Cybersecurity career opportunities continue to grow at a high rate of speed. Since 2020, the number of cybersecurity career openings has nearly doubled.
Right now, Cyberseek reports 663,434 current cybersecurity job openings. At the current rate of growth, it would not be surprising to see the number of open cybersecurity jobs exceed one million in a few years time.
Here are three common cybersecurity career positions that are in near constant demand:
|Incident and intrusion analyst
|Penetration and vulnerability tester
A recent survey conducted by the World Economic Forum shows that cybersecurity is the number one concern of CEOs at the helm of US-based companies.
One part of the concern is that there just aren’t enough people with the necessary skills to hire for all of the available cybersecurity openings.
cybersecurityguide.org is an advertising-supported site. Clicking in this box will show you programs related to your search from schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.
Featured Cybersecurity Training
|Southern New Hampshire University
|Online AS in Cybersecurity
|Online BS in Cybersecurity
|UC Berkeley School of Information
|Online MS in Cybersecurity | No GRE/GMAT Required
|The Cybersecurity Bootcamp at UT Austin
|University of Pennsylvania
|Penn Cybersecurity Boot Camp
|Northwestern Cybersecurity Boot Camp
Why cybersecurity career paths matter
Becoming a well-rounded cybersecurity professional requires having well-rounded experience. Exposure and experience are critical building blocks of a cybersecurity career early on and will also become valuable (and make you more effective) as your career progresses and you become a senior cybersecurity leader.
More importantly, exposure and experience allows you to learn which domains in cybersecurity you want to work in and you can then focus your career path more on those. Before committing to a domain of cybersecurity as a career path, it’s important to get exposure to different areas.
Examples of cybersecurity career paths
There are countless career paths within cybersecurity. Because it’s a fairly new and constantly evolving industry, you may see different categories and titles depending on the company or resource you read. However, it’s common to categorize paths in three areas:
3. Senior leadership
Management: Security governance and oversight roles
The security management and governance domain is all about the oversight and management of cybersecurity within the organization. Though it’s important to understand as much as you can about technology and the technical nuances behind cyber risk, this area tends to be less technical than others.
Instead of configuring systems or getting deep into operational support, a career path in this space entails using business savviness, organizational management, and soft skills to programmatically manage security. Example opportunities include, but are not limited to:
- Training and awareness: The majority of cyber breaches stem from human error, making training and awareness of employees and customers a critical part of any cybersecurity strategy. A career in this space is one that involves designing curriculums and content in a way that is engaging and lasting to educate people on cyber risks and influence behavioral changes that promote security.
- Audits and compliance: Cybersecurity is all about checks and balances. There are many rules and regulations, like PCI-DSS and HIPAA, that outline cybersecurity requirements for regulated companies. Professionals in this career domain work to achieve, verify and maintain compliance with those rules.
- Third-party risk management: In today’s connected world, companies must pay attention to how their vendors and partners can impact their security posture. Countless security vulnerabilities stem from attackers breaching one company and then using that access to hop over to another connected company’s network. Professionals in this domain help verify and manage third-party security to ensure partners are not introducing risk to the company.
- Project management: Every security strategy includes process and technology components. Designing and implementing these requires superb project management programs to ensure solutions are implemented effectively and efficiently.
Technical: Security engineering and operations roles
This path area covers the more technical roles in cybersecurity. Here you’ll likely be digging into systems, data, tools, and networks a lot more. The aim is to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats. Example opportunities include, but are not limited to:
- Cloud security: With so many organizations moving their data and operations to cloud environments, the cloud has been a major topic of discussion in cybersecurity. Careers here involve protecting data and systems from compromise in off-prem or cloud environments.
- Identity and access management: Protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data starts with the fundamental principle of controlling access. People should only have access to what they need to have access to, and only when they need it. Building a career in access management ensures just that.
- Security engineering: Enterprise security requires a layered approach. Security engineering career paths include all of the designing and building of the layers of security systems required to protect the enterprise. Examples include building encryption systems, email security systems, firewalls, and more.
- Security operations: With a countless number of hackers out there working around the clock to attack organizations, in defense, companies must keep a consistent watch on security posture, intrusion attempts, and more in order to defend against attacks. A career in security operations encompasses all of that monitoring and response.
- Ethical hacking: A great way to uncover weakness in your system is to try hacking yourself. In this career path, professionals constantly try to break into the organizations’ systems and make recommendations for ways to improve security.
Senior leadership: Focusing on the people
Like any industry, company culture and leadership plays a critical role in the success of the business. Example opportunities in this space include, but are not limited to:
- Chief information security officer: Senior leadership is critical in cybersecurity. To gain buy-in and support across the company, it’s important to have a senior-level champion who steers the team and the company towards a world-class cybersecurity posture. This career path requires a broad range of experience and understanding across all areas of cybersecurity, as well as strong people leadership skills.
- Managers and directors of domains: Depending on the size of the organizations, every domain requires some form of leadership or management. This means that growing a career in some domains may present an opportunity to transition from doing hands-on work to leading and guiding a team of professionals who then do the hands-on work. Taking on this career path in any domain requires balance. To elaborate, it’s important to balance understanding key principles and best practices of the domain while understanding how to manage and motivate others.
Considering career path options also doesn’t have to mean sticking to one domain. No matter which path is chosen, have fun learning and growing throughout the journey.
Cybersecurity career options
Below is an index of complete career profiles:
Frequently asked questions about cybersecurity careers
A career in cyber security involves protecting information systems from threats such as hackers, viruses, and other forms of data breaches. This could include tasks such as penetration testing, monitoring for and responding to security incidents, developing security policies, and educating staff about security risks.
Generally, a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as computer science, information technology, or cyber security is required. However, many roles also value industry certifications, such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), or CompTIA Security+.
Key skills include a strong understanding of IT and network systems, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, understanding of hacker methodologies, and the ability to stay up-to-date with the latest security trends and threats. Good communication skills are also important as you may need to explain complex security issues to non-technical colleagues.
Cyber security careers can range from security analysts who monitor and respond to threats, to security engineers who design secure systems, to security managers and chief information security officers (CISOs) who develop security strategies and policies. Other roles include incident responders, penetration testers, and security auditors.
The job outlook for cyber security professionals is very positive. With the increasing number of cyber threats and the need to protect sensitive data, the demand for skilled professionals in this field is expected to continue to grow.
Gaining experience can be achieved through internships, entry-level IT roles, or even setting up and maintaining your own network. Participating in cyber security competitions or contributing to open-source projects can also be valuable.
While not always necessary, certifications are often highly valued in the cyber security field. They can demonstrate a certain level of expertise and commitment to ongoing learning.
One of the main challenges is the constant change – new threats are always emerging, and professionals must keep up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. The stakes are also high, as a single mistake can lead to a significant security breach.