Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


Best careers with a cybersecurity degree

The growing cybersecurity field protects sensitive data and private networks from cyberattacks. Professionals with a cybersecurity degree benefit from strong demand and high salaries.
Written by Genevieve Carlton, Contributor
white man with brown hair sitting in front of two computer monitors
Shuttersock / Roman Samborskyi

Companies around the world depend on cybersecurity professionals to stop security breaches and investigate cybercrimes. 

A cybersecurity degree opens the door for many jobs in information assurance and cybersecurity. Graduates work as information security analysts, penetration testers, and forensic computer analysts. With experience, they move into management-level roles like cybersecurity manager or chief information security officer. 

But what are the best jobs for cybersecurity majors? Many cybersecurity careers offer six-figure median salaries and strong demand. The best careers with a cybersecurity degree provide more than a paycheck, though. This list ranks factors like work-life balance and job satisfaction in addition to salary. 

In-demand cybersecurity skills

Employers look for certain qualities in cybersecurity job candidates, and professionals bring a variety of people and technical skills to information security roles. 

In addition to morality and integrity, cybersecurity careers require high-level tech abilities. Before launching a cybersecurity job search, make sure to focus on these in-demand skills.

People skills

  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Time management and organizational skills
  • The ability to think creatively about problems
  • Strong presentation and teaching skills
  • Customer service and business skills

Technical skills

  • Knowledge of security incident response
  • Digital forensics and investigation skills
  • Security information and event management (SIEM) software
  • Data gathering and analytics
  • Monitoring and implementing intrusion detection systems

SEE: 5 soft skills for computer science careers

Cybersecurity career certifications: Enhance your degree

Professional certification helps cybersecurity specialists demonstrate their skills and advance their careers. While tech certifications are voluntary, many employers prefer to hire job candidates with certifications. 

A certification also helps professionals move into specialized roles. Many companies and professional organizations offer cybersecurity certifications, which typically require passing scores on an exam. You may also need a certain number of years' professional experience to qualify for the exam.

Popular choices for cybersecurity professionals include CompTIA's certifications, ISACA certifications

Check out our articles on the best tech certifications and the best IT certifications for more details.

Best jobs for cybersecurity majors

After earning a cybersecurity degree, graduates work as analysts, engineers, and consultants. In these roles, they protect private data and investigate cyberattacks. 

Many of the jobs for cybersecurity majors offer high salaries and strong demand. According to Payscale, people who hold a BS in cybersecurity earn an average of $73,000 per year, while those with a master's in the field may earn $90,000 on average.

This list of the best careers with a cybersecurity degree lists the degree requirements, job duties, and abilities necessary for each. 

To rank the best cybersecurity careers, we rated roles on salary, job demand and projected growth, remote work opportunities, work-life balance, and work satisfaction. We weighted salary, work-life balance, and work satisfaction most heavily.

1. Cybersecurity engineer

Median annual salary: $98,391 (June 2022)
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Required certifications: CISSP or other certifications recommended

Good fit for: People with strong technical and analytical skills; those with good communication and collaborative abilities; creative problem-solvers

Cybersecurity engineers protect private data from cyberattacks. They implement security software and procedures, including cyberattack detection systems and firewalls. Cybersecurity engineers also assess the risk of data breaches and conduct tests to find weaknesses. They recommend information security measures to decision makers.

2. Cryptographer

Average annual salary: Not available
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Required certifications: Certifications recommended but not required

Good fit for: Those with strong encryption and algorithm training; detail-oriented thinkers; people with strong analytical skills

Cryptographers encode information to protect it from unauthorized users. They create codes using tools like algorithms to prevent cybercriminals from accessing sensitive information. Cryptographers also analyze encryption systems and ciphers to identify and correct potential weaknesses. In an always-evolving field, cyptographers must continually learn about new technologies and hacking strategies.

