By DeVry University
If you're considering a career in cyber security, you may be in luck. Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 31 percent by 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means more potential opportunities to learn, grow and pursue the cyber security career you want. Whether you're planning to pursue a degree in cyber security or you're getting ready to find your first cyber security job, be sure to check out these six facts on cyber security careers as you chart your goals.
"When most people think of cyber security, they usually picture someone sitting behind a desk all day waiting to catch hackers, but there's so much more to it," says James Karagiannes, PhD, Professor of Engineering and Information Sciences at DeVry University. Here are a few key trends he encourages his students—and anyone interested in cyber security careers—to consider about this innovative and ever-evolving industry:
1. You May Not Actually Work in the Tech Field
One of the most interesting aspects of cyber security is that it intersects with virtually every field and industry. "Cyber security permeates all areas of our lives today from IoT devices and cellphones to security cameras and commercial appliances," says Karagiannes. "All of these devices can be attacked and used against an individual or an organization, so companies need cyber security professionals to manage these threats. Look at a field like banking. It's not in the tech industry, but can you imagine how much money a company would lose if their customers couldn't make credit card transactions for even one hour? That's where cyber security comes in." Karagiannes adds that the same idea applies to cyber security jobs in health care and other industries where data must remain secure and protected.
2. Certifications are Key
When you apply for a cyber security job, employers want to know that you have the proper training and certifications—but take time to find the most credible program. "Make sure the school or program you enter offers certifications from nationally recognized organizations like EC-Council or CompTIA," says Karagiannes. "At DeVry, we develop programs and partnerships with organizations that are nationally recognized, so potential employers know the training our students receive can be applicable to a range of cyber security jobs across the country."
3. Plan to Start in an Entry-Level Cyber Security or IT Role
Unlike other STEM-based professions, a cyber security career doesn't follow a clear-cut path. In fact, many people who work in cyber security often start their careers in other tech or business-related roles.
"Cyber security is very fluid," says Karagiannes who worked in medical applications before transitioning to network and data protection. He says that he and many of his colleagues who now have high-level positions in cyber security started their cyber security careers in other fields such as math, science, technology and even finance.
"I've seen so many students focus on getting their dream job without realizing it usually requires someone with at least 5 years of experience," Karagiannes says. "So if you're a graduate with an associates or bachelor's in technology, jump right in and take a tech job you're interested in because you can always make a lateral move into cyber security once you've gained more experience or you may enjoy where you are and decide to stay."
He recommends entry level positions—such as a cyber security or IT technician role—to help students develop technical acumen and problem-solving skills that provide a strong foundation for other cyber security jobs. He also advises job-seekers to follow organizations like CyberSeek, which offers national data on cyber security jobs, and explore the Cyber Security Careers Pathway tool which helps job-seekers effectively plan their cyber security careers.
4. Cyber Security is a Lifestyle—Not a Conventional 9-5
No day is entirely the same. One moment you may have a steady schedule and the next you're solving a network issue or containing a breach after hours. "There's a ton of variety in cybersecurity, which makes it exciting," says Karagiannes "But it's also a field where you may not always work the usual 40 hours, so it's important to stay flexible."
5. You'll Still Need Those Math Skills
Thought your days of equations and formulas were over? Not quite. Most careers in cyber security require solid fundamentals in math and science—but not too worry. "Today's cyber security degree programs can equip you with the knowledge you need to tackle math-based problems," says Karagiannes. "Take your time in those courses and learn the math skills you need because the better you are in math, the easier it will be to move up in cyber security."
6. Pace Yourself for Future Career Growth
One overlooked yet crucial skill to have in cyber security is trust. While it's not a technical skill, it's important to build trust by demonstrating your technical skills and knowledge with a company over time. For this reason, Karagiannes recommends finding a position you can learn from and pacing yourself for success. "Cybersecurity is one of those fields where you have to earn your wings," he says. "But you can do it. Set goals for yourself and understand that building your technical acumen and experience will be a key factor in how quickly you can progress in your career."
To get started on your own path in cyber security, learn more about DeVry University's Bachelor's in Computer Information Systems with a Cyber Security Programming Specialization and our Bachelor's in Information Technology and Networking with a Cyber Security Specialization.