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Choosing a Career in Cybersecurity

by
Matthew Williams

With more and more of our lives being spent online, it’s no surprise that the demand for cybersecurity professionals is now higher than ever. Alarmingly, 39% of large companies now claim to have experienced cyberattacks in 2021, up markedly from previous years as we move increasingly towards remote and hybrid work models. As it stands, demand is outstripping supply with more jobs unfilled than cybersecurity professionals available.

Moving into cybersecurity, therefore, is a sound career move as the need for protecting data and IT systems are now paramount. Cybersecurity professionals can expect plenty of wage and career growth, job security, lots of diverse roles to explore, and challenging roles that really make a difference to lives and business operations.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity, take a look at our guide below. You’ll find information on what qualifications you will need, routes into cybersecurity roles, and what you can expect from this career path in terms of money and prospects.

Necessary skills

Being such a young industry, there is no definitive path to becoming a cybersecurity expert. Most in the industry are under 40, with some finding themselves hired by companies after pointing out software bugs and potential exploits before being abused.

Nevertheless, as the cybersecurity industry matures, established career paths are beginning to form with the following skills considered essential:

●      Strong IT skills

●      Problem-solving abilities

●      Critical thinking

●      Risk aware

●      Experience with coding and software languages

Undergraduate and post-graduate cybersecurity degrees

Most junior roles will require some form of IT qualification with a computer science degree one of the most commonly cited. There are now, also, dedicated cybersecurity degrees and apprenticeships available. A full list of these can be found here.

Whether it’s a dedicated degree or a more generalised IT-based qualification, cybersecurity requires hands-on, practical experience with most companies looking for individuals that show genuine enthusiasm for the industry. This can be demonstrated through self-study and volunteering IT skills to help with online projects.

More advanced roles will require post-graduate training with a host of universities across the UK now offering Master’s degrees in Cyber Security, Network and Information Security, and Digital Forensics.

Choosing whether to work towards a Master’s degree depends on the kinds of roles you want to move towards. Some with plenty of hands-on experience find that jumping straight into a junior role after receiving their undergraduate degree is the best route for them, whereas others look to a Master’s degree for formal recognition of their skillset.

There are also plenty of roles within the cybersecurity sphere that would be considered non-technical. These are managerial and training positions that lean more on transferable skills that would be useful in easing communication with customers and individuals and maintaining an up-to-date understanding of current laws, standards, and practices to train others.

Cybersecurity job examples

Entry-level: Digital forensic analyst

One of the more common job openings advertised in the industry concerns digital forensics. This role is great for the recently graduated and those who enjoy solving problems, piecing together clues, and giving answers.

Digital forensic analysts collect and analyse data from computers, phones, and other devices in order to gather evidence for law enforcement, or discover how security systems were breached.

Day-to-day duties involve collecting, and analysing data; retrieving data from hard drives; carefully logging all activities for legal purposes; communicating with police and lawyers; writing reports and giving testimony in court.

The national average salary for this entry-level role is £29,000 per year with pay increasing with experience.

Mid-level: Security engineer

It’s the job of a security engineer to keep the computers and network within an organisation up and running correctly. This means implementing security measures to ward off would-be cyber attacks and ensuring data is protected in the event of hardware failure or some sort of disaster.

A security engineer will develop and enact good security standards and practices throughout the organisation, advising management on how best to enhance security. They will be responsible for installing security software such as firewalls and data encryption applications, as well as regularly testing the resilience of the system as a whole.

The responsibilities of a security engineer are relatively important with most companies relying on a well-ran IT system. As such, a security engineer can expect to receive a salary of around £50,000, ranging upwards of £90,000 per year.

Upper-level: Security architect

While companies want safe and secure IT systems, they don’t want it to affect productivity or efficiency. Striking this balance is the job of a security architect.

As a managerial role, it is the job of security architects to not only maintain a well-organised team of cybersecurity professionals but also make sure measures are implemented correctly. Security architects will make decisions on what these measures need to be and work with their team to decide how best to apply them.

The security architect role sits towards the top end of the cybersecurity career path with the role requiring both people skills and technical know-how, as well as business savvy.

The UK average salary for security architects sits around £100,000 per year.

Future of the cybersecurity industry

As almost all industries move towards digitalisation, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is only going to increase.

The construction industry, for example, is now increasingly implementing connective technology such as Internet-of-Things devices, automated property management, and 5G connected building sites allowing architects, planners, and construction companies to communicate seamlessly. While this march towards a digital future is necessary to meet current construction demands, the fast-paced implementation of such technology is opening the door to a number of security threats.

Such industries are now looking to cybersecurity teams to ensure data remains encrypted and security is not compromised through these productivity measures. Cybersecurity is also vital in tackling the growing threat of ransomware attacks that have previously locked down hospitals and brought airports to a standstill.

In the UK, this demand has seen the cybersecurity industry’s revenue grow to now more than £10 billion, with double-digit growth in 2021 alone. The industry is now being heavily invested in by firms across the UK who appreciate the important role cybersecurity will play in the country’s future.

Conclusion

For those with the right problem-solving and technical skills, a career in cybersecurity means job security, a wealth of different professional avenues to explore, and competitive pay.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our more of our Job Guides where we give you in depth research and information about different industries! If you are looking to attend an upcoming event, make sure to book your ticket!

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