the U.S.
2. Penetration Tester
Penetration Testers, also known as ethical hackers, help organizations identify their vulnerabilities by attempting to breach their cybersecurity defenses. To do so, they use various techniques to test systems, including phishing and social engineering.
Phishing involves using email to trick employees into downloading or revealing sensitive information. Social engineering is similar, but instead of sending an email, you gather information in person by posing as a new employee, a repair person, or someone else who could easily be able to infiltrate an organization. In the U.S., Penetration Testers make an average of $86,012 per year, according to Payscale.
3. Security Engineer
Security Engineers design secure systems and software. They assess potential threats, develop solutions to combat those threats, and then implement those solutions. They also identify when systems have been hacked, assess the damage, and improve their systems accordingly.
A Security Engineer's role tends to be collaborative, so it's a good fit for someone who likes to work in a team environment. They also need strong problem-solving skills and the ability to work well when the pressure is high. The average salary for a security engineer is $93,931, according to Payscale.
4. Security Administrator
A Security Administrator does many of the same tasks as a Security Engineer. The primary difference is that Security Administrators are often fully responsible for the network as a whole. Along with monitoring their systems for threats, testing for vulnerabilities, and installing solutions, they also train newer employees and develop policies.
The average salary for a Security Administrator is $91,661 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.
5. Forensic Computer Analyst
Forensic Computer Analysts are essentially detectives who use digital data to solve crimes. Their work requires patience and dedication, as it typically takes much longer than you might think to find the necessary data.
Forensic Computer Analysts might also work for private businesses to help improve security. The average salary for a forensic computer analyst is $74,896, according to Payscale.
6. Chief Information Security Officer
A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is an executive who oversees an organization's cybersecurity department. They're often responsible for staffing open cybersecurity positions, and they also coordinate with other executives to ensure their organization's security needs are met. They may also help develop disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
The average salary for a CISO is $173,684, according to Glassdoor.
Ready to get started with cybersecurity? There are several options for your first steps. For example, our Introduction to Cybersecurity course covers cybersecurity standards, cyber threats, cryptography, network security basics, and more.
You could also start by learning other essential skills, like the programming languages Carolyn recommended earlier in the article. To start learning those languages, use any of the courses below: