If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re interested in cyber security as a career. And that’s excellent – cyber security is an important and rapidly growing field. But it’s also complex and challenging, so you might wonder if you’re up for the challenge. In this post, we’ll answer that question and give you everything else you need to get started in cyber security. In addition, we’ll cover the cyber security career paths, educational requirements, job prospects, salary range, and more. So read on to find out why cyber security is a great career!
What Should You Expect Before Starting Cyber Security Career Paths?
Anyone considering a cyber security career path should first understand what the job entails and what skills are required. Cyber security professionals are responsible for protecting computer networks and systems from cyber-attacks.
They work to identify vulnerabilities and implement security measures to mitigate risks. Therefore, individuals must have strong analytical and problem-solving skills to be successful in this field.
They must be able to think strategically and react quickly in the event of an attack.
Additionally, cyber security professionals must be well-versed in various computer technologies and be able to keep up with the latest cyber threats. Therefore, those interested in pursuing this promising career should expect to spend several years honing their skills before they are ready to get involved in the workforce.
Although the cyber security field is challenging, it can be satisfying for those dedicated to protecting computer systems from cyber attacks.
What are Cyber Security Career Paths?
Cyber security career paths are constantly changing and evolving. As new technologies and cyber threats emerge, so do new cyber security career paths. Some of the most common cyber security jobs include penetration testers, malware analysts, and incident responders. However, many other cyber security career paths are becoming increasingly popular.
These include cyber intelligence analysts, cyber threat hunters, and cyber forensics experts. No matter your background or interests, a cyber security career path is likely right for you. So if you’re looking to enter the exciting world of cyber security, be sure to explore all the options available.
However, we have come up with the most high-demand cyber security titles and break them down to pick what would be better for your background, expectations, and career goals.
Entry Level Jobs
Most cyber security positions will require at least a bachelor’s degree in cyber security or a related field. However, there are many ways to get into cyber security without a four-year degree. One way is to start as a junior cyber security analyst.
To succeed in this position, you should be knowledgeable about cyber dangers and vulnerabilities and how to prevent them. You can also pursue certification in cyber security, which will make you more attractive to employers. There are many cyber security certification programs available, both online and offline. Another way to get started in cyber security is to become a cyber security researcher. In this role, your responsibilities will entail identifying new cyber threats and researching ways to protect against them.
You can also level up your expertise with a doctoral degree in cyber security if you want to take the academic route or specialise in researching. Whatever path you choose, stay up-to-date on the latest cyber security news and trends.
However, you can start with an IT-entry level job to expand your knowledge in core IT skills. For example, many high-profile cyber security professionals kick their career path as network administrators, help desk technicians, or software developer.
Yes, there is no one specific certificate to land a cyber security job, but it doesn’t make any sense to apply for a vacancy you know nothing about it.
So, if you have a zero-experience in the IT domain, you need to join a training program which will be great to accelerate your path to have a hand in your dream job.
It is now time to take a more significant move forward. You get hired as a junior cyber security analyst, but you’re excited to dig deeper and be specialised in a specific area; what choices do you have?
1. Engineer and Architect
A career in cyber security can take many directions. However, engineering and architecture are one of the most prestigious roles in high demand.
Engineers are the ones who design, develop and implement new cyber security technologies. Additionally, this technical role is responsible for building and maintaining digital solutions to protect networks from the ground up at the outset, computers and data from malicious activity.
Otherwise, architects plan the cyber security infrastructure, design the network structure, identify and evaluate threats, configure security controls to address them, and assess their effectiveness.
These roles are similar to a senior incent respondent (more on later). The only difference is that they are not obligated to respond to every attack or incident. Alternatively, they set up security-driven tools and services. Also, in some companies, engineers should be competent in designing policies and procedures.
Since both positions are mid-level roles, they need a specific skill set and proven experience to ensure that you will be the right candidate for this company.
These skills and qualifications include
- IT networking, web protocols, application development and system administration experience
- Risk identification and assessment, threat modelling
- Professional level in understanding programming languages; at least two of them: Python, Java
- Cloud technologies
- A critical thinking mindset.
Note: some vacancies in companies are limited to those with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or cyber security. However, if you show your professional tinkering in the previous areas, your chance of getting the job is very high as you move up your career ladder.
