Featured How To Become A Cybersecurity Engineer: Salary, Required Education and Career Outlook

Published on September 21st, 2022 📆 | 6958 Views ⚑

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How To Become A Cybersecurity Engineer – Forbes Advisor


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Cybersecurity Ventures projects that cybercrimes will cost the world a staggering $10.5 trillion per year by 2025. Given these high stakes, organizations are seeking cybersecurity experts to protect their data and help limit losses to cybercrime.

Beyond the many entry-level and intermediate cybersecurity positions, the role of cybersecurity engineer is near the top of the career ladder. This position requires advanced skills and offers competitive salaries.

This article explores how to become a cybersecurity engineer, day-to-day job duties for these professionals and career data for cybersecurity engineers.

What is a Cybersecurity Engineer?

Cybersecurity engineer is among the more advanced roles in cybersecurity. This role is sometimes called information security engineer or network security engineer. Cybersecurity engineers focus on protecting data and preventing disruptions caused by digital attacks.

Cybersecurity engineers’ primary responsibilities include designing, implementing, monitoring and upgrading security measures. As part of information or cybersecurity teams, these engineers respond to security breaches, test and identify system vulnerabilities and write reports for those in managerial roles.

Cybersecurity Engineer Salary and Job Outlook

Cybersecurity engineers earn highly competitive salaries. According to Payscale, these engineers make an average base cybersecurity salary of nearly $99,000. Their wages are likely to increase as they gain experience and earn certifications.

As for job outlook, there is a massive labor shortage in the cybersecurity field. Cyberseek—a collaboration between the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, CompTIA and Lightcast—performs data analysis of the cybersecurity job market. Between May 2021 and April 2022, there were over 700,000 job openings for cybersecurity professionals, according to Cyberseek.

Cybersecurity roles take 21% longer to fill than other types of jobs on average. This indicates a large talent gap in the cybersecurity field.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 35% job growth for information security analysts from 2021 to 2031. This indicates continued high demand for similar cybersecurity professionals.

How to Become a Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity engineers occupy advanced roles that require a solid foundation of computer science knowledge and skills. Candidates can learn these skills through traditional degree paths, self-study or bootcamps.

Remember that becoming a cybersecurity engineer will likely require years of study and experience. Earning a certification can be helpful as well.

Earn a Degree

If you’re wondering how to get into cybersecurity, remember that this is a highly technical field requiring a background in computer networks, coding and programming and encryption, among others. A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or computer science can provide a solid foundation in these subjects. Related fields like electrical engineering or math can also provide useful skills.

A degree is not always required for a cybersecurity career, but it is a strong option. According to a survey by the (ISC)², an international nonprofit information security organization, 81% of current cybersecurity professionals have an undergraduate degree or higher. Fifty-one percent of cybersecurity professionals hold degrees in computer science.

For those who take the non-college route, a cybersecurity bootcamp can also provide a good education. Completing a cybersecurity bootcamp can quickly equip you with the skills required to perform in an entry-level role in the field. Bootcamp graduates may also pursue certifications to back up their expertise.

Gain Experience

A cybersecurity engineering job is unlikely to be the first role in your career. First, you should seek entry-level cybersecurity jobs to help you gain experience and build your skills.

Potential roles to consider include cybersecurity specialist, cybercrime analyst and incident and intrusion analyst. More intermediate positions include cybersecurity analyst, consultant and penetration tester.

Alternatively, you might start out in an information technology (IT) job before transitioning into cybersecurity. Related roles include software developer, network or systems administrator and IT auditor. In the aforementioned (ISC)² survey, over 50% of respondents started their careers in IT before making the transition.

Obtain Certification

Due to the advanced nature of this engineering role, cybersecurity certifications can serve as a great way to make you a more competitive candidate for available roles. As you work toward an engineering role, consider obtaining one or more of the following certifications.

Entry-level certifications like CompTIA’s Security+ and Network+ can bolster your cybersecurity resume and help qualify you to become a cybersecurity engineer. These certifications also fulfill the requirement to work for the U.S. Department of Defense, if that’s your goal.

For intermediate cybersecurity professionals, ISACA’s Certified Information Systems Auditor® and Certified Information Systems Manager® are good options. Moreover, Global Information Assurance Certification, an entity that administers information security certifications, offers credentials that measure specific knowledge and skill areas.

The cybersecurity industry gold standard is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, which marks you as an elite cybersecurity expert. This designation requires a minimum of four years of paid experience and the recommendation of a current CISSP-holder.

Apply for Jobs

Once you have gained the education and certifications you need, it’s time to apply for jobs. And with over 700,000 open positions in the field to choose from, you should be able to find a cybersecurity engineering role that catches your eye. Companies like Palo Alto Networks, Datadog and CrowdStrike are good places to start.

If you are interested in working for the U.S. Government, USAJOBS is a one-stop shop for positions across the country.

FAQ About Becoming a Cybersecurity Engineer

What should I learn to become a cybersecurity engineer?

Required knowledge includes fundamental computer hardware and software knowledge, firewall intrusion and detection principles, programming languages such as Python and C++, identity management principles, encryption and vulnerability testing.

How long does it take to become a cybersecurity engineer?

Demand for cybersecurity experts is high, and the time it takes to become a cybersecurity engineer may vary. Expect to spend several years completing an education and gaining experience in the field before landing a cybersecurity engineering job.

Is it hard to become a cybersecurity engineer?

Becoming a cybersecurity engineer requires hard work and dedication, but it is doable. According to (ISC)², 26% of cybersecurity professionals surveyed started in a different field. Eight percent explored cybersecurity concepts on their own and were recruited to work in the field.


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