There is a dearth of skilled professionals in the field of IT security all over the world today. According to ISACA, a nonprofit information security advocacy group, there will be 2 million unfilled cyber security jobs globally by 2019, causing salary potential in the IT security space to skyrocket exponentially. While you can expect to earn salaries well over $170,000 if you’re sufficiently skilled in IT security, the challenge lies in identifying the right certification. There are many options, including CEH, (Certified Ethical Hacker), CISA, CISM, GSEC, CWSP, CompTIA+, and ISSEP/CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), all of which can help you reach the role you’re aiming for.
Below is a list of the most sought-after jobs in IT security, their core job responsibilities, required qualifications and median salaries to help you choose the most suited career path in this field.
1. Lead Software Security Engineer
In today’s business world, securing sensitive client information is a top priority for companies everywhere. Security testing, training and automation is a constant process that needs to be monitored and updated regularly by the lead security engineer. The lead software security engineer takes on various responsibilities to ensure necessary security measures across the organization’s operations in place.
Responsibilities include analyzing software designs from a security perspective, so engineers should be skilled in security analysis, defences and countermeasures at each stage of the software development cycle to help develop a robust and reliable software. They should also be able to identify and resolve any gaps in security during software implementation. In addition, they’re responsible for recommending and deploying training programs for the team on the various IT security tools and best practices.
A lead software security engineer often goes on to become a security architect, security manager or security director.
Preferred qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or cyber security. Knowledge about tools like IDS/IPS and MySQL database platforms give candidates an added advantage.
Median salary: $85,177 (source: Cyber Degrees)
2. Chief Security Officer (CSO)
The chief security officer is directly responsible for the IT security function of an enterprise. The global and infinite nature of the internet implies that your information is always at a risk of being tapped into by hackers, posing a myriad of criminal threats and hazards. CSOs are responsible for overseeing and maintaining their organizations' digital security requirements, including computer networks. The CSO plays a key role in identifying and repelling existing and emerging threats. They should also be able to establish and communicate the best practices in data security and monitor the effectiveness of security operations within the organization.
A chief security officer's role typically involves building technical and interpersonal skills before going on to senior level positions such as security manager or security director.
Preferred qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or cyber security. A technical master’s degree with a concentration in IT security is also becoming a standard prerequisite.
Median salary: $139,763 (source: Cyber Degrees)
3. Security Consultant
The IT security hierarchy requires personnel that understand security from the ground up—here’s where a security consultant comes in. A security consultant’s primary responsibility is to develop effective cyber security strategies across an organization.
Security consultants conduct tests on the company’s security systems to determine weak areas that are vulnerable to external threats. They are also responsible for preparing reports detailing the weak areas and recommending suitable corrective measures. To achieve all of these, security consultants should be sound in the theories of database protection, and must possess a strong grasp on the technical aspects of IT security implementation. They also require solid communication, negotiation and project management skills.
Security consultants that build their portfolios can go on to become security architects or security managers.
Preferred qualifications: A bachelor’s degree in computer science or cyber security is a basic prerequisite. Years of experience, working knowledge of industry rules, deep knowledge of enterprise security vendors and products along with professional certifications such as the Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) or the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) are usually preferred by hiring companies.
Median salary: $80,072 (source: Cyber Degrees)
4. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
The chief information security officer focuses on protecting an organization’s data and intellectual property. As the head of IT security, the chief information security officer must be able to strategize and implement the IT security strategy and protect the business from security threats and cyber-hacking. They are also responsible for assessing and reporting any potential security threats, and implementing an effective process for reporting security related incidents.
A CISO gains experience with leadership and project management roles before moving onto roles such as those of an IT project manager or a security director.
Median salary: $131,322 (source: Cyber Degrees)
5. Director of Security
Director of Security administers and maintains cyber security policies for an organization. Typically a director of security reports to the top management of the organization and may communicate with law enforcement on security matters. Key responsibilities revolve around minimizing the risk of external attacks by guiding internal teams in implementing and maintaining proper security procedures. Tasked with ensuring the safety and security of the physical assets maintained by the organization, the director of security monitors and supervises the entire staff responsible for the company’s security equipment, while also overseeing the budget drawn up to cover this operation.
Preferred qualifications: A bachelor's degree in computer science or cyber security. A master’s degree with a concentration in IT security will also give you an edge. Accreditations like CISSP and CISM add an extra layer of credibility to an already impressive resume.
Median salary: $116,245 (source: Cyber Degrees)
6. Lead Security Engineer
If you excel at multitasking and can handle the challenges that come with it, a job as a lead security engineer offers an exciting opportunity that combines multiple responsibilities within an organization such as securing operating environments, telephone and video conference systems, software, hardware and information (both stored and while in transit). Strong leadership skills are vital, as the lead security engineer is expected to oversee and lead a team, with a short-to-long-term view of assembling a team of capable security experts. Frequent client interaction that crops up in this role means the ideal candidate must also possess strong communication, social and interpersonal skills.
Preferred qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in computer science and extensive security certifications like CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) or CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional).
Median salary: $127,123 (source: Cyber Degrees)
7. Cyber Security Engineer
Cyber security engineers play an intrinsic role in keeping the organization safe from both internal and external threats. It requires collaboration with various departments to define security protocols and to secure IT systems for the company. Other responsibilities include examining computer code bases to eliminate coding vulnerabilities, installing security applications and hardware to protect the company’s systems and installations against cyber threats.
Preferred qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in a technical field, with some on-the-job experience. ISC’s Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential might be required or preferred, depending on the job.
Median salary: $170,000 (source: Cyber Degrees)
Cyber security is an in-demand field. Growing cyber attacks and threats mean that companies have a growing need for professionals who will implement security measures needed to safeguard sensitive data. This is a high-paying field, but that’s not the only draw. It’s a field that’s constantly changing, provides new challenges and is critical for an organization’s success. We hope this shortlist of the most in-demand jobs will help you prepare for a cyber security position that appeals to your unique niche.