Hoping to break into cybersecurity? You’re in luck. Cybersecurity experts predict that data breach damages will tally an unprecedented $6 trillion by 2021. That may be bad news for businesses, but for individuals hoping to switch to a cybersecurity career, it means steady job prospects for the foreseeable future.
Many organizations are looking to expand internal and external IT services as awareness of cybercrime grows. Specifically, there are four roles that we predict will play a pivotal role in the coming cybersecurity ramp-up. These positions run the gamut from entry level roles to the highest senior executives, but all are crucial to securing an organization’s data and networks. Here are our top picks.
IT security specialist
According to Indeed.com, IT security specialist is the top-posted cybersecurity job of 2018. These IT support professionals are the soldiers on the ground defending an organization’s data systems and networks against breaches and other threats. They do the daily work of securing organizational assets, such as installing and maintaining anti-virus and anti-malware solutions, encrypting data and implementing firewalls, configuring user permissions and privileges, updating software and more. They also take care of more high-level work: performing risk assessments, educating staff and developing cybersecurity plans.
The average salary for an IT security specialist runs around $74,000, with an opportunity to earn upward of $100,000. An education of at least a bachelor’s is preferred, with a focus in information security, computer science, computer information systems or network security. Additional credentials, like a Security+, Cisco Certified Network Associate, Certified Ethical Hacker or GIAC Security certification, can’t hurt either. These qualifications allow you to stand out from competing applications.
While they may not be as notorious as the criminal forensic scientists you see on Law and Order, forensic analysts are nonetheless crucial in the world of IT services. These professionals gather evidence to identify the source of a data breach, reporting their findings to law enforcement agencies so that cybersecurity crimes can be prosecuted. They also work to recover compromised data records and restore assets. If a case is brought to trial, forensic analysts perform a legal consultant function, preparing reports that can be used in litigation. They’re basically the detectives of the IT support scene.
Forensic analysts can expect to make a median salary of $70,509, according to Payscale.com. However, experienced analysts can earn up to $115,000 a year. Analysts must typically hold a BA in information technology or a BS in computer science; many organizations also require candidates to hold one or more professional forensic certifications, such as a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE), Advanced Computer System Security, Computer Forensics or Advanced Computer Forensic certification.
Chief information security officer
The chief information security officer (CISO) is the head honcho of the IT services team. CISOs handle executive-level security tasks, scheduling and implementing projects and overseeing daily tasks to fulfill the overall security vision for the organization. These IT services professionals are also responsible for strategic planning for an organization’s security systems. They construct a business’s security architecture from the ground up and investigate new solutions to keep cybersecurity technology current.
Perhaps most importantly, CISOs are the public face of an organization’s IT support team. It is the CISO’s job to handle the fallout from data breaches and other security events. He or she shapes the headlines and manages PR to ensure that an organization’s reputation stays intact, particularly for large enterprise businesses.
Understandably, the CISO role can be very stressful at times, but luckily, these executives are paid very well. In many metropolitan areas the average CISO salary tops $200,000, with the potential to earn almost $400,000 in certain areas. Because of this, the bar for the CISO role is set very high: CISOs need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study, although a graduate degree is often preferred. They must also have several years’ experience with security systems and need to have demonstrated managerial excellence in previous positions. Still, if you’ve got your eye on an executive position, this is where it’s at for cybersecurity professionals.
IT security consultant
Many organizations lack the resources or expertise to support a full in-house department of IT support professionals—yet they still need security solutions, like any business.
The IT security consultant exists to fill in those gaps. These professionals evaluate existing security systems and make recommendations for improvements and new IT services. They investigate networks, databases, firewalls, security software and other tools to prevent data loss, breaches, theft and hacks. On new projects, they work with developers, installers and other team members to ensure that security features adhere to IT services best practices.
In fact, the work of an IT security consultant is a lot like what we do here at MyITpros. We keep security systems up and running for many businesses throughout the greater Austin and San Antonio areas. We help companies understand how they can safeguard assets and strengthen networks to prevent unauthorized access, data theft and other cybercrimes. We provide recommendations so companies can initiate new security solutions, and we provide education to team members to get everyone on board—all this, along with many other IT services. If the consultant role sounds right up your alley, we encourage you to check out our careers page to learn more about our company.
If you’re not quite ready to start sending out resumes, check out our Ultimate Cybersecurity Bundle. In it, you’ll learn some of the fundamentals of the business—what you need to kick off your journey toward a new career in the cybersecurity industry.