Careers In Cybersecurity: Which One Is Right For You? – Forbes

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As the need rises for secure and reliable computer infrastructure, software and networks, so does the demand for professionals to fill cybersecurity positions. Cybersecurity professionals play an integral role in protecting the privacy and confidentiality of sensitive data and personal information from cyberattacks and other prominent threats.

This article explores how to get into cybersecurity, including cybersecurity degree options and careers in cybersecurity.

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What Is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity involves the protection of information and data on computers, networks and electronic devices. Within the cybersecurity field, professionals anticipate, prevent and respond to attacks.

Nearly every industry takes cybersecurity measures to protect itself from leaks and breaches. Cybersecurity professionals may work with government organizations to safeguard military communications or with businesses to keep malicious actors from accessing financial records. Healthcare companies also use cybersecurity workers to protect their sensitive patient data. Large retailers shield customers’ credit card data with cybersecurity measures as well.

Cybersecurity intrusions have become a major problem, and cybersecurity professionals are needed to step up the defense. Demand reflects this. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for information security analysts to grow by 32% from 2022 to 2032, far outpacing the 3% projected growth for all U.S. occupations.

Why Is Cybersecurity Important?

As humans have become more reliant on technology, the prevalence and severity of cybercrimes have grown. For example, ransomware is a type of cyberattack that locks an individual’s or organization’s information until certain demands are met, including extorted payments. These attacks have affected financial, healthcare and education organizations, causing significant delays and leaks of information.

Cybersecurity remains important for anticipating, reacting and assessing cyberattacks. Professionals in this field study breaches and malicious actors to safeguard our most sensitive information and communications.

Career Paths in Cybersecurity

We sourced the below salary data from Payscale.

Cybersecurity Engineer

Average Annual Salary: Around $102,000
Education Needed: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, systems engineering or a closely related field
Career Overview: Cybersecurity engineers assess an organization’s security needs, assisting with establishing standards and best practices. These professionals design, implement and maintain secure network solutions to protect organizations’ data, networks and systems against cyberattacks, hackers and other threats. They conduct tests to identify vulnerabilities in networks and systems, respond to security breaches and ensure all defenses are up to date.

Information Security Analyst

Average Annual Salary: Over $77,000
Education Needed: Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, information security, computer science, programming or a closely related field
Career Overview: Information security analysts protect an organization’s computer networks, systems and databases from cyberattacks, data breaches and other threats. These professionals monitor information networks and computer infrastructure to identify vulnerabilities in digital security systems and secure sensitive information and data.

Information Security Manager

Average Annual Salary: Around $125,000
Education Needed: A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a closely related field
Career Overview: Cybersecurity managers are responsible for securing an organization’s computer networks and systems and protecting organizations from cyberattacks, hackers, viruses, malware and other threats.

These professionals carry out security measures, update current security systems and conduct regular audits to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. Information security managers train and supervise staff and collaborate with operations managers on their organization’s security strategy.

Information Technology Support Technician

Average Annual Salary: Around $51,000
Education Needed: Associate degree or postsecondary training; bachelor’s degree preferred for some positions
Career Overview: Information technology support technicians provide in-person and remote technical support to clients who need help setting up, maintaining and troubleshooting computer software and hardware problems. These professionals serve as the primary point of contact when a problem arises.

Network Engineer

Average Annual Salary: Around $80,000
Education Needed: A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field
Career Overview: A network engineer sets up and maintains networks within an organization or between organizations. These professionals maintain and improve the efficiency of current computer networks, which typically include wide area networks, local area networks, intranet and extranet. They may also design and implement new network solutions.

Network engineers troubleshoot, diagnose and resolve hardware, software and other issues that arise in networks and systems.

Systems Administrator

Average Annual Salary: Around $67,000
Education Needed: A bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, IT systems management or a related field
Career Overview: System administrators offer technical support services focused on servers and computer systems. These professionals are often the first point of contact within IT departments when technical-related issues arise. They ensure an organization’s computer systems are functioning smoothly.

Types of Cybersecurity Degrees

If you’re interested in earning a cybersecurity degree, there are various options available at every level. Students can choose programs format that best suits their schedule and learning style, including in-person, online and hybrid programs.

