Imagine a career where you get paid to protect people’s secrets, outsmart hackers, and save the world from digital chaos.
Welcome to the world of cyber security.
In today’s increasingly interconnected world, the need for skilled professionals in this field has never been greater.
But is cyber security really a good career choice?
In this article, we will explore the many reasons why this dynamic and challenging profession is not only in high demand but also highly rewarding.
So buckle up, because a thrilling journey into the world of cyber security awaits.
Is cyber security a good career?
Yes, cyber security is a good career choice.
It offers numerous advantages such as personal and professional development, high demand for professionals in the field, low unemployment rates, diverse job opportunities, and a competitive salary.
Remote work is also possible, providing flexibility and the option to work from home.
A degree in cybersecurity is not always required, making it accessible to individuals without formal education in the field.
There are opportunities for advancement and pay growth, along with job satisfaction and the ability to start your own business.
The field requires constant learning and growth due to the ever-evolving nature of technology.
Additionally, there is a high demand for cybersecurity professionals in various sectors globally.
- Cyber security offers personal and professional development
- It has a high demand for professionals in the field
- There are diverse job opportunities and a competitive salary
- Remote work is possible, providing flexibility
- A degree in cybersecurity is not always required, making it accessible
- Constant learning and growth is required due to changing technology
Is Cybersecurity a Good Career? Deep Dive with Four Professionals
The realm of cybersecurity has been painted with brushes of intrigue, importance, and high demand. While these adjectives aren’t far from the truth, it’s imperative to delve deeper to understand the nuances of the profession. We sat down with four professionals, each with a unique role within cybersecurity, to share their candid experiences:
1. Sarah Thompson – Cybersecurity Analyst
Years of Experience: 5 years
Current Workplace: Deloitte Cyber Intelligence Center
- FireEye, Inc. (Cybersecurity Analyst – 2 years)
- Symantec Corporation (Junior Security Analyst – 1 year)
Place of Study:
- Master’s in Cybersecurity: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Graduated 2017)
- Bachelor’s in Information Technology: University of Maryland (Graduated 2015)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
Likes: “I’m continually fascinated by the multifaceted nature of cybersecurity. Every day presents a new puzzle, a challenge to solve. From policy-making to understanding the latest threats, it’s an intellectual stimulant that I’ve found in no other field.”
Dislikes: “The pace can be overwhelming. The digital landscape changes rapidly, and sometimes it feels like you’re forever catching up. Additionally, it’s not just about understanding the tech; you must also navigate the complexities of human behavior and its often unpredictable nature.”
2. Rajesh Nair – Penetration Tester
Years of Experience: 6 years
Current Workplace: Rapid7 Penetration Testing Services
- KPMG Cybersecurity Services (Penetration Tester – 3 years)
- Palo Alto Networks (Security Researcher – 1 year)
Place of Study:
- Master’s in Information Security: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay (Graduated 2016)
- Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering: National Institute of Technology (NIT) Trichy (Graduated 2014)
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- EC-Council Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT)
Likes: “For me, it’s the thrill of the chase. Being a penetration tester allows me to think like an attacker, to probe and find weaknesses before they can be exploited. It’s a proactive role, where I feel like I’m making a real difference.”
Dislikes: “The perception of our role can sometimes be skewed. There’s often a misconception that we’re just ‘hired hackers,’ without understanding the ethical boundaries and stringent guidelines we adhere to. It can be a challenge to explain the nuances.”
3. Emily Rodriguez – Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) Expert
Years of Experience: 9 years
Current Workplace: Ernst & Young (EY) Advisory Services
- PwC Risk Assurance (Senior GRC Consultant – 4 years)
- Accenture (Risk Management Analyst – 2 years)
Place of Study:
- Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), focus on Risk Management: Harvard Business School (Graduated 2014)
- Bachelor’s in Business Administration: University of Florida (Graduated 2011)
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance Professional (GRCP)
Likes: “The role of a GRC expert is both challenging and crucial. I appreciate the opportunity to help organizations understand the importance of governance and compliance in today’s fast-evolving business world. It’s rewarding to know that my work helps companies operate ethically and responsibly.”
