Information security jobs remain in high demand. IT organizations, consulting firms, and government agencies are hiring for cybersecurity jobs due to ongoing fears around hacking and security breaches.
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 aggressively.
This article looks at some of the most sought-after jobs in the information security domain in the coming years and highlights the skills you’ll need to land 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 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, you 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.)
Cybersecurity jobs: Can you expect high salaries?
Most definitely. Data from PayScale.com shows that the US average salary for an information security analyst is USD 75,123. Similarly, a network security engineer can expect to earn an average of USD 95,221 per year.
The pay range will depend on the sector you’re working in (public, private, or military), the level you’re entering (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.
Revealed: The 6 Hottest Jobs In InfoSec in 2023
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 Cybersecurity Engineer
As a cybersecurity engineer, you will be responsible for designing and implementing information security systems and IT architectures to protect against unauthorized access and cyber-attacks.
This involves developing and enforcing security plans, standards, protocols, and best practices, as well as creating emergency plans in case of a disaster.
Proactivity is key in this role, as you will be responsible for identifying system vulnerabilities through penetration testing and addressing them before they become major security issues.
You may also review the organization’s legal, technical, and regulatory areas that impact IT security and recommend modifications.
Some of your daily duties may include installing firewalls and intrusion detection systems, updating security software, hardware, and facilities, or evaluating new ones for implementation, and running encryption programs.
In the event of a detected security issue, you may be responsible for moving data or information or working with outside teams to help the organization recover from a data breach.
#2 Information Security Analyst
As a security analyst, your responsibilities may include monitoring and enforcing security best practices, protocols, and procedures using the appropriate tools — and ensuring compliance.
You’ll also analyze reports from these tools to proactively identify unusual or anomalous network behaviors. As an information security analyst, your role will involve file access control, credentialing, network updates, and firewall maintenance.
To excel in this role, you’ll need a strong understanding of how data is stored and managed, and be knowledgeable about cybersecurity threats such as ransomware attacks, social engineering, and data theft.
You may also be responsible for performing penetration testing and vulnerability scans and recommending relevant changes to improve security.
At larger companies, information security analysts may work in a security operations center, specifically monitoring, detecting, containing, and remedying threats.
At midsize and smaller organizations, security analysts may have a broader role that includes everything from security analysis and intrusion detection to firewall maintenance, antivirus updates, and patch updates.
As an expert in security risks and best practices, you may also be asked to train employees on cybersecurity hygiene. This strengthens any weak links in the organization that an attacker could gain entry through.
Other important skills and knowledge include:
- Firewall design, configuration, deployment, and maintenance
- Proprietary network management
- Security incident triaging
- Penetration testing
- Risk assessments
- Data encryption
A CompTIA Security+ certification or relevant computer science or networking degree helps you get your foot in the door. This role allows you to springboard into a new gig as a Certified Ethical Hacker.
Further promotions may require specialized training, so keep upskilling yourself to boost your earning potential.
#3 Network Security Architect
As a network security architect, you’ll improve security strength while maintaining network productivity, efficiency, availability, and performance.
Network security architects translate business needs into functional systems, define policies and procedures, and train users and administrators. Meanwhile, they consider budget and operational constraints and ideally have strong people skills.
To maintain ongoing security as a network security architect, you’ll use defensive measures like firewall and antivirus configuration and offensive measures like penetration testing.
You’ll oversee network changes to minimize risk and have advanced knowledge of security tools and techniques, including:
- Penetration testing
- Incident response
You’ll need to be familiar with computer systems’ networking requirements and security best practices, technologies, and industry-standard frameworks.
This means identifying and selecting the best control mechanisms for required security levels and being familiar with access control mechanisms, such as:
- Discretionary access control
- Role-based access control
- Mandatory access control
For best success, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, with a preferred master’s in cybersecurity. Other important skills and knowledge include:
- TCP/IP networking and networking security knowledge
- Single sign-on identity management systems
- ITIL and COBIT process models
- VPN layers and connections
- Intrusion detection systems
- The OSI 7-layer model
- Protocol encryption
- Strategic planning
- Risk management
Helpful certifications include:
- (ISC)² Information Systems Security Architecture Professional
- GIAC Defensible Security Architecture
- NSE 7 Network Security Architect
- CompTIA Network+
#4 Security Software Developer
A security software developer creates software secure from potential attacks. They combine programming skills with security analysis to “harden” software. To do this effectively, they need to deeply understand the threat landscape and anticipate future threats.
As a security software developer, it’s essential to balance product speed, functionality, user experience, and security. You’ll typically work with other professionals such as designers, engineers, and testers, and should have strong communication and collaboration skills.
Mid-level roles typically require a bachelor’s degree in software development or engineering, plus knowledge of secure coding practices and security controls.
Advanced roles may also require knowledge of infosec, cryptography, project management, and network security. Penetration testing knowledge is preferred but not always required.
Security software developers are in high demand, especially in emerging areas like the Internet of Things. Helpful certifications include:
- Microsoft Azure Security Engineer Associate
- Certified Information Security Manager
- Certified Information Systems Auditor
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
- CompTIA Security+
- CompTIA PenTest+
#6 Forensic Computer Analyst
As a forensic computer analyst, your investigations may involve data stored on computers, tablets, mobile phones, the cloud, and flash drives.
You’ll use specialized software and techniques to secure, retrieve, and analyze data related to criminal activities, such as:
- Theft of confidential information
- Possession of illegal images
- Terrorist communications
- Online scams and fraud
- Network intrusions
You could work for law enforcement agencies, forensic computer companies, investigative teams, or large organizations like banks. Your responsibilities may include:
- Collecting information and evidence in a legally admissible way
- Using forensic tools and software to extract and analyze data
- Examining data from mobile phones and GPS systems
- Presenting findings to investigation teams and clients
- Dealing with sensitive or confidential data
- Recovering damaged or deleted files
- Giving expert testimony in court
- Following electronic data trails
- Securing systems or devices
- Unlocking digital images
- Writing technical reports
You’ll spend your time staying up-to-date on cybercrime methods and digital forensics, undergoing security checks and vetting, and working toward relevant ISO accreditations.
#6 Independent Security Consultant
As an independent security contractor or consultant, you’ll work with companies to:
- Ensure your client’s systems or networks are fully secure
- Write security policy documents
- Devise new security systems
- Test for security flaws
This role is perfect for the infosec professional who wants to maintain autonomy and work for various clients — either on a retainer or paid per project.
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.
Find cybersecurity jobs today
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.
To get started in this field, check out open infosec jobs here and here.
Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on content and marketing for creators and brands. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.