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Top 3 Careers in Cyber Security

It’s not an exaggeration to say there’s a critical shortage of cyber security professionals. According to the nonprofit IT security organization (ISC)², there are currently 2.93 million positions open and unfilled worldwide. 

Why is that cause for alarm? If organizations don’t have trained security staff, they remain highly vulnerable to data breaches every day. That means a public relations disaster (and a multi-million dollar price tag to fix the problem) is looming over their heads. Not surprisingly, employers across every industry are ready to pay top dollar for skilled cyber security graduates. 

Ready to join this dynamic, growing field? We’ve put together a top cyber security careers list, so you can learn more about each role, the education you’ll need, and what you can expect to earn.

Cyber Security Roles and Responsibilities

Before we dive into the top three careers, it’s important to note that cyber security positions can vary in responsibilities depending on your work setting. Small businesses may hire a single person to handle all IT security. Others may contract with consultants to focus on specific areas of weakness. Large organizations may have whole departments with very specialized roles. 

The three positions in this blog will give you a sense of generalist roles, but also offer ideas for where you might choose to specialize. And while there are many overlapping titles on job boards, we’ve relied on CyberSeek for our terminology with some common alternates.

1. Cyber Security Specialist | Technician

Also: Information Security Specialist, IT Security Specialist

What Does a Cyber Security Specialist Do?

As defined by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework, the cyber security specialist or technician may be responsible for (or work collaboratively with other IT staff) to:

  • Manage security issues related to customer service, data administration, or knowledge management
  • Oversee networks and their firewalls to monitor potential threats
  • Handle data access control, passwords, and account creation and administration
  • identify, analyze, and report events that occur or might occur within the network to protect information, information systems, and networks
  • Conduct assessments of threats and vulnerabilities and recommend appropriate countermeasures 
  • Mitigate immediate and potential threats

What Other Specializations Could I Choose?

Depending on your interests, and if you’d like to work in a larger organization, you might consider one of these roles, which expand on some of the responsibilities above:

  • Cyber Crime Analyst/Investigator
  • Incident Analyst/Responder
  • IT Auditor

What are the Education Requirements for a Cyber Security Specialist?

According to CyberSeek, of the roughly 8,000 Cyber Security Specialist job openings they reviewed, 58 percent required at least a bachelor’s degree and 27 percent required a graduate degree. The remaining 15 percent required less than a bachelor’s with equivalent experience and certifications. 

A bachelor’s degree is the best path forward to start your career in cybersecurity. St. Thomas University offers a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with Cyber Security Specialization. This program is the perfect blend of business concepts and practical information security skills. This combination will make you a highly desirable candidate and allow you to choose from a wide variety of career directions.

What’s the Average Salary for a Cyber Security Specialist?

We looked at two different career sites to get an accurate picture of the salary outlook in the United States.

  • ZipRecruiter reports the majority of Cyber Security Specialist salaries currently fall between $83,500 to $125,000.
  • Indeed provides an average salary of $117,527 per year over the last 36 months. This is based on nearly 4,000 salaries submitted anonymously. 

As a Cyber Security Specialist, you’ll work closely with other members of your IT team to maintain security best practices and respond to incidents as they occur. 

2. Cyber Security Analyst

Also: Information Security Analyst, IT Security Analyst, Cyber Security Manager

What Does a Cyber Security Analyst Do?

The cyber security analyst’s responsibilities often include the tasks described in the specialist job description above. Their day-to-day involvement depends on the size of the IT staff. However, the Analyst is typically more of a managerial position. This role will:

  • Oversee processes necessary to assure that existing and new IT systems meet the organization’s cybersecurity and risk requirements
  • Develop and write/code computer applications or software to follow security best practices
  • Translate technology laws and regulations into system and security designs and processes
  • Conduct technology assessment and integration processes
  • Develop and conduct system tests to evaluate compliance with security specifications

What Other Specializations Could I Choose?

A related position you might want to consider is Penetration/Vulnerability Tester or Ethical Hacker. This role involves looking for weaknesses in IT systems, networks, and applications using the same tactics as criminal hackers. 

What are the Education Requirements for a Cyber Security Analyst?

A bachelor’s degree is a definite must for the Cyber Security Analyst role. With more responsibility, employers will be seeking individuals with on-the-job experience, certifications, and/or a graduate degree. 

St. Thomas University has several graduate programs that can give you the skills you need. You can choose from a master’s in Cyber & Information Security Management or an MBA in Cyber & Information Security depending on what direction you’d like your career to go. Our MBA program is also offered online.

What is the Average Salary for a Cyber Security Analyst?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Information Security Analysts made a median salary of $98,350 per year in 2018. They also noted, “Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

3. Information Security Officer

Also: Cyber Security Administrator

What Does An Information Security Officer Do?

The Information Security Officer is an executive-level role that requires both management skills and IT security knowledge. In addition to overseeing the duties described in the previous two positions, this person will:

  • Develop policies and/or advocate for policy changes that support organizational initiatives or improvements
  • Supervise work and workers performing cyber-related work
  • Provide legally sound advice and recommendations to leadership and staff related to cyber security
  • Create, deliver, and/or evaluate cyber security training courses
  • Oversee acquisition of hardware, software, and information systems

What Other Specializations Could I Choose?

You might also want to explore a high-level specialized position like Cyber Security Engineer to design secure network solutions to defend against advanced cyber attacks, hacking, and persistent threats. 

cyber security specialist

The Information Security Officer oversees the cybersecurity program of an organization, including personnel, infrastructure, requirements, policy enforcement, emergency planning, security awareness, and other resources.

What are the Education Requirements for an Information Security Officer?

An Information Security Officer will require a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Without significant experience, it’s unlikely you’d be hired without a graduate degree or proof of advanced learning. You might consider St. 

Thomas University’s Graduate Certificate in Cyber & Information Security Management. Our 12-credit curriculum includes four courses:

  • Ethical Hacking for Business
  • Cyber Security Governance
  • Enterprise Information Security
  • Cyber Security Risk Management

Or make a significant mark on the industry by obtaining the Executive Doctor of Business Administration in Information Security. This is the first program of its kind, designed to meet the needs of the growing cyber security field.

What is the Average Salary for an Information Security Officer?

Since the US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t specifically break out the salary for this position, we’ve gathered information from two alternate sources.

  • ZipRecruiter reports that Information Security Officer salaries currently range between $95,000 to $138,000.
  • On Payscale, a mid-career Information Security Officer can expect between $91,000 to $129,000.

If you want to be on the cutting edge of technology, deliver an essential service, and enjoy excellent compensation, there’s no better career choice than cyber security. St. Thomas University’s cybersecurity degrees can help you create your own path forward – whether you’re just starting out or want to specialize for better job opportunities. Contact us to learn more about our programs.

Erin B. Ayrim

Author Erin B. Ayrim

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