Top 10 Careers in Cyber Security (and Which Is Right for You?)

Top 10 Careers in Cyber Security (and Which Is Right for You?)

Cyber security is a challenging, rewarding, and fast-paced industry. There are countless careers that exist within cyber security you may not be aware of. This guide details 10 awesome cyber security jobs that are available to you during your cyber security career. 

We begin by examining interesting feeder roles that let you get your feet wet in cyber security and eventually progress to a general cyber security job. You can then aim for a more advanced generalist position or become a cyber security specialist. 

But what jobs are available at these stages of your career? Read on to find out and discover the careers in cyber security that best suit your passion. 

Cyber Security Career Pathway

Feeder Roles

Feeder roles are jobs that lead to cyber security careers. They are entry-level IT jobs or cyber security adjacent positions with elements of security involved and are ideal for discovering if you would enjoy a career in cyber security. Let’s look at two such roles.

Security Intelligence

Security Intelligence

Working in security intelligence means constantly collecting and analyzing the most up-to-date threat data available. Your responsibility is to keep a consistent and accurate picture of the current threat landscape so your employers or clients know what concerns they must address to best secure their organization.

Responsibilities include:

  • Reading industry reports, breach disclosures, news, and other information sources.
  • Analyzing data to discover trends and make risk assessments.
  • Consulting with clients/your superiors and advising them of the security measures to institute.

Skills:

  • Essential IT knowledge.
  • The ability to recognize patterns in data and perform risk assessments.
  • Strong communication and presentation skills.

Average Salary = $89,604

Financial and Risk Analyst 

Financial and Risk Analyst

As a financial risk analyst, you identify potential threats to assets that earn income for an organization and recommend strategies to mitigate these risks. You will often specialize in either credit, market, regulatory, or operational risk and must track economic developments related to these areas to forecast future trends.

Responsibilities include:

  • Analyzing/anticipating market trends.
  • Evaluating the risks in proposed business transactions.
  • Formulating contingency plans.
  • Recommending precautionary or improvement measures.

Skills:

  • Financial skills (e.g., accounting, analysis, reporting, and budgeting).
  • Internal auditing.
  • Risk management.
  • Project management

Average Salary = $67,114

Resources

Some courses that can help you in these careers include

General Cyber Security Jobs

After gaining some experience in a cyber security feeder role or adjacent job, you can progress to a general cyber security position. These are considered entry-level positions and usually only require basic security certifications or minimal experience. They are where you will grow as a cyber security professional. 

Cyber Security Analyst

Cyber Security Analyst

A cyber security analyst is an umbrella term for a blue team role and usually involves working as part of an organization’s Security Operations Center (SOC). You are fundamental for defending an organization from a cyber attack through technical controls and policies.

Responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring networks and computer systems.
  • Detecting threats.
  • Analyzing logs.
  • Determining real “events” from false alarms.
  • Either resolving the issues or escalating them to another security department.
  • Designing and implementing a “secure network” or “secure infrastructure.”

Skills:

  • Essential IT, networking, Linux, and cyber security knowledge.
  • Security operations (blue team) skills (e.g., threat analysis, intrusion detection, and vulnerability assessment).
  • Project management.

Average Salary = $100,603 

Vulnerability Tester 

Vulnerability Tester

As a vulnerability tester, you identify potential security holes within an organization’s technical infrastructure and security controls. You report the details of any vulnerabilities discovered to stakeholders for patching or remediation. This role often transitions into penetration testing or ethical hacking positions.

Responsibilities include:

  • Identify, analyze, and assess technical and organizational cyber security vulnerabilities.
  • Test systems and operations compliance with regulatory standards.
  • Document and report results of vulnerability assessments to stakeholders.
  • Deploy vulnerability testing tools and test programs.

Skills:

  • Implement cyber security vulnerability management frameworks, methodologies, and guidelines to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
  • Analyse and consolidate the organization's quality and vulnerability management practices.
  • Enable business asset owners, executives, and other stakeholders to make risk-informed decisions to manage and mitigate vulnerabilities.
  • Communicate, present, and report to relevant stakeholders.
  • Familiarity with vulnerability testing tools like Nessus, Greenbone Vulnerability Manager, and Nmap.