Dislikes: “While the importance of GRC is undeniable, it can sometimes be viewed as a mere checkbox exercise. It’s frustrating when companies don’t see the strategic value of proper governance and risk management, focusing only on the bare minimum to stay compliant.”
4. Liam O’Connell – Security Operations Center (SOC) Manager
Years of Experience: 11 years
Current Workplace: Cisco Systems – Global Security Operations
- Splunk Inc. (Lead Security Analyst – 4 years)
- McAfee (Security Operations Specialist – 3 years)
Place of Study:
- Master’s in Cybersecurity: University College Dublin (UCD) (Graduated 2013)
- Bachelor’s in Computer Science: Trinity College Dublin (Graduated 2010)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
Likes: “Leading a SOC is like orchestrating a symphony where every instrument plays a critical role. The real-time aspect of managing threats, incidents, and ensuring the security posture of an organization is both exhilarating and rewarding. It’s about teamwork, continuous learning, and ensuring our digital assets are safe.”
Dislikes: “The 24/7 nature of a SOC means that the pressure is always on. Burnout is a real concern in this field. It’s also a challenge to ensure that every team member is updated and trained on the ever-evolving threat landscape, especially when resources are limited.”
Poll: Would You Choose a Cybersecurity Career Again?
In an attempt to gauge the satisfaction level of professionals in the cybersecurity domain, we conducted a poll amongst 70 users. The question posed was simple yet profound: “Knowing what you know now, would you choose a career in cybersecurity again?”
- Yes: 49 users (70%)
- Maybe: 19 users (27%)
- No: 2 users (3%)
The results are telling. An overwhelming majority, 70% of the respondents, affirmatively stated they would choose a cybersecurity career again. This positive response is indicative of the inherent rewards and satisfaction derived from the profession.
The “maybe” responses, accounting for 27%, suggest that while many see the merits of the field, they also acknowledge its challenges. These respondents might be weighing the pros and cons based on their unique experiences.
Interestingly, only a minuscule 3% expressed regret or dissatisfaction, indicating that the cybersecurity field, despite its challenges, remains a predominantly fulfilling career choice for most.
My Personal Opinion With 12 Years Of Experience
Cybersecurity, a domain often shrouded in mystery, is as multifaceted as it is challenging. As someone who’s navigated the intricate maze of this field, I’d like to share some candid insights from my journey.
- Continuous Challenges: Every day in cybersecurity is different. New threats emerge, and old ones evolve, keeping me on my toes and ensuring there’s never a dull moment.
- Opportunity to Learn: The field is vast and ever-evolving. There’s always something new to grasp, be it a tool, technique, or threat vector. This constant learning is intellectually stimulating.
- Variety of Roles: From penetration testing to policy-making, cybersecurity offers a plethora of roles. There’s something for everyone, regardless of interest or expertise.
- Investigation and Puzzle Aspects: At its core, cybersecurity is about solving mysteries. Unraveling the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind an incident feels like piecing together a complex jigsaw puzzle.
- Uncomfortable Conversations: Breaking the news of a breach or explaining a security lapse to stakeholders can be challenging and, at times, uncomfortable.
- Perceived as Blockers: There’s a misconception that cybersecurity professionals stifle innovation or progress. In reality, our primary goal is to ensure safety and compliance.
- The Mundane Parts: Like any job, there are tedious aspects to cybersecurity. Routine tasks, documentation, and repetitive checks can sometimes feel monotonous.
- Invasion of Privacy: Depending on the role, cybersecurity responsibilities can sometimes involve overseeing personal communications or browsing histories, which can feel intrusive.
The Advantages Of A Career In Cybersecurity
A career in cybersecurity offers numerous advantages in terms of personal and professional development. One of the main benefits is the opportunity to protect systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. In an increasingly interconnected world, where reliance on technology is growing, the need for cybersecurity professionals has skyrocketed. By choosing a career in cybersecurity, individuals can contribute to the safety and security of digital infrastructure.
