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Posted on October 6th, 2020 in Cybersecurity, Eleven Fifty Academy, Featured, Resources

Cybersecurity jobs have existed since the 1970s, but there’s never been a more exciting or beneficial time to start a career in this industry. If the work of defending computers, servers, software, or data from malicious criminals doesn’t immediately get you excited, the average cybersecurity salary just might. And those who want a high-paying, exciting career that helps others might have found a perfect match. 

At Eleven Fifty Academy, we specialize in cybersecurity bootcamps and other coding bootcamps. These programs help both new members of the workforce and career changers gain the skills they need to achieve careers they truly enjoy. Less than half of the cybersecurity professionals currently in the workforce started out in the cybersecurity field. That means if you’re a career changer, you’ll be in good company.

Whether you’re developing a totally new skill set to enter the workforce or pivoting into a more lucrative and exciting career, cybersecurity is a growing job market full of opportunity. We created this ultimate guide to cybersecurity jobs to help you explore the options and decide for yourself: Is cybersecurity a good career for me?

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What Are Common Cybersecurity Jobs?

One 2019 Cybersecurity Workforce Study found that the US cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 62% to meet the needs of today’s businesses. As a result of this major gap in the talent pool, cybersecurity jobs are common in most industries, at businesses of all sizes.

Another result of the cybersecurity skills gap is that businesses are often looking to staff a few key positions. If and when more professionals enter cybersecurity, it’s possible that a wide array of roles will become available as businesses are able to expand their cybersecurity operations due to more available talent.

Here are some of the current common entry-level cybersecurity job titles, and a short summary of the roles:

  • IT Technician: securely install software and hardware, diagnose problems, and maintain systems.
  • Information Security Analyst: monitor for and investigate security issues in a network or program.
  • Network or Systems Administrator: troubleshoot issues and maintain optimal performance of a network or system.
  • Junior Penetration Tester: practice breaching systems to learn vulnerabilities and help employers protect against actual hackers.

These are some of the entry-level cybersecurity jobs that a bootcamp can prepare you to apply for in just a few weeks or months. 

Is Cybersecurity a Good Career?

Not only are many cybersecurity professionals needed today, but this industry is expected to grow by 31% or more by 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means moving up the ladder and advancing your career in cybersecurity will also be highly possible. As you gain experience and improve your skills, employers are even likely to invest in your training. 

Here are a few of the senior-level roles that are available in cybersecurity and a description of their duties: 

  • Network Engineer: build and maintain computer networks for a business, including disaster recovery and protections against cyberattack
  • Cybersecurity Engineer: use information from analysts to devise a protection strategy for the organization.
  • Penetration Tester: lead the strategy for testing the network & report on findings to leadership.
  • Information Security Investigator/Forensics Expert: look for clues left by attackers to track them down & prevent future crimes.
  • Chief Information Security Officer: an executive in charge of developing, implementing, and maintaining a company’s cybersecurity.
  • Cybersecurity Consultant: an outside consultant with specialization in one or more areas, hired by different organizations to assist on individual projects. May or may not be self-employed. 

Employees who want to move into leadership and become a trusted go-to resource in the workplace will be gratified by a career in cybersecurity. Job satisfaction in the cybersecurity industry is extremely high, with 71% of people satisfied by their job and 36% of those “very satisfied.” 

Cybersecurity jobs require you to always keep learning and put you in a position to know you are making a difference every day. What could be more satisfying?

Cybersecurity Salary Averages 

Salaries in cybersecurity can quickly achieve six-figure status after just a few years of experience. But where will you start? Here are the salary ranges for the entry-level cybersecurity jobs we discussed earlier:

  • IT Technician Salary Average: $73,630
  • Information Security Analyst Salary Average: $76,410
  • Network or Systems Administrator Salary Average: $87,070
  • Junior Penetration Tester Salary Average: $69,123

Remember, these are just averages, and some salaries may be higher or lower based on many factors. But the average salary for US workers overall is $49,764. Even if you make less than these averages in your first cybersecurity job, you are still very likely to earn an above-average salary in general.

