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How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Qualified Applicants Are Desperately Needed for Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a growing field with plenty of opportunity as businesses try to find qualified applicants. A career as a cybersecurity analyst offers working moms an opportunity to put computer skills to use and earn a decent salary. The job of cybersecurity analyst, also known as information security analyst, is ranked as the second-best technology job by U.S. News and World Report.

Job Description

Those looking for a career in cybersecurity can generally choose one of two routes: leadership and management or engineering.

Both roles require a thorough understanding of cybersecurity, which involves planning and carrying out security measures to protect an organization’s computer systems and networks from hackers. Duties might include developing new security standards for an organization, monitoring the organization’s networks, installing and using protective software, and staying up to date on information technology security trends. Without protection, networks are vulnerable to malware, hacks and viruses, which can result in the loss of millions of dollars and personal information.

If there's a data breach, you'll respond to the attack to minimize the damage. You'll also document the extent of the breach and the amount of damage caused by the violation.

Education Requirements

Most cybersecurity analysts have a bachelor’s degree in information technology, information systems or computer science. Many even have a master’s degree in cybersecurity operations and leadership or information technology.

In addition to getting your undergrad degree, you also need to achieve certain certifications. These show your level of expertise in different areas. Some of the most common certifications are CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Security Manager, Certified Information Systems Auditor, Global Information Assurance Certification and Certified Ethical Hacker. The certifications you need depend on the job, and they are administered by independent accrediting organizations.

The median annual wage for cybersecurity analysts is $92,600, according to the United States Department of Labor. This means half of the employees in this type of job make less, and half make more.

About the Industry

Cybersecurity analysts work in a number of different areas. The highest number of analysts work in the area of computer systems design and related services, followed by finance and insurance; then management of companies and enterprises, information; and finally, administrative and support services, reports the Department of Labor.

Most work full-time indoors in an office setting. In case of an emergency, you may have to work outside of normal business hours.

Years of Experience

With a huge shortage of cybersecurity professionals, you should have no problem finding a job with the right education and certifications. If you’re an entry-level analyst, though, it doesn’t hurt to add even more credit to your resume by networking.

Join cybersecurity organizations in your area. Many cities have their own organizations, which provide education in the field and also connections with professionals in the industry.

Volunteer with a cybersecurity organization, such as Cyberjutsu or ISACA, which was previously known as Information Systems Audit and Control Association. Volunteering with this type of organization looks good on your resume, provides hands-on education and helps you network.

As you gain experience, you can decide whether to advance or not. Eventually, you could become some type of computer and information systems manager, such as an information technology security manager. The median annual wage in this position is $135,800.

Job Growth Trend

The job growth trend for cybersecurity analysts is much faster than average. Cyberattacks are growing in frequency, and organizations are looking for ways to prevent hackers from stealing valuable information as well as costing them millions of dollars. Eighty-eight percent of businesses and IT professionals registered with ISACA consider cyberattacks one of the three biggest threats facing organizations today. This fear is leading companies to build their cybersecurity defenses.