Security

Want a career in cybersecurity? Here are 10 jobs to explore

There are currently 1 million open cybersecurity jobs worldwide. Here are 10 different career options to investigate in the field.

With a growing cyber threat landscape and an estimated 1 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide, the field is wide open for both recent graduates and people looking to make a career change.

Job postings in the cybersecurity field have gone up 74% over the past five years—and US News and World Report ranked a career in information security analysis fifth on its list of best technology jobs. Average salaries nationally are $88,890, and significantly higher in cities such as San Francisco and New York.

"The job prospects are excellent," Deborah Hurley, a professor for Brown University's executive master in cybersecurity program, told TechRepublic recently. "The demand far outstrips the supply."

Here are 10 different job options to explore in the cybersecurity field, with job description information from CyberDegrees.org.

SEE: Top 10 companies hiring cybersecurity professionals

1. Security consultant

"A security consultant is the IT equivalent of Obi-Wan—advisor, guide and all-round security guru," according to CyberDegrees.org. People in this role design and implement the strongest possible security solutions based on the needs and threats facing an individual company, and day-to-day tasks may vary widely. A security consultant might determine the most effective way to protect computers, networks, software, data, and information systems against attacks, perform vulnerability testing and risk analyses, test security solutions, respond to any incidents, and update security systems as needed, depending on the terms of their contract.

2. Chief information security officer

The chief information security officer (CISO) is the leader of all security initiatives in a company. While these tech professionals were traditionally seen as security enforcers, they are now often considered strategists helping the enterprise avoid cybercrime. CISOs typically appoint and guide a team of security experts, create a strategic plan for the deployment of information security technologies and programs, develop corporate security policies, and monitor security vulnerabilities, among a number of other tasks.

3. Security engineer

Security engineers are intermediate-level positions that build and maintain IT security solutions for a company. These professionals develop security for the organization's systems and projects, and also handle any technical problems that arise. Security engineers are often responsible for configuring and installing firewalls and intrusion detection systems, performing vulnerability testing, developing automation scripts to track incidents, and testing security solutions.

SEE: Cybersecurity spotlight: The critical labor shortage (Tech Pro Research)

4. Security architect

The senior-level security architect position involves designing, building, and overseeing the implementation of network and computer security for a company. Security architects must plan, research, and design strong security architectures for all IT projects, perform security assessments, respond to incidents, develop requirements for LANs, WANs, VPNs, routers, firewalls, and other network devices, as well as design PKIs, among other tasks.

5. Incident responder

An incident responder (sometimes called a computer security incident response team engineer or an intrusion analyst) is essentially a cyber firefighter, and must rapidly address security threats and incidents within a company. "In your role as a first responder, you will be using a host of forensics tools to find the root cause of a problem, limit the damage and see that it never happens again," according to CyberDegrees.org. "Like a firefighter, part of your job will also involve education and prevention." This involves actively monitoring systems and networks for attacks, identifying security vulnerabilities, performing malware analysis and reverse engineering, and establishing protocols for communication within an organization and with law enforcement during a security incident.

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Image: iStockphoto/Imilian

6. Computer forensics expert

A computer forensics expert acts as a digital detective, accessing and analyzing evidence from computers, networks, and data storage devices. On a day-to-day basis, this role involves conducting security incident investigations, recovering and examining data from devices, compiling evidence for legal cases, and advising law enforcement on the credibility of acquired data. These experts often work for large corporations, law enforcement agencies, legal firms, private consulting firms, and the government.

7. Penetration tester

Penetration testers, also know as ethical hackers, are responsible for legally hacking into an organization's applications, networks, and systems to discover and later patch security vulnerabilities. This role involves creating and performing formal penetration tests, conducting physical security assessments of servers, systems, and network devices, using social engineering to discover security flaws, and incorporating business considerations into security strategies.

SEE: 5 reasons your company can't hire a cybersecurity professional, and what you can do to fix it

8. Security analyst

A security analyst detects and prevents cyberthreats for a company. This might involve planning, implementing, and upgrading security measures and controls, performing risk analyses, conducting internal and external security audits, managing network, intrusion detection, and prevention systems, and coordinating security plans with third party vendors.

9. Security software developer

These tech professionals develop security software and integrate security into applications software during the design and development process. Depending on the specific position and company, a security software developer might oversee a team of developers in the creation of secure software tools, develop a company-wide software security strategy, participate in the lifecycle development of software systems, support software deployments to customers, and test their work for vulnerabilities.

10. Security auditor

A security auditor is a mid-level role responsible for examining the safety and effectiveness of company computer systems and their security components, and then issuing a detailed report outlining the success of the system and any changes or improvements that could be made. These professionals plan, execute, and lead security audits across a company, evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance of operational processes with corporate security policies and any government regulations, and develop and administer risk-focused exams for IT systems.

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About Alison DeNisco

Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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