Furthermore, cybersecurity offers low unemployment rates and a multitude of job opportunities. As more organizations realize the importance of securing their networks and preventing the misuse of information, the demand for cybersecurity professionals continues to rise. This high demand translates into a competitive salary and job stability for those in the field.
Another advantage of a career in cybersecurity is the ability to work on diverse projects. Organizations across various sectors require cybersecurity expertise, including finance, healthcare, and retail commerce. This wide range of industries ensures that cybersecurity professionals can work on different types of projects, enhancing their skills and knowledge.
Opportunities For Remote Work And Flexibility
One of the appealing aspects of a career in cybersecurity is the opportunity for remote work and flexibility. With advancements in technology, cybersecurity tasks can now be performed remotely, allowing professionals to work from anywhere in the world. This flexibility enables individuals to maintain a healthy work-life balance, eliminating the need for long commutes and offering more control over their schedule.
Remote work also provides cybersecurity professionals with the opportunity to work with clients and organizations from different geographical locations. This global exposure enhances their skills and perspectives, making them more marketable in the field.
Moreover, the option to work from home has become increasingly important in today’s digital age. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote work, with many organizations realizing its benefits. Thus, a career in cybersecurity offers the advantage of flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing work environments.
The Disadvantages of a Career in Cyber Security
While a career in cybersecurity offers numerous advantages, it is essential to consider some of the potential disadvantages as well. By sharing personal anecdotes and opinions, I hope to provide a more balanced perspective on this dynamic and challenging field.
High stress levels: As a cybersecurity professional, you are responsible for protecting sensitive information and systems from cyber threats. This responsibility can lead to high stress levels, as you must constantly be on guard against potential attacks. In my experience, working on high-stakes projects and dealing with tight deadlines has sometimes resulted in long hours and increased pressure to perform.
Continuous learning: The ever-evolving nature of technology and cyber threats means that cybersecurity professionals must continuously update their skills and knowledge. While this can be intellectually stimulating, it can also be challenging to keep up with the latest trends and technologies. I have often found myself dedicating personal time to learning new skills and staying current in the field, which can be both rewarding and demanding.
On-call responsibilities: In some cybersecurity roles, you may be required to be on-call 24/7 to handle and resolve issues as they arise. This can lead to a lack of work-life balance, as you may be contacted during weekends, evenings, and even vacations. Personally, I have experienced instances where I had to respond to urgent security incidents during my time off, which can be taxing.
Difficulty in switching off: Due to the nature of the work, it can be challenging to “switch off” and disconnect from your responsibilities when you are not at work. As a cybersecurity professional, you may find yourself constantly thinking about potential vulnerabilities and threats, even during your personal time. I have often found it difficult to fully relax and enjoy my leisure time, as my mind tends to drift back to work-related concerns.
Potential for burnout: The combination of high stress, continuous learning, and on-call responsibilities can contribute to burnout in the cybersecurity field. It is essential to recognize the signs of burnout and take proactive steps to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In my journey, I have had to learn the importance of self-care and setting boundaries to prevent burnout and maintain my passion for the field.
Despite these potential disadvantages, a career in cybersecurity can be incredibly rewarding for those who are passionate about technology and dedicated to protecting digital infrastructure. By being aware of the challenges and taking steps to manage them, you can enjoy a fulfilling and successful career in this exciting field.
Common Misconceptions in Cyber Security
Only IT professionals can transition to cybersecurity: While having a background in IT can be helpful, individuals from various fields can successfully transition to cybersecurity careers. Transferable skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication can be valuable in this field.
Cybersecurity jobs are only for programmers: While programming skills can be useful in certain cybersecurity roles, the field is diverse and offers various positions that don’t require extensive coding knowledge. Examples include security analysts, compliance specialists, and security policy developers.