2. Incident Response Analysis
Since computer security is a field that involves protecting computers, networks and data from malicious attacks, incident response is a process done by experts in computer security to address and resolve computer incidents.
By definition, incident response is the immediate and ongoing steps taken to mitigate, avoid or eliminate an incident. In other words, incident responders take immediate action to stop security breaches and prevent further damage to information systems.
Thus, incident responders are responsible for detecting, analysing and responding to security incidents. Various tools and techniques are used to gather information about the computer system or network that has been attacked. The incident responders then analyse this information to determine the type of attack or intrusion.
The incident response team is often called in when an organisation faces a security breach, malware infection, or another significant event that could negatively affect its business. They need to identify what happened and what needs to be done to fix it.
Perhaps one of the most prominent roles of an incident response analyst is to secure affected systems immediately before major damage occurs or another attack happens on that system.
To do this, incident responders will take Control Over Access (CoA) of affected computers to remove malware or restore infected files without causing any more damage to systems or data samples.
The last thing you must remember is that this job is suitable for junior and senior levels. Still, to go into higher positions, you need to be well-trained in responding to incidents and securing information systems against further intrusion attempts. A career as an incident responder is exciting. This role requires certain personality traits such as initiative and attention to detail, plus excellent teamwork with other specialists in computer security fields such as network administration and law enforcement officers.
Incident responders should be trained to identify computer incidents while honing some skills and knowledge, including:
- Network security, forensic analysis and incident management.
- Background of cyber policy and regulations.
- Ethical hacking knowledge
- Understanding software tools
- Professionally handling hardware devices such as switches and routers in a network environment.
- Analysing skills
Note: Since most incidents happen at work, this job usually involves a lot of overtime, working during weekends when necessary! So be ready for that!
3. Tester and Hacking Specialist
Testers and hackers are cyber specialists because both involve using software to take over or defend a system or app. Both also have to do with protecting systems from intruders trying to access an interwork without permission from the owner.
So, in general, testers are responsible for testing software and hardware products before they are released to the public. They use various tools, including automated tools, to test the product for vulnerabilities and other potential issues.
On the other side, hacking specialists are responsible for identifying and exploiting system vulnerabilities. They can do this using various techniques, such as social engineering or brute force attacks.
Testers use analysis tools such as analysis software when testing software for potential vulnerabilities; Hackers use malware when taking over systems by installing their own code on target systems through web browsers or other means.
In addition, testers and hackers can create new tools for finding vulnerabilities and taking over systems without knowledge from attackers— an example of such a tool would be malware.
So, as we can see, testers and hackers perform similar tasks, but some differences between them make one better than the other at specific tasks. Additionally, there are ethical concerns when it comes to being a hacker or a tester, as ethical hacking takes into account user consent. In contrast, unethical hacking involves breaking user consent through any means necessary.
So, here are some of the most critical skills every cyber security taster should have:
- Understanding and analysing tools codes
- Acknowledging of network protocols
- Compliance protocols such as ISO 17799, PCI
- Penetration testing
Note: This speciality domain can be offered in many names, such as red team, ethical hacker, offensive security specialist, and others. So, don’t just use the common job titles you know when looking for an opportunity. Instead, have a look at all vacancies, read the job description and apply for what you’re familiar with.
The main objective of a cyber security consultant is to provide information and recommendations about various security precautions. In addition, a cyber security consultant will also assist with investigations if a company’s servers are breached.
This task can be difficult as the nature of cyber crimes is always changing, making it tricky to prevent every breach. However, the work of a cyber security consultant is essential in maintaining secure networks.
So, a cyber security consultant must do physical and mental checks to prevent a breach. Physical examinations include browsing server data and computer records to look for suspicious activity or errors. Mentally, a cyber security consultant must have knowledge about current threats and their implications on business operations.
Further, they must know how to convey this to clients so that they can take the necessary measures to protect their companies from malicious activity. Finally, they must cooperate with law enforcement in order for a breach to be investigated appropriately.
If you want to hold such a job, you should be ready to share logs related to potential hacking incidents or give physical evidence such as hard drives or servers for investigation purposes. In addition, a company’s IT specialists must be aware of their obligations in this area since they could encounter legal action if they fail to report criminal activity or assist law enforcement in an investigation.
