Cyber security is an important and ever-growing field, and today we’re offering some tips and advice to help you land one of the best cyber security jobs in 2021.
The world is relying more heavily on technology every day, and our digital security is becoming more important than ever as a result. Protecting our data, programs and digital assets has become paramount now that everything is stored online. Cyber security specialists play an extremely important role in ensuring our personal security and the security of our businesses and organisations.
Typical employers of cyber security specialists include governments, banks, schools, airlines, network providers and even international organisations. The possibilities in this tech industry are limitless, and there could be a role waiting for you if you’re interested in digital security. To learn the basics, you can try our Introduction to Cyber Security course and learn how to protect your digital life.
What does the cyber security job landscape look like?
In the UK, a recent parliamentary inquiry suggested that the shortage of cyber security workers was “verging on a crisis”. This concern is shared across most of the globe. Although this might not sound too encouraging, these global worker shortages mean there are plenty of opportunities for those with the right skills and experience.
The unemployment rate in the cyber security field is 0%, and this rate has stayed consistent since 2011. This fact is pretty astounding when you compare it to other sectors and industries which are becoming increasingly competitive. If stability is important to you when thinking about a career, this might be something to keep in mind.
The rate of growth in the cyber security industry doesn’t appear to be slowing down either. As we become even more digitally advanced, we are experiencing higher rates of cyber crime. The cost of cyber crime was estimated to reach $6 trillion globally this year, meaning that we require an ever-growing number of cyber security professionals to deal with threats and defend our online security. The New York Times even reported that there would be 3.5 million open cyber security jobs this year.
You might be surprised to learn that many companies are willing to hire employees without relevant degrees. The skills gap in the cyber security field is so large that companies have even hired humanities graduates, so long as they have some form of experience or certification. If then, you’ve completed an unrelated degree but are still interested in cyber security, it’s definitely worth giving it a shot.
What skills do I need to work in cyber security?
Despite the high demand for jobs, you can’t begin a career in cyber security without training. There are certain skills you’ll need to thrive in this technological, high-stakes environment. How you choose to learn these skills is up to you. Below, we’ve rounded up the most important skills you need to work in cyber security:
- Logical mind and great reasoning skills
- Understanding of the cyber world and how hackers work
- Excellent attention to detail
- Very good IT skills and knowledge of networks, hardware and software
- Incident handling skills
- Auditing skills
- Strong understanding of IT infrastructures and their vulnerabilities
- Computer forensics skills
The more specific technical skills and knowledge will vary depending on the specific career path you choose. For example, the skills you need might also depend on the specific area you’re working in, for example, Supply Chain Cybersecurity. But, often, you will also need an understanding of these skills:
- Intrusion detection
- Advanced malware analysis and prevention
- Cloud computing
- Firewall skills
- SIEM management
- Identity management
- Application security development
- Programming languages, i.e. Java, C/C++, Python
Why work in cyber security?
There are a number of excellent reasons why you should consider a career in cyber security. We already discussed the 0% unemployment rate, which means you have the ability to future-proof your career extremely early on. You can have confidence that there will always be a demand for your skills and expertise.
The chance for progression
In a similar vein, rates of promotion are likely to be higher than in other industries because there is such a high demand for experienced cyber security specialists. Once you’ve been working for a few years and have the necessary skills and experience, there will be a lot of room for growth and further professional development in the field.
Job satisfaction is another area where cyber security employees score well. The (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study in 2019 found that in the USA, 71% of cyber security specialists are satisfied with their jobs. Furthermore, 84% of respondents from all over the world said they are where they expected to be in their careers, given their experience and skills.
University isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t necessary for every career. Many cyber security specialists are self-taught or learn from online resources and programs. We have a great selection of cyber security courses on our website, but if you’re really thinking about a career in cyber security, you should try our ExpertTracks in Cyber Security Foundations or Information Security Design and Development. These are a series of in-depth courses designed to help you master specialised skills.
