Internet security professionals stand high on the demand pyramid. They are in demand by IT organizations, consulting firms, government agencies, and other domains due to ongoing digital transformation initiatives.
The rapid growth in the number of internet-connected devices has driven a need for defense against new and emerging cyber threats. To meet this need, recruitment for information security specialists is happening at an aggressive pace.
This article looks at some of the most sought after jobs in the information security domain in the coming years and highlights skills you should acquire to find a dream job in this sector.
Is the information security job market saturated?
The information security (infosec) field has exploded over the past few years, but there’s still plenty of room for growth. With estimates of 3.5 million unfilled job openings over the next few years and a famous zero percent unemployment rate, there has never been a better time to build a thriving and fulfilling career in infosec.
Depending on which aspect of the job you fancy, you could find yourself doing everything from building security systems to trying to penetrate those same systems (with full permission, of course).
Which industries need cybersecurity specialists?
The world is generating more data each year, and a growing number of experts are needed to secure that data from leaks, theft, and erasure. Information security specialists are needed in both the private and public sectors and military settings.
A cybersecurity certification gives you a vast selection of employers to choose from. As an infosec professional, you can expect to work for the following entities (and more):
- Government agencies and ministries
- Military bases and research labs
- Social media companies
- Industrial manufacturers
- Cybersecurity startups
- Medical research labs
- Insurance companies
- Antivirus companies
- IT companies
Which qualification or degree do I need to get a job in cybersecurity or infosec?
Infosec is a highly technical field, so you will usually need a degree or certification in one of the following subjects to qualify:
- Network security and network design
- Computer information systems
- Computer engineering
- System administration
- Computer science
Through self-study or certification from a university or trade school, can familiarise yourself with the following core aspects of infosec:
- Networking (TCP/IP, switching and routing protocols, etc.)
- System administration (Windows/Linux/macOS, Active Directory, etc.)
- Software programming (scripting, object-oriented programming, etc.)
Is information security a lucrative field?
Most definitely. Data from PayScale.com shows that the US’s average salary for an information security analyst is USD 72,510. Similarly, a network security engineer can expect to earn an average of USD 85,940 per year.
The pay range will depend on the sector you’re working in (public, private, or military), the level you’re entering at (junior, senior, executive, etc.), location, level of experience, and more. And if you want to earn even more money, you can always start an infosec consultancy.
5 Hottest Jobs In InfoSec in 2021
Now that you know what you’ll need to launch a career in information security, let’s dive into some of the hottest jobs in the information security sector.
#1 Systems Administrator
As a SysAdmin, you’ll be planning, implementing, and maintaining computer and server systems. This could be for a school network to a large law firm holding terabytes of sensitive client data.
Keeping your servers and network devices free of malware and safe from cyberattacks will be your daily task, and specializing further will allow you to earn more and climb the infosec ladder. Expect to work with different operating systems and antivirus programs in this role.
#2 Information Security Analyst
In this expansive, foundational role, you’ll be working on everything from data security to devising new security systems. You might spend your days configuring robust firewalls and installing antivirus programs while testing the security of your network. You’ll suggest strategies to beef up system security and write reports on your findings.
A CompTIA Security+ certification or relevant computer science or networking degree helps you get your foot in the door. This role also allows you to springboard into a new gig as a Certified Ethical Hacker. Further promotions may require more specialized training, so keep upskilling yourself to boost your earning potential.
#3 Penetration Tester
A penetration tester (or PenTester for short) is authorized to attack a network system and spot security flaws that need patching. In other words, you get paid to try and break into things! You’ll do this to simulate how the network will hold up under a coordinated cyber attack. As a PenTester, your goal is to fail to get in—because gaining entry means there’s a flaw that needs fixing.
This exciting role is often confused with Ethical Hacking, a more informal (and sometimes more destructive) version of penetration testing—and isn’t always authorized. PenTesters need a solid understanding of network design, security, and programming.
#4 Forensic Computer Analyst
A forensic computer analyst collects evidence from hard drives and network devices to investigate digital crimes. Working closely with law enforcement officials, FCAs write reports, give expert testimonies in court, and offer security training. To embark on this path, you’ll need to know how to recover lost data, write software programs, work with different operating systems, and understand encryption.
#5 Independent Security Consultant
As an independent security contractor or consultant, you’ll work with companies to devise new security systems, test for security flaws, write security policy documents, and ensure your client’s systems or networks are fully secure. This role is perfect for the infosec professional who wants to maintain autonomy and work for various clients—either on retainer or paid on a per-project basis.
Your area of expertise will determine your earning potential, so focus on an area that interests you and start reaching out to clients to offer your services. Here’s more information on how to start a computer security consulting business.
You may have toyed with the idea of becoming an information security consultant or escalating your career in information security. With organizations worldwide becoming more concerned about cybersecurity, infosec skills are more in-demand than ever.
There are plenty of jobs in the infosec field — too many to list here — and they all have promising salary scales and lots of career growth built-in. However, you will need to understand coding, network design and security, and system administration to climb up the ladder and increase your earning potential.
Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on marketing, content, and tech for fast-growing B2B clients. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.