All cybersecurity roles are highly technical: While many cybersecurity positions require technical expertise, there are also roles that focus on policy, governance, and risk management. These positions may require a broader understanding of the business and regulatory environment, rather than deep technical skills.
A degree in cybersecurity is mandatory: While formal education in cybersecurity can be beneficial, it is not always required. Many professionals enter the field through certifications, self-learning, or leveraging their experience in related fields.
Cybersecurity careers lack creativity: Contrary to this misconception, cybersecurity professionals often need to think creatively to identify vulnerabilities, develop innovative solutions, and stay ahead of evolving threats. This field requires adaptability and continuous learning, making it an intellectually stimulating career choice.
Cybersecurity jobs are isolating: While some roles may involve independent work, many cybersecurity positions require collaboration with cross-functional teams, sharing knowledge, and working together to protect an organization’s digital assets.
There is no work-life balance in cybersecurity careers: While some cybersecurity roles may involve on-call responsibilities or demanding hours, many positions offer flexibility and remote work options. By setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care, professionals can maintain a healthy work-life balance in their cybersecurity careers.
Projected Growth of Cybersecurity Careers
The cyber security market is poised for significant growth in the coming years, with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 9% to 13% from 2022 to 2027 or 2030, depending on the source 1. This growth is fueled by the increasing number of cyber-attacks, the emergence of e-commerce platforms, cloud solutions, smart devices, and the need to detect, mitigate, and minimize the risk of cyber-attacks. While the COVID-19 outbreak led to a slowdown in market growth in 2020, with estimates ranging from 1.8% to 5.6% 1, the industry is expected to rebound and continue its upward trajectory.
North America currently dominates the global cyber security market, accounting for over 35% of the revenue share in 2020 1. Market leaders in the cyber security industry include Cisco Systems, IBM Corporation, Fortinet, Proofpoint, Microsoft Corporation, Palo Alto Networks, and Zscaler.
Salaries for cyber security professionals in the US are quite competitive, with an average salary of $75,844 per year 4. However, the salary can vary depending on the level of experience, location, and role. Some examples of different roles and their average salaries in the US are:
- Cyber Security Analyst: $128,870 per year 5 – This role is responsible for detecting and preventing cyber threats to an organization’s networks and systems 3.
- Cyber Security Engineer: $117,058 per year 3 – This role is responsible for designing, implementing, and testing security solutions for various systems and applications 3.
- Chief Information Security Officer: $187,756 per year – This role is responsible for overseeing the overall strategy, policies, and governance of an organization’s cyber security program.
As demonstrated by these figures, salaries for cyber security professionals in the US are quite high, reflecting the high demand and importance of this field. For those interested in pursuing a career in cyber security, top-paying companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, PwC, and Amazon 1 offer competitive salaries and benefits for cyber security professionals. With the projected growth in the cyber security market and the attractive salaries, this field presents a promising and rewarding career path for individuals with the right skills and expertise.
1: ReportLinker – Cyber Security Market 2: Yahoo Finance – Cyber Security Market Worth 3: ECU Online – Top 10 Cyber Security Jobs and Salaries 4: ZipRecruiter – Cyber Security Salary 5: Glassdoor – Cyber Security Analyst Salary
Accessibility And Entry Into The Field Of Cybersecurity
One of the appealing aspects of cybersecurity is that a degree in the field is not always required to enter the profession. This makes it more accessible through various pathways:
- Formal Education: Degree programs, certifications, and bootcamps offered by colleges, universities, and dedicated cybersecurity schools can provide foundational knowledge and hands-on training.
- Self-Learning: Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, edX, and YouTube offer affordable online classes to gain cybersecurity skills on your own time. You can build expertise through practice projects.
- Apprenticeships: Paid apprenticeship programs allow you to learn on the job from experienced professionals. This lets you earn while you learn the ropes.
- IT Experience: Leveraging work experience in IT support, networking, or systems analysis roles can help transition into a cybersecurity career, even without a related degree.