Last but not least, the salaries in cyber security are definitely something to smile about. Below we’ve provided average salaries for several countries, but keep in mind that entry-level and management positions may fall outside of these ranges:
Average annual salary in the UK: £50,000-80,000
Average annual salary in the US: $75,000-120,000
Average annual salary in Canada: C$80,000-150,000
Average annual salary in Australia: $A75,000-135,000
What are the 10 most in-demand cyber security jobs?
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most in-demand jobs in the cyber security industry for 2021, provided some advice about the skills they require and explained what the job entails.
1. Blockchain Developer
Blockchain developers create and develop innovative systems as a response to challenges such as hacking. It is their job to ensure the security of digital transactions by recording and storing blockchain data using secure methods such as cryptography.
They often operate on multiple systems and know several different programming languages, as blockchain technology can be very complex. Some important skills that blockchain developers need include blockchain architecture, knowledge of data structures, web development, smart contract development and cryptography.
Reader’s Digest named blockchain developer as one of the most in-demand jobs for 2021, so it’s an exciting field to be working in. To find out more, try one of our courses on encryption and cryptography, or further your professional development with our Innovations in Fintech ExpertTrack.
Average annual salary in the UK: £68,000 (technojobs)
2. Cyber Security Project Manager
If you’re a cyber security specialist who also wants to take on a leadership role, working in project management could be the perfect choice. Also on the Reader’s Digest list of in-demand jobs for 2021, cyber security project managers oversee the development of security systems that protect an organisation’s employees, assets and data.
They coordinate with other cyber security specialists through different stages of a project and ensure that targets are met within a particular time frame and budget. It is effectively their job to ensure the implementation of cyber security measures after analysts have determined the correct approach.
Cyber security project managers will sometimes handle large teams and budgets, so the stakes can be high in this role. They usually have a degree in a field such as business management or computer science, while a project management master’s degree or professional certification can improve their chances of success.
If you’re interested in project management, in cyber security or other industries, you can take our Project Management ExpertTrack and learn how to deliver strategic change and transformation in an organisation.
Average annual salary in the UK: £56,608 (Indeed)
3. Network Engineer
As you can see from their job titles, network engineers are responsible for dealing with computer networks. They are technical experts, and it is their job to set up networks, look after them and offer technical support to users of the network.
There are both hands-on and computer-based aspects to this role. Network engineers can perform installations and maintenance tasks on aspects of network components such as routers and cables, but they also look after software by monitoring network activity, configuring systems, setting up firewalls and troubleshooting problems.
A degree is not necessary to become a network engineer, but one can be useful in some instances. If you want to learn more about network security, you can try our Network Defence Management Overview and Basics of Network Security courses.
Average annual salary in the UK: £52,500 (cwjobs)
4. Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts have the responsibility of creating plans and strategies for preventing cyber attacks. They are essentially the protectors of sensitive information, and they ensure that policies are being followed.
Their main jobs include monitoring systems and networks, detecting threats, analysing and assessing issues, and generally protecting IT infrastructure from criminal activity. Once they have found a threat, they will decide whether to resolve or escalate it, based on how dangerous it is.
Since the role of an information security analyst is highly technical, they generally have a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as computer science or programming. The U.S. News & World Report ranked this position as #4 among best technology jobs and #40 among all industries, so you can be sure that this is an excellent role to aim for.
To find out more, you can take our ISO course and learn how to develop and implement an Information security Management System (ISMS).
Average annual salary in the UK: £62,500 (cwjobs)
5. Ethical Hacker
If you’re interested in learning more about cyber criminals and how they work, you might want to become an ethical hacker. It is their job to carry out advanced penetration tests on a company’s system and check if there are any weaknesses or breaches in their security.
By stepping into the mind of a cyber criminal, ethical hackers assess the security of computer systems and fix any problems that they find so that real hackers can’t penetrate the system. They create preventative measures to stop hackers before they’ve even begun.
Certified ethical hackers don’t need a degree, but they usually have some form of certification. The most common is the CEH qualification, which requires you to have two years of security-related experience. You can discover more about ethical hacking in our 2-week course, Introduction to Ethical Hacking.