Average Salary = $101,231

Resources

Some courses that can help you in these careers include

Advanced Generalist Cyber Security Jobs

Once you build up your cyber security skills and gain experience in a general role, you have a choice of two different tracks. One is an advanced generalist job. 

These positions require a wide breadth of knowledge across many cyber security topics, though you are not required to be an expert in any. A generalist is typically in a management role and will rely on specialists when they need expertise in a particular area. 

Cyber Security Specialist 

Cyber Security Specialist

In a cyber security specialist role, you will have a broad knowledge base covering the technical aspects of cyber security. You lead security operations or programs by coordinating teams, managing projects, and offering guidance and support to others. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Employing security safeguards.
  • Writing policies and establishing best practices.
  • Defining access controls and permissions.
  • Staying knowledgeable on the most recent threats and their mitigations.
  • Leading or managing a team of security staff.
  • Suggesting or implementing upgrades.
  • Performing or overseeing audits.
  • Anticipating security needs.

Skills:

  • Expertise in cyber security frameworks and standards (e.g., NIST Cybersecurity Framework, ISO 27001, PCI DSS).
  • Proficiency in various cyber security tools and technologies, such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and security information and event management (SIEM) systems.
  • Excellent communication skills, with the ability to explain complex technical concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Familiarity with industry-specific regulations and compliance requirements, such as HIPAA and GDPR.

Average Salary = $99,652 

Cyber Security Architect

Cyber Security Architect

Becoming a cyber security architect makes you responsible for creating secure IT systems resistant to cyber attacks. You oversee an organization's IT infrastructure's design, implementation, testing, and maintenance.

Responsibilities include:

  • Understanding an organization’s risk concerns and security needs.
  • Staying updated on the latest security standards and new security solutions.
  • Defining, implementing, and maintaining the organization’s policies and procedures.
  • Planning, researching, and designing security architectures that are reliable, powerful, and flexible.
  • Preparing cost estimates for all necessary cyber security expenditures.
  • Writing the requirements for all IT assets and approving their installation (routers, firewalls, LANs, network devices, intrusion detection systems, VPNs, etc.).
  • Testing the organization’s final security structure.

Skills:

  • Essential IT, networking, Linux, and cyber security knowledge.
  • An understanding of cryptography and how it can be used to secure systems.
  • Expertise in cyber security frameworks and standards (e.g., NIST Cybersecurity Framework, ISO 27001, PCI DSS).
  • Knowledge of software development and designing, integrating, and managing software solutions.

Average Salary = $146,144 

Cyber Security Consultant

Cyber Security Consultant

As a cyber security consultant, you will either work as a freelancer or as part of a consultancy firm and provide an organization with expert advice on performing an area of cyber security. This area may be technical (e.g., risk management) or strategic (e.g., policy-making) to improve your client organization's security posture. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Speaking with management and department heads to understand their security concerns and create a plan to address them.
  • Establishing the best procedures to defend a client’s networks, data, software, and systems against attack.
  • Create reports breaking down concerns, current security, risks/threats, what should be improved, timelines, and expenses.
  • Perform vulnerability or penetration testing.
  • Estimate costs to implement the suggestions.
  • Train staff on proper security practices.

Skills:

  • The ability to implement asset protection and security protocols.
  • Security operations (blue team) skills (e.g., threat analysis, intrusion detection, and vulnerability assessment).
  • Security adjacent skills, such as database/SQL skills and basic Python scripting.
  • Project management.

Average Salary = $115,753 

Resources

Some courses that can help you in these careers include

Cyber Security Specialist

Instead of looking for an advanced generalist position, you may choose to specialize in a specific area of cyber security. As a cyber security specialist, you are an expert in one or two areas of cyber security and are the person a generalist will seek out for in-depth advice.

Penetration Tester

Penetration Tester

As a penetration tester (sometimes called an ethical hacker), you test the security of an organization’s systems and networks by attacking them to uncover vulnerabilities that a criminal hacker can exploit. You plan and execute a penetration test and then report these findings to a client with recommendations to remediate or mitigate these vulnerabilities. 

You can learn what it takes to be a penetration tester in How to Become a Penetration Tester: The Ultimate Guide.

