Conquer the Job Market: Proven Strategies for Six Reasons to Consider a Career Change in Cybersecurity!
Cybersecurity is important as companies, businesses and governments need reliable protection to proceed with their activities online. Achieving success in this career path requires both acquiring an academic degree and branching out to expand your network. In this article, we discuss the profession and explain what makes cybersecurity a worthwhile career path.
What Does a Cybersecurity Specialist Do? A Definitive Guide
Cybersecurity is the practical application of technologies to secure systems, networks and programs from digital threats. If using technology in this way interests you, consider pursuing a career as a cybersecurity specialist. Learning more about what these careers can entail may also help you determine if training to become a cybersecurity specialist would suit your career goals. In this article, we define what a cybersecurity specialist is, discuss what they do, share four steps to help you become one and list potential roles to consider.
What is a cybersecurity specialist?
A cybersecurity specialist safeguards digital data. They prevent the loss of personal, financial or otherwise sensitive information from an organization, restrict viruses and cyber attackers from corrupting or accessing data and ensure the organization’s systems are fully operational. Cybersecurity specialists examine defense systems and provide reports based on the tests they run. They often possess a high degree of training and knowledge, allowing them to advise and train others regarding cybersecurity best practices and relevant technological advancements.
What does a cybersecurity specialist do?
Cyberattacks often attempt to access, corrupt or destroy sensitive information, extort money from users and interrupt standard business procedures. To stop these types of incidents, cybersecurity specialists regularly:
Develop, test, implement and research security systems
Assess and fix software bugs
Combat security threats and find potential vulnerabilities
Create risk prevention measures
Produce security reports for managers and administrators
Cybersecurity roles to explore
There are many ways cybersecurity experts can use their skills in the security and technology industries. Here are some cybersecurity-related positions to consider exploring:
Information security analyst
Information security analysts work to keep sensitive data safe. They create security plans or policies and help implement them. They may review and update the policies periodically to ensure that the safety measures remain relevant and that other members of the organization follow these measures correctly. Analysts track the outcomes of the policies they create to find potential vulnerabilities. An analyst may also conduct security training for other personnel.
Software security engineer
Software security engineers create firewalls and intrusion detection systems for organizations using coding and programming languages. They develop the framework for new software solutions and perform ongoing testing to help mitigate security issues. Security engineers also maintain records of their processes and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
A security architect identifies the strengths and vulnerabilities of a client’s computer system. To effectively detect the strategies a hacker might use to infiltrate systems, security architects combine reasoning and creative thinking to eliminate these vulnerabilities. They may also create budgets, allocate resources, manage security IT teams and generate security reports.
Penetration testers attempt to break through an organization’s security protections using hacking skills and tools. Their primary responsibility is to mimic a cyberattack to test a client’s security procedures and firewalls. Their conclusions are critical for the development of future system security policies. Penetration testers keep thorough records of their operations to provide reports detailing how they circumvented the security systems.
Chief information security officer
The primary duties of a chief information security officer include project management, general security management and vulnerability management. Security officers often possess strong organizational abilities and design measures to reduce identified security threats. They also lead employees in finding, creating, implementing and monitoring practices that reduce IT risks across the organization.
Information security crime investigator
An information security crime investigator investigates cyberattacks and determines who or what triggered them. Investigators work closely with law enforcement and other legal entities that rely on the experts’ extensive security assessments. They often recover data from computers used in court as evidence and may also testify in court when necessary.
Security consultants are independent contractors that provide network security expertise and advice to a variety of enterprises. They may organize meetings with different IT departments to resolve current and potential safety issues. Their work typically requires diverse technical, analytical, communication and computing abilities.
How to become a cybersecurity specialist
Here are four steps that may help you pursue a career as a cybersecurity specialist:
1. Earn a degree
Many cybersecurity jobs, which include a wide variety of work descriptions and responsibilities, require some sort of formal education. Professionals with a master’s degree, bachelor’s degree or an associate degree in cybersecurity may have an advantage when applying to roles as a cybersecurity expert. Technical degrees such as engineering, mathematics and computer science can also be extremely useful, especially if a job candidate also has relevant professional experience.
