Cybersecurity is arguably among the most in-demand fields of work in the world due to the recent digital transformation drive and the need to protect more and more applications, data sets and software, which are now considered critical business assets. A recent report has forecast significant shortages of skilled cybersecurity workers despite the fact that the industry will be worth more than $100 (£76) billion by the end of the decade. This shortage suggests there has never been a better time to pursue a career in security.
Job prospects in cybersecurity are excellent across the board as demand outstrips supply by a considerable margin and this status quo is set to persist for the foreseeable future. The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data is likely to lead to an even greater focus on cybersecurity, especially as the costs of breaches and attacks continue to spiral and threaten the very existence of businesses both large and small. Roles in the IT sector are also fulfilling and lucrative, which will appeal to both students and those looking for a career change.
IT and cybersecurity is a complex and multidisciplinary field so there isn’t one specific route that you should take to secure the job role you want. Technical skills are a core component of security so you will need a thorough understanding of IT systems. You can get the skills by completing a degree at a university or by obtaining industry standard qualifications and certifications from tech giants such as Microsoft. Practical experience is also hugely beneficial, so try to work on personal projects before applying for job roles. There is a vast range of job options to pursue in cybersecurity as it is now intertwined with so many fundamental business processes.
Chief information security officer (CISO)
Modern enterprises now require a clear and robust security strategy to monitor the threat landscape and manage cybersecurity initiatives. A CISO will play a major role in creating and enforcing this vision and strategy while overseeing security measures and guiding a team of experts. This senior level executive role mixes both management and security skills, so both business acumen and technology knowledge are required.
Security architects take up another senior level position in the cybersecurity hierarchy. An architect secures sensitive corporate data by planning, designing and building the necessary security systems. This role requires a deep understanding of network tech including virtual private networks (VPNs) and local area networks (LANs) to carry out assessments and first response strategies. You may also need soft skills because mentoring team members and answering technical and procedural questions are a common factor.
Incident responders are part of the first response security team. They are essentially cyber firefighters as they work diligently to address security threats and mitigate risks using a range of forensic tools. Responders have a focus on education and prevention involving day-to-day system monitoring and threat analysis. They also establish protocols for communication to ensure business collaboration and continuity, during and after, a breach, hack or attack.
Computer forensics expert
The growing mass of big data stored on devices means there is a rising demand for forensics experts. While the majority of roles in security are centred around prevention and optimisation, forensic experts investigate and analyse data following disasters and major incidents. The experienced digital team at Fields Data Recovery take a closer look at storage devices, networks and connected devices to recover information and compile evidence for legal cases. Employed by such a company as a forensics expert, you could be working for the government, consulting and legal firms, and law enforcement agencies among others.
Security software developer
If you have an interest in programming and coding in addition to cybersecurity, then pursuing a career as a security software developer might be desirable. Enterprises are now building applications and software from the ground up with security in mind. If you take on this role, you will be tasked with integrating security into the design and development phases of software development. You may also have to work with clients when deploying security software.
Cybersecurity is one of the greatest challenges for modern enterprises, but SMEs and even larger corporations still struggle to implement the correct security strategies. As an auditor, you would take up a mid-level position and examine the effectiveness of an enterprise’s current IT setup and provide a report detailing any improvements and changes required. Auditors need to evaluate factors such as regulations and compliance, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of policies.
Security engineers are arguably the most hands-on, technically focused roles available as they are not concerned with business wider strategies. Instead, engineers handle technical problems, install firewalls and antivirus software, and perform tests. You will need some knowledge of coding for this intermediate level position.
Cybersecurity is still an industry very much in its infancy, and its full career potential is yet to be realised. This is an exciting time for any student to opt for a career in the industry. It is important to remember that many of the skills you will learn will also provide you with a foundation to explore other facets of IT and tech.