Across the information technology industry, the most sought-after types of jobs lie in the cybersecurity department. These job roles offer exciting projects, competitive salaries, and growth opportunities (the US Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that this IT branch’s job market will grow by 31% by 2029). Additionally, if we’re completely honest, the title of a cybersecurity specialist sounds insanely cool. However, one question poses itself: what does a cybersecurity specialist do?
If you decide on this particular career path, what type of duties will you be required to fulfill? What can you expect from this IT department?
According to MIT’s Technology Review, by 2021, approximately 3.5 million jobs in the cybersecurity industry will be vacant. Out of all the candidates that apply for these positions, fewer than one in four are qualified. This means that there is no better time than today to start training and searching for cybersecurity specialist jobs.
As the name suggests, cybersecurity specialists are all about protecting digital information. This can be anything from encrypting personal information on social media so no one can harvest it to making sure entire information systems are malware-, virus-, and hacker-proof.
In the current technology era, no part of IT doesn’t require protection and defending from those who want to abuse it. The most vulnerable are the healthcare, finance, government, manufacturing, and transportation industries. Just this month, the International Maritime Organization (a UN shipping agency) reported that its shipping and supply chain networks had been thrown into disarray by a cyber attack.
To stop these types of threats, information security specialists are regularly involved in the following tasks:
- Security systems development, testing, analysis, and implementation
- System vulnerability assessment and management
- Response to security threats, attacks, and similar events
- Development of threat prevention strategies
- Regular generation of reports for executives and administrators
Precisely what your daily assignments will be depends on your level of experience, location, the type of industry you’re working in, and the specific responsibilities of your job.
The role of a cybersecurity specialist is usually considered an entry-level job. When you’re first starting out in the IT security career, there is a high chance you will find employment in this position. However, there is a wide variety of other positions a specialist can advance to as they continue learning and honing their skills.
Cyber Security Job Titles
The following list of cybersecurity job titles is just an example of your options. It offers a good overview, but it is by no means exhaustive. Like with other career paths, there are countless ways a cybersecurity expert can integrate their skills from different careers and become something never-heard-of before while still fitting into the computer security industry.
- Information Security Analyst
According to the US News report on best technology jobs, an information security analyst’s title comes in at number five. It is a demanding job with long hours and a schedule that is at the mercy of security breaches and infiltrations into the systems you’re charged with protecting.
At the same time, this role is highly dynamic and engaging. An information security analyst is tasked with protecting sensitive information. They are responsible for developing security strategies and policies, implementing them, ensuring they are up to date and properly utilized, monitoring the results, and making necessary adjustments. At times, an analyst might also organize security training for other employees.
- Software Security Engineer
With a strong background in coding and programming languages, software security engineers develop firewalls and intrusion detection systems for their companies. Their skillset has to include a combination of soft skills and hard skills, such as software engineering, problem-solving, building relationships with clients, and learning technology.
A security engineer’s role is a fluid one, meaning you will have to keep up with new technologies and adapt as they crop up. This may be a bit too much at times, but some sound advice from an experienced security engineer states, “Dive in with both feet and don’t look back.”
- Security Architect
A security architect’s main task is to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s systems. It is often said that a security architect must think like a hacker to successfully identify the tactics a hacker would use to breach their systems. Security architects prepare the budget, allocate staff and resources, manage security IT teams, and generate reports for the executive levels.
In terms of seniority, a security architect is typically above a security engineer. The architects offer recommendations based on their assessment of security vulnerabilities, and the engineers put these recommendations into practice.
- Penetration Tester (Pentester)
While a security architect must think like a hacker, a pentester must be one. An ethical hacker, at least. If you’ve heard of white hat hackers hired to attempt and breach an organization’s security measures using their hacking skills and software – those would be penetration testers.
Their primary role is to simulate a cyber attack to test their clients’ various security programs and firewalls. Their findings are vital for developing better system security policies in the future.
Keep in mind that a pentester’s job isn’t 100% centered around the Hollywood-like thrill of hacking into a seemingly impenetrable infrastructure. It also involves administration and writing detailed reports, which can be relatively dull in comparison.
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
As you may tell from the ‘chief’ in the job title, the role of a CISO is not a beginner’s one. In fact, one becomes a chief information security officer only after years and years of experience. This leadership position is less about coding and more about project management, vulnerabilities management, and overall security management.
If you’re aiming to become a CISO, you need to have excellent organizational skills. Once you identify security risks in your company, it is your job to develop the strategies to mitigate these risks. Likewise, your people skills should be up to par since you will also be in charge of human resources issues, training, and compliance.
- Information Security Crime Investigator
At a cross-section between law enforcement and cybersecurity lies the title of an information security crime investigator or a computer forensics expert. These professionals work on investigating cyberattacks, determining what (or who) caused them, and how exactly the network or computer system was infiltrated.
They may not be directly employed by law enforcement, but they closely collaborate with them, as well as different law firms that depend on the expert’s detailed security reports. Cybercrimes are punishable by law, and those who are skilled in identifying the culprits are highly valued in the IT security industry.
- Security Consultant
If you have enough expertise, good connections, and are keen on entering the entrepreneurial world, you might consider becoming a systems security consultant. They are independent contractors who offer their knowledge and advice to various organizations about their network security.
You will need to possess a wide range of technical, analytical, communication, and computer skills. As with all other IT security job roles, you also need to keep up with all the latest technology news and security recommendations as a consultant.
There is no shortage of job opportunities in the cybersecurity sector. What awaits you is fun, challenging work that will keep your mind occupied and, at times, your heart beating fast. You will develop valuable connections with like-minded security professionals, and you will work together to create the most robust security solutions there are.
Even though a cybersecurity specialist’s position is just the beginning, you caught a glimpse of what could be in store for you further in your career. Consider what makes you feel excited and what is not much of a motivator for you in your job search. Choose the job that plays into your strengths, one that you will love doing day in and day out. Pretty much all cybersecurity positions are well-paid, so it will be just a matter of personal preference what you decide to pursue.
To help you achieve your cybersecurity goals, sign up for a free career evaluation that My Computer Career offers. Let us know where you are in life at the moment, what your aspirations are, and we will do everything in our power to set you up for success!