Average annual salary in the UK: £44,569 (PayScale)
6. Cyber Security Consultant
Consultants provide business solutions for their organisation or clients, and cyber security consultants do the same thing in the cyber security sphere. They assess all security measures, propose improvements and then oversee implementations of new measures.
They can either work for one particular company or choose to work independently and help different organisations improve their cyber security measures. They also may get involved with training staff across an organisation. This job is a great option for people who would like to work for multiple different businesses and value their independence.
Average annual salary in the UK: £65,000 (cwjobs)
7. Digital Forensic Analyst
If you want to be directly involved in investigating cyber criminals, you might consider being a digital forensic analyst. They work closely with the police and other law enforcement agencies to investigate criminal activities and catch cyber criminals.
They investigate a wide range of digital crimes from hacking, online scams and theft of sensitive information, to terrorist communications and illegal pornography. Often digital forensic analysts will be investigating data on a range of devices such as computers, tablets, phones and flash drives.
If you’re interested in this role, you’ll need to have knowledge of the latest forensic computing techniques and software, have a great understanding of operating systems, and be comfortable with handling confidential or sensitive information. You can do a degree if you so wish, but there are also cyber intrusion or cyber security apprenticeships available.
Average annual salary in the UK: £34,392 (PayScale)
8. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
If you’re already working in the cyber security field and want to turn it up a notch, you might consider becoming a chief information security officer, or CISO. This is a senior role, where you will have many years of experience in various cyber security jobs under your belt. The CISO is in charge of overseeing the entire security operation of an organisation, including strategy, design, development, budget, regulations and more.
You will need to have excellent leadership qualities to take on this role, as the CISO is often responsible for hiring IT personnel and managing team leaders on a day-to-day basis. They need to have knowledge of all aspects of an organisation’s cyber security, and must feel comfortable working under pressure. The generous salary reflects the seniority of the role.
Average annual salary in the UK: £128,471 (Glassdoor)
9. Security Architect
As the job title reveals, security architects are responsible for creating and designing security for a system. They also develop architecture patterns and new security approaches for technologies. If you have an analytical mind, enjoy designing programs and love working with data, this might be the perfect role for you.
Security architects may be in charge of designing IT security infrastructure, but they will also be involved in its creation, implementation and management. It’s important that they have great communication skills as they will need to educate staff on security policies, provide specialist advice to teams, recommend approaches to stakeholders and help review the work of others.
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree for this job, but it’s worth also keeping in mind that 27% of employees for this position also request a relevant masters degree. Our ExpertTrack Information Security Design and Development is an excellent place to get started with security design if you’re thinking about this as a career.
Average annual salary in the UK: £82,500 (cwjobs)
10. Security Software Developer
The final cyber security job we’ll be discussing is that of a security software developer. If you’re a big fan of coding and love the idea of creating software, this job will suit you. It combines the technical knowledge of writing and developing software with an interest in security and the current threat landscape.
To succeed in this role, you’ll need to understand software in and out, from its design, testing and implementation. You’ll be able to make changes to existing programs, carry out upgrades and integrate security protocols into old applications. It’s important that you can work well in a team, as you will often be developing software collaboratively and working with IT colleagues.
If you’re interested in becoming a software developer, you can try our ExpertTrack, Software Development with Python and Java, aimed at beginners to programming and development, where you will gain an understanding of multiple coding languages. If you enjoy this ExpertTrack, you might want to consider becoming a security software developer.
Average annual salary in the UK: £54,652 (Glassdoor)
We hope we’ve given you plenty of food for thought about the exciting and ever-growing cyber security industry. There are so many jobs available for the taking, and in the next few years, there will be plenty of brand new job titles in the field, as a result of the world’s continual digital growth.
There’s no need to worry about how you’re going to develop these advanced technological skills either, as we have so many great courses that will introduce you to cyber security or teach you new skills in the field. Our new ExpertTrack, Cyber Security Foundations, is an excellent place to start, as you’ll learn how to start building your career in cyber defence.
Get qualified for these top cyber security roles with an online cyber security degree from world-class universities.