5 Reasons to Start a Career as a Cyber Security Specialist

PETE LIMON

PETE LIMON

PHD

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As of 2020, we’re living in a fully digitized world. Everything from health care, politics, energy and manufacturing has moved online. Through digital programs and online infrastructure, it makes our world faster and more efficient. 

Yet, there’s a big downside to smarter technology. Moving key infrastructure online has made many industries vulnerable to cyber attacks. We’ve seen it countless times in the banking industry and even in our U.S. elections.

If you’re considering a career as a cyber security specialist, you may be on the front lines of modern national defense. You could help companies secure their cloud computing or even protect consumers from fraud. Cyber security is an honorable field to enter, and it’s also very rewarding.

The good news is that nearly anyone can start a career in cyber security. While it’s highly technical work, it’s in high demand and easy to pursue a certification or degree. Find out why you should be looking down the path toward a career in cyber security.

1. Demand is Growing for Cyber Security Specialists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the information security field is in the middle of a growth period. The Bureau estimates that these positions will grow 32% from 2018 to 2028. For reference, the average growth rate across all jobs in the United States for the same period is only about 5%.

The demand for cyber security is increasing because our digital world continues to grow. Every day, more websites, apps and programs join the growing web. With more digital touchpoints, there are also more users online distributing sensitive information.

Especially with the Internet of Things (IoT), companies must invest in cyber security that protects customers. The average consumer may take it for granted, but without cyber security, we could be vulnerable to hackers in our computers, voice assistants, security devices and more.

Protecting information applies at the corporate level as well is important. Most consumer-facing companies have moved their Point of Sales (POS) systems online. This means the potential for criminal theft is possible online.

By creating more opportunities for cyber security specialist jobs, companies can protect themselves and their customers. The average company IT department may not be updating company software as quickly as needed, leaving gaps and vulnerabilities in important programs.

Cyber security specialists are responsible for identifying vulnerabilities and ensuring they’re safeguarded. Corporations, organizations and governments alike are desperate to keep their infrastructure protected. They’re so desperate in fact that cyber security has a high employment rate.

2. Enjoy a High-Paying Cyber Security Specialist Salary

Since cybersecurity positions are in such high demand, it means you can prepare for a very lucrative position. Companies are willing to pay high salaries so they can fill security positions quickly.

According to the BLS, the experienced average information security analyst enjoys a median salary of $99,730 per year or $47.95 per hour. Although don’t expect to make this type of salary coming right out of school, but, depending on which industry you enter with a cybersecurity position, you could easily make six figures after proving yourself in the field.

Compared to other computer-based occupations, you could make perhaps $10k or more than the median. When it comes to all other occupations in the U.S., cybersecurity positions also make 148% more than most median annual salaries. These statistics do not represent those who are just graduating from a cybersecurity program, so don’t expect these salaries as a new graduate. 

The good news is these numbers show that cybersecurity will offer you great opportunities in the field. You could be looking for your first job or seeking a career change. Whether you’ve just received a degree or work toward gaining a cybersecurity certificate, you have the potential to increase your salary significantly over time.

3. Opportunities for Growth and Mobility

While money is a great incentive, cybersecurity has extra benefits for your career and personal growth.

Before investing in a certification or new degree, it’s important to consider what your career path will look like. You don’t want to get boxed into a field where there aren’t many opportunities for growth. Otherwise, you won’t see an ROI on the cost you spent on education.

Within cybersecurity, you can almost always count on many opportunities. Since cybersecurity is a highly specialized skill, it’s something you’ll continue to learn while you’re on the job.  You will likely need to participate in continuing education and renew certifications you may earn after graduation in order to stay current and be eligible for these opportunities.  So, don’t shy away from updating and increasing your skills.

Companies and organizations will often quick to promote cybersecurity positions from internally available candidates first rather than finding new hires. While working for an organization, you’ll gain valuable information about their programs and infrastructure. This information will make you more desirable for promotions so the company doesn’t have to invest in training someone new.

We already mentioned how much cybersecurity is in high demand, but there’s a lower supply of potential workers in some geographical areas. Despite the attractive numbers and factors we’ve already listed, it’s still such a changing field. Many traditional colleges and universities are starting to add specific cybersecurity programs to their programs of study due to the increased demand for training and employment. Furthermore, young students aren’t always aware of the opportunities available to them to enter such a field.

The high demand and low supply not only generate high salaries, but it also helps create a clear career path for workers in the field. As you gain experience, you’ll have more and more opportunities for work in the field, including roles, positions, and industries.

4. Training is Widely Available and Budget Friendly

As we mentioned before, cybersecurity is a field you can enter whether you’ve graduated from college already or are looking for a career change. Since it’s specialized, this means there would likely be a requirement for additional training to enter the field.

Though computer skills are needed when it comes to cybersecurity, it’s more important to understand there is more to the field. In essence, cybersecurity sometimes feels to some people entering the field like learning a whole new language, which you can get started at any age.

Cybersecurity Courses

Cybersecurity specialist courses usually offer a more budget-friendly option than returning to school. It’s best to pursue a cybersecurity certificate if you already have a degree and wish to pivot your career or build a new path from your current role.

Most cybersecurity courses are available online for a series of months. Since cybersecurity is so specialized and technical, we recommend choosing a course that’s at least nine months long. There may be cheaper courses that are shorter, but those courses may not offer you all the important concepts that you need to know.

Like any certificate program, you can include your finished course on your resume’s education section. Even if you don’t have cybersecurity experience, employers will look for some type of education along with skills from your other positions.

Higher Education Programs

Pursuing a cybersecurity degree is usually more expensive than a certificate program, but it will always be more comprehensive. Most often, schools will offer an Associate or Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity.

For coursework, you can expect to learn everything from the fundamentals of IT to understanding information networks and data structures as well as software. Many colleges also offer cybersecurity work through classroom or simulated labs.

Education is crucial to entering the cybersecurity field, but luckily there are many options to choose from. Whether you choose a certificate or degree, you may find yourself ahead of those who have no formal education that may be hoping to learn skills on the job.

5. Work in a Variety of Markets and Industries

Working in cybersecurity will allow you to combine your passions for a variety of industries. While cybersecurity requires intense training, you can use these skills in many industries. You can also choose to enter into consumer-facing industries like retail. You will likely need a security clearance to work in most fields.

If you’re interested in government, that sector is one of the biggest in need of cybersecurity workers. Government positions will require high security clearance. Along with industry, cybersecurity is important in every market. If you’re an avid traveler, your goal may be to find a desirable position with a multi-city corporation. There are cybersecurity positions all over California and beyond. At each location, they ensure the programs and infrastructure are in line with security goals.

How to Become a Cyber Security Specialist

Ready to start your career as a cybersecurity specialist? It’s hard work, but it’s financially and personally rewarding. As a cybersecurity specialist, you’ll enjoy a competitive salary, job security and opportunities.

Your first step is investing in education. While you’ll learn many skills on the job, companies need to see that you have the technical foundation to hit the ground running.

At Intercoast, we offer a 40-week Cyber Security Specialist Course that provides a Certificate in Cyber Security at the end. The online course covers everything from ethical hacking to Cisco-focused network security.

Contact us today to learn more and get started.

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