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Cyber Security Career Path

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Cyber Security Career Path

Introduction:

Cyber security is now a trending word, technology, domain in the Information sector. With every individual’s activities going online, ranging from social collaboration to financial payments over the internet, there is a great scope for an alarming increase in risks that compliment them. Digitalization of information also has a great downside of being compromised upon. Let us now try to understand what is Cyber security and also why is there a need for such a thing to exist in the first place.

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Cyber Security is the art of protecting the integrity of your network, programs, products and your data from being attacked, damaged or allow any sort of unauthorized access. There are a certain set of techniques that get to the work of achieving all the above-mentioned criterion. The core functionality as defined by these techniques is to ascertain that the information and data are protected from any major cyber threats. Cyber Security comes in as an extension and also accentuates the idea of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the National Institute of Security Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity framework.

[Related Page: Cybersecurity frameworks]

There are wide range of attacks that affect, concern your data that is available online. To counter these attacks, vulnerabilities and other variants there is an increasing number of individuals getting deployed into organizations with definitive skill sets. Let us go through the subsequent sections of this article to get some better understanding of the same.

1. Cyber Security Basic Eligibility Criteria for Certification:

Few of the mandatory requirements that an individual should possess to enter into the Cybersecurity realm of the Information Technology world are the following:

  • Strong computer networking skills
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Strong command over Operating systems
  • Strong command over a variety of programming languages (C, C++, Java and etc.)
  • Strong command over Databases, SQL (helps in SQL injection techniques)

Without most of these skills, there is always a scope that an individual can’t accomplish what he/she will be hired for. There is no hard and fast rule that you should know everything, but it is good to know most of the things. Alongside, there is no specific programming language that you should be strong at but, in general, should be able to solve problems programmatically (irrespective of the programming language background that an individual comes from). Apart from these, there are other common skills that don’t just apply for careers in Cyber Security but elsewhere as well – Strong determination to get things done, Patience, Perseverance, Undying efforts to achieve, Never quitting attitude. All of these are put to use to the maximum as the situations that need to be handled in these cases are extremely complex and also time-consuming to crack as well.

2. Different Cyber Security Career Paths:

In this section, let’s know more in detail about the different career levels that an individual can join and take it to the top from there on. The best career path is to build it ground up with the understanding that you will put in all the time that it requires to get there. Let us now take a look at each of the career levels (that are important) and discuss what does it take for an individual to sustain at that level, alongside we will also discuss what needs to be done to get to the next level. It all depends on the efforts that an individual puts in into that role and how desperate an individual is moving to the next level.

Have a look at the career path that one can abide by, to get to the top – starting afresh from the scratch. There is no straight forward Career path for an individual to reach the top-most role in the following pyramid, few might be lucky to tag along in between from another IT specialization whereas few might have to get from the absolute bottom to the top-most position. Let us discuss about this career path right now, beginning from a Security Consultant -> Ethical Hacker / Penetration Tester -> Security Architect -> Security Manager / Director -> Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Let us discuss the following in great detail in the following sections.

Cyber Security Career Path Root Map

Here are the broad classifications of the roles that an individual has to cross through to reach to the top of the positions available in the Cyber Security realm of the Information Technology sector.

  • Security Consultant
  • Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker
  • Security Architect
  • Security Manager / Director
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

3. How to Start Your Cybersecurity Career Path?

Introduction:

There is no need that every Cyber Security Professional has to be made ground up, there are situations and scenarios where seasoned IT software engineers seek towards these roles. There is an amalgam of these two roles as well, that can build / mold individuals into Cyber Security Professionals. The entry-level IT jobs that pave the way for a cybersecurity career include:

  • Systems administrator
  • Database administrator
  • Web administrator
  • Web developer
  • Network administrator
  • IT technician
  • Security administrator
  • Network engineer
  • Computer software engineer

Security Consultant

Introduction:

A Security Consultant is the one who is responsible to assess all the cybersecurity risks, problems and is also expected to resolve them for the organization he works. Their responsibility is to constantly guide the organizations in different ways and means to protect/secure their physical/digital data. The positions might vary based on the organizations where such individuals are deployed and also based on the technologies that are used – ranging from roles as like 

  • Information Security Consultant, 
  • Computer Security Consultant, 
  • Database Security Consultant and 
  • Network Security Consultant. 

