Cybersecurity Career Guide

The term “cybersecurity” describes the people, tools, technologies and techniques deployed to protect networks, computers and mobile devices from attack. Cybersecurity is a concern today for every organization, from the largest multinational to the smallest independent business.

High Job Demand and Pay

Cisco reports that there were one million cybersecurity job openings around the world in 2016. A 2015 Stanford report says that in the U.S., more than 200,000 cybersecurity positions are currently unfilled, and that demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing 3.5 times faster than for IT jobs and 12 times faster than other types of jobs.

Careers in cybersecurity are challenging but rewarding. The stakes are high, and breaches make headlines: Consider all the recent news about hacked emails, stolen passwords and credit card information, disrupted infrastructure, and more. PricewaterhouseCoopers says that nearly 80 percent of the companies it surveyed had some type of cyber-intrusion in the previous year. The Department of Homeland Security says that cyberspace is “particularly difficult to secure” because of several factors:

  • Attackers can be located anywhere in the world
  • Professionals must be able to guard both physical and nonphysical assets
  • Networks are increasingly complex

    Cybersecurity professionals are paid, on average, 9 percent more than comparable non-cybersecurity IT workers. Most work full-time in an office setting, although virtual work is possible and overtime may be required. The CISSP (Certified Information System Security Professional) certification can boost cybersecurity salaries by 6 percent on average.

    The Right Skills and Education

    Cybersecurity professionals must have a keen eye for details — able to find the smallest vulnerability in system and data protection services — while being forward-thinking enough to anticipate intrusions and stay one step ahead of potential infiltrators. They must also be clear communicators so they can instruct others in security policies and procedures.

    Cybersecurity professionals typically have backgrounds in IT, networking and engineering. A bachelor’s degree or higher is required for many positions.

    Here are some popular career paths in cybersecurity:

    Chief Information Security Officer

    The chief information security officer (CISO) oversees all of a company’s efforts related to developing and implementing data and network security initiatives, including the strategy and implementation of these efforts. CISOs have many years of experience in the cybersecurity field, and the position requires strong management, budgeting and communications skills to be effective. A CISO is a C-suite position typically found in technology companies; he or she will coordinate efforts with the chief information officer (CIO), chief technology officer (CTO) and chief executive officer (CEO).

    A CISO’s responsibilities can include:

  • Emergency response planning and execution
  • Access management
  • Information technology controls
  • Security architecture
  • Regulatory compliance

    Robert Half International estimates the salary range for CSOs in 2017 will be $145,250 to $236,750. This is an increase of 5.3 percent from 2016.

    Network Security Engineer

    Network security engineers are expected to build, maintain and — when problems arise — fix an organization’s IT network. They must ensure that the network can repel attacks from hackers and, if one should occur, restore security functionality as quickly as possible.

    A network security engineer’s responsibilities include:

  • Analyzing network security
  • Integrating and installing hardware and software
  • Maintaining firewalls and other intrusion-preventing systems
  • Alerting the organization about potential and actual security incidents

    Robert Half International estimates the salary range for network security engineers in 2017 will be $115,500 to $162,500, an increase of 5.7 percent from 2016.

    Information Systems Security Manager

    Information systems security managers monitor their organizations’ networks for security breaches, both internal and external. They ensure that viruses and other harmful software do not infiltrate the company’s network. If this does happen, the information systems security manager will work to remove the threat.

    An information systems security manager’s responsibilities include:

  • Looking for vulnerabilities before they can be exploited
  • Assisting in developing security standards
  • Recommending enhancements and improvements
  • Helping users learn new security policies and procedures

    Robert Half International estimates the salary range for information systems security managers in 2017 will be $136,000 to $191,750, which is an increase of 5.1 percent from 2016.

    Data Security Analyst

    Data security analysts plan and implement security measures to protect a network from malicious parties. One of the most important parts of the job is to evaluate the networks for vulnerabilities. These professionals must be up-to-date on the latest security trends, including the methods hackers are using today, or may use in the future, to infiltrate networks.

    A data security analyst’s responsibilities include:

  • Locating any possible vulnerabilities in data integrity
  • Ensuring data cannot be compromised
  • Instructing users on data protection policies and procedures

    Robert Half International estimates the salary range for data security analysts in 2017 will be $118,500 to $169,000, a 5 percent increase over 2016.

    Systems Security Administrator

    The job description for a systems security administrator will vary somewhat from organization to organization, but these professionals are typically responsible for installing, monitoring and troubleshooting the security methods used to protect the network.

    A systems security administrator’s responsibilities include:

  • Protecting systems from unauthorized access
  • Monitoring for unusual activity
  • Configuring and supporting tools like firewalls and antivirus software
  • Training employees

    Robert Half International estimates the salary range for systems security administrators in 2017 will be $110,500 to $157,500, a 5.1 percent increase from 2016.

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