How to Land the Best Jobs in Cyber Security [Includes Salary Data]
For job seekers looking for high pay, job security and the option to work in any sector and in any state, the cyber security field is the place to be.
Cyber crime costs the global economy over $400 billion each year. In 2014 some of the largest companies in the world were victims of cyber crime, including J.P. Morgan, Target and The Home Depot among others. As cyber attacks continue to increase in volume and tenacity, with ever changing tactics, the government and the private sector are raising the alarm. In response, there has been a sharp uptick in the demand for cyber security professionals across almost every sector.
Due to this shortage in a critical area of national security and following the law of supply and demand, those who work in the industry can expect a high cyber security salary. For instance, on average, chief security officers will make over $220,000 annually.
So while it is clear that a job in cyber security has many benefits, what cyber security positions are the best and how do you land them?
The Best Jobs in Cyber Security
Information Security Analyst
U.S. News ranked Information Security Analyst as number three in its list of best technology jobs of 2015. In this role your main duty will be to protect sensitive information. You will create the plans and implement strategies for preventing attacks, develop policies to protect the organization against such attacks, ensure compliance of policies, monitor data access and train other employees.
Annual Salary Range: $49,003 – $102,219
Lead Software Security Engineer
Ranked as number one in CIO’s list of the 10 jobs with the highest cyber security salary, a lead software engineer makes an average annual salary of $233,333 and is typically tasked with leading a team of security experts, analyzing and assessing risk, developing secure software and identifying vulnerabilities.
Average Annual Salary: $233,333
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
The CISO is a senior level role in charge of developing, implementing and maintaining security processes that protect the company from threats and risk.
Average Annual Salary: $192,500
A security architect is responsible for analyzing security threats and recommending solutions to protect information and data. They may participate in the development of security hardware and software, oversee and educate staff on security policies, design security models and install VPNs, firewalls, and more.
Annual Salary Range: $81,845 – $147,873
Penetration testers are in charge of identifying vulnerabilities in an organizations network. They do this through constantly probing and testing the network using various tools and software.
Annual Salary Range: $45,192 – $120,163
Information Security Crime Investigator/Forensics Expert
A forensics expert is a cyber crime fighting Sherlock Holmes who investigates cyber attacks and tries to identify flaws in the system that allow for an attack along with clues left by the attackers.
Annual Salary Range: $55,703 – $119,079.
Of course this is just a sampling of some of the many great jobs in the cyber security field.
How to Get Hired
According to Dice.com, cyber security jobs have grown 91% in the last year. PBS reported in early 2015 that “209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled (a modest estimate) and postings are up 74% over the past five years.” So while there is a desperate need in the marketplace for cyber security professionals, the skill and experience required to fill these positions is lacking.
That means that if you want to land a job in cyber security, and if you want to land any of the jobs listed above, you’re going to need significant experience, education and certifications.
If you already work in the field of cyber security, you know how important certifications can be. While they are certainly not the end all be all, and will not land you a job on their own, they carry a lot of weight, are definite resume boosters and are sometimes required for employment. Important certifications that those looking to make a career in cyber security should consider obtaining include:
- CISSP – The Certified Information Systems Security Professional. If you want to work at the Department of Defense, obtaining your CISSP certification is a requirement. And it carries a lot of weight beyond the Dept. of Defense as well. By getting your CISSP certification you open the door to higher level positions and the possibility of increased pay.
- CISM – Certified Information Security Manager. This certification focuses on governance, risk management and compliance.
- CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor. This certification focuses on auditing, controlling, monitoring and assessing information systems and can add a significant pay boost to a cyber security professional’s annual salary.
- GIAC – Global Information Assurance Certification. This certification focuses on specialty hands-on technical capabilities such as intrusion detection and forensics among others.
- CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker. For entry-level applicants, a CEH certification can be a great way to land your first job or get you into an entry-level position at your top choice company.
Experience in the cyber security field is invaluable. Without experience even landing an entry-level job will be difficult. That’s why it is important to take advantage of internship opportunities while obtaining your bachelor’s degree so that you are prepared for jobs upon graduation. To get hired at a higher level in the cyber security field it is typical that employers will be looking for at least 8-10 years of experience.
Additionally, in the constantly changing field of cyber security it is imperative for cyber professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest in cyber crime. Life long learning and constant inquiry and vigilance are paramount for staying relevant and in demand in the cyber security field.
To land a top job in cyber security, education is key. While a bachelor’s degree in a related field is required for almost all cyber security positions from entry-level on up, those that aspire to the highest levels of cyber security and hope to have a long career in the profession should strongly consider a master’s degree. Cyber security master degree programs give students additional technical and theoretical skills and depending on the program can offer the leadership, managerial and business skills required in high-level positions. Popular degree programs that those interested in a cyber security career often consider are:
- MS in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership
- MS in Computer Science
- MS in Computer Engineering
- MS in Information Assurance
- MS in Information Technology
Choosing which program is right for you, of course, depends upon your ultimate career goals and aspirations.
At the University of San Diego we offer a 100% online Master’s of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership degree that can be completed in as little as 20 months. Visit our program page to learn more about our nationally ranked program.