A career in cyber security is challenging and rewarding. This article will help you understand the different cyber security roles available. We’ll also explore which cyber security certification and skills you need to progress, and you’ll learn why cyber security professionals are valued in today’s rapidly changing cyber environment.
Cyber security definition
Cyber security is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These attacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes. 
Why are cyber security roles so in-demand now?
Cyber security and IT jobs are more in-demand than ever, since most businesses are dependent on network and online technologies. What keeps the demand ongoing is the rapidness and dynamic development of the digital world. With that development comes constant flaws and loopholes, and this is where cyber security professionals hop in.
When cyber security researcher Marcus Hutchins accidentally spotted a hidden web address in the famous WannaCry code that hit the NHS, he was able to stop it by registering a domain name used by the malware. Marcus said the attackers could always change the code and try again. He urged people to update their systems to avoid attack. 
If it wasn’t for his quick wit, knowledge and experience in this domain, the whole world would have been infected with the WannaCry virus and a loss of millions would have occurred.
What cyber security professionals do daily?
Any organisation or customer using online devices or software is a target of digital threats. This cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, and cyber security professionals keep us safe by:
- Inspecting new threats and cyberattack strategies
- Revealing new vulnerabilities in systems
- Deciding the best solutions in protecting an enterprise’s assets
- Educating users on being cyber safe
Cyber security jobs
The jobs available in cyber security are vast. Here are some vital roles from entry level to senior:
IT Security Administrator
This person is responsible for administering the network and data security system. They oversee the daily operation of those systems. Some of their tasks involve:
- Reviewing network infrastructure
- Monitoring antivirus software
- Ensuring data backups
- Responding to network security threats
- Dealing with visitors, guest network users and outside vendors 
The average salary for this job in the UK is £29,180 per year according to indeed.co.uk. 
Security administrators need at minimum an associate degree in computer science or a closely related field. Professional certifications along with it can boost chances of employment.
IT Security Engineer
This job provides an engineering approach to counter potentially catastrophic issues in security systems. Some of their duties involve:
- Maintaining the company’s systems
- Doing security checks to see if there are possible vulnerabilities
- Keeping logs to track security incidents
The average salary for this job in the UK is £34,830 per year according to indeed.co.uk. 
A bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or computer science is required for employment as a security engineer. Many employers additionally require some level of previous experience and/or professional certification(s) in the field. 
Information Security Analyst
An ISA’s job is to protect an organisation’s computer systems and network from cyber threats. Some of their duties involve:
- Plan security measures by implementing software for data encryption and firewalls
- Design recovery plans after cyber attacks
- Researching new security technologies 
The average salary for this job in the UK is £40,680 per year according to indeed.co.uk. 
ISAs need a bachelor’s degree specialising in the information security field or computer science.
IT Security Manager
This role manages an organization’s IT security from devising imaginative security solutions to implementing policies and training procedures. Some of their tasks are:
- Creating and executing strategies to improve the reliability and security of IT projects
- Defining, implementing and maintaining corporate security policies and procedures
- Carrying out vulnerability audits, forensic investigations and mitigation procedures 
A security manager’s average salary is £49,985 according to payscale.com. 
Security managers are expected to have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in computer science or cyber security. You can boost this qualification with training and professional certifications.
Penetration testers probe for and exploit security vulnerabilities in web-based applications, networks and systems. Some of their duties are:
- Perform penetration tests on web-based applications, networks and computer systems
- Design and create new penetration tools and tests
- Employ social engineering to uncover security holes
- Work on improvements for security services 
They make on average £57,230 per year in the UK according to indeed.co.uk. 
Candidates need a degree in IT or cyber security in addition to relevant professional certifications.
IT Security Architect
This position is responsible for establishing and maintaining the organisation’s network security. Some of their tasks involve:
- Hands-on repair of issues raised in problem report
- Analysis of breaches following security incidents
- Develop and implement organisation security policies and procedures for employees 
The average salary for this job in the UK is £65,975 per year according to glassdoor.co.uk. 
A bachelor’s degree in information security, information technology or computer science is needed for this job.
Chief Information Security Officer
CISO is an executive level position. Their job is to run the general operations of an organisation’s IT security division. This role has several duties and tasks, some of them are:
- Developing secure business solutions
- Identifying security metrics
- Choosing and purchasing security products from vendors
- Ensuring that the organisation is complied with governmental laws
- Enforcing adherence to security practices 
Since this is the highest cyber security title in a corporate setting, you can expect an average salary of £85,497 per year in the UK according to payscale.com. 
Many organisations require CISOs to have advanced degrees in business, computer science or engineering, and to have extensive professional working experience in information technology. CISOs also need to have professional certifications in IT, IS, cyber security and cyber resilience.
Competencies needed for cyber security roles
Jobs in cyber security all require certain personal skills and attributes. The most common are:
- Problem solving
- Organising skills
- Team spirit
- Strong communication skills
As cyber criminals’ tools are becoming more sophisticated, cyber security professionals need to put themselves into hackers’ shoes to predict possible cyber-attacks. Cyber security professionals therefore need technical knowledge in:
- Intruder practises
- Network protocols
- Malicious codes
- Social engineering
- Spear phishing
- Security principles
- Risk analysis
Professional certificates needed for cyber security roles
At first, you can start with CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ qualifications. They are highly valued worldwide, in addition to industry-standard qualifications from Microsoft, CISCO and HP.
For specialised roles like Penetration Tester, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN) certificates are recommended.
ISO 27001 qualifications, such as ISO27001 Foundation and ISO27001 Lead Implementer, are needed for senior roles as managing teams and processes are part of the job.
BCS offers a certificate called Information Security Management Principles (CISMP) which is recognised by UK employers.
Finally, (ISC)2 CISSP or ISACA CISM examinations are mandatory for any senior cyber security position. 
Sectors that hire cyber security professionals
Certain industries are always on the hunt for cyber security professionals. These are:
- Banking and Finance
The need for more talent in cyber security
You might want to sit down for this one: The shortage of cyber security professionals around the globe has never been more acute. New research by (ISC)2 places the estimate at just under 3 million.
(ISC)² Cyber security Workforce Study, 2018 
There is a huge skills gap in the cyber security job market. The UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy concluded this year that the shortage of cyber security skills and “deep technical expertise” was one of the “greatest challenges faced by the UK’s critical national infrastructure operators and regulators in relation to cyber security.” 
The committee demanded the UK government to understand this problem. They urged the government to fill this skills gap with the help of the tech and education industries.
Deloitte recently started an initiative called “Women in Cyber”. This scheme helps not just to close the cyber security skills gap, but also the gender gap. It has developed a community to spread awareness and inspire women to seek a cyber security career.
If you think there’ll ever be an end to cyber-attacks, you are mistaken. Cyber threats will always exist if individuals and businesses are connected to the internet. Since the threat is ongoing, cyber security skills are in persistent demand. Now is therefore the perfect time to consider a cyber security career.
Are YOU inspired to work in cyber security? Check out our cyber security awareness course for suitable training about cyber security. Or, enrol on a cyber resilience course to learn about the cyber resilience framewwok known as RESILIA.
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