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How to get a job in cybersecurity: Top paying jobs in cybersecurity

Cybersecurity ranks among the highest paying tech jobs. And professionals can launch their cybersecurity career in a matter of weeks.
Written by Genevieve Carlton, Contributor

With the number of cybersecurity threats growing, cybersecurity professionals play an essential role in protecting networks and private data. That's why a growing number of organizations rely on cybersecurity professionals. Entry-level cybersecurity jobs pay high salaries with strong demand. Professionals with experience increase their salaries and responsibilities in diverse cybersecurity careers. While many employers prefer job candidates with a degree, cybersecurity bootcamps can also prepare learners for the job market. 

Launching a successful cybersecurity career requires more than technical skills, however. Professionals also need soft skills, a strong resume, and clear career goals. This guide walks through how to get a job in cybersecurity. 

Entry-level cybersecurity jobs

Entry-level cybersecurity jobs help professionals gain experience and expand their resume. Many of these in-demand roles also lead to career advancement opportunities. After working as an information security analyst, security auditor, or penetration tester, experienced professionals move into higher paying roles with greater professional responsibilities.

  • Penetration tester: Penetration testers investigate security systems to identify weaknesses. They apply offensive and defensive tools to find and correct exploitable areas within a cybersecurity defense. These roles typically require a bachelor's degree and pay an average salary of  $87,500.
  • Incident response: Incidence response professionals help companies recover from security breaches and cyberattacks. Using the organization's incident response policies, these professionals protect data and investigate breaches. The career typically requires a bachelor's degree and pays an average of $73,500 per year.
  • Information security analyst: Information security analysts implement and monitor cybersecurity measures. They investigate cyberattacks, identify improvements in cybersecurity procedures, and conduct risk assessments after a security breach. These roles typically require a bachelor's degree and pay a median annual salary of $103,500.
  • Forensic computer analyst: Forensic computer analysts investigate cyberattacks and all types of cybercrimes. They often work with law enforcement to identify perpetrators and document internet crimes. Forensic computer analyst jobs typically require a bachelor's degree and pay an average salary of $74,700 per year.
  • Security auditor: Security auditors critically evaluate an organization's cybersecurity measures and procedures. After completing a security audit, they recommend improvements to the organization. These jobs typically require a bachelor's degree and pay an average salary of $84,000.

Top cybersecurity jobs

Many cybersecurity careers offer advancement opportunities, above-average salaries, and strong demand. But what are the best careers with a cybersecurity degree? 

Information security analysts rank among the top roles. These technology careers, which typically require less than five years of work experience, offer median salaries of more than $103,000 per year. The field also ranks among the fastest-growing occupations.

Other top careers include management-level roles like information security manager or chief information security officer. The median annual salary for computer and information systems managers exceeds $150,000 according to May 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These roles, which typically require cybersecurity experience, come with more responsibilities and decision-making duties. 

How to get a cybersecurity job

What's the best way to get a job in cybersecurity? Prospective cybersecurity professionals need to expand their knowledge base, identify their career goals, and prepare for the job market. With a mix of training and experience, job applicants can land their first cybersecurity jobs or advance their career.

  1. Explore the scope of cybersecurity.

The cybersecurity field requires a well-rounded understanding of computer systems, networking, and programming languages. Before launching a cybersecurity career, professionals need to understand what is cybersecurityalong with key technical skills. Courses in computer science, information technology, and information assurance help learners build those skills. 

Experienced cybersecurity professionals can also expand their horizons and add new skills to their tech stack. Learning new wireless technologies, practicing cryptography, and studying cloud computing all help current cybersecurity professionals advance.

This step also helps professionals identify their career goals. Entry-level incident responder jobs require different training and skills than cybersecurity manager roles. 

2. Pursue a baseline of knowledge.

After identifying cybersecurity goals, professionals must gain the baseline of knowledge and skills for the job market. 

Most cybersecurity jobs require a bachelor's degree, while many supervisory and management roles require a master's degree. Learners who prefer a flexible option can pursue an online cybersecurity degree. A program accredited by the National Centers of Academic Excellence or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology offers the greatest return on investment.

Outside of formal education, professionals can also enroll in a cybersecurity bootcamp to gain core skills. Short-term bootcamps, which often take 15-24 weeks, provide intensive training for specific career paths. 

3. Start small, ask questions, and learn from mistakes.

Cybersecurity professionals build their abilities gradually. That means starting small and seeing every opportunity as a chance to learn more. 

At any point in their careers, cybersecurity professionals can learn new skills, improve from mistakes, and gain experience. In a problem-solving field like cybersecurity, every setback offers another chance to learn. 

In addition to focusing on hard skills, cybersecurity professionals must also consider soft skills. Many cybersecurity careers require client interactions, making customer service skills key to success. Collaboration and communication also rank among the most important skills for tech professionals. 

From their first days learning cybersecurity to their last promotions, cybersecurity professionals can learn new skills and take lessons from their setbacks.