2. Obtain industry certification
Obtaining industry certification is an important part of pursuing a career as a cybersecurity specialist and staying relevant to the field. Consider the particular qualifications or certifications organizations often ask for in job listings. Here are six cybersecurity certifications professionals often obtain:
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): This is an advanced certification for cybersecurity experts who have a minimum of five years of work experience. Engineering, management and architecture are some topics this certification includes.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): This certification from the Institute of Supply Chain Management helps demonstrate your experience in identifying security vulnerabilities, planning and executing controls and reporting on compliance. Five years of security, quality assurance, IT audit, IS audit or control experience is necessary to qualify for the test.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): This certification addresses topics such as program creation, governance and risk management. Five years of expertise in information security management is necessary to take the CISM test.
Security+: The CompTIA Security+ certification is an entry-level security certification for cybersecurity professionals. The certification focuses on the concepts of threat analysis and risk management.
Network+: This basic certification concentrates on networking infrastructure and operations.
Certified Ethical Hacker: This certification is an advanced credential requiring several years of job experience. The purpose of this certification is to improve defense strategy and mitigation capabilities by learning how cyberattacks occur.
3. Gain experience
Obtaining a position as a cybersecurity specialist often requires demonstrating pertinent experience. You might do this by applying for an internship or finding relevant entry-level work experience. You can also enter cybersecurity competitions to test your skills against those of other learners and experts.
4. Network with other professionals
Expanding your professional network allows you to meet other cybersecurity professionals and learn from their expertise. Some professional cybersecurity career groups and organizations alert members about job openings and possibilities for professional growth. Local cybersecurity events and online seminars can also be helpful resources for connecting with fellow professionals, seeking career advice and learning about new developments in the field.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the process involved in protecting a mobile device, computer, server, network, electronic system and data from malicious attacks (cybercriminals.) An alternative term for this career is information technology or electronic information security, and it applies to a wide range of contexts, from mobile computing to business, and further divided into other categories. These categories include:
Application security involves keeping computer, mobile software and other devices safe from malicious attacks. This factor is essential as a compromised application can function as an entry point for cybercriminals to access essential data. Essentially, a company ensures software is secure before deploying it for public consumption.
Network security is the process of keeping a computer network safe and secure from intruders. These intruders can either be intentional hackers or opportunistic malware that aims to retrieve data and corrupt the system. This category is essential as organizations such as banks and corporations have private networks that are often the target of hackers.
Disaster recovery and business
This category determines the best steps and processes an organization executes after falling victim to a loss of data or a compromise in operations due to poor cybersecurity. These steps and processes decide how an organization can restore damaged data to return to the efficient operating capacity prior to the incident. The objective is to resume normal business activities and avoid future complications.
Operational security involves the decisions and processes related to protecting and managing data assets of an organization. A good example of this category is the permission users have when accessing a network and the procedures that relay how and where the computer stores the data. Ultimately, it is essential to the success of businesses and personal operations.
Aside from malware and malicious cybercriminals constantly attacking a server, people within the organization may also be hazardous to the system’s cybersecurity. Essentially, anyone can unintentionally inject a virus into a properly-secured system, thereby corrupting the company’s documents. End-user education teaches the users how to avoid suspicious emails, unverified USB drives and other components that are detrimental to the system’s security.
Reasons to change careers to cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is currently a growing field with an invaluable relevance to businesses today as the bulk of commercial and personal activities occur online. For a broader sense of why cybersecurity may be worth your while, here is what you need to know:
1. Cybersecurity requires minimal qualifications
Similar to software development, cybersecurity doesn’t require you to have a master’s degree or advanced, specialized courses to receive employment. This factor is due to the tech industry primarily being based on an individual’s abilities instead of their qualifications.
Essentially, not owning a degree won’t stop employers from assessing your application as cybersecurity doesn’t have a standardized requirement. Continue to hone an existing skill or develop new ones to demonstrate your effectiveness as a good employee.
2. Provides the potential for growth
A career in cybersecurity provides you with an unlimited potential to increase both your learning and career opportunities due to the ever-expanding scope. As time progresses in the field, cybersecurity requires you to acquire new knowledge regarding security and technology, further growing your abilities.
Ultimately, learning never stops irrespective of whether you aspire to become the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in your organization or directly interact with new and challenging technology.
3. There is a high demand
Honing your skills in cybersecurity and being employable presents you with high demand from employers. Firms desire the best protection for their data and software, and sufficient talent isn’t enough to cover this demand.