To do this, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest news regarding hacker activities and new strategies hackers use against companies. In addition, any consultant should recommend companies implement appropriate safety measures based on his knowledge of current threats.
The essential skills for the cyber security consultant are:
- Threat management
- Planning and strategic skills
- Penetration testing
- Risk and threat management
Note: Cyber security consultant works with various IT departments. So, if you want to enhance your knowledge in this domain, build key communication and multitasking skills. Also, working under pressure could be a lifestyle with consulting career.
5. Management and administration
A cyber security manager’s primary task is to ensure that all the electronic systems of an organisation are safe, secured and controlled. That’s why the manager must understand the risks of information systems to protect organisations from external and internal threats.
This role can be offered under the title of chief cybersecurity expert.
Also, during emergencies, you will coordinate with law enforcement agencies to mitigate attacks on organisations using risk management software like the PNC minder™ Enterprise Risk Management solution platform.
Also, you should have many sources to find the best platform that suits your business goals. So, the first step could be to speak with law enforcement agencies to obtain intelligence on specific threats such as ransomware attacks and spear phishing emails posing as banks or other organisations’ executives.
The manager also has to assess how companies can best use encryption technologies. And not let employees don’t know what the next step is. Instead, training on these tools is as necessary as offering them in the first place to enable employees to use them safely daily at work.
Not just that, the right manager has to orchestrate with internal teams such as IT operations, incident response team (IRT), system administrators and incident response specialists— known as InfoSec — to mitigate ongoing threats against organisations.
Suppose you want to have this opportunity one day. In that case, you should learn about popular IT topics, including threat management, risk management, cryptography, incident response and communication with law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies.
This career path will start out when you have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. You must also have at least five years of experience as a cybersecurity specialist overseeing various aspects of enterprise information technology.
You can take this roadmap from being an executive or IT director that will direct you to handle several activities of various specialists such as system administrators, network architects and application developers to ensure that all electronic systems are secure.
Generally, the cyber security manager oversees all aspects of cybersecurity within an organisation’s information technology infrastructure. This overwhelming responsibility includes assessing the risk of different applications used by employees, such as salesforce CRM software— which may contain sensitive client data— and choosing which ones should go live first during system upgrades.
Also, picking the appropriate tool is a particular skill, like investing in ITIL or Citrix Systems’ XenMobile™ Mobile Device Management Suite to ensure compliant service lifecycle management software.
Here are some skills you should develop on your way to becoming an IT department leader:
- Risk management
- Communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Defining procedures and policies
Note: The managing level requires at least 5 years of experience in risk and security management. Since this type of position wasn’t available 15 years before, the bottom line here is to have efficient knowledge of IT management with brilliant communication skills.
What are Education Requirements to Start Cyber Security Career Paths?
You can take a few different paths when starting a cyber security career. If you already have experience in the IT field, you may be able to transition into cyber security relatively easily. However, starting from scratch, you’ll need to ensure you have the proper education and training.
Most cyber security vacancies require at least a bachelor’s degree, although many employers prefer a master’s degree or higher candidates. In terms of specific majors, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Many cyber security jobs require knowledge of programming and networking, so majors like computer science or engineering can be beneficial. A deeper understanding of fields like forensics or cryptography may be necessary for others.
The best way to find out what type of education you need for a particular job is to research the job descriptions for positions you’re interested in and look for any required skills or qualifications. Once you know what you need to study, you can choose a program that will fit your needs and help you start your cyber security career path.
However, we have you covered and compiled all cyber security qualifications to find out where you should go for:
- A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information assurance, or engineering
- The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation.
- The IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate
- CompTIA Security+, Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Certified Computer Forensics Examiner (CCFE)
Most entry-level roles in cyber security need at least a bachelor’s degree, while certain organizations may prefer master’s degrees in cyber security or a related topic. And some employers will focus on your experience more than anything else. Anyway, developing your skill all your way will guarantee you the best career path ever.
In short, What are Job Prospects to Consider When Applying?
There are many cyber security jobs to consider when applying for a cyber security career path. Some cyber security jobs are as follows: information security analyst, computer systems analyst, network administrator, computer support specialist, and web developer.
