5 reasons to consider a career in cybersecurity
By Amer Owaida
From competitive salaries to ever-evolving job descriptions, there are myriad reasons why a cybersecurity career could be right for you. If you’re finishing middle school, graduating college or even thinking of switching jobs, chances are that you have given some thought to the sprawling tech industry. With cyberthreats looming large and cybercrime predicted to cost the world US$6 trillion by 2021, it’s no wonder that cybersecurity professionals are a “hot commodity”.
In fact, there aren’t enough of them to go around; the number of available cybersecurity professionals would need to grow by a whopping 145% just to meet the global demands of the market. This week is National Careers Week in the United Kingdom, and we’ve rounded up five reasons why cybersecurity may be the right career path for you.
The future is digital
Few doubt that cybersecurity will increasingly become an important part of most industries. Considering that on a global scale the average cost of a data breach is almost US$4 million, it’s not surprising that organizations are looking to bolster their ranks with cybersecurity professionals. The doors are open to you in the private or public sector or even as a freelancer. You wouldn’t necessarily have to stick to one role – or one industry, for that matter – since everything is connected nowadays. Everybody needs protection: be it a small and up-and-coming startup, or an enterprise with billions of dollars in revenue.
Cybersecurity keeps on evolving, just as the rest of the tech world does, which means that new roles will emerge while old roles will gradually evolve to encompass new skills. Even now there is an abundance of roles to choose from. For example, you can become a big data scientist, and work with emerging technologies such as machine learning. If you’re more into solving riddles and looking for flaws, you might become a penetration tester working to crack the security of clients’ IT systems or become an ethical hacker enrolled in official bug bounty programs. While both test the security of different IT systems, their working methods are different. Often, penetration testers are more specialized in specific areas, while ethical hackers are jacks of all trades.
Since the talent gap is so large, companies are offering competitive salaries to entice their prospective candidates. One thing to note is that although salaries are good, they vary depending on the position you are applying for and the region where you are applying. According to an ISC2 study, the average salary in North America for cybersecurity-related jobs is about US$90,000 a year. Indeed, a job and recruiting website, pretty much backs that with an average figure of US$111,000. Depending on the position and your seniority level, for example, penetration testers make around US$122,000 per year, while network security engineers have an average income of US$117,000 per year and information security analysts have an average salary of US$89,000.
The ICS2 study found that job satisfaction is high among cybersecurity professionals in North America, with 71% respondents saying they are satisfied. Professionals working in this field take pride in the fact that they are defending people and organizations against cybercrime, as well as helping them find solutions to technical problems. Another benefit is that the environment is always changing, which keeps the job interesting: these professionals have a constant series of challenges they must analyze and conquer.
Education and certification
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a degree in cybersecurity to get started in the field. Although an increasing number of universities and colleges offer such degrees, many specialists are self-taught, as clearly there’s more than one route to your goal. If you’re a student applying to universities, then seek out a program that best fits your needs. If you’re considering a career switch, then you may not have the luxury and time to attend university. In that case, you can get started by trying online courses, attending meetups, and following cybersecurity professionals on online media. Certification can be an important part of your education, since certified professionals tend to rise through the ranks faster and have better salaries. There are multiple certificates available depending on the area you want to specialize in, you just need to choose the right one for you. There’s no better time than the present to join the ranks of cybersecurity experts. So if you’re ready to dive in, we suggest you start with this article as a jumping-off point.