Not so long ago, information technology was the most in-demand career, and a cyber security career path was almost unheard of. As technology advanced, it brought with it sophisticated cybercrimes on a platter, literally.
2017 was the year that saw several cyber attacks on crucial institutions’ websites, including the CIA, Ukraine’s Central Bank, and U.K’s National Health Service, among others. Before that, giant businesses like Yahoo and Target Corporation had already suffered their fair share of attacks. It was high time attention shifted from the glamour of big data, IoT, and other inventions that the internet brought to matters security.
Due to this, the demand for information security skills is high and rising. As it is, no company, large or small, and individual is spared when it comes to cybercrimes. Cyber security has become such a concern that it tops the list among CEOs in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has established the demand rate of information security jobs to be 37% from 2012 to 2022.
What is Cyber Security?
In simple terms, cyber security is the exercise of protecting computer systems from attacks. Such attacks are usually aimed at gaining unauthorized access, destroying, altering, disrupting, and gaining control of information or operations to extort money from victims. Some aspects of cyber security include network, systems, applications, information, and operational security.
For this reason, there is a need for an effective security strategy that will not only guard these systems effectively from such attacks but also detect them before they occur.
Cyber Security Job Market Trends
- Demand for generalist job roles relating to cybersecurity is fading off gradually and being replaced by specialized roles. Demand for artificial intelligence, IT Security forensics, and IoT security skills continue to rise as the industry takes a more pre-emptive approach.
- Regulated industries like financial institutions, government operations, retail trade, energy, healthcare, are among those with higher career prospects in the cyber security field. This is due to the legal security regulations that bind their operations thanks in part to the fact that they handle massive consumer information.
- Cloud security is among the IT security fields with high demand as more data and operations move to both public and private cloud platforms. Much as the security of cloud services was vested on the service providers, more industry players are joining the bandwagon to address the security matter as a whole.
- While it is possible to opt into the information security without a strong educational background, the job market values education and experience. 84% of employers will set a bachelor’s degree, particularly in Information technology or computer science, and at least three years of industry experience as the minimum requirement of their job postings.
- After the education qualification and work experience, 35% of employers are likely to use certifications as a criterion for acquiring the best skills.
- Employers are already warming up to the idea of including security clearance in their list of requirements. 10% of cybersecurity posts need a security clearance. 10% of these roles, however, take time to be filled.
- With the Fortune 500 companies setting the pace, the information security employment landscape is transforming rapidly as more women take up senior positions. It was projected that by 2019, 20% of the CISO roles in Fortune 500 companies would be filled by women in a bid to embrace a gender-inclusive culture in the industry.
Top Cyber Security Jobs and Their Salary Prospects
Engineering, analyst, and architect related roles seem to be at the top of the cyber security demand list. However, managerial and supervision roles never seem to lose their special place in all these. As a skilled cybersecurity professional, you stand to get at the least $100,000 annual pay from the best-paying companies in the United States.
According to a 2014 report by Burning Glass Technologies, engineering, managerial/administration, analyst, technician, architect, auditor, and consultant job roles were the most advertised in that order. However, newer roles like security consultant, security liaison, and risk management are fast picking up as the industry shifts to specialization.
Based on the survey by Indeed of the top best-paid cybersecurity job titles in the U.S.
|Job Title||Average annual salary|
|CISO (Chief Information Security Officer)||$175,464|
|Application Security Engineer||$128,128|
|Director of Information Security||$127,855|
|Senior Security Consultant||$126,628|
|Chief Information Officer||$103,690|
Career Growth in Cyber Security
In a cybersecurity workforce study conducted by (ISC)2 on October 2018, it was projected that by 2019, the industry would be short of 3 million cyber security professionals. Another report by Cybersecurity Ventures predicted a 3.5 million shortfall by 2021. Going by this trend, it would be right to infer that the demand for cybersecurity professionals is here to stay.
What does this mean for individuals desiring to venture into a career in cybersecurity?
Positive outlook, right?
However, these 5 important factors will help shape the cyber security professional.
- Formal Education
While it is not cast in stone that you have a degree to pursue a career in cybersecurity and honestly not many started at this point, employers still have some value attached to a bachelor’s degree.
With a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a degree in a related field like computer science or information technology, you will have started your career on a high note and with an added advantage.
The one challenge that the cyber security field faces is a wide skills gap. This has resulted in high demand for professionals and a talent pool that does not fit the skills requirements. Skills are best acquired through learning and doing.
It is possible to gain some experience through self-learning even without a formal educational background in a related field. However, you will need deep interest, passion, and a lot of patience to achieve your goals. Secondly, you must learn the basics before getting to the practical.
In cybersecurity, certifications matter a great deal. Certifications are skill-specific. They are one way of achieving specific goals, especially if you want to sharpen specific skills in cybersecurity or curve your career path.
Certifications like the ones listed below are good and can help you boost your skills at any point in your career.
- CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
- CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)
- CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker)
- CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional)
- Training courses
Certifications are not easily achieved without taking a course for preparation. There are credible online training providers offering cybersecurity training courses to prepare one for the certifications.
Online learning platforms offer several courses, advanced courses, and a master’s program in cyber security.
- Other Cybersecurity resources
Apart from familiarizing yourself in this field, equipping yourself with a Bachelor’s degree or a certification, and gaining experience, one also needs to be part of a community.
Check into ISACA, ISSA, and ISC(2) websites that have a great deal of information on matters of cyber security. Also, consider mentorship from experts in the industry.
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