Exploring Careers in Cyber Security

In today’s world increased connectivity brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse. As we become more reliant on modern technology, we also become more vulnerable to cyberattacks such as corporate security breaches, spear phishing, and social media fraud. And implementing effective cybersecurity measures has proven to be a challenge for most because there are more devices than people, and attackers are becoming more innovative.


What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These attacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes.

Cyber security is important because government, military, corporate, financial, and medical organizations collect, process, and store unprecedented amounts of data on computers and other devices. A significant portion of that data can be sensitive information, whether that be intellectual property, financial data, personal information, or other types of data for which unauthorized access or exposure could have negative consequences. As early as March 2013, the nation’s top intelligence officials cautioned that cyber attacks and digital spying are the top threat to national security, surpassing even terrorism.


What are the Hiring Trends in Cybersecurity?

It’s no secret that cybersecurity is the single largest challenge facing the government and enterprises in 2017. With mass digitization, increases in big data, the growing popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT), and increasingly complex applications, security is no longer an afterthought or a retrospective update. Experts predict that cybercrime will result in a global cost of $6 trillion by 2021.

Inevitably, increased cyber threats has lead to increased demand for security professionals. But unfortunately, supply isn’t keeping up. Global spending on cybersecurity is expected to reach $1 trillion over the next four years, yet by just 2019, experts foresee a cybersecurity skills shortage to the tune of 1.5 million unfilled jobs.

“Unfortunately the pipeline of security talent isn’t where it needs to be to help curb the cybercrime epidemic.” Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO at Herjavec Group

A few months back, Cybersecurity Ventures announced that the cybersecurity unemployment rate has dropped to zero-percent. This means that the demand for skilled professionals far exceeds supply of talented cybersecurity professionals seeking work.


Top Cybersecurity Roles to Consider:

Security Administrator: A security administrator position is generally considered the first rung on the cybersecurity ladder, and though it is “entry-level” in the cybersecurity field, that doesn’t mean it’s non-technical. Quite the opposite. The expectation include managing security solutions, doing basic network monitoring, making sure patches get rolled out and doing all the other ground-level security work in an office. This is a position that Security+ sets you up to succeed in.

Security Specialist: The next step up the enterprise hierarchy is usually a specialist. Like someone who moves from the associate to the manager level in a non-tech career, this role is a step up in responsibility, generally requiring delegating responsibility to a team while taking on higher-level management of tech tools, and offering more advisement in and outside of the IT department.

Information Assurance Technician/Specialist (and Other Military-related Roles): In the military cybersecurity is a top priority, but job titles are different from what you might see in the civilian world. Different tiers of Information Assurance Technician job require specific certifications to meet the Department of Defense’s criteria to work on secure networks. In lower-level roles, Security+ is a must. In higher-level roles, the tough and technical CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) exam is required. Even if you’re non-military, if you find yourself working in consulting on a military contract and are touching networks that require clearance to work on, it can make it a non-negotiable necessity to have these security certs on your resume.  


Security Analyst Job TrendsSecurity Analyst: The sheer volume of cybersecurity threats that have been proliferating on the corporate level has been taxing the bandwidth of IT professionals. This has led to the advent of new, higher-level network monitoring and analytics tools critical to determining how a network could be compromised and how to respond to the threat. Security analysts are the people inside an enterprise who can manage SEIM tools, threat intelligence platforms and other such tools, understanding the complicated log files they generate and putting them in context to inform action. This role is becoming so important, security analysts is projected to grow 28% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. in fact, that some institutions are now offering a brand new certification, the Cybersecurity Analyst+ (CSA+).

Senior Cybersecurity Engineer/Architect: Cybersecurity threats have grown not just in number, but in sophistication. To keep invaders out, a business needs people who understand what’s happening on networks, servers and databases at the most sophisticated levels and can secure every facet accordingly. This the role of the engineer/architect. For IT pros at this level, the CASP is the certification that proves they’ve got what it takes.


What are the Salary Ranges for Cybersecurity Careers?

The salary range for cybersecurity is higher than other areas of IT because of the large numbers of job openings.  Employers are offering higher wages to those with a degree, some experience and a passion for the industry.  Check out this video which explains what to expect as a new graduate and how to build your value in an organization. 

Cyber Security Salary Trends

Outlook for security jobs is higher than other I.T. careers!

Cyber Security Minute

(Many college students wonder how to land your first job in cybersecurity. This video gives several good suggestions!)

The U.S. needs well trained professionals working in cyber security roles. These professionals are critical in both private and government sectors. The Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence is committed to strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity workforce through curriculum development and helping to ensure we have a pipeline of well-trained cybersecurity workers today.

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Below are some additional resources and learning opportunities that may interest you:



Contact Amy Lane, Director of FUSION at the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence by calling 612-659-7225 or amy.lane@metrostate.edu.

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