In fact, studies from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) discovered that 680,000 businesses have a technical skill gap, with only one in three having an advanced skill gap. This factor makes filling the vacancies for cybersecurity difficult as the knowledge and skill don’t meet employers’ expectations. Therefore, it’s best to possess sufficient knowledge about cybersecurity to secure a position with any reputable company.
4. Impressive salary prospects
Career paths are incomplete without mentioning the salary or financial compensation for the work, and fortunately, cybersecurity is a lucrative career. The average cybersecurity expert earns an average salary of $94,958 per year.
High-paying jobs in cybersecurity include:
Security manager: $106,835 per year
Penetration tester: $111,597 per year
Chief information officer: $111,267 per year
5. Remote work is commonplace in cybersecurity
Coupled with the high demand for cybersecurity experts and high salaries, you have the opportunity to manage your work-life balance without compromising your job duties. The liberty lets you move to another state or work from home, thereby increasing the convenience and your affinity for the career option.
Essentially, being a cybersecurity professional allows you to choose your desired lifestyle and follow through with almost no limitation from work. If limitations in your current occupation bring discomfort, transitioning to cybersecurity may be worth your while.
6. You can eventually opt for self-employment
The monthly salary associated with this profession is attractive, allowing you to handle financial issues more effectively. As time progresses and you desire to work independently, you can become an entrepreneur or a freelancer and create a business based on your skills and experiences.
Cybersecurity is a continuously expanding field that focuses on protecting organizations and their data from digital attacks from cybercriminals. This profession presents experts with diverse options, allowing them to employ their skills in the appropriate position.
Some of these positions include:
1. Information security consultant
Average national salary: $70,552 per year
Primary duties: An IT security consultant checks a company’s network, software, and computer systems for vulnerabilities, then constructs and employs the best security options for the establishment.
2. Incident manager
Average national salary: $82,494 per year
Primary duties: An incident manager responds to incidents by employing the necessary steps for restoring an organization’s systems to their default state. Essentially, they restore operations after a breach in security.
3. Cybersecurity analyst
Average national salary: $94,958 per year
Primary duties: A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for protecting an establishment l’s software, hardware, and networks from cybercriminals. They perform this action by understanding the company’s infrastructure to perform an accurate evaluation.
Related: How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst in 2021
4. Security engineer
Average national salary: $103,240 per year
Primary duties: Security engineers screen and test security software and networks for intrusions or breaches. These professionals often rectify threats early by looking at things from a security perspective and recommending enhancements for improved safety.
5. Security manager, IT
Average national salary: $106,835 per year
Primary duties: The IT security manager is responsible for directing a team of IT security professionals in executing processes and software that guarsd against cyber-attacks.
6. Information security specialist
Average national salary: $107,572 per year
Primary duties: This professional develops strategies to secure computer files against cybercriminals and their attacks. The specialist accomplished this goal by upgrading the anti-virus software, installing malware protection, encrypting data transmissions, and many more.
7. Chief information officer
Average national salary: $111,267 per year
Primary duties: A chief information officer (CIO) is a corporation’s executive that coordinates the implementation, management, and usability of computer technologies and information.
8. Chief information security officer
Average national salary: $111,267 per year
Primary duties: A chief information security officer (CISO) is the company’s executive that’s responsible for maintaining and establishing the corporation’s cybersecurity goals. This task involves leading teams to keep company information assets and technologies protected at all times.
9. Penetration tester
Average national salary: $111,597 per year
Primary duties: Also known as an Ethical Hacker, Penetration testers are well-trained professionals that dedicate time to breach a company’s computer and network security systems. This action allows them to identify potential weaknesses in the system.
10. Senior information security analyst
Average national salary: $115,159 per year
Primary duties: The senior information security analyst is responsible for identifying and rectifying information risk across the enterprise. The fortification encompasses bank networks, applications, systems, and more.
Required skills in cybersecurity
Soft skills are a necessity in most professions, and cybersecurity is no exception to this face. Before venturing into this career, it’s best to assess yourself to see if you possess or can build the necessary skills for success. These skills include:
Updated information on security across diverse platforms
Attention to detail
Basic computer forensics skills
Ability to meet tight deadlines
Good time management skills
Ability to think outside the box
Ability to work as a tea,
Effective communication skills