As the digital age marches on, threats to cybersecurity increase in lockstep. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2025, cyberattacks will result in annual damages totaling $10.5 trillion, which represents a 300 percent increase from 2015.

However, challenges create opportunities, and individuals who pursue roles in cybersecurity have the chance to work on the cutting edge in defending organizations from intrusion. Cybersecurity professionals come from all walks of life, and many of them have pursued other careers before entering the field.

With the demand for cybersecurity expertise continuing to increase, making a career change to cybersecurity can be a positive move for many professionals. Anyone considering enrolling in an online Master of Science in Information Security Management degree program can benefit from learning more about moving into cybersecurity.

Why Pursue a Career in Cybersecurity?

It’s not difficult to identify the advantages of working in cybersecurity. Individuals in the field enjoy:

Robust Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected that between 2021 and 2031, employment of information security analysts will grow by 35 percent, a growth rate that far exceeds the projected 5 percent growth rate for all occupations.

Potential for Generous Salaries

Information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $102,600 as of May 2021, according to the BLS.

Opportunities to Expand Skills

A 2021 report by the World Economic Forum noted that as threats to cybersecurity continue to evolve, organizations will increasingly rely on individuals with the skills to build cyber resilience. Those individuals will need to continue expanding their expertise in detecting threats and strengthening organizations’ business continuity capabilities.

The Chance to Specialize

As information technology (IT) news website has reported, people who work in cybersecurity can choose from an extensive range of specializations. For example, they can work in data privacy, application development, risk management, cloud computing, threat intelligence or incident response.

Meaningful Work

The federal government’s Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC) notes that people who work in cybersecurity have the opportunity to perform fulfilling work that makes a difference. For example, cybersecurity professionals work to protect and secure food supply chains, clean drinking water and traffic control systems.

Steps to Make a Career Change to Cybersecurity

Although no one path to a career change to cybersecurity exists, the steps outlined below can help interested professionals make the leap.

Pursue Education and Training

For anyone who already has a bachelor’s degree in another discipline, a great way to acquire cybersecurity expertise is to earn an online master’s degree in information security management.

Graduate programs develop students’ expertise in aspects of cybersecurity such as risk management, security policy deployment, the interaction of information security with human factors, and the legal environment surrounding information security. Earning a master’s degree online offers the advantage of flexibility and the ability to work on a degree from any location.

Develop and Practice Cybersecurity Skills on Your Own Time

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) reminds aspiring cybersecurity professionals that they can take advantage of several online resources to enhance their cybersecurity expertise. For example, they can pursue online tutorials, read industry news, or work with online apps that offer the chance to test and debug code. Individuals can also participate in online competitions in which they can practice their cybersecurity skills.

Earn Certifications

Certifications can help individuals develop cybersecurity expertise and enhance their credentials. Valuable certifications include the following:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) from ISC2, a credential that demonstrates that an individual has the expertise to create and manage a cybersecurity program
  • Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM) from ISACA, a credential for individuals who have expertise in assessing risks and responding to cybersecurity incidents
  • Security+ from CompTIA, a credential that signifies that an individual has expertise in assessing and monitoring cybersecurity, as well as responding to cybersecurity incidents

Gain Work Experience

With high demand for cybersecurity expertise, gaining experience may not be as difficult as it might seem. Technology firm Cisco Systems offers these tips for entering the profession and gaining experience:

  • Be able to articulate to future employers how previous experience in another field can dovetail with and enhance a new role in cybersecurity
  • Look for potential employers that seek employees with different backgrounds
  • Network with other professionals in cybersecurity and seek mentors in the field

Employment website Indeed has identified the following as examples of entry-level roles that can pave the way to a career in cybersecurity:

  • Incident responders, who offer assistance in recovering from a cyberattack
  • Information technology auditors, who help organizations strengthen their automated systems and ensure compliance with security policies and standards
  • Cybersecurity specialists, who test the security of automated systems

4 Careers in Cybersecurity

As individuals continue moving into cybersecurity careers, they can work in various positions. Below are some popular examples.

1. Computer Systems Analyst

The primary role of a computer systems analyst involves reviewing an organization’s current automated systems and identifying ways to improve and strengthen those systems. Computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $99,270 as of May 2021 and are predicted to see 9 percent job growth between 2021 and 2031, according to the BLS.

2. Database Architect

Database architects design and create the databases that systems and applications use. The BLS reports that database administrators earned a median annual salary of $123,430 as of May 2021 and projