Topic.2 | Cybersecurity
Topic | Cybersecurity

Careers in Cybersecurity

Chapter 06/07


Discover some of the careers available in the cybersecurity field. Explore the educational requirements and average salaries of different types of cybersecurity jobs.

Key Terms:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Patch

When Nickyra Jackson was in high school, she already knew what she wanted to be when she grew up: a lawyer.

Her dad worked as a NASA engineer, and she enjoyed going to work with him, but she had no desire to follow in his footsteps. She went to the University of Maryland and majored in criminology to prepare for law school. Then, during an internship in the Office of the Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, she made an unexpected discovery: She learned that she enjoyed working at the intersection of technology and policy.

Diners toast glasses full of white wine.

“It was a turning point for me,” she said. “I was surrounded by engineers, policy and security experts. I loved it.”

Jackson didn’t get that law degree after all. Instead she earned two master’s degrees and became a systems engineer focusing on cybersecurity and privacy at Mitre Corporation, a large nonprofit organization that operates federally funded research and development centers. That’s how she became one of the millions of skilled professionals working in the burgeoning field of cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Career Outlook

Cybersecurity is a job sector on the upswing—and that’s putting it mildly. Official estimates put job growth in the sector at 37% per year view citation[1] at least through 2022. Every year at least 40,000 information security analyst positions go unfilled in the U.S. view citation[2] At the beginning of 2018, an estimated 500,000 cybersecurity jobs with U.S. firms were unfilled. view citation[3] With an average salary of $116,000 view citation[4] (nearly three times the national average) and a job demand growing 12 times faster than the supply of professionals to fill the positions, the cybersecurity sector could be career heaven for the right person.

Skills Required to Work in Cybersecurity

People who work in cybersecurity need good instincts for intelligence gathering, puzzle solving and reconnaissance.

They have to be able to imagine how data is vulnerable to attacks, and they must develop thoughtful, thorough plans to keep that data secure. Above all they have to stay laser-focused on the goal of cybersecurity: protecting information that people and companies keep on their computers and stepping up to save the day if a data breach occurs.

Technology is only one piece of the puzzle. These experts also have to understand intricate processes—and they need to know how to communicate, too. Cybersecurity experts protect an organization’s hardware and software, develop risk-analysis plans and figure out how to meet legal requirements. Most importantly, cybersecurity experts educate people on privacy and how to keep their data protected. Teaching people how to protect their digital assets is one of the more challenging aspects of cybersecurity, but it’s also the most effective way to keep digital data safe.

Banks, hospitals and major companies all work with cybersecurity experts because those organizations keep huge amounts of data on file: Social Security numbers, credit card details, home addresses, intellectual property, photos and videos, health and financial information, and more. Clearly, there’s a lot at stake. Once hackers have infiltrated a computer system and gained control of that data, they can sell the personally identifiable information on the dark web, demand a ransom or make it public.

Staying a step—or a mile—ahead of attackers requires logic, tenacity and the ability to take on cagey challengers. But it isn’t all gloom and doom; in cybersecurity, a breach is your moment to shine.

Cybersecurity Jobs

A security administrator in a management meeting.

Security Administrator

Cybersecurity starts at the ground level, where security administrators manage security solutions, monitor networks and roll out patches. Everything you need to know in this job is covered by Security+, a certification designed to set people up to succeed in this technical role.

Education requirement: CompTIA Security+ certification with experience

Also accepted: Bachelor’s degree in information technology, information systems or computer science

Annual salary: $55,000

A security specialist reviewing data.

Security Specialist

The next step in cybersecurity comes with management responsibilities. Security specialists delegate jobs to others and wield control of the tech tools used to deploy security measures. They also advise people outside the tech department about issues related to IT.

Education requirement: CompTIA Security+ certification with experience, or CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst certification with experience

Also accepted: Bachelor’s degree in information technology, information systems or computer science

Annual salary: $58,490

An information assurance technician in a meeting at the DoD.

Information Assurance Technician

Information assurance technicians maintain, process and troubleshoot computers for the military. U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) requirements mean many information assurance specialist and technician roles require CompTIA Security+ certification. As your role grows, the DoD will likely require the tough and technical CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification. Civilians consulting on military contracts and working in networks that require clearance could also be required to have CompTIA Security+ or CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certifications.

Education requirement: CompTIA Security+ certification to start; CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification to advance

Annual salary: $53,820

An information security analyst.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts do high-level network monitoring and use analytics tools to determine network vulnerabilities and how to respond to threats. Professionals who work in this role—the fastest-growing segment of the cybersecurity job market—use security information and event management tools to untangle the data from complicated log files and put it in context so the security team can develop plans of action. CompTIA’s Cybersecurity Analyst+ certification teaches everything someone in this role needs to know.

Education requirement: CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst certification with experience, or CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification with experience

Additional requirements: Companies will likely require a bachelor’s degree in information technology, information systems or computer science, unless you’ve already logged years of cybersecurity experience.

Annual salary: $92,600

A senior cybersecurity architect.

Senior Cybersecurity Architect/Engineer

Senior cybersecurity architects (also known as cybersecurity engineers) design, build and execute robust security plans. At this high level in cybersecurity, you’ll perform risk analysis and security checks, develop plans for responding to breaches and cyberattacks, estimate the plans’ costs and then build them or direct your security team to see it through. Cybersecurity experts at this level should prep for the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner exam.

Education requirement: CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification plus experience

Additional requirements: At this level, companies will require a bachelor’s degree in information technology, information systems or computer science (or years of cybersecurity experience).

Annual salary: $162,641


  1. “Cybersecurity: Not Just "A" Job - Many Jobs Of The Future.” Forbes. October 2018. View Source

  2. “The Fast-Growing Job With A Huge Skills Gap: Cyber Security.” Forbes. March 2017. View Source

  3. “Cybersecurity: Not Just "A" Job - Many Jobs Of The Future.” Forbes. October 2018. View Source

  4. “Veterans: Launch a New Cybersecurity Career.” NICCS. May 2019. View Source

Next Section

The Future of Cybersecurity

Chapter 07 of 07

Learn how cybersecurity technologies will grow and change as other emerging technologies, such as artifical intelligence, become more prevalent.