How to become a security Consultant?

To become a Security Consultant, you could follow the below steps:

  • The pre-requisite for an individual to join a career in these lines is to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in any of the following streams – Computer Science, Information Technology or Cyber Security related.
  • If you are not from these streams, then you should be able to equal this education level by gaining equivalent experience also with relevant industry accepted certifications
  • You can then pursue an entry-level position in an IT organization, though not peculiarly related to Security.
  • You could then get to a mid-level role as a Security Administrator or Security Analyst or Security Engineer or Security Auditor
  • Train and equip yourself with the required advanced training and back that up with necessary certifications.
  • You should then be competent enough to enter into a Security Consultant role in the organization of your choice.

Roles and responsibilities:

  • To determine better ways to protect networks, data and all the information systems from any possible risks
  • To be able to perform vulnerability or security tests and assessments.
  • Uncover security issues if required by interviewing staff or department heads
  • You should be able to test security solutions that are widely accepted across industries and suggest which suits your organization.
  • Provide technical supervision and also guidance to a security team.
  • You are expected to be tech-savvy and also flexible: the reason being that you might have to deal with a wide range of variables while assessing the security risks that are at hand for a given organization.

Salary Graph:
The salary for a Security Consultant is around $93,558 for 3 to 5 years of professional experience.

Security Consultant Salaries

[Related Page: How to Become a Cyber Security Engineer]

Recommended Training for Security Consultants

1. Beginner:

  • CompTIA Security+

2. Intermediate:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

3. Advanced:

  • EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM)

4. Expert:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Security Architect Career Path

Introduction:

If problem-solving is your forte or creating bigger picture strategies for organizations is your passion, then you should be looking at Security Architect as a Career path for yourself. As any other Architect, a Security Architect gets to work with the design, build, and implementation of network and security for the given organization. These are destined to understand your complex security architecture and to ensure that it functions smoothly. The architecture that they propose should be withholding the malware, hacker intrusions and even so the DDoS attacks.

How to become a security architect?

  • To become a Security Architect, you could follow the below steps:
  • The pre-requisite for an individual to join a career in this lines is to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in any of the following streams – Computer Science, Information Technology or Cyber Security related.
  • If you are not from these streams, then you should be able to equal this education level by gaining equivalent experience also with relevant industry accepted certifications
  • Enter into IT sector as a mid-level role of a Security Administrator or Systems Administrator or Network Administrator
  • Get you promoted to a mid-level role as Security Engineer or Analyst
  • Enter a Security Architect role

Roles and responsibilities:

  • You should be able to plan, research and also design durable security architecture for various IT projects
  • You should be in a position to develop the requirements for networks, firewalls, routers and other network related devices without a second thought
  • Should be able to perform Vulnerability testing, Security assessments, and Risk Analysis
  • Should be able to evaluate or identify issues or changes in major infrastructure
  • You should be able to research and implement the latest security standards to keep your organization abreast of the systems and best practices.

Salary Graph:

The salary for a Security Architect ranges around $139,302 for 5 to 10 years of professional experience.

Security Architect Salaries

Recommended Training for Security Architects

1. Beginner:

  • CompTIA Security+

2. Intermediate:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

3. Advanced:

  • EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)

4. Expert:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Frequently Asked Cyber Security Interview Questions


Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker Career Path: (Mid to Senior Level)

Introduction:
A Penetration Tester (even referred to as an Ethical Hacker) is an individual who is responsible for constantly checking on the weak spots in a given organization’s IT systems, network, hardware and applications – constantly looks for opportunities and flags them for fixing. An Ethical Hacker is on the same level as any other hacker who employs the same tactics as an outsider to hack the system, flags them for fixing them to provide better security and protection.

These penetration testers use tools or simulators to replicate a real life like scenario to identify these spots and weaknesses. This will only help the organizations to up their counter measures towards any unforeseen cyber security attacks.

How to become a Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker?

