How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity
Written by: Hilbert College • May 10, 2023
How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity ¶
As companies continue to adopt and increase their use of digital technology and internet-based services, there has been a rise in cybercrime, resulting in increased company losses from damages and delays. IBM reported in 2022 that the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. had reached a record high of $4.35 million, taking an average of 277 disruptive days to identify and contain each breach.
These attacks aren’t just unlucky breaks for a handful of big companies. Survey data from Check Point Research shows a 50% increase in cyberattack attempts on corporate networks globally in 2021 over the previous year. Since the rate and consequences of cyberattacks only seem to be increasing, organizations will likely look to fill increasingly crucial cybersecurity roles, giving individuals interested in cybersecurity excellent opportunities to enter a thriving career field.
This increase in cyber breaches has already produced a growing and widening demand for knowledgeable professionals. Prospective cybersecurity experts have a variety of career choices in the industry, allowing them to tailor their career path to their skills and interests. Those looking to learn how to start a career in cybersecurity should consider the benefits of a cybersecurity degree in preparing them for the professional role of their choice.
Why Choose a Cybersecurity Career? ¶
As more organizations rely on sophisticated databases and web-based platforms to conduct their operations, the need for cybersecurity professionals to protect their systems and data becomes more critical. This need is even more paramount when considering the increasing frequency and severity of cyberattacks.
Moreover, a career in cybersecurity can offer excellent potential for career growth and development. With the rise in demand for cybersecurity professionals, there are likely to be greater opportunities for career advancement. The skills and knowledge gained through cybersecurity training and work can also transfer across various industries, allowing for flexibility and diversity in career paths.
Additionally, a career in cybersecurity can be gratifying for individuals who enjoy investigating and solving problems, as well as those who take pride in protecting individuals and organizations from cyberthreats. The enormous cost of cyberattacks means cybersecurity professionals have an increasingly important and valuable role to play in today’s economy and social fabric.
How to Prepare for a Career in Cybersecurity ¶
Individuals looking to learn how to start a career in cybersecurity should understand the requirements most companies have for those positions. Here are a few steps to help prospective cybersecurity professionals begin their career journey.
Earn a Degree ¶
Many companies looking to take on cybersecurity experts require candidates to have earned a relevant degree that demonstrates they’ve developed the necessary knowledge to succeed. Most cybersecurity employers look for applicants who possess at least a bachelor’s degree, ideally in cybersecurity, though degrees in computer science are often acceptable. Depending on the career path, or if leadership is a desired role, some careers may require a master’s degree as well.
Prospective students should look for programs that offer courses in network security, computer science, digital forensics and cyber ethics, which can provide a well-rounded education on various cybersecurity subjects.
Acquire Cyber Security Skills ¶
Potential cybersecurity professionals should build relevant skills to augment the cybersecurity knowledge they’ve gained as part of their academic education. Technical knowledge and proficiency in specific tools and technologies used in cybersecurity, such as programming languages like Python and network security concepts like firewalls, can be beneficial, and can help target a specific career path of choice.
Pursuing cybersecurity certifications, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), can also be beneficial. Certifications demonstrate expertise in various cybersecurity standards and indicate to employers proven knowledge of launching cybersecurity programs.
In addition to technical skills, interpersonal skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving are critical for cybersecurity professionals. Mastering the ability to communicate and work effectively with a team of professionals, either as a peer or leader, can be essential for managing security incidents and collaborating with other departments within an organization. Problem-solving skills are also essential for identifying and addressing security threats and vulnerabilities.
Gain Practical Experience ¶
By acquiring practical experience, individuals can demonstrate to potential employers that they know how to apply their skills at any given moment and are comfortable performing the position’s tasks. One way to gain practical experience is through internships, which can provide opportunities to work with seasoned cybersecurity professionals and learn about the day-to-day tasks of the job. Volunteering for cybersecurity-related projects or participating in cybersecurity competitions can also provide valuable experience.
Cybersecurity Career Paths ¶
Cybersecurity involves multiple specialties that professionals can choose from to align with their skills and interests. Here are a few professional options for individuals who wish to learn how to start a career in cybersecurity.
Information Security Analyst ¶
Information security analysts protect companies from cyberthreats. They analyze potential security risks and implement measures to prevent attacks. Information security analysts develop and apply security policies and procedures, conduct regular security audits and monitor networks for suspicious activity. They also collaborate with other IT professionals to ensure that new security measures integrate properly into an organization’s technology infrastructure.
