Student's Guide: Cybersecurity Career Paths
By Stella Evans
 

cybersecurityAre you planning to start a career in cybersecurity? 

Cybersecurity career paths can feel quite confusing and unclear, as expected from a relatively new field. The field of cybersecurity, actually, includes many different types of jobs which can reach into the hundreds while also involving dozens of different skill sets and specializations.

Thus, knowing your career path options can significantly help in deciding what specialties might interest you, what skills you should build, and how to pursue your dream in general.

Here are some of the most common cybersecurity career paths to consider.

Cybersecurity Career Paths

1. Security Analyst

A security analyst is responsible for the digital security of the organization they work for, and the main task is to analyze the company’s security protocols and policies, performing a thorough audit to determine whether there’s any weakness in the company’s digital security. A security analyst might also be required to anticipate future risks and issues.

The security analyst must also assess security software to protect the system, which might also include performing configuration and customization of the said software. Depending on the organization, the security analyst might also be required to audit the security budget, for example auditing any contractors you hire for security purposes.

Responsibilities including:

  • Monitor networks and devices for security issues
  • Investigate any cybersecurity incidents, assess the damage they cause and document them
  • Install security measures and infrastructure
  • Stay up-to-date to current IT security trends and news
  • Develop organization-wide cybersecurity best practices and protocols

Typical requirements for security analyst role:

  • Bachelor’s degree (or above) in computer science, information systems, or related field
  • Experience in information security
  • Understanding common cybersecurity solutions like antivirus, anti-malware, firewalls, proxies, SIEM, and so on.
  • Ability to identify and mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities

2. Security Engineer

The main responsibility of a security engineer is to protect the employer’s network and systems from various cybersecurity threats. Security engineers help businesses in protecting sensitive data, and also responsible for building secure systems and resolving incoming cybersecurity incidents.

There are often overlaps between the roles of security analyst and engineer in an organization, but generally speaking, a security engineer is more passive/defensive (building a security infrastructure, resolving incidents, etc.) while a security analyst is more proactive (identifying security issues, performing penetration tests, etc.)

Responsibilities including:

  • Planning, implementing, monitoring, and upgrading security infrastructure and solutions for the organization
  • Troubleshooting network and IT security issues
  • Resolving cybersecurity attacks and breaches
  • Knowing how to prevent account takeover attack
  • Ensuring that the organization’s sensitive data and network infrastructure are well-protected

Typical requirements for security engineer role:

  • Bachelor’s degree (or above) in computer science, systems engineering, IT, or related majors
  • Sufficient work experience in cybersecurity with incident detection and response
  • Experience with common cybersecurity solutions like firewalls, antivirus, and others
  • Basic programming proficiency (Python, C++, Java, Ruby, etc.)
  • Ability to work under pressure during the event of an attack

3. Security Architect

A security architect is responsible for designing, building, testing, and implementing security infrastructure and security systems for the organization they work for. A security architect will be required to review current security systems (if any), identify vulnerabilities, and is also responsible for conducting regular system security tests. In the event of cybersecurity breaches, a security architect is also responsible for responding and mitigating the incoming attack while utilizing the designed system.

Responsibilities including:

  • An in-depth understanding of the organization’s IT infrastructure
  • Planning, designing, researching, and implementing security architectures (often organization-wide)
  • Developing installation requirements and policies for network devices
  • Planning timelines for system updates
  • Preparing cost estimates for security system
  • Testing, evaluating, and updating the final security system as required
  • Leading the security team, monitoring its performance, and might be responsible for educating the security team

Typical requirements for the security architect role:

  • Bachelor’s degree (or above) in computer science, systems engineering, IT, or related majors
  • Advanced cybersecurity certifications are a huge plus point
  • 5-10 years of experience in cybersecurity management and/or IT risk management
  • Leadership capabilities and the ability to interact with a wide range of people from different backgrounds.

4. Security Administrator

A security administrator’s main job desc is to install and troubleshoot the organization’s security solutions. The security administrator will ensure that the organization’s security solutions are working as intended to protect against data breach, malware, and various other cybersecurity threats.

Typically a security administrator works independently within procedures to protect the organization from unauthorized access, data modifications, and other threats.

