What Qualifications Do You Need for a Career in Cyber Security?

cybersecurity career

We live in a highly interconnected world, where data is the new currency. Today, data is worth billions, and it’s actually more valuable than oil. But unlike tangible commodities such as oil, data is susceptible to cyberattacks, which are nasty and incredibly costly to fix.

What does that mean?

It means there is a high demand for cyber security specialists, especially as more and more companies adopt data-driven strategies to maximize profitability. Keep in mind that cybercrime costs about $6 trillion annually as of 2021, making it a colossal problem worldwide.

It’s precisely why companies are scrambling to find the best talent in cyber security. They are competing for passionate cyber security experts to protect their sensitive data from nefarious elements who are up to no good.

That begs the question – do you have what it takes to become the cyber security specialist most companies want? If so, you’ll love today’s post where we highlight the qualifications you need to create an exciting and lucrative career in cyber security.

Speaking of lucrative, how much do cyber security professionals make, and how does the future look?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for cyber security specialists in the US is $111,052 a year. But this is just the national average – what you eventually make will vary greatly depending on factors such as your employer, experience, geographical location, etc.

And how does the future look for the prospective cyber security specialist? It’s great! According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of cyber security experts is expected to grow 33% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

What Does a Cyber Security Specialist Do?

As you can see the pay is amazing and the future is bright, but what exactly does a cyber security specialist do? You probably figured it out by now, but a cyber security specialist wears a lot of hats. These unsung heroes protect companies from:

  • Data theft
  • Damage of data
  • Stolen money and lost productivity due to data breaches
  • Theft of personal data, financial data and intellectual property
  • Embezzlement and fraud
  • Post-attack disruption to normal business activities
  • Loss of brand reputation due to the attack

On top of that, a cyber security specialist may be involved in tasks such as training staff on best practices, restoring hacked systems, forensic investigation, etc. It’s a full-time job in a team setting, but you can work remotely since you just need a computer and internet connection.

If a career in cyber security feels like a good fit, what qualifications do you need? You’ll obviously need a strong educational background, as you are about to learn in the following section.

Types of Degrees for a Career in Cybersecurity

Employers in need of cyber security experts seek a firm educational background and relevant experience that demonstrates you know your stuff. While there are many ways of venturing into cyber security, here are some degrees that will help you ace the interview.

  • Degree in cybersecurity – Unlike days gone, many colleges are offering cyber security degrees nowadays. A cyber security bachelor’s degree (BSCS) covers areas such as cyber security threat assessment, incident report, and management
  • Degree in forensic computing – A degree in forensic computing arms you with the technical knowledge and skills you need to predict the behavior of hackers and specialize in the forensic side of cyber security.
  • Degree in computer science – Here, you learn all about network architecture, software development, and programming languages – all of which come in handy when starting a career in cyber security.
  • Certificate in cyber security – Did you know that a degree isn’t the only way to start a career in cyber security? There are online certificates in cyber security that can be a stepping stone into the field.
  • Certificate in Information Systems Security – Earning professional certifications will make you more competitive. A certificate in Information Systems Security proves you can design, execute and manage an effective cybersecurity solution.
  • Degree in computer engineering – Computer engineering is the marriage between computer science and software engineering. The degree offers you the skills to design and produce data elaboration systems for multiple use cases.
  • Ethical hacking certificate (EHC) – This is the certification you need if you need to think like a hacker. The skills you gain will help you to test network systems for vulnerabilities just like a hacker would and advise management accordingly.

Now that you know what degrees and certifications are available (there are more, btw), you must be wondering which cyber security job is the best. The job you finally choose depends on personal preference because they all pay relatively well.

What Type of Jobs Can You Get in the Field of Cybersecurity?

Cyber security is a broad and fast-growing field. There are many different jobs to fill and more keep on cropping up as new technologies and threats emerge. Below is a brief summary of some of the available roles in cyber security.

  • Compliance and Risk Management – In this role, you will create reports about risk findings that help stakeholders to take action. You will also contribute to risk remediation and management. The average annual pay in the US is $105,574.
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – This is a senior position, which means you need several years of experience. In this role, you establish policies that ensure data is effectively protected. The average annual salary in the US is $228,556.
  • Forensic Computer Analyst – This job involves investigating cybercrimes. You will also recover deleted, encrypted or hidden data and collaborate with law authorities to find the culprits. The annual average salary is $74,726.
  • Cyber Security Architect – Here, your work revolves around creating and managing security systems inside the organization. In other words, you’ll be in charge of cybersecurity in your organization. The annual average salary in the US is $146,768.
  • Cyber Security Consultant – This is the perfect job for cyber security freelancers who don’t want a 9-to-5 job. Your tasks include identifying weaknesses and strengthening networks to prevent attacks. The average annual salary in the US is $115,767.
  • Cybercrime Investigator – As the title suggests, cyber crime investigators play a pivotal role in keeping the internet safe. They investigate cyber crimes to find critical evidence that helps to solve cybercrimes. The average annual salary in the US is $100,595.

Bottom Line

Breaking into the world of cyber security is not challenging as many think. You simply need to have a strong educational background, some experience, and passion. You can learn from many sources, and you can gain experience from internships or work-related programs.

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