Now let’s look at the way cybersecurity salary changes as you get more experience:

  • Network Engineer Salary Average: $107,206
  • Cybersecurity Engineer Salary Average: $101,236
  • Penetration Tester Salary Average: $122,273
  • Information Security Investigator/Forensics Expert Salary Average: $99,958
  • Chief Information Security Officer Salary Average: $162,649
  • Cybersecurity Consultant Salary Average: $115,767

While some of these salaries require 5+ years of cybersecurity experience, you’ll learn a lot along the way and income will keep growing as you go. 

How to Get into Cybersecurity

At this point you might be wondering, “How do I get into cybersecurity?” An associates or bachelor’s degree in fields like data science or computer science are still the most traditional ways to get into cybersecurity. But especially for job changers, the idea of earning a degree is just not feasible. Many young adults entering the workforce want opportunities for high-paying jobs without needing to go to college.

That’s why options like cybersecurity bootcamps or taking the self-taught approach also provide a bridge for others to transition to this booming industry. Read our blog post about how to get into cybersecurity for a robust exploration of the many paths you could take to success. 

Who are the Biggest Cybersecurity Employers?

Once you’ve learned enough to get started in a cybersecurity job, who will you work for? Every industry and business have need for cybersecurity experts on their IT teams. But there are still some big private-sector employers that stand out in the market. Here are some top ranked cybersecurity companies on lists like eSecurity Planet’s Top Cybersecurity Companies and Cybersecurity Ventures Top 500.

  • KnowBe4 is a cybersecurity awareness training startup.
  • Cisco was founded in 1984 and today specializes in firewalls, intrusion prevention, & more.
  • Microsoft is a household name that has built up a big security portfolio for protecting users.
  • IBM is over 110 years young, today working on cloud protection & artificial intelligence.
  • Fortinet has built a reputation as a top security company from antivirus to endpoint security.
  • Splunk is a platform for security analytics & user behavior analytics.
  • Lockheed Martin has moved beyond aerospace tech to focus on information security too.

It’s worth mentioning that these are just a few examples among hundreds of cybersecurity providers, developers, and trainers that you have the option to work for. Plus, we haven’t even discussed the plentiful options for public-sector cybersecurity jobs. The Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Transportation, and Department of the Interior are just some of the Federal organizations regularly hiring cybersecurity professionals. Your state, county, and city or town governments may also have positions available. 

Then there’s the nonprofit sector like academic institutions, religious organizations, charities, and some healthcare organizations. 

All of these groups in business, the government, and nonprofits need skilled cybersecurity talent to ensure the work they do is not subject to attack or disruption by cybercriminals. 

The question isn’t who can you work for—but who do you want to work for?

What is the Cybersecurity Hiring Process Like?

Even though there is such a high level of demand for cybersecurity professionals, the industry has also been criticized for its hiring practices. 

For one, even though a four-year degree in computer science or IT fields may be listed as “required” for many positions, the people who earn these degrees aren’t necessarily qualified for the role. Each degree program focuses on different skills or training. 

During the cybersecurity hiring process you may have to complete one or more tests to prove your aptitude. However, some of these tests may not actually have much to do with the job itself. One expert criticized companies for introducing unnecessary barriers to weed out talent they consider unqualified, versus using the cybersecurity hiring process to uncover the “hidden gems” who will excel in the role.

Many cybersecurity job descriptions have also been called out for layering on so many demands that no one could possibly meet the qualifications. That may sound difficult, but it should also be encouraging: apply for the job even if you don’t check every box on the list, because the odds are that no one does. 

What cybersecurity hiring managers are looking for ultimately boils down to problem-solving ability, a team player, and someone with the hands-on skills that can get the job done. All of these skills can be developed and improved through a cybersecurity bootcamp. Plus, a bootcamp like Eleven Fifty’s gives you hands-on experience working in a cyber range where you collaborate with peers to problem solve real-world attack scenarios.

