Cyber attacks are on the rise, and drastically so. As cyber criminals get bolder and more creative, businesses must attempt to stay one step ahead. The result: a massive jump in demand for cybersecurity experts.
According to recent data by Cyberseek.org, there were approximately 500,000 open jobs related to cybersecurity, between April 2020 and March 2021. And the demand for qualified individuals is only likely to increase. (See our blog on Five Reasons Why You Should Pursue a Career in Cybersecurity).
Cybersecurity is a broad field, however, with a variety of different entry points and career paths. In this guide, we’ve identified eight critical areas where cybersecurity jobs are in demand, and some of the specific skills you may need to launch your career.
Cybersecurity Jobs in Greatest Demand
Nearly every interaction we have with the online world is through software applications (apps), networks, and the cloud. Thus, the greatest demand is for programmers who can ensure that each of these interactions is secure from cyber attack.
In fact, Fortune says, “Cybersecurity is becoming one of the most in-demand industries in the U.S. Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of cybersecurity jobs will grow 33% in the next decade—more than four times faster than the average for all occupations.”
Application Development Security
According to Burning Glass, the demand for software developers and engineers who can design and build secure online applications is expected to grow by 164 percent over the next five years. The need for DevSecOps (short for development, security, and operations) specialists, who embed security deep inside the applications, is especially pressing.
- Skills you’ll need: Strong coding skills in a variety of languages, including Python, Shell, Java, and C++, as well as knowledge of system platforms such as Windows, Linux, and iOs
- Job titles in this field: Junior developer, software developer, information security engineer, security software developer, security specialist, network administrator
- Potential salary: $90,000 to $145,000, with a median salary of $120,000 nationally
These specialists build the architecture that enables secure interactions between applications and the cloud. Burning Glass ranks cloud security as the second fastest-growing cybersecurity field. And this career pathway may have the potential for the highest increases in salary.
- Skills you’ll need: Programming and database languages, including MySQL, Hadoop, Python, Ruby, Java, Php, and .NET; knowledge of Linux and cloud service providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, and OpenStack, as well as networking, web services, and APIs
- Job titles in this field: Cloud security engineer, cloud security architect, cloud security analyst, cloud security consultant
- Potential salary: $68,000 to $178,000, with a median of $128,000 nationally
Common Pathways into Cybersecurity
Most career pathways into cybersecurity require technical skills. Many cybersecurity professionals begin as software developers; IT professionals; and network, security, or system administrators.
Incident responders, “the police officers of the digital world,” identify when an attack occurs, limit the damage, and develop the methodology for restoring service and data.
- Skills you’ll need: Programming languages such as Java, Php, C++, Python, as well as all major operating systems; forensic software such as EnCase, Helix, XRY, and FTK
- Job titles in this field: Incident response engineer, cyber incident responder, computer security incident response team (CSIRT) engineer, computer network defense (CND) engineer
- Potential salary: annual median salary for an entry-level position is $55,000 nationally, with more senior salaries ranging closer to $110,000
Experts in threat intelligence prevent cyber attacks by thinking strategically and tactically about how an attack might occur. Vulnerability assessment involves identifying potential weaknesses during design and implementation. Penetration testers look for weaknesses in active systems.
- Skills you’ll need: Programming languages such as Java, Python, and C++, Linux and other OS; testing tools such as Nessus, Metasploit, SQLMap, and Jawfish
- Job titles in this field: Cyber threat intelligence analyst, penetration tester, cyber vulnerability analyst, ethical hacker, accurance validator, application security analyst
- Potential salary: Salaries for penetration testers can start around $87,000. Vulnerability and threat analysts are mid- to senior-level positions with a salary range of $103,000 to $131,000.
Identify and Access Management (IAM)
Identity and access management (IAM) experts design and implement systems for identifying and controlling who can access cloud-based and on-premise networks, servers, and data — and how they do so.
- Skills you’ll need: SQL and database management; directory technology and system authentication; scripting languages such as PHP, Perl, and Powershell
- Job titles in this field: IAM engineer, IAM security engineer, IAM analyst, IAM architect
- Potential salary range: $115,000 to $145,000
Collecting, transferring, and storing personal, financial, and health-related information requires robust, airtight security systems.
- Skills you’ll need: For an entry- or mid-level technical positions, knowledge of programming languages for data storage and access management is critical. Senior positions require additional knowledge of both national and international data protection regulations and data privacy law. Specialized certifications may also be required.
- Job titles in this field: Data security officer, data protection engineer, data privacy analyst, privacy governance analyst
- Potential salary: The national average annual salary for a data privacy engineer or analyst is $111,000.
Nontechnical Cybersecurity Roles
Most, although not all, cybersecurity professionals require some degree of technical knowledge. In mid- and senior-level positions, specialized knowledge, certifications, and skills become increasingly important.
Risk management involves analyzing the types of threats a particular industry and business faces. It requires a mix of technical skills and non-technical skills such as strong analysis, creative thinking, communication, and problem solving.
- Skills you’ll need: Coding and programming languages; knowledge of governance, regulatory structures, and strategy
- Job titles in this field: Cyber risk analyst, cyber risk manager, cyber security analyst, information security risk analyst
- Potential salary: $90,000 to $175,000; national median $114,000
Cybersecurity today means not just keeping hackers out. It also means ensuring that your networks, applications, and databases meet all necessary legal requirements. Compliance analysts must know the appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks, develop strategy to meet those standards, and conduct audits to ensure continued compliance.
- Skills you’ll need: Knowledge of security control assessments and audits, FISMA, NIST, and SOC-2 information security standards, and common IT security-related regulations and standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley and ISO. May require specialized industry certifications.
- Job titles in this field: Cybersecurity policy analyst, cybersecurity compliance lead, cybersecurity compliance manager, cybersecurity compliance analyst
- Potential salary: $78,000 to $123,000, national median $94,500; higher for individuals with specialized certifications
Cybersecurity is a dynamic, fast-paced career choice. Help fill the cybersecurity jobs gap today by building your unique skillset through continuing education, certifications, and on-the-job upskilling. While developing the right skills may not happen overnight, you can be certain that cybersecurity jobs will be waiting for you when you’re ready.
*Note: All salary data provided here are informational only and are not a guarantee. Cybersecurity salaries are highly dependent on level of education, years of experience, specialized skills, additional certifications, and job location.