As companies in every industry become more reliant on digital solutions, their exposure to cyber threats, or attack surface, increases. So does the interest of many young individuals in knowing how to become a cybersecurity engineer. Cybercriminals use increasingly sophisticated methods to infiltrate IT infrastructure, so organisations face an uphill struggle to keep their data secure. So much so, in fact, that cyberattacks will cost organisations worldwide $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.
With such high stakes in mind, demand for cybersecurity engineers is exploding globally as organisations have a growing need to mitigate security breaches and safeguard their data and reputations. In this post, we’ll look at how to become a cybersecurity engineer, including the qualifications you need, and answer the question “Is cybersecurity a good career?” for you.
What does a cybersecurity engineer do?
A cybersecurity engineer assists in protecting an organisation’s IT infrastructure and data of an organisation against a variety of cyber threats. By securing customer information, financial records, and other sensitive, confidential data, they shield their employer from the financial cost and reputational damage that accompanies security breaches.
The responsibilities of a cybersecurity engineer include the following:
- Identifying potential system and network vulnerabilities through audits, assessments and penetration testing.
- Developing and implementing cybersecurity solutions, like firewalls, encryption protocols, and intrusion detection systems, to defend against cyberattacks.
- Identifying and responding to attempts at unauthorised access from malicious actors like hackers and other cybercriminals.
- Planning, implementing, managing, monitoring and upgrading security controls to protect an organisation’s IT infrastructure and data.
- Reporting to and communicating with other departments.
- Keeping up to date with new cybersecurity threats, methodologies and emerging technologies related to their industry.
- Collaborating with other cybersecurity personnel, such as penetration testers, security analysts, IT managers, and other key stakeholders.
How to become a cybersecurity engineer?
The path to becoming a cybersecurity engineer usually begins with earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science, cybersecurity, or something similar, which typically takes three to four years. Your undergraduate study may also include an internship which would give you invaluable experience, allow you to start building a professional network, and even secure employment for when you graduate.
After graduation, you’ll need to spend one to five years in entry-level IT positions to gain the necessary experience and skillset to become a cybersecurity engineer. This could include a stint as a cybersecurity analyst, incident and intrusion analyst, or penetration tester. Alternatively, you might begin in a more general IT role, like an IT support engineer, software developer, or network or systems administrator , before switching to cybersecurity.
An alternative option, if you already work in the IT industry, is to enrol in an intensive Cybersecurity Bootcamp, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. The bootcamp route still requires you to gain experience, although maybe not as much as a newly minted graduate, as you’d already have some skills and professional contacts from working in IT.
Certifications for cybersecurity engineers
Another vital aspect of how to become a cybersecurity engineer is gaining relevant certifications from professional accreditation bodies like CompTIA, Cisco, and GIAC. These idnclude:
- CompTIA Security+
- CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
- Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
- Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
Is cybersecurity a good career? What are the benefits?
High Demand for Your Skills
One of the most significant advantages of becoming a cybersecurity engineer is that the role is in high demand from organisations worldwide – and this is only set to increase. For instance, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is projected to increase by 35% from 2021 to 2031, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Similarly, cybersecurity roles take 21% longer to fill on average than other positions, punctuating the large talent gap in the cybersecurity field.
A Great Salary
Cybersecurity engineers earn an average of $96,000 (£89,000) annually, at $65,000 (£89,000) at the lower end of the scale and $137,000 (£128,000) at the top end. Plus, with lots of companies vying for your services, you can expect a great benefits package.
Job Security and Excellent Advancement Prospects
Another advantage of the high demand for cybersecurity engineers, coupled with the position’s barriers to entry, is job security. Quite simply, as long as organisations need computers to operate, there’ll always be a job for you. Additionally, you won’t suxffer from a lack of career progression, as you can move into a position like a security architect, security manager, or chief information security officer (CISO) as you gain more skills and experience.
Stimulating, Demanding Work
Due to its challenging nature, becoming a cybersecurity engineer isn’t for everyone – but the upside of this is that it offers stimulating work. With the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of cyber threats, you’ll consistently stay on your toes. Plus, there’s always something to learn which prevents you from becoming complacent.
So, what do you think, is cybersecurity a good career for you?
Discover free RiskXchange materials to find out how to become a cybersecurity engineer, and how to handle cyber threats more efficiently.