Responsibilities include:

  • Identify, analyze, and assess technical and organizational cyber security vulnerabilities.
  • Identify attack vectors and uncover and demonstrate exploitation of technical cyber security vulnerabilities.
  • Take on the role of a criminal hacker to simulate an attack on a client system.
  • Test systems and operations compliance with regulatory standards.
  • Document and report penetration testing results to stakeholders.
  • Deploy penetration testing/hacking tools and test programs.

Skills:

  • Implementing penetration testing frameworks, methodologies, and guidelines to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
  • Identifying vulnerabilities and exploiting weaknesses in networked environments using in-depth knowledge of network security controls, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and VPNs.
  • Evaluating security configurations, finding vulnerabilities, and exploiting weaknesses across various operating systems (Windows, Linux, and macOS).
  • Proficiency in programming/scripting languages like Python, Bash, or PowerShell to automate tasks and create custom tools.
  • The ability to assess and secure web applications.
  • Familiarity with penetration testing tools like Metasploit, Burp Suite, Nmap, and Wireshark.
  • Communicating, presenting, and reporting findings to relevant stakeholders.

Incident and Intrusion Analyst

Incident and Intrusion Analyst

In an incident and intrusion analyst position, you work alongside the incident response team to discover the cause and source of a cyber attack. You are often called in after security incidents have already taken place to minimize the impact and prevent further damage from occurring. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Prevention of threat escalation.
  • Providing reports to the security team.
  • Minimize the overall effect of a breach on the network.
  • Perform a system analysis post-resolution to ensure all traces of the breach are gone.
  • Potentially interact with law enforcement when necessary.

Skills:

  • Practice all technical, functional, and operational aspects of cyber security incident handling and response.
  • Collect, analyze, and correlate cyber threat information originating from multiple sources.
  • Work on operating systems, servers, cloud systems, and relevant infrastructures.
  • Knowledge of incident handling standards, methodologies, tools, and frameworks.

Average Salary = $86,959 

Cyber Crime Analyst & Investigator

Cyber Crime Analyst & Investigator

As a cyber crime analyst and investigator, you can work for a government agency or within the private sector. You are responsible for investigating criminal activity within the digital realm by performing forensic investigations on computer devices.

Responsibilities include:

  • Testifying in court.
  • Training law enforcement.
  • Consulting with clients.
  • Developing digital forensics investigation policy, plans, and procedures.
  • Identifying, recovering, extracting, documenting, and analyzing digital evidence.
  • Preserving and protecting digital evidence and making it available to authorized stakeholders.
  • Inspecting environments for evidence of unauthorized and unlawful actions.
  • Systematically and deterministically document, report, and present digital forensic analysis findings and results.
  • Select and customize forensics testing, analyzing, and reporting techniques.

Skills:

  • Collecting information while preserving its integrity.
  • Identifying, analyzing, and correlating cyber security events.
  • Explaining and presenting digital evidence in a simple, straightforward, and easy-to-understand way.
  • Knowledge of digital forensics standards, methodologies, tools, and frameworks.
  • Malware analysis and computer forensics.
  • Tools like Autopsy, COFEE, Volatility, and HashKeeper.

Average Salary = $98,000 

Resources

Some courses that can help you in these careers include

Conclusion

There is a wide range of cyber security jobs that you might not know about. There are feeder roles like Security Intelligence, general roles like Cyber Security Analyst, and specialist roles like Cyber Crime Analyst & Investigator. 

Some jobs are technical and focus on security operations, others are research-driven and more academic, and some are managerial and focus on getting the best out of people. 

These jobs vary in their responsibilities, the skills needed to perform them, and the certifications required to qualify for them. This article detailed some of the roles available to you and provided insight into cyber security jobs you might not have considered before. To discover even more cyber security roles, consider joining the StationX Accelerator to accelerate your career in cyber security.

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  • Adam Goss

    Adam is a seasoned cyber security professional with extensive experience in cyber threat intelligence and threat hunting. He enjoys learning new tools and technologies, and holds numerous industry qualifications on both the red and blue sides. Adam aims to share the unique insights he has gained from his experiences through his blog articles. You can find Adam on LinkedIn or check out his other projects on LinkTree.

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