Update Your IT Career with a Move into Cyber Security

That the nature of work is changing is indisputable. From the infamous job-hopping Millennials to the automation that’s already doing away with both manufacturing and administrative roles to the uncertainty of the global economy, it’s dangerous to assume anyone’s job is secure anymore. We’ve transitioned from a work world that meant you stayed put in one kind of job throughout your career—slowly moving your way up the ladder, if you were so inclined—to one in which people change jobs 10 to 15 times.

In this new environment, employees must be proactive about their careers. If you can’t safely assume the college degree you earned 10 years ago will still be relevant 10 years from now, you have to stay on top of the ebb and flow of the work world—and make sure your skills stay relevant. 

For some people, that will mean a complete shift as their skills become irrelevant, as some jobs will simply disappear. For others, such as those working in IT, it means constantly reviewing current skills and looking to the future to anticipate the skills that will be needed. Because yes, some jobs are going away, but others are being created at the same time. The trick for you as the IT professional is knowing what those new jobs will be, and preparing yourself for them. 

Cyber security is one field that’s growing by leaps and bounds, and that’s an easy one for an experienced IT professional to move into. Cyber security is needed in just about every industry, including manufacturing, finance, government, legal, retail…you name it! It’s needed by every size business, and by both for-profit and non-profit organizations. And cyber security has multiple job functions within the domain. In combing the Internet, I found 20 job titles in the area of cyber security:

  1. Application Security Engineer
  2. Chief Information Security Officer 
  3. Computer Crime Investigator
  4. Cryptanalyst
  5. Cryptographer
  6. Digital Forensics Expert
  7. Ethical Hacker
  8. Information Security Analyst
  9. IT Security Specialist
  10. Network Security Engineer
  11. Penetration Tester
  12. Security Administrator
  13. Security Architect
  14. Security Auditor
  15. Security Consultant
  16. Security Engineer
  17. Security Software Developer
  18. Source Code Auditor
  19. Threat Hunter
  20. Vulnerability Assessor 

I suspect some of these job titles are redundant and the job descriptions might be similar if you compared them side-by-side—such as Ethical Hacker, Threat Hunter and Vulnerability Assessor—but it was interesting to find so many different job titles out there. And this plethora of positions might also be the result of explosive job growth, as companies make up names while struggling to find qualified candidates. 

Why are they struggling? An enormous skills gap has appeared. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the rate of job growth in information security will be 37 percent from 2012 to 2022—much faster than other jobs. It’s predicted we’ll be short 2 million cyber security professionals by 2019.

Why Cyber Security?

If you’re already working in IT, you might be wondering, “Why should I be worried, and why cyber security?” Although a career in computing is still a smart move with some job security, technology changes and therefore so do jobs. For example, businesses are moving to cloud computing in part to cut costs, and some of those costs are in the IT department, i.e. staff. That’s why smart IT folks look to the future to see what’s coming and prepare themselves for that. And what’s coming, with more job potential than any other IT field? Cybersecurity. 

In addition to a strong job market, cybersecurity is an appealing IT switch for another reason: salaries. It’s simple supply and demand. The supply of skilled cybersecurity professionals does not meet the demand, and that drives salaries up, up and up. A study by Indeed shows cybersecurity professionals making six-figure incomes in many parts of the U.S., and this infographic shows cybersecurity jobs paying up to $170,000 per year. 

Other less tangible reasons for choosing to transition into cybersecurity include doing important work and being constantly challenged, but the job growth and high pay are probably reasons enough. 

How to Transition into Cyber Security

So, once you’ve decided that yes, it’s time to future-proof your IT career by looking into cybersecurity, your next question might be, “How do I make the transition?” First, decide what area of cybersecurity to focus on. Although you might be drawn to the high salaries earned by a CISO, you probably won’t be able to choose Chief Information Security Officer right away, since that takes extensive skills and experience plus time working your way up the career ladder. But what kind of security interests you the most? Do you like the idea of risk assessment? Then perhaps you’d like a job as a Certified Ethical Hacker. Or maybe you’re more analytical or detail-oriented? Then a job as a Security Analyst or Auditor could be a good fit. Or if you’re already an engineer or software developer, you could choose to do that role specific to cybersecurity. 

On the other hand, you could make your choice based on the jobs with the highest demand. According to Indeed.com, the cybersecurity positions posted most often are: 

  • IT Security Specialist
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Security Engineer
  • Application Security Engineer

If you look back to the list of 20 job titles above, you’ll realize you have a lot of options! 

Choose a Cyber Security Certification

Next, after you choose a focus, decide how you’ll get there. Some cyber security jobs require more education than others, with many requiring a bachelor’s degree and some a master’s. The bachelor’s degree does not necessarily have to be in cyber security, however, which is good because only a few U.S. colleges offer such a degree at this time (although that will likely change). A degree in another IT field is usually enough, such as information sciences, computer programming or systems analysis. If you have the degree and some IT experience, you’re off to a good start, and your next step is learning a particular type of cyber security through a certification. 

As a reflection of this booming industry and desperate need for a defense against cyberattacks, there are several types of certifications to choose from. In fact, Simplilearn offers 11 cyber security certifications that cover the gamut from appropriate for an entry-level job to a specialized cyber security role. Those certifications are briefly described below:  

COBIT 5 Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies COBIT 5 provides an end-to-end business perspective for IT governance and reflects the role of IT in creating value for enterprises. 
CompTIA Security+ 501 As a benchmark for best practices in IT security, this certification covers the essential principles for network security and risk management.
CND - Certified Network Defender course CND is a vendor-neutral, lab intensive, and skill-based network security certification training course based on the cybersecurity education structure by National Initiative of Cybersecurity Education(NICE).
CHFI - Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Certification The CHFI training teaches students to investigate and prevent cyberattacks efficiently.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification CISSP is the gold standard in cyber security. This certification trains students to define all aspects of IT security, including architecture, design, management and controls. 
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification The CISA certification teaches students how to govern and control enterprise IT, as well as how to perform an effective security audit on any organization. 
CEH (V10) - Certified Ethical Hacker CEH certification teaches advanced concepts such as corporate espionage, viruses, and reverse engineering.
CISM - Certified Information Security Manager CISM is a key certification for IS professionals who manage, design, oversee and assess enterprise information security. 
CRISC - Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control This certification teaches students how to design, implement, monitor, and maintain IS controls for enterprises. It covers topics such as risk identification, assessment, response, and control monitoring. 
CCSK - Cloud Computing Security Knowledge Certification The CCSK certification teaches a comprehensive knowledge of cloud security fundamentals.
CCSP - Certified Cloud Security Professional CCSP by ISC2 is a globally acknowledged certification that represents the highest standard for cloud security.

For someone who has already been working in IT and who has enough experience and education to have a solid foundation upon which to build, a certification is a sure-fire way to transition into the cyber security field. And as a way to future-proof your career against the inevitable and constant changes that will happen in technology, cyber security can help you update your IT career and stay relevant, even in today’s uncertain world of work.

About the Author

Ankita KaushikAnkita Kaushik

Ankita is a content marketer with a strong background in writing and editing. She has worked with various publishing media houses and product companies that helped her add more skills to her core subject - content. She is an avid reader, passionate book review blogger, and loves to share her interests with the web audience. She always yearns to learn new things to widen her knowledge. All her interests help her contribute more to her work.

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