As the demand for talent in the cybersecurity industry gets more and more intense, experts generally agree that companies must shift their requirements and start hiring applicants from more diverse training backgrounds and areas of expertise. We say, the sooner the better. 

Common Cybersecurity Job Interview Questions

Once you have an employer’s attention, what should you expect during a cybersecurity job interview? Here are some of the technical questions you might expect:

    • What is a firewall and why is it used?
    • What are some of the common cyberattacks?
    • What is the difference between vulnerability assessment and penetration testing?
    • What are the different kinds of encryption?
    • What are the response codes you can receive from a web app?
    • How can identity theft be prevented?

These are just some high-level technical questions, and there are likely to be many more based on the specialty or requirements of the role you are interviewing for. You will also likely be asked to explain how you would react or advise a user to react in different scenarios, to help the interviewer evaluate your decision-making and insight. 

In addition to the technical evaluation of your skills, you should also expect to respond to some of the most popular interview questions, like: 

    • Why do you want to work here?
    • What makes you want to leave your current job?
    • What are your career goals?
    • What are your weaknesses?
    • What is a time you showed leadership?
    • Describe a time you collaborated on a project successfully.

No matter what questions you are asked, don’t be afraid to take your time in thinking of an answer. It’s better to consider your response and give a great answer versus blurting out the first thing that comes to mind and kicking yourself later. 

Lastly, don’t forget to come to the interview with questions of your own. This shows initiative and that you have actually thought about the role. Research the company to come up with questions that are specific to the organization. In addition, here are some general questions you may want to ask:

    • What do you hope I will accomplish in this position?
    • How does the company culture affect this role?
    • What is your team’s greatest accomplishment?
    • What do you enjoy about working here?
    • What is your telecommuting policy?
    • How do managers deliver negative feedback to employees?
    • Why do most employees leave the company? 
    • How often do employees have to be available outside normal business hours?

The answers to these questions and others will help you judge if the job is a good fit for you. 

What Cybersecurity Certifications Are There?

Of course, a cybersecurity bootcamp is a great start, but there are lots of ways to specialize and keep learning in cybersecurity. Not only do certifications keep your resume competitive, your skill set is continually sharpened and you will go into jobs with more confidence. Some employers will even provide job training that includes these certifications to ensure you know everything that is needed. Refer to our list of cybersecurity certifications for a full survey of the accreditations available and what each one covers. 

5 Characteristics of a Cybersecurity Pro

Cybersecurity professionals need to be natural problem-solvers, but there are also other personality traits that help you succeed in this role. Would you be surprised that customer service and communication are on the list? One of our blogs sums up these characteristics and helps you understand how each contributes to your happiness as a cybersecurity professional. Read: 5 Characteristics of a Cybersecurity Pro

Why Veterans are Great for Cybersecurity

What skills are needed for cybersecurity? The same skills that are developed through military service. From teamwork to time management to handling intense situations, veterans are uniquely equipped to pivot into cybersecurity as a civilian career. Learn more about how your service to our country could be translated into a high-paying and fulfilling career. 

Is It Worth Doing a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?

The last question on your mind might be, “is it worth doing a cybersecurity bootcamp?” With the high demand in the job market for cybersecurity talent and the plentiful training provided by employers, the answer is yes! You’ll get the basic skills you need to get hired and form a vision for the next learning you want to take on. 

At Eleven Fifty Academy, our full-time cybersecurity bootcamp and part-time cybersecurity bootcamp have helped people just like you successfully achieve a new career in cybersecurity. Whether you’re a job changer, a new member of the workforce, or trying to skill up for your current employer, this course helps you achieve CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certification and build your portfolio through individual and group projects. We invite you to attend  a free online Intro to Cyber Security course to learn the basics and see how our fast-track cybersecurity program can transform your career.

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