8 Cyber Security Career Paths to Look Into After Graduation

After graduation, a lot of things change. You have your degree in hand and an endless possibility of career paths ahead of you, but what do you choose?

Cyber security is a growing industry and the need for educated professionals is high, but finding the perfect career path can be daunting. After all, there are a lot of different options that you can choose from and not all of them will seem exciting.

Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to commit to a certain career right after graduation. Instead, you can try your hand at a few different things until you decide what you're most interested in. To help you get started, here are just a few common cyber security career paths that you may want to look into after you graduate.

Entry Level Cyber Security Career Paths: 0 Years of Experience

#1. Software Developer

Software developers are skilled at creating and implementing custom software for any business. They use programming languages like Java or C++ and spend a lot of their time problem-solving. As a software developer, you’ll build and implement functional software solutions as well as provide updates and security features.

The demand for software developers is high and the BLS predicts job growth of 22%, much higher than average. If you plan on working part-time and completing higher education, this is a good entry-level role that pays well, is in high demand, and only requires a bachelor’s degree.

#2. Computer Technician

As a help desk technician, you’ll install, monitor, and maintain software and hardware for various businesses and organizations. When necessary, you may also repair computers and train new hires on how to use the system. You’ll troubleshoot any problems that come up and in many cases, be the go-to IT person when employees have computer issues.

A computer technician is a very basic role, but it’s important for every business. Without someone to maintain their computers and software, businesses will struggle to stand against security threats and provide quality customer care.

#3. Security Analyst

Security analysts are primarily concerned with a business’s computer system and network security. They monitor the organization’s system for breaches and vulnerabilities and work to implement routine updates so that hackers and malware are less likely to access sensitive data. Security analysts regularly research new cyber security methods and maintain software security by implementing these practices whenever possible.

The demand for security analysts is growing faster than ever. Businesses are eager to hire anyone with minimal field experience and only a bachelor’s degree. With an average salary of over $111,000 annually, this is a very high-paying entry-level job that you can do full-time or part-time.

Mid-Level Cyber Security Career Paths: 2-5 Years of Experience

#4. Penetration Tester

Also called ethical hackers, penetration testers execute attacks on an organization’s system and network in order to identify vulnerabilities. It is a career path that focuses heavily on programming, so knowledge of programming languages such as Python, Java, and C++ is vital.

To be a penetration tester, you’ll need to master at least one programming language, though knowing two or more can be useful. Although not required, holding certain certifications can also prove helpful to your career.

#5. Security Engineer

Security engineers work closely with security analysts to create solutions for vulnerabilities in a system. Where a security analyst may find an issue, a security engineer is the one who actually develops and fixes the problem.

Fixing vulnerabilities requires a deep understanding of computers as it must be done without limiting the functionality of the system or exposing new vulnerabilities. As such, security engineers typically have several years of experience and may even hold a master’s degree, though this isn’t usually a requirement.

#6. Forensics Analyst

Forensics analysts are employed after a data breach. They examine the system in order to determine how the breach happened as well as what the hacker did once inside the system. While forensics careers are often associated with law enforcement and intelligence agencies, many businesses are turning to forensics analysts to protect themselves.

Most forensics analysts hold a degree as well as several certifications. While you aren’t required to have all these certifications, having at least 1 or 2 will increase your credibility and the likelihood of being hired.

Senior Level Cyber Security Career Paths: 10-15 Years of Experience

#7. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

CISOs focus on cyber security at an organizational level, not just on a business-to-business basis. They are the highest ranked cyber security professionals within an organization and direct the company’s cyber security program. They have the final say when it comes to implementing company-wide security measures and work closely with CEOs and CFOs.

As one of the top-level careers, CISOs are paid one of the highest wages in cyber security. Forbes reports that some areas may pay CISOs over $400,000 a year, but the national average hovers around $232,000 according to Salary.com.

#8. Chief Information Officer (CIO)

CIOs aren’t technically cyber security professionals, but to become one, you can follow a cyber security career path. They’re the ones responsible for the collection and use of data and information. In addition to this, CIOs keep an eye out for emerging data technology and have experience designing and implementing security and privacy features.

Most CIOs only have a bachelor’s degree, but they have several years of experience in the workplace to back up their skills. Many CIOs have 3+ years of management experience as well.

Prepare For Your Cyber Security Career Today

A career in cyber security comes with a lot of potential perks and a high salary. Even entry-level positions pay well and can be very fulfilling if you enjoy the work.

No matter what position you want to end up in, the most important thing is to start preparing for your future career today. With a degree in hand, you’ll be that much closer to a successful career, but you’ll also need to gain work experience, earn any relevant certifications, and network your way up the corporate ladder.

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