Which Cybersecurity career is right for you?

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Finding your place in the Cybersecurity world can be tricky to accomplish, but once your perfect fit becomes apparent and you find work in that space, it might just be one of the most interesting, educational, and rewarding careers in the tech world. On top of that, this sector offers some of the world’s best salaries and allows those involved to work on high-profile projects tackling ever-evolving Cyber Threats.

If the first step is knowing that your heart is set and your mind is made up about a career in cybersecurity, then the next step is to look at what options are available…

Warning: there are a lot.

It’s estimated that over 3 million people work in the Cybersecurity space globally, but despite how attractive this industry can be, there remain at least another 3 million unfilled positions. Of course, it’s not a lack of desire that keeps these positions vacant, it’s a skills gap. As technology has got more advanced, the skills gap has widened and the number of people entering the industry has slowed down. The education in cybersecurity is often being outpaced by the technology, as is an issue in many industries.

Whilst 3 million vacant positions are, of course, a big challenge for the industry, it’s a huge opportunity for you. High demand means high salaries and the luxury of choice.

Our friends at Westgate IT have detailed the sort of roles you could enter in the cybersecurity space.

System Administrator

‘Sysadmins’ for short, typically don’t require a degree, meaning they’re a way of entering the cybersecurity industry at entry-level and working your way up into a more technical career. Experience or knowledge of cybersecurity, network administration, Linux, tech support, and networking hardware is a huge advantage, but those without any prior involvement will find plenty of certifications and educational resources to bring them up to speed. Internships in cybersecurity are very common too.

The job typically involves:

  • managing computer networks
  • troubleshooting problems
  • supporting employees in other roles

Salaries typically start at around £25,000 per year.

Penetration Tester

The biggest difference between a hacker and a penetration tester is that the penetration tester is making their hacks for the good of the company and at their request. This role can be incredibly creative, complex, and coding-heaving, with the ‘Pentesters’, as they are often called, working hard to discover the vulnerabilities in their own organisation’s computer systems. Once these vulnerabilities are found, they can be resolved.

A Pentester will need to know about:

  • Coding languages: Java and Python as a minimum
  • Hacking and penetration testing
  • Computer system operations
  • Bug bounty hunting

Salaries typically start at around £40,000 for this mid-level role, however, the best Pentesters will not struggle to find positions paying over £100,000.

Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity Engineers are often the best in class, boasting a Bachelor’s in cybersecurity or computer science and a high level of technical and creative competency. Being a Cybersecurity Engineer is going to require you to be advanced at threat detection, analysis, and enforcing protective counter-measures. High-level knowledge of cryptography is a huge advantage too.

A cybersecurity engineer goes further than a Pentester by not only finding the vulnerabilities, but by solving them, reconfiguring processes, and implementing effective detection systems.

Salaries can start from around £50,000 and reach as high as £150,000 at the top companies.

Cyber-Forensic Analyst

Does a career in cybersecurity appeal to you because of the criminal element of hackers? If so, perhaps cyber-forensic analysis is the area for you, as these are the professionals who respond to data breaches and security incidents, looking to discover as much as they can about what happened. Part of their role involves retrieving and examining data and rebuilding systems to try and recover anything that might have been lost. It’s as close to detective work as it comes in this industry, and when a security breach is criminal or data can be of use in solving a crime, it is the analyst who gets to work with the police (or another agency) to provide an expert witness or legal counsel.

The minimum requirements for Cyber-Forensic Analysts are:

  • A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or computer science
  • Proficiency in computer forensics
  • Advanced knowledge of information security
  • Experience analysing consumer electronics, hard drives, and other forms of hardware

Those who wish to go further in this industry are well-advised to get a master’s degree in computer forensics.

Cyber-Forensic Analysts Positions in this field typically start with salaries of around £50,000.

What other career choices exist in cybersecurity?

Above we’ve provided a few good examples, but you might also be interested in researching:

  • Incident Responders
  • Cybersecurity Portal Coordinators
  • Security Consultants
  • Cybersecurity Salespeople
  • Cyberthreat Evangelists
  • Cyber Security Policy Management
  • Cryptographers
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