Information Security Analyst Salary ¶
According to 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for an information security analyst is $102,600. The BLS projects 35% growth in job opportunities between 2021 and 2031. This is significantly higher than the average growth rate for the U.S. job market as a whole. Factors that are fueling this job expansion include the increasing need to prevent cyberattacks plus the expansion of new digital technologies by companies across most industries.
Network and Computer Systems Administrator ¶
Network and computer systems administrators manage the day-to-day maintenance and support of their organization’s various networks, ensuring the network is secure from cyberthreats. They also manage user accounts, configure security settings and create backups of critical data.
Network and Computer Systems Administrator Salary ¶
The median annual salary for a network and computer systems administrator is $80,600 as of 2021, according to the BLS. The BLS projects a 3% growth rate in job openings between 2021 and 2031, which is slightly lower than the average growth rate for all occupations. However, demand for this profession is likely to be steady as more companies expand their need for network usage.
Forensic Science Technician ¶
Forensic science technicians use scientific techniques to analyze physical and digital evidence in criminal investigations. In cybersecurity, forensic science technicians, often called digital forensics analysts, may examine computer systems and networks for evidence of cybercrime. They may also work to recover lost or deleted data and provide expert testimony in legal proceedings.
Forensic Science Technician Salary ¶
According to 2021 data from the BLS, the median annual salary for a forensic science technician is $61,930. The BLS projects an 11% growth in job opportunities between 2021 and 2031, higher than the average growth rate for all occupations. Job growth is attributed to the development of new technologies by organizations across all industries, allowing technicians to address more types of information and increase their value to their employer.
Computer Support Specialist ¶
Computer support specialists provide technical support to individuals and organizations who use computer systems and software. They troubleshoot issues, guiding staff on properly using software and hardware. They’re also responsible for performing routine maintenance and upgrades as in-house technicians or as contractors who are employed by third parties. Computer support specialists also assist with various cybersecurity issues, such as malware removal and security software installation.
Computer Support Specialist Salary ¶
The median annual salary for a computer support specialist is $57,910 as of 2021, according to the BLS. The BLS projects a 6% growth in jobs between 2021 and 2031, somewhat higher than the average growth rate for the U.S. job market as a whole.
Network Operations Center (NOC) Engineer ¶
Network Operations Center (NOC) engineers monitor and maintain an organization’s computer network connectivity issues, resolving any outages that might prevent a company from relaying data to its network, whether stored in the cloud or on-site. They use monitoring tools and techniques to ensure the network functions correctly and identify and resolve any issues. An NOC engineer may also implement network upgrades and new technologies and ensure the network is secure from cyberthreats.
Network Operations Center (NOC) Engineer Salary ¶
According to the compensation website Payscale, the median annual salary for network operations engineers is around $62,800 as of March 2023. The BLS projects a 3% growth in jobs for network and computer systems administrator positions, including NOC engineers, between 2021 and 2031. While this is lower than the average growth rate for all occupations, the need for NOC engineers should remain steady as more companies adapt to cloud-based services and systems.
Take Your Next Step Toward a Cybersecurity Career ¶
The ever-expanding need for cybersecurity specialists provides various opportunities for those looking to learn how to start a career in cybersecurity. Those who are interested to begin their journey in cybersecurity should consider the benefits of the online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity offered at Hilbert College Global.
Featuring a flexible eight-week curriculum, the program provides a wide range of knowledge on subjects that encompass multiple elements of cybersecurity and digital forensics. The program is designed to set you on the right track toward an exciting career that appeals to your skills and interests.
Discover how to prevent and reduce the threat of cybercrime with a degree from Hilbert College Global.
Check Point Research, “Cyber Attacks Increased 50% Year over Year” IBM, Cost of a Data Breach 2022
Indeed, “Guide to Entry-Level Cybersecurity Job Requirements”
Indeed, “How To Become a Cyber Security Analyst: A Complete Guide”
Indeed, “How To Become an Information Security Analyst”
Indeed, “What Does a Computer Forensic Investigator Do? (With Skills)”
Indeed, “What Does an IT Support Specialist Do? And How To Become One”
Payscale, Network Operations Center (NOC) Engineer Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Support Specialists
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forensic Science Technicians
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Network and Computer Systems Administrator