3. Cybersecurity consultant

Average annual salary: $81,122
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Required certifications: CompTIA certification or other certifications recommended

Good fit for: People with strong technical and business skills; those with a problem-solving outlook; detail-oriented thinkers

Cybersecurity consultants advise clients on how to protect private data and prevent cyberattacks. They develop custom information security plans, conduct risk or treat analyses, and research cybersecurity improvements. Cybersecurity consultants also report their findings to decision makers and implement upgrades.

4. Forensic computer analyst

Average annual salary: $75,327
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Required certifications: Certification recommended but not required

Good fit for: People with analytical and investigative abilities; those with strong technical skills; detail-oriented thinkers

Forensic computer analysts collect digital evidence after a cyberattack or security breach. Using data retrieval techniques, they analyze the data to identify the perpetrators. Many forensic computer analysts work in law enforcement, where they investigate cybercrimes. The career path requires investigative skills and some legal training. 

5. Computer network architect

Average annual salary: $75,146 
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's or master's
Required certifications: Certification like CompTIA Network+ recommended but not required

Good fit for: Tech-minded people with business skills; those with strong organizational and leadership abilities; detail-oriented people

Computer network architects create custom data communication networks for organizations. Some specialize in cloud infrastructure. Computer network architects work closely with organizations to understand their data communication needs. They then develop network plans that meet information security best practices. Computer network architects then oversee and upgrade networks. 

6. Chief information security officer

Average annual salary: $168,687
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's or master's
Required certifications: Certified CISO or other certification recommended

Good fit for: Experienced cybersecurity professionals; those with management experience; people with strong organizational and communication skills

Chief information security officers, also known as CISOs, manage an organization's cybersecurity needs. They supervise cybersecurity professionals, develop security systems, and minimize the risk of a security breach. CISOs also work with executives to respond to cyberattacks and oversee digital forensic investigations.

7. Information security analyst

Average annual salary: $73,464
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Required certifications: CISSP or other certification recommended

Good fit for: Creative thinkers with strong problem-solving skills; detail-oriented people; those with exceptional analytical abilities

Information security analysts protect organizations from security breaches and cyberattacks. They evaluate networks to identify weaknesses, investigate cyberattacks, and implement procedures to improve security. After an attack, information security analysts identify improvements and recommend security standards. They also train users on following security protocols. 

8. Penetration tester

Average annual salary: $88,376
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Required certifications: Certification recommended by not required

Good fit for: Trained ethical hackers; people with strong analytical and technical skills; strong problem-solvers

Penetration testers identify weaknesses in cybersecurity defenses so organizations can improve their security. They simulate cyberattacks to test computer systems and networks. Penetration testers draw on hacking strategies to find vulnerabilities. They report these vulnerabilities so organizations can implement stronger defenses and prevent security breaches. 

9. Incident analyst

Average annual salary: $77,177
Minimum degree required: Bachelor's
Required certifications: Certification recommended by not required

Good fit for: Detail-oriented people; those with strong analytical and problem-solving skills; good collaborators

Incident analysts investigate cyberattacks and other cybersecurity incidents. They must identify and document weaknesses in the network. Incident analysts then develop strategies to prevent future incidents. When not investigating specific incidents, they also monitor networks and implement new security practices.

What are the highest paying cybersecurity jobs?

The highest paying jobs in cybersecurity include chief information officer, cybersecurity manager, and information security manager. Many cybersecurity careers offer high salaries. 

What are the best entry-level cybersecurity jobs?

Recent cybersecurity graduates often launch their careers by working as incident analysts, penetration testers, or information security analysts. Some roles require prior tech experience. 

How do I start a cybersecurity job with no experience?

Many of the best careers with a cybersecurity degree expect some prior experience. Professionals can gain experience through internships, freelancing, working in a related tech field, or pursuing professional certifications. 

Does cybersecurity require coding?

Most cybersecurity professionals have a background in coding. While some roles do not require programming skills, employers often expect some familiarity with coding. 

Which certification is best for cybersecurity?

The best certification depends on the professional's career goals and specializations. Many certifications help cybersecurity professionals advance their careers. 

Unless otherwise noted, all salary data is drawn from Payscale as of June 17, 2022.

Editorial standards