Responsibilities including:

  • Installing, managing, and troubleshooting all IT security solutions
  • Ensuring all solutions are up-to-date with the latest security patches, maintain a regular update schedule
  • Ensuring defense measurements are present for each resource
  • Configuring security systems according to the cybersecurity requirements
  • Regular monitoring of website traffic for suspicious behavior
  • Training and consulting staffs, managers, and executives about cybersecurity best practices
  • Knowing how to prevent scraping of a website
  • Creating security and network policies, as well as authorization roles

Typical requirements for the security administrator role:

  • Associate’s degree (or above) in Computer Science, IT, cybersecurity, or a related field
  • Training certifications in cybersecurity will help
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Analytical and problem-solving abilities

5. Security Software Developer

A security software developer develops security software while aligning security best practices in the course of software design and development. A security software developer might work for a software development company or as an in-house security team in an organization, hired for building custom-tailored security solutions.

In the software development process, the software developer must include security analysis and design potential countermeasures for each phase of software development. So, both programming and cybersecurity skills are required in this role.

Responsibilities including:

  • Create secure software solutions with a team of other developers
  • Leading software planning, design, implementation, and testing
  • Develop a software security strategy
  • Designing and building prototype solutions
  • Facilitate meetings with clients to understand client’s needs and preferences

Typical requirements for the security administrator role:

  • Associate’s degree (or above) in Computer Science, IT, cybersecurity, or a related field
  • Training certifications in cybersecurity will help
  • Having knowledge of cybersecurity attack vectors that may be used in the process
  • Analytical and problem-solving capabilities

6. Cryptographer

A cryptographer is responsible for developing algorithms and ciphers to encrypt sensitive data and may work together with a security software developer in developing security systems. The role of cryptographers is growing increasingly important in recent years due to the increased risks of data breaches. A cryptographer’s role is very important in ensuring sensitive data to be always safe from thieves and prying eyes.

Cryptographers might also be responsible for analyzing data to solve any cybersecurity issues with mathematical or statistical models, and also to test systems for any potential vulnerabilities.

Responsibilities including:

  • Identifying any vulnerabilities in existing systems (especially those involving cryptography), and update the system to be more secure
  • Implementing more secure encryptions to protect the organization’s sensitive data
  • Ensure all sensitive information is properly protected from being modified, copied, or deleted
  • Testing cryptology theories and implement them according to the organization’s needs
  • Training and consulting staff and managers to improve IT security based on cryptography

Typical requirements for the security administrator role:

  • bachelor’s degree (or above) in Mathematics, Computer Science, IT, cybersecurity, or a related field
  • Training certifications in cybersecurity will help
  • Understanding of major programming languages (C, C++, Python, Java, etc.)
  • Understanding of cryptography, number theory, and complexity theory
  • Having knowledge of cybersecurity attack vectors that may be used in the process
  • Analytical and problem-solving capabilities

7. Cyber Security Consultant

A security consultant is someone that doesn’t work directly under an organization but provides advice regarding cybersecurity measures for client organizations.

A security consultant is responsible for analyzing security systems, identifying vulnerabilities, studying potential attack vectors, and proposing a solution. Depending on the contract, the security consultant might be required to supervise the implementation of the said solution.

Depending on the case, the consultant’s role might involve designing a security infrastructure and system to protect the client’s organization.

The security consultant may work under a consulting firm or as a self-employed (freelance) contractor, but the responsibilities remain the same.

Responsibilities including:

  • Thoroughly assess the client’s current cybersecurity infrastructure and existing security solutions
  • Identify key vulnerabilities and threats by running a penetration test on the system and searching for potential breaches
  • Proposing improvements to security infrastructure based on the above’s assessment
  • Overseeing the implementation of the new security measures
  • Training staff across the organization so they can implement cybersecurity best practices and protect themselves from individual threats (i.e. phishing)

Typical requirements for the security administrator role:

  • Bachelor’s degree (or above) in Computer Science, IT, cybersecurity, or a related field
  • Training certifications in cybersecurity will help
  • Having knowledge of cybersecurity attack vectors that may be used in the process
  • Analytical and problem-solving capabilities
  • Leadership capabilities
  • Educational capabilities

End Words

With how more and more people are adopting the internet all over the world, there hasn’t been a better time to start a career in cybersecurity: more cybercriminals are looking to exploit poor internet users and online businesses, and the demands for cybersecurity would only grow bigger.

Cybersecurity is perfect for anyone who loves technology and analytical thinking. Choosing the right career path, as we’ve discussed above, can help you in planning the right steps to obtain the right education and certifications to pursue your goal.