It’s that time of year again! While everyone else turns to “#spookyszn” and all the things pumpkin spice, the IT industry will be celebrating Cybersecurity Awareness Month throughout October.
Thanks to the recent advancements in the digital space, many new workforce members are considering a career in cybersecurity just out of high school or college. Although most of these people probably have a general idea of what’s involved in the job, however, they would probably struggle to answer the question, “What does a cybersecurity professional do?”
This question is particularly difficult to answer because the response has become a moving target. As cybersecurity protection protocols and hacker techniques evolve, so does the industry itself. In the past five to 10 years, the evolution of technology in society has caused a shift in focus for most cybersecurity professionals.
New trends like an increase in mobile attacks, hackers infiltrating the computer systems in our cars, and the rise of AI technology has significantly impacted the trajectory of cybersecurity protection. This evolution has forced senior IT admins, managers, and cybersecurity job seekers to level up their skills and pursue rigorous training. These conditions of the current IT environment align well for cybersecurity professionals looking to switch gears or expand their roles.
Types of Careers in Cybersecurity
So, what is cybersecurity? And what do the people working in cybersecurity do? The great news about the industry’s evolution is that it’s opened up a wide variety of entry-level cybersecurity roles for those wondering how to get a job in the field. Some of these roles are:
Types of Cybersecurity Careers
- Information Security Analyst — Monitors and handles security breaches, researches industry trends, and helps companies with security product and procedure best practices.
- Information Security Specialist — Suggests security optimization opportunities, researches new threats, designs and implements security education/training, and tests protection measures like firewalls and antivirus platforms.
- IT Auditor — Plans, manages, and documents cybersecurity audits, Creates and implements a plan to remedy security risks and identifies opportunities to optimize cybersecurity efficiency
- Digital Forensic Examiner — Manages digital evidence, retrieves and recovers data, partners with law enforcement during investigations and may appear in court as an expert witness.
Although these roles are more traditional IT positions, there’s still no shortage of openings of these types. There are also cybersecurity opportunities in some new, intriguing roles thanks to recent industry trends.
Newer positions beginning to pop up throughout the cybersecurity landscape include:
Emerging Cybersecurity Careers
- Cloud Security Analyst — Manages and tests the security of a company’s cloud assets. Requires monitoring, configuring, designing, and optimizing the cybersecurity of cloud frameworks for organizations of all sizes.
- Malware Analyst — Designs and implements fast responses to incoming malware threats. This position is becoming more important due to the recent increase in ransomware attacks, including high-profile threats like SolarWinds and Log4j.
- Penetration Tester — Finds and responds to vulnerabilities within client systems. App pen testers perform this role specifically for software and mobile platforms, which are popular hacker targets in today’s mobile era.
- Ethical Hacker — Tests an organization’s cybersecurity using the same tools, tactics, and techniques used by today’s most clever hackers. Ethical hacking is done with the organization’s permission, and the goal is to locate and strengthen security weaknesses before an attack occurs.
In the modern tech landscape, even those wondering how to get into cybersecurity without experience can find opportunities. Cybersecurity jobs and skill sets are so in-demand right now that you may not even need a formal information technology degree to land a job in this field. Instead, networking on social media sites like LinkedIn and free online certification resources may be just what you need to get in the door.
Lower compensation is the downside to pursuing a cybersecurity career with no experience, however. Salary ranges increase in the industry depending on your training and certificates. Positions in the sector can be lucrative if you have the proper training, with compensation ranging anywhere from $70,000 to $150,000.
How to Get a Job in Cybersecurity Today
Qualifying for a new cybersecurity role — or expanding your current one — may require you to go back to school for additional education or training. Fortunately, if you don’t have a formal education in the industry, you may still be in luck.
Traditional graduate degree programs and online cybersecurity certifications are both viable options for launching your career. If you’re looking to go the conventional route, look to pursue a degree in:
Useful Degrees for Cybersecurity Careers
- Information Technology
- Information Assurance
- Computer Engineering
- Computer Science
- Cybersecurity Engineering
- Cybersecurity Operations & Leadership
Applicants looking to land a position in cybersecurity would benefit from obtaining a master’s degree in any of the above subjects. Without a formal graduate degree, however, potential cybersecurity professionals can break into the industry with these entry-level certification courses:
Useful Certifications for Cybersecurity Professionals
- ISACA CSX Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate
- CompTIA Security+
- GIAC Information Security Fundamentals (GISF)
- (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Security Fundamentals
Part of these training courses will be to cover one of the primary cybersecurity fundamentals, i.e., the five major cybersecurity frameworks. Anyone willing to work in this industry will need an in-depth understanding of:
5 Major Cybersecurity Frameworks
- The NIST Cybersecurity Framework
- ISO/IEC 27001 & ISO 27002
- CIS Controls Framework
Once you obtain your degree or certificate, the job hunt begins. Again, there’s no shortage of current openings in cybersecurity, so you can afford to be somewhat picky about the company you join. Make sure you’re taking an opportunity that will offer you the ability to grow in your career.
Cybersecurity organizations where you can thrive should offer a few basic features. They should offer you the ability to grow and advance, provide you with the latest tools and technology, value your thoughts and leadership, and they should stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity and cyber threat trends.
You may also want to be leery of well-established cybersecurity firms. Companies that have been established for decades may be stagnant and resting on their laurels. If you can, land yourself a job at an agile cybersecurity firm. You want one that’s fresher to the industry, can adapt and be flexible, isn’t afraid to take chances, and provides you with the latest and greatest tools to get your job done right.
Staying Competitive as a Cybersecurity Professional
Like any skilled role in any industry, the best way to stay competitive in cybersecurity is to further your education. Several companies offer certification courses to deepen your understanding of general cybersecurity or a particular area of interest.
Companies like SAP, Coursera, Udemy, and more offer online courses students can complete in a matter of weeks. Though these courses may seem quick and easy, they’re still packed full of information and will give you all the knowledge necessary to further your career in cybersecurity.
New IT professionals can also stay competitive through soft skills. At Liquid Web, we look to add cybersecurity pros to our team who possess these intangibles. Candidates familiar with operating systems, driven to do the right thing, and focused on constant learning are critical to our success. Our industry constantly evolves, so the desire to keep learning may be essential.
Cybersecurity Isn’t Slowing Down
Because of the breadth of what cybersecurity does, the industry is showing no signs of slowing down. A quick LinkedIn search will return over 40,000 job openings for cybersecurity positions. If you’re adaptable, desire to learn, and stay up to date with industry trends, you should have no problem finding work for years to come.