Careerpath of Cybersecurity
The field of cybersecurity is expanding rapidly and requires a range of skilled professionals to fill various positions. The demand for cybersecurity jobs is projected to increase by 18% in the next five years.
Cybersecurity professionals are responsible for safeguarding computer networks and data from unauthorized access, use, or damage.
The roles and qualifications for cybersecurity positions vary:
Entry-level positions requiring only a high school diploma or equivalent and on-the-job training.
Mid-level positions needing an associate’s degree in computer science or related field, one year of experience, and specialized education.
Advanced-level positions requiring a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field, three years of experience, and specialized education.
4 Entry Level Opportunity Jobs
The term “entry-level” in the field of cybersecurity can be misleading. According to the National Security Agency (NSA), some entry-level roles require a bachelor’s degree and up to three years of relevant experience, with higher-level degrees requiring less experience.
For those with only a high school diploma or GED, several years of relevant experience may be needed.
Many cybersecurity professionals begin their careers in entry-level IT positions before transitioning to cybersecurity roles. Here are a few common entry-level jobs in the cybersecurity field.
1. Information Security Analyst
An Information Security Analyst is responsible for safeguarding an organization’s computer networks and systems from unauthorized access, use, or damage.
This includes monitoring networks for security breaches, investigating and documenting any breaches that occur, researching current IT security trends, and assisting computer users with security products and procedures.
Additionally, an Information Security Analyst helps develop strategies to maintain the organization’s overall security.
This role is a common entry-level position within the cybersecurity field and provides a great starting point for those looking to pursue a career in information security.
Average salary: $89,795
Feeder role: Network or systems administrator
Common certifications: CompTIA Security+, GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA), GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
Related job titles: Cybersecurity analyst, IT security analyst
2. Information Security Specialist
A Security Specialist is responsible for ensuring the security of an organization’s data against unauthorized access and cyberattacks.
The specific responsibilities of a Security Specialist may vary depending on the organization, but generally include:
- Testing and maintaining firewalls and antivirus software to prevent unauthorized access to the company’s networks and systems.
- Implementing security training programs to educate employees on how to identify and prevent security risks.
- Researching new security risks and threats that may affect the organization, and suggesting improvements to address any identified weaknesses in the company’s security systems and procedures.
Average salary: $93,885
Feeder role: Networking, IT support, systems engineering
Common certifications: CompTIA Security+, Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP), GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
Related job titles: Cybersecurity specialist, information security specialist
3. Digital Forensik Examiner
Digital Forensics Investigator is a role for those who enjoy solving puzzles by retrieving information from computers and digital devices to determine how an unauthorized person accessed a system or gather evidence for legal proceedings.
This role involves a variety of tasks such as:
- Collecting, preserving, and analyzing digital evidence from computers, smartphones, and other digital devices.
- Recovering data from damaged or erased hard drives to obtain evidence.
- Documenting the data retrieval process and maintaining a chain of custody to ensure the integrity of the evidence.
- Assisting law enforcement in criminal investigations by providing digital evidence and expert testimony in court proceedings.
Average salary: $92,565
Feeder role: IT support, risk analyst
Common certifications: GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst, EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE), AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE)
Related job titles: Computer forensic specialist, cyber forensic specialist, digital forensics analyst
4. IT Auditor
An IT auditor is responsible for evaluating an organization’s technology to identify potential issues related to security, efficiency, and compliance.
This role involves a variety of tasks such as:
- Planning and conducting audits to assess the organization’s technology systems for risks or vulnerabilities.
- Documenting and presenting the findings of the audits, including any security risks or compliance issues.
- Providing guidance on recommended and mandatory security measures to improve the organization’s security.
- Designing plans to address any security risks identified during the audit process.
- Identifying opportunities for improving efficiency in the organization’s technology systems.
Average salary: $79,427
Feeder role: Network administrator, risk analyst, IT support
Common certifications: Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Related job titles: Internal IT auditor, security auditor
5 Mid-Level and Advanced Level
As you gain experience in cybersecurity, there are several options for advancement into more specialized roles. Here are a few examples of roles that may be available to mid-level and advanced cybersecurity professionals.
1. Security Systems Administrator
A Security Systems Administrator is responsible for the day-to-day management and maintenance of an organization’s security systems, including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and other security technologies.
This role involves tasks such as configuring security systems, monitoring for security breaches, and troubleshooting any issues that arise.
Average salary: $73,398
Feeder role: Systems administrator, information security analyst
Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Related job titles: Security administrator, cybersecurity administrator, information security officer
2. Penetration Tester
A Penetration Tester, also known as a ethical hacker, is responsible for simulating a cyber attack on an organization’s systems and networks to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their security.
This role involves tasks such as using various tools and techniques to attempt to gain unauthorized access to systems and networks, and then reporting on any vulnerabilities that are found
Average salary: $97,383
Feeder role: Information security analyst, incident responder
Common certifications: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), CompTIA PenTest+, GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN)
Related job titles: White hat hacker, ethical hacker, vulnerability assessor
3. Security Engineer
A Security Engineer is responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining an organization’s security systems and infrastructure.
This role involves tasks such as creating and implementing security policies and procedures, configuring security technologies such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems, and monitoring networks for security breaches.
Average salary: $128,893
Feeder role: Information security analyst, penetration tester
Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
Related job titles: Cybersecurity engineer, network security engineer, information security engineer
4. Security Architect
A Security Architect is responsible for designing and overseeing the implementation of an organization’s overall security strategy and architecture.
This role involves tasks such as creating security policies, standards and procedures, and ensuring that they are aligned with the organization’s overall goals.
Average salary: $195,333
Feeder role: Security engineer, information security analyst
Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), CSA Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)
Related job titles: Cybersecurity architect, information security architect
5. Cryotography Engineer
A Cryptography Engineer is responsible for designing, implementing and maintaining secure communication systems, by using cryptography.
This role involves tasks such as selecting and implementing cryptographic algorithms and protocols, key management, and secure communication protocols.
Average salary: $117,862
Feeder role: Computer programmer, information security analyst, systems administrator
Common certifications: EC-Council Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES)
Related job titles: Cryptologist, cryptanalyst, cryptography engineer