Are Cybersecurity Careers Future Proof?by@roger-huang
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Are Cybersecurity Careers Future Proof?

by Roger Huang6mApril 26th, 2021
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Cybersecurity is a lucrative career, with senior cybersecurity analysts earning more than $100,000 USD. The number of information security analyst jobs is projected to grow 31% by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. IT Security Specialist is the job with the most growth potential on its top 10 list of Best Computer Jobs for the Future, with 32% growth and 35,500 jobs by 2028. Cybersecurity professionals need to maintain and upgrade their skills, and are growing faster than others.

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When considering a new career, it’s important to look for one that’s going to be around for a while. There’s nothing more disheartening than going through the time and expense of training for a new career, only to find that it no longer exists. And with the fast pace of technology and automation, more careers are slated to disappear than ever before, ranging from travel agent to bank teller, according to CareerAddict.

Consequently, you might be concerned about the future of cybersecurity as a career, especially when you read about how the industry is looking to automate cybersecurity job functions using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) or if you're looking into cybersecurity training or bootcamps. If you’re learning how to code, it might be an important decision for you -- after all, cybersecurity is a lucrative career, with senior cybersecurity analysts earning more than $100,000 USD -- and a fulfilling one too where you protect essential data and systems.  

Here’s why you don’t have to worry.

First of all, as organizations start relying more on automated cybersecurity systems, the automated systems themselves will become the targets of hackers. “New technologies, including AI, inherently create cybersecurity risks as potential exploits are poorly understood at the time of release,” writes Jacob Parker in TechRadar “This means that, with more organizations relying on machine learning for mission-critical operations, AI systems are sure to become a major target for hackers. In response, future cybersecurity software and personnel will be forced to develop techniques to detect and counteract AI corruption attacks.”

Parker also reminds us that not all companies are able to migrate to the latest and greatest technology that would support automated cybersecurity and that as software reaches its end of life, it no longer receives security updates. For example, The Verge estimates that up to 100 million people might still be running Windows 7. Those systems will need cybersecurity professionals to support them, too.

In fact, the website ITCareerFinder ranks IT Security Specialist as the job with the most growth potential on its top 10 list of Best Computer Jobs for the Future, with 32% growth and 35,500 jobs by 2028. “Security will remain a top concern for IT executives and hiring managers as the frequency, scope and complexity of cyber attacks continues to escalate,” the organization writes.

“Year after year, IT executives report actively seeking professionals with information security skills but finding it difficult to locate good talent. This indicates an incredible opportunity for technology professionals to advance their cyber security skills and certifications.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics concurs with these figures, predicting that the number of information security analyst jobs is projected to grow 31% by 2029, adding 40,900 jobs. Demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks.

Besides, even for organizations that do implement cybersecurity automation, that doesn’t mean they no longer need cybersecurity employees. Staffers are still required to teach the software how to detect attacks and how to respond to them, according to Mike O’Malley in Security InfoWatch. 

“Companies need to rely on people that can oversee their automation programs, analyze data, and develop insights,” O’Malley says. “This may mean retraining security professionals whose jobs are sidelined by automation so they can help run and manage new programs. If networks are virtually running themselves due to automation, companies can now focus on hiring people with data science and data analytic skills to train the algorithms to run the networks better. These are new and different skill sets needed not to monitor and react to security events in the network, but skillsets to teach the network what to look for and proactively react to security events itself.” 

It's important to remember, though, that cybersecurity jobs are not created alike, and you can’t just get a single certificate for your whole career. Cybersecurity professionals need to maintain and upgrade their skills, O’Malley adds. 

And certain fields within cybersecurity are growing faster than others, reports Burning Glass Technologies, in its presentation “Protecting the Future: The Fastest-Growing Cybersecurity Skills.” “The fastest-growing skill areas are associated with building secure digital infrastructure from the ground up,” the organization writes.

“Application Development Security and Cloud Security are far and away the fastest-growing skill areas in cybersecurity, with projected 5-year growth of 164% and 115%, respectively. This underscores the shift from retroactive security strategies to proactive security strategies.” 

This largely is correlated with new and emerging fields, and demand for complementary skills. Application development and cloud usage are growing ever more important as people shift from having in-house software to using cloud servers. This shows that as new technologies emerge (which they inevitably will), cybersecurity needs will grow with them, as attackers seek to constantly exploit unforeseen loopholes. 

Within those specialties are even hotter subspecialties, the organization notes. “DevSecOps, for example, is within the broader Application Development Security skill area and is projected to grow faster than any other subspecialty, at 174% over the next five years. Every skill area has at least one sub-specialty projected to grow 50% or more over the next five years, demonstrating the rapid evolution in all corners of the cybersecurity landscape.”

So, for now, cybersecurity is a lucrative and secure career, with average earnings quickly getting past $100,000 USD for mid-level positions such as senior cybersecurity analysts. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary in the United States for senior cybersecurity analysts is $116,000, which is more than 2x the median household income in the United States. Because of the human need to intervene even in the context of machine learning and more automation, cybersecurity is still a resilient field that will be managed by well-paid humans for quite some time. 

Resources you need to get started in cybersecurity careers:

If you wanted to get started, it’s good to hear straight from the horse’s mouth -- somebody who has 20 years+ of experience in the field as a hiring manager and senior cybersecurity expert. This Reddit AMA will help you get started looking for a career in cybersecurity. 

How to get into cybersecurity is a cheatsheet by TechRadar that goes over different roles in cybersecurity and their differences, as well the difference between formal cybersecurity education, as well as self-taught such as cybersecurity bootcamps.

This tutorial focuses on how you can get into cybersecurity regardless of your background -- it’ll help if you have anxiety about your background or any degrees. You can get into cybersecurity without prior experience and by pursuing alternatives to the college degree such as bootcamps or industry-recognized certifications.  

Technical skills you need: 

IT experience; many people transition into cybersecurity from network admin, security admin, or IT helpdesk positions. 

Some kind of programming skill can be helpful, especially Python and understanding of scripting. Knowledge of how web applications and mobile applications are built can also be helpful as you’ll be able to understand vulnerabilities and how attackers can test these different systems. 

Certifications and knowledge of regulatory frameworks such as “COBIT, ISO 27001/27002, NIST SP800-53, PCI DSS, SOX, CIS Controls, CIS Benchmarks, OWASP Top 10, and the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) guidance.”

Some communities that are worth browsing:

The r/comptia subreddit has a bunch of stories from people who have passed various CompTIA certifications, a gold standard in the industry for aspiring cybersecurity professionals.

The r/netsecstudents subreddit is filled with learners who are trying to pick up cybersecurity skills. There are tons of resources and courses, as well as opportunities to network. 

The freeCodeCamp forums sometimes have cybersecurity topics and discussions that can lead to valuable insights and resources. 

If you're looking to get into this resilient future career path, look no further than Springboard's cybersecurity bootcamp, the only one with deferred tuition (as opposed to the more expensive income share agreement) and job guarantee.

The writer Roger Huang consults for Springboard. This article received significant input from Sharon Fisher.