4 Cybersecurity Career Paths (And the Training to Get You There)

  • 14 November 2019
  • Author: Hannah McLean
  • Number of views: 1245


                                                  Cybersecurity career path

Cybersecurity professionals work in every size company and industry to protect organizations from data breaches and attacks. And the demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing at a breakneck speed. Job postings for cybersecurity positions have grown three times faster than openings for IT jobs overall.

Before you jump headfirst into this specialized field, you should know what a typical cybersecurity career path entails. In this blog, we’ll cover four popular security careers and the recommended training you need to be successful:

  • Security Architect
  • Security Consultant
  • Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

How to Start Your Cybersecurity Career Path

There is no one linear path to a successful career in cybersecurity. Some people enter the security field straight out of college, while others transition from another IT role.

No matter where you start, all cybersecurity careers begin with general IT experience. You need to understand how technology works before you can learn how to secure and protect it.

Entry-level IT jobs that pave the way for a cybersecurity career include:

  • Systems administrator
  • Database administrator
  • Web administrator
  • Web developer
  • Network administrator
  • IT technician
  • Security administrator
  • Network engineer
  • Computer software engineer

You’ll also need to supplement what you learn on the job with outside training and education. In fact, 35 percent of cybersecurity jobs require an industry certification, compared to 23 percent of IT jobs overall.

Most management-level cybersecurity jobs are highly specialized. The more you can focus your expertise by seeking out specific industries and certifications, the more attractive you’ll appear to companies looking for those particular skill sets.

Security Architect Career Path

If you’re passionate about problem-solving and creating big-picture strategies, the security architect career path is for you.

A security architect is tasked with designing, building and implementing network and computer security for an organization. Security architects are responsible for creating complex security structures and ensuring that they function properly. They design security systems to combat malware, hacker intrusions and DDoS attacks.

In the United States, the average salary for this position is $118,681. Security architects are expected to have 5-10 years of relevant experience, with 3-5 of those years dedicated to security.

To become a security architect, you might follow a career path similar to this:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity or a related field. Or, gain equivalent experience with relevant industry certifications.
  • Enter the IT field as a security administrator, systems administrator or network administrator.
  • Get promoted to a mid-level role as a security engineer or analyst.
  • Enter a security architect role.

As a security architect, you’ll be required to:

  • Plan, research and design durable security architectures for various IT projects.
  • Develop requirements for networks, firewalls, routers and related network devices.
  • Perform vulnerability testing, security assessments and risk analysis.
  • Research and implement the latest security standards, systems and best practices.

Recommended Training for Security Architects

Because the security architect role is a senior-level position, employers will look for accredited security certifications on your résumé.

Professional cybersecurity training and certifications will help you accelerate your career path and stand out to potential employers. These certifications reinforce the essential skills required for the security architect role, such as network security and architecture, vulnerability testing and risk management.





Security Consultant

A security consultant is a catch-all cybersecurity expert. They assess cybersecurity risks, problems and solutions for different organizations and guide them in protecting and securing their physical capital and data. The position might also be referred to as an information security consultant, computer security consultant, database security consultant or network security consultant.

Security consultants need to be flexible and savvy – they deal with a wide range of variables when assessing security systems across diverse companies and industries.

The salary range for IT security consultants is broad depending on experience, but a senior security consultant earns an average of $106,190 in the U.S. Security consultants are expected to have 3-5 years of professional experience.

To become a security consultant, you might follow a career path similar to this:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity or a related field. Or, gain equivalent experience with relevant industry certifications.
  • Pursue an entry-level position in general IT or security.
  • Earn a mid-level role as a security administrator, analyst, engineer or auditor.
  • Sharpen your cybersecurity skills with advanced training and certifications.
  • Enter a security consultant role.

As a security consultant, your daily tasks may include:

  • Determining the best way to protect computers, networks, data and information systems from potential attacks
  • Performing vulnerability tests and security assessments
  • Interviewing staff and department heads to uncover security issues
  • Testing security solutions using industry standard analysis methods
  • Providing technical supervision and guidance to a security team

Recommended Training for Security Consultants

Having certifications on your résumé will help you build credibility as you climb the career ladder. These training courses will expose you to the essential skills every security consultant needs, from ethical hacking to encryption technologies and data breach prevention protocols.





Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker – Mid to Senior Level

Penetration testers (also known as ethical hackers) look for weaknesses in IT systems, networks and applications using the same knowledge and tactics as criminal hackers. Penetration testers use a series of tools to simulate real-life cyberattacks, identify weak spots and help organizations improve their security posture.

The average salary for a penetration tester is $79,000.

Many penetration testers and ethical hackers follow a career path that looks like this:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity or a related field. Or, gain equivalent experience with relevant industry certifications.
  • Pursue an entry-level role as a security administrator, system administrator or network engineer.
  • Master specialized ethical hacking skills with training and certifications.
  • Enter a penetration tester or ethical hacker role.
  • Get promoted to a senior penetration tester role, security consultant or security architect.

As a penetration tester, you’ll be expected to:

  • Perform penetration tests on web applications, networks and computer systems
  • Uncover security holes and pinpoint the methods attackers could use to exploit system weaknesses
  • Research, document and discuss findings with management and IT teams
  • Design and implement new penetration tools and tests

Recommended Training for Penetration Testers

Cyberattacks are always evolving, so your knowledge should be, too.

These training courses will teach you everything you need to know about modern ethical hacking practices, operating systems, software, communications and network protocols.





Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – Senior level

If you aspire to lead a security team and spearhead IT initiatives for an enterprise, becoming a CISO is a lucrative and rewarding career path.

The role of chief information security officer comes with a lot of power and creative freedom. CISOs build security teams and oversee all initiatives that concern an organization’s security. The CISO reports to the CIO or CEO.

The average salary for a CISO is $156,000. You can expect to spend 7-12 years working in IT and security before you qualify for a role as a CISO. At least five of those years should be spent managing security operations and teams.

To become a CISO, you might follow a career path similar to this:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity or a related field. Or, gain equivalent experience with relevant industry certifications.
  • Enter the field as a programmer or analyst.
  • Get promoted to a role as a security analyst, engineer, consultant or auditor.
  • Gain more advanced IT certifications and training.
  • Enter a management position overseeing a security team.
  • Attain an MBA or certifications with an IT security and/or management focus.
  • Get promoted to a CISO role.

As head of IT security, your daily activities will include:

  • Hiring and guiding a team of IT security experts
  • Creating strategic plans for deploying information security technologies and improving existing programs
  • Supervising the development of corporate security policies and procedures
  • Collaborating with key stakeholders to establish a security risk management program
  • Spearheading IT security investigations and providing recommended courses of action in the event of a breach

Recommended Training for CISOs

When striving for positions in this level of management, earning accredited certifications is an absolute must. Taking the initiative to continue your education with relevant certifications validates your expertise and dedication to the field of IT security management.


Advanced (Management-Focused Training):


Training for Every Cybersecurity Career Path

There are endless paths your cybersecurity career can lead you down. As the world’s largest IT training company, New Horizons offers expert-led IT training to help you master sought-after skills and prepare you for the top cybersecurity certification exams.

Whether you’re just getting your feet wet in the IT industry or preparing to submit your résumé for a management position, New Horizons offers the hands-on cybersecurity training courses you need to accelerate your career.

Unsure which training course to take first? Discover the best certification path for your career and goals using using the New Horizons cybersecurity roadmap.

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Hannah McLeanHannah McLean

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