The cyber security field is expected to grow by 28% in 2026. In addition, cybersecurity careers will be in high demand due to the increasing frequency of cyber attacks.
On the other hand, Information Security Analysts’ job duties will be to plan and implement security standards to protect an organisation’s computer networks and systems.
Computer Systems Analysts’ job duties will be to review an organisation’s current computer systems and recommend solutions to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
The network Administrator’s duties will be installing and maintaining an organisation’s computer networks.
The computer Support Specialist’s job will be to provide technical assistance to computer users.
Web Developer’s job duties will be to create website designs, coding, and applications.
A bachelor’s degree in cyber security or a related field is required for this position. If you don’t, it’s time to apply for a course and build projects to show your IT skills to employers.
After considering the job duties, education requirements, and median annual salaries of each position, it is safe to say that many cyber security jobs offer a great career path with many opportunities for upward mobility and excellent pay!
What is Salary Range?
One of the most common questions cyber security professionals get is, “What is the salary range for cyber security jobs?” While it’s tough to give a definite answer due to the variance in experience and location, we can turn to statistics for some guidance.
According to the recent report generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for cyber security jobs in the United States is $95,510 per year.
However, this average varies based on the field of speciality.
- The median annual salary for an Information Security Analyst is $92,600.
- The median annual salary for a Computer Systems Analyst is $88,270.
- The median annual salary for a Network Administrator is $82,050.
- The median annual salary for a Computer Support Specialist is $50,980.
- The median annual salary for a Web Developer is $67,990.
Also, it’s worth noting that salaries can vary significantly depending on factors such as experience, education, and location.
And, of course, entry-level cyber security jobs may have a lower salary than more experienced positions. Additionally, cyber security jobs in major cities tend to pay more than those in smaller towns or rural areas. Overall, though, the salary range for cyber security jobs is pretty solid – and it’s only expected to grow more and more.
Bonus: Free Sources to Get Started
Thanks to cyber security accessible sources, there is an ocean brimming with all different topics and applications to get started. So whether you’re interested in becoming a cyber security analyst, engineer, or architect, there’s something out there that’s perfect for you. But where do you start? If you’re unsure what cyber security is all about, or you don’t know if this career is right for you, plenty of free online resources can help get you up to speed.
The Cyber Security 101 course from the SANS Institute is a great place to start. This free course covers everything from the basics of cyber security to more advanced topics like risk management and incident response. It’s an excellent way to get an overview of the field and start thinking about which career path might be right for you.
Another brilliant resource is the “Getting Started in Cyber Security” guide from the US Department of Homeland Security. This insider guide covers a wide range of topics, from choosing the right cyber security career path to building your skills and experience. And best of all, it’s completely free.
So whether you are just getting down in your cyber security journey or looking to advance your professional life, check out these free online resources. They’ll help you better understand cyber security and get you on the path to success.
FAQs Cyber Security Career Paths
- Is cyber security a good career path?
Of course, it is!
It’s no surprise that cyber security is rapidly expanding, given the ever-increasing importance of computers in our daily lives.
Cyber security refers to the process of keeping computer networks safe from theft or damage. This protection can be done through hardware, software, or processes. Cyber security has become an important field with the ever-growing threats of viruses and hackers.
There are many reasons why cyber security is a good career choice. For one, it’s a growing field with a lot of opportunities. Many jobs are available in cyber security, from entry-level positions to more advanced roles. And because our lives are increasingly reliant on technology, there will only be more need for cyber security experts in the future.
- What career paths are there in cyber security?
Actually, an ocean of options is available out there. Read the information provided above and pick what is right for you! However, we really appreciate our readers; here is, in short, what you can find in this domain:
- Security Engineer
- Incident Response Analyst
- Cyber Security Consultant
- Cyber Security Manager
- Risk Analyst
- What are the highest-paying cyber security jobs?
There are many different cyber security jobs available, but not all of them pay equally. Some positions, such as chief information security officer or security architect, can command six-figure salaries. Other roles like penetration tester or incident responder tend to pay slightly less.
So, the highest paying cyber security jobs depend on several factors, including experience, education, and location. However, some positions definitely stand out as being more lucrative than others.
Anyway, with gaining more experience, you’re most likely to get paid more and get hired by high-end companies with many benefits.