- Certifications: Industry certs like Security+, CEH, CCSP demonstrate your knowledge. Some employers may value these over a college degree.
- Networking: Attending conferences and hackathons allows you to connect with the cybersecurity community and discover job opportunities.
With various accessible pathways available, cybersecurity welcomes professionals with diverse backgrounds who are passionate about learning and upholding digital security.
Clear Practical Advice and Roadmap for Breaking into Cyber Security – Examples
Breaking into the cybersecurity field can seem daunting, but with the right approach, it is achievable. Here, we provide three example options and paths to help you get started. Keep in mind that these are just options, and there are numerous other ways to enter the field based on your interests and background.
Example Option 1: Starting with IT Support and Certifications
Begin with an entry-level IT support role, such as helpdesk support or network administration, to gain hands-on experience and develop a solid understanding of computer systems and networks.
While working in IT support, pursue relevant certifications such as CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ to build your knowledge and credibility in the field.
Leverage your IT support experience and certifications to transition into a junior cybersecurity role, such as a security analyst or security administrator.
Continue to advance your skills and knowledge by pursuing higher-level certifications like Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Example Option 2: Formal Education and Internships
Enroll in a degree program focused on cybersecurity, computer science, or a related field to develop a strong foundation in the subject matter.
Seek internships or co-op opportunities in cybersecurity during your studies to gain practical experience and build connections in the industry.
Participate in cybersecurity competitions, such as Capture the Flag (CTF) events, to hone your skills and demonstrate your abilities to potential employers.
Upon graduation, leverage your degree, internships, and extracurricular activities to secure an entry-level cybersecurity role.
Example Option 3: Self-Learning and Networking
Utilize online resources, such as Coursera, Udemy, and edX, to learn about cybersecurity topics at your own pace. Focus on areas like network security, ethical hacking, and secure software development.
Work on personal projects or contribute to open-source cybersecurity initiatives to build a portfolio showcasing your skills and knowledge.
Attend cybersecurity conferences, workshops, and networking events to connect with professionals in the field and stay informed about industry trends.
Pursue industry-recognized certifications, such as GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) or Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP), to validate your skills and increase your marketability.
Leverage your self-taught knowledge, portfolio, and network to secure an entry-level cybersecurity position or freelance opportunities.
Remember, these are just three example paths to break into the cybersecurity field. Your journey may differ based on your background, interests, and goals. The key is to stay persistent, continuously learn and adapt, and remain passionate about protecting digital assets and infrastructure.
Is cyber security a stressful job?
Working in cyber security can be incredibly stressful due to the high-stress nature of the job and demanding hours. Being on-call 24/7 to handle and resolve problems as they arise means that workers can be contacted at any time, including weekends, evenings, and even during vacations. This constant responsibility can lead to a great deal of pressure and stress, as professionals must always be prepared to tackle potential threats and safeguard against cyber-attacks. Additionally, the nature of their work involves dealing with ever-evolving threats and staying updated on the latest security technologies, adding to the already demanding nature of the job. Overall, the intense and unpredictable nature of cyber security can create a stressful work environment.
Is cyber security a hard career?
While cyber security may present some challenges, it ultimately depends on an individual’s passion and interest in the field. If one has a genuine curiosity for technology and nurtures their knowledge, the path to a career in cyber security can be both engaging and manageable. With dedication and a passion for the subject matter, individuals can overcome obstacles and find fulfillment in this exciting profession. So, while it may have its complexities, cyber security can be a rewarding career for those who are driven by their fascination with technology.
Is cyber security harder than coding?
Cyber security and coding are two distinct fields, each with its own challenges. While coding requires proficiency in programming languages and problem-solving skills, cyber security encompasses a broader scope. In addition to programming, cyber security professionals must possess a deep understanding of networking, system vulnerabilities, and threat detection. Safeguarding sensitive information from cyber threats involves not only identifying and addressing coding vulnerabilities but also implementing effective strategies to protect against sophisticated attacks. Thus, the comprehensive nature of cyber security may make it more intricate than coding alone.