Careers In Cybersecurity
In the first part of this two-part series, we made the case for cybersecurity as a career path with excellent short and long-term growth prospects.
But what, exactly, do folks who work in cybersecurity do all day?
That’s what we’ll cover in this article.
While the list of jobs won’t be exhaustive—cybersecurity, like any complex and growing field, has a wide array of opportunities—it will cover some of the most in-demand specializations and give a representative sampling of the kinds of jobs out there (along with a general idea of how much they pay).
Computer forensics analyst
The detectives of the cybersecurity world, computer forensics analysts use their skills to uncover evidence of wrongdoing, either for use in legal proceedings or as a way of tracking down the bad guys. This may include recovering deleted files, pinpointing the source of a cyberattack, or analyzing data and explaining its significance to other investigators. Computer forensics analysts often work closely with law enforcement and may be called upon to testify in court as expert witnesses.
Median salary: $71,000 per year, according to PayScale.
Information security analyst
Information security analysts are on the front lines of cybersecurity, working to secure an organization’s computer networks, watch for breaches and attacks, and make sure relevant software is patched and updated regularly. They may also be required to help educate coworkers about best practices for security (for example, by showing them how to avoid phishing attacks).
Median salary: $75,000 per year, according to PayScale.
Penetration testers, or pentesters, may have the most fun of anyone in cybersecurity. Their job is a hacker’s dream: probing for weaknesses and exploitable vulnerabilities in a computer network—and getting paid for it. The job isn’t just about strong offensive skills though: Pentesters have to be good note takers and report-writers, as a crucial part of their job consists of writing up their findings and providing recommendations to improve security.
Median salary: $81,000 per year.
Cybersecurity engineers and architects
Cybersecurity engineers, like information security analysts, also take responsibility for the computer networks of large organizations. An engineer’s role, however, tends to be more proactive—they focus on designing and building robust security systems and trying to stay several steps ahead of malicious actors. A slightly more senior version of this position is sometimes called a cybersecurity “architect”. Architects take an even higher-level view of the security landscape, helping to craft a company’s overall cybersecurity strategy and set security policies across the enterprise.
Chief information security officers
Chief information security officers, or CISOs, are executive-level cybersecurity professionals, and their responsibilities (and compensation) reflect this. CISO’s are the cybersecurity decision-makers within an organization, and also perform the same business functions as other executives, such as budget oversight and corporate communications. It’s a high-pressure job—not least of all because the buck stops with the CISO in the event of a breach—but a lucrative and rewarding career for those who want their shot at the brass ring of enterprise security.
Median salary: $157,000 per year, though in the largest markets CISOs will earn considerably more than this on average.
Cybersecurity is a multi-billion dollar industry, and is only expected to grow in the years to come. Cybercrime is a trillion-dollar problem that isn’t going away any time soon—which means there will always be a need for dedicated, skilled professionals to help keep the world safe.
If you have a question about how to get started in cybersecurity, remember that we’ve got a whole team of cybersecurity pros with years of experience in the field, and we always welcome emails from our readers. Free free to drop us a line and ask your questions—we’d love to hear from you!