4. Set your target and be open to alternative paths.

A cybersecurity career can take professionals in many directions. Someone interested in algorithms for defense systems may also hold roles in cryptography or data science. A career in corporate security can lead to opportunities in the nonprofit sector. And an information technology specialist might swap IT security and cybersecurity. 

Tech professionals often do not follow linear career paths. They may take lateral steps, move into different roles, or switch tracks completely. An openness to learning and new experiences serves professionals well. Alternative paths may look like detours, but they can also lead professionals to unexpected careers.

5. Always be learning: Consider cybersecurity certifications.

In a continually evolving field, cybersecurity professionals must learn new skills throughout their careers. Cybersecurity certifications demonstrate specialized abilities through certification. Unlike a degree or certificate, which includes coursework, cybersecurity certifications test candidates on their technical abilities. 

Common cybersecurity certifications include:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Many certifications require 2-5 years of professional experience. Some also require tech degrees. Candidates typically pass an exam to earn their credential. The best tech certifications can increase a professional's earning potential or help them qualify for advanced roles. 

6. Draft your resume, practice your interview, and submit your application.

Applying for cybersecurity jobs can feel overwhelming. Even entry-level job applications may ask for a long list of technical competencies. Early-career applicants can make their resume stand out by emphasizing their experience in related fields and their soft skills. Linking to projects also demonstrates technical abilities.

Experienced cybersecurity professionals can showcase their tech skills through their work experience. Highlighting collaborative and supervisory experience helps these professionals move into advanced roles. 

Before a job interview, make sure to research the company and its culture. Practice answering common cybersecurity interview questions. And demonstrate interest in the job by asking questions during the interview. 

How to be a standout cybersecurity applicant

Whether applying for an entry-level cybersecurity job or a more advanced position, applicants need to stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips to maximize your odds on the job market.

To create a stand-out resume:

  • Use a simple, clear format
  • Highlight professional experience and soft skills
  • Include a list of technical skills and proficiencies
  • Link to your coding projects

To prepare for interviews:

  • Research the company
  • Come up with questions to ask the hiring manager
  • Practice skills assessment tests
  • Ask a friend to conduct a practice interview

After an interview, reach out to thank the hiring manager. You can also ask follow-up questions to show your interest in the job.

Cybersecurity bootcamps

Prospective tech professionals can also pursue cybersecurity jobs after completing a cybersecurity bootcamp. These bootcamps provide accelerated training in career-ready skills like network security, incidence response, and penetration testing. Our coding bootcamp guidewalks through the many options. This section focuses specifically on cybersecurity bootcamps. 

Is a cybersecurity bootcamp worth it?

A cybersecurity bootcamp builds key technical skills in a short amount of time. People interested in cybersecurity careers or current tech professionals seeking to expand their skill set may benefit from a bootcamp. 

How much is a cybersecurity bootcamp?

Cybersecurity bootcamps often cost over $10,000, depending on the program. Bootcamps typically qualify for less financial aid than certificate or degree programs. Some bootcamps offer financing options.

What cybersecurity bootcamps are there?

Learners can choose from multiple bootcamps. Many private organizations and college-affiliated bootcamps educate students in core cybersecurity principles and skills. Cybersecurity bootcamps may offer in-person or online enrollment, with both part-time and full-time schedules. This section introduces some cybersecurity bootcamps.

  • Columbia Engineering Cybersecurity Bootcamp: Offered through Columbia University, the bootcamp offers online and in-person options. Learners study on a part-time basis and complete the program in 24 weeks. 
  • Flatiron School Cybersecurity Engineering Bootcamp: An independent bootcamp, Flatiron School offers a cybersecurity engineering program. Learners choose between a full-time option that takes 15 weeks or a learn at your own pace option. The bootcamp costs $17,000.
  • Northwestern Cybersecurity Boot Camp: Northwestern University offers a part-time, online cybersecurity bootcamp. The 24-week program holds classes two weeknights per week and on Saturdays.
  • Berkeley Cybersecurity Bootcamp: The University of California Berkeley offers a 24 week, part-time bootcamp focused on cybersecurity. Learners complete the program online and the bootcamp costs $14,000.
  • Fullstack Academy Cybersecurity Analytics Bootcamp: Fullstack Academy, an independent program, offers a cybersecurity analytics bootcamp. The program offers full-time and part-time enrollment options and an online learning format. The cybersecurity bootcamp costs $16,000.

In conclusion

Cybersecurity jobs offer high pay and strong demand, making the field a smart investment. With the right training, professionals can launch careers in this growing field. Colleges, universities, and cybersecurity bootcamps all help learners break into the cybersecurity industry.

What careers are there in cybersecurity?

Professionals with cybersecurity training work as information security analysts, penetration testers, security auditors, and cybersecurity managers. These careers offer advancement opportunities.

How much does a cybersecurity professional make?

The median annual pay for information security analysts exceeds $103,000, according to May 2020 data from the BLS. That ranks above the median salary for computer and technology occupations.

Is cybersecurity a good career?

Cybersecurity offers a mix of above-average salaries and strong projected job growth. As a result, cybersecurity ranks among the best tech careers.

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