Most of the cases where individuals plan to take up the roles of an Ethical Hacker or a Penetration Tester, they follow the following footsteps:

  • The pre-requisite for an individual to join a career in this lines is to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in any of the following streams – Computer Science, Information Technology or Cyber Security related.
  • If you are not from these streams, then you should be able to equal this education level by gaining equivalent experience also with relevant industry accepted certifications
  • Enter into IT sector as a mid-level role of a Security Administrator or Systems administrator or Network Administrator
  • Master in the fields of Ethical Hacking and gain the needed skills, training and required Certifications
  • Enter into a Penetration Tester or an Ethical Hacker’s role
  • Get promoted into a Senior Penetration Tester role or a Security Consultant or even a Security Architect based on your choice.

[Related Page: Ethical Hacking Certifications]

Roles and responsibilities:

  • You are expected to perform penetration tests on web applications, networks and computer systems
  • You should be able to uncover any security loopholes and also should be able to pinpoint hackers who could use your system weaknesses
  • You should be able to research, document and also discuss your findings in a way to always stay abreast of any upcoming attacks.
  • Should be able to design newer penetration tests or tools
  • You should also be able to perform Penetration testing on your infrastructure too.

Salary Graph:

  • Penetration testers draw a salary between two different odds, ranging from $41,407 to $135,676 based on various reasons like experience, technology, organization and line of business.
  • You are expected to have an overall experience of around 5 years or so.

Penetration Tester Salaries

Recommended Training for Penetration Testers

1. Beginner:

  • CompTIA Security+

2. Intermediate: 

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

3. Advanced: 

  • CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP)
  • EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)

4. Expert:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – (Senior level)

Introduction:

If you have the zeal to lead a team of Security engineers and aspire to lead IT initiatives for an organization, then you might have what it requires to be a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The role comes with a lot of power and the freedom of choice to creatively take decisions. One of the biggest jobs of a CISO is to build and maintain security team(s) that look after all the security concerns of an organization.

How to become a CISO?

To become a CISO, you might follow a career path similar to this:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity or a related field. Or, gain equivalent experience with relevant industry certifications.
  • Enter the field as a programmer or analyst.
  • Get promoted to a role as a security analyst, engineer, consultant or auditor.
  • Gain more advanced IT certifications and training.
  • Enter a management position overseeing a security team.
  • Attain an MBA or certifications with an IT security and/or management focus.
  • Get promoted to a CISO role.

Roles and responsibilities:

As head of IT security, your daily activities will include:

  • Hiring and guiding a team of IT security experts
  • Creating strategic plans for deploying information security technologies and improving existing programs
  • Supervising the development of corporate security policies and procedures
  • Collaborating with key stakeholders to establish a security risk management program
  • Spearheading IT security investigations and providing recommended courses of action in the event of a breach

[Related Page: Cyber Security Certifications]

Salary Graph:

  • The average salary that a CISO draws from an organization ranges around $118,592. 
  • You can expect to have around 7 to 12 years of professional experience working in the IT industry before you even qualify for the role of CISO
  • You should also spend about 5 years roughly in managing Security teams for an organization (as a pre-requisite).

CISO Salaries

Recommended Training for CISOs

1. Intermediate:

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

2. Advanced:

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

3. Expert:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

4. Conclusion:

In this article, we have tried to explore and understand the concept of Cyber Security and also the need for Cyber Security with the arising needs to get all our daily activities and data feed online. We have tried to highlight the basic skills that an individual should have to pursue a career in this sector.

In the further sections, we have tried to understand how an individual can progress from an entry level to the most advanced levels in this realm of Information Technology sector. We have also explained the details about each of these roles, required certifications to certify that they are equipped for the roles that they serve in the future. We have discussed in detail about the career path that an individual can take. Though there is enough effort put in to get all the details under one article, we still suggest that you go through the official websites for the certification requirements, requisites, pricing and any other official information – as these details tend to change with respect to the newer technologies, trends and the like.

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Sandeep
About The Author

Sandeep is working as a Senior Content Contributor for Mindmajix, one of the world’s leading online learning platforms. With over 5 years of experience in the technology industry, he holds expertise in writing articles on various technologies including AEM, Oracle SOA, Linux, Cybersecurity, and Kubernetes. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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