There was a time when a career in IT was limited to mainframe computers and network support. IT professionals were charged with ensuring technology worked correctly within their organizations so employees could get their jobs done without glitches. Those days seem like ancient history now, as the field of IT has grown to include countless tasks and roles.
Protecting enterprise data and infrastructure has become one of the most critical roles of IT thanks to the rise of cyber attacks. We transmit vast quantities of sensitive data digitally as transactions are made, and we store even more, creating veritable gold mines for hackers who want to steal valuable information, commit denial-of-service attacks, or simply create havoc.
The need for people with cyber security skills is far outpacing the number of qualified applicants, making this a career choice worth considering.
Cyber Security As the New Frontier in IT
Although it has one primary goal—protecting networks, computers, programs, and data from attack, damage and unauthorized access—this field is made up of technologies, processes and practices working together. It is sometimes referred to as information technology security, or IT security because the IT department owns the task of protection and defense.
Cyber security is needed in every domain, from the government to corporate, military to medical, financial to personal, because each one collects, stores and transmits data, much of which is sensitive information. Think back to the Equifax data breach and you’ll realize how far-reaching the effects of a cyber attack can be—the personal information of almost half the population of the United States was compromised during that attack.
As the amount of digital data and transactions grow, so does the need for cyber security professionals in a variety of roles. This has opened the doors to a lucrative career move for both seasoned IT professionals and those making a lateral career move into a new field.
If you’re considering a cyber security certification to either advance or change your career, there are many compelling reasons to do so, including a strong demand in the job market, the pay, the opportunities, and the ease with which you can become qualified.
1. The Demand for Cyber Security Professionals Is Strong
In just the first six months of 2017, there were 918 reported data breaches comprising 1.9 billion data records. That’s 164 percent higher than 2016, and that number does not include data breaches that weren’t reported.
The increase in both data and attacks has created a strong demand for skilled professionals in this domain. It’s predicted that we will need 6 million cyber security professionals by 2019, and we will have 3.5 million unfilled cyber security jobs by 2021. In fact, the number of cyber security jobs is growing three times faster than other tech jobs.
2. Its a Field of Constant Change
Hackers continually look for new ways to breach defenses, which means this is a field of constant change. The WannaCry and WannaCry 2.0 ransomware attacks are proof of the speed and complexity of cyber threats today. If you’re looking for a job that’s never boring and challenges you with many opportunities for constant learning, consider a cyber security certification.
3. Doing Good Work While Making Good Money
How many jobs offer the kind of high pay and exciting challenge as cyber security? As a professional trained in this field, your job will be to keep data, companies, and consumers safe. U.S. News and World Report ranks Information Security Analyst job number 7 out of the 10 best technology jobs of 2017. You should also consider cyber security training if you’re looking for a lucrative job with good pay from the very start. Entry-level professionals who have earned a certification can earn close to $65,000 in their first job. The median annual salary is $90,000 with higher salaries paid in tech hubs like San Francisco. Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) can earn upwards of $1 million.
4. Seek New Opportunities
Cyber security also offers mobility to those who pursue a certification in this domain, because the jobs are so plentiful. If you’d like to move to somewhere new, chances are you’ll be able to find work in this field. Salary potential, of course, fluctuates from one city to the next. Check these 15 U.S. cities with the highest salaries for cyber security professionals.
5. Easy to Move Into This Field
Becoming a cyber security professional does not require going back to school for a four-year degree or years of hands-on experience. You can get started in this fast-growing field with some IT knowledge and relevant cyber security certifications. If you’re already a specialist in IT, a certification in this field can open up new career possibilities for you. Jobs in this domain include Security Auditor, Computer Forensics Expert, Security Engineer, and Chief Information Security Officer. There are several cyber security courses to choose from including:
- The CompTIA certification which is a good choice if you’re new to the field. With this certification, you can likely get your foot in the door with a tech support job to start with.
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification, which will help you master advanced concepts such as corporate espionage, viruses, and reverse engineering.
- The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, the gold standard in the field of information security. This certification will train you to become an information assurance professional who defines all aspects of IT security, including architecture, design, management and controls. Most IT security positions require or prefer a CISSP certification.
- The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification will teach you the skill sets you’ll need to govern and control the information technology for a business, as well as how to perform an effective security audit on any organization.
A strong job market, good pay, constant challenge, and ease of entry are only a few of the compelling reasons to earn your certification and make the move into this lucrative and exciting career. Even if you’re working full-time in another position, the move into this growing field can be made with the help of online cyber security courses and certifications so you can reach your goals on your own time.