Associate Degree in Cybersecurity

An associate degree in cybersecurity typically requires 60 credit hours split between general education classes and major-specific courses with specialized cybersecurity training.

Some schools may categorize cybersecurity as a specialization within a broader information technology or computer science program. Other schools offer standalone cybersecurity programs.

Generally, it takes two years to complete an associate degree in cybersecurity. The curriculum typically covers the following topics:

  • Safe software development
  • IT administration and support services
  • Network and computer systems security
  • Information security
  • Cloud technology

Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity

A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity entails around 120 credit hours, which takes most learners four years of full-time study to complete. Some schools offer accelerated options, which take less time.

Bachelor’s in cybersecurity curricula allow students to learn fundamental theories and strategies regarding information technology and computing and information security. Learners develop fundamental IT skills and knowledge in risk mitigation, data analytics and information security. Coursework typically includes topics such as:

  • Security systems
  • Information systems
  • Cyberdefense
  • Information technology
  • Ethics, law and policy
  • Data communications and networking
  • Digital forensics
  • Information tech

Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity

Master’s programs in cybersecurity involve around 30 to 36 credit hours and generally take two years of full-time study to complete. Many master’s in cybersecurity programs include capstone projects that provide field experience or research opportunities. Curricula typically include courses on the following topics:

  • Cybersecurity theory
  • Cybersecurity management
  • Digital forensics
  • Cyberlaw and policy
  • Risk analysis
  • Cryptography
  • Network security

Doctorate in Cybersecurity

A doctorate in cybersecurity typically requires 60 credit hours and can take three to seven years to complete. Curricula for programs at this level cover cybersecurity research theory and practice, research design, dissertation research and writing.

Common course topics include professional research theory, advanced computer security and managing cybersecurity risk.

Cybersecurity degree programs at the doctoral level prepare students to pursue advanced careers in the information security field. Do​ctoral programs focus on high-level areas of research methodology, professional ethics, information assurance and leadership.

Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Cybersecurity bootcamps are comprehensive education programs that provide students with the foundational knowledge, practical training and fundamental skills needed to fill professional roles in cybersecurity. Bootcamps are accelerated, intensive options compared to traditional two-year or four-year degree programs.

Bootcamps’ rigorous curricula equip students to launch their cybersecurity careers. Cybersecurity bootcamps typically cover topics like computer forensics, network security and defense, risk management and cryptography. Many bootcamps prepare students to take cybersecurity certification exams.

Pros and Cons of Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Cybersecurity bootcamps equip students with the theoretical knowledge and practical, hands-on skills needed to fulfill the requirements and responsibilities of entry-level cybersecurity jobs and more advanced roles in the field. Bootcamps take significantly less time to complete than traditional degree programs and typically cost less as well.

On the other hand, some employers prefer to hire candidates who have traditional college degrees. Likewise, bootcamps are often too time-intensive to allow for students to continue working while enrolled. University programs, on the other hand, are often available on a part-time, asynchronous basis, providing enough flexibility to maintain a job while studying.

Cybersecurity Certifications

Cybersecurity professionals can earn industry certifications to illustrate their abilities and engagement with the field to hiring managers. The following list is not exhaustive, and cybersecurity professionals should research available credentials relating to their specific professions and aspirations.

CISSP: A CISSP certification, offered by (ISC)², indicates that its holder can successfully plan, deliver and oversee effective cybersecurity programs. This credential typically suits experienced professionals rather than entry-level cybersecurity workers.

CISA: This credential indicates mastery of auditing and monitoring companies’ business and IT systems. Entry-level and mid-career professionals can earn this ISACA certification to improve their IT knowledge and increase their salaries. ISACA reports an average salary of over $149,000 for individuals with CISA certification as of 2022.

CISM: The certified information security manager credential demonstrates high-level knowledge relating to risk assessment, incident management and security governance. Professionals looking to advance into management roles can pursue this certification, which requires continuing professional education credits to renew.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Careers in Cybersecurity

What are five careers in cybersecurity?

In addition to the careers listed above, five careers in cybersecurity include security architect, malware analyst, IT security consultant, security software developer and chief information security officer.

Are cybersecurity jobs high-paying?

Yes. Computing and information technology occupations, including cybersecurity, rank among the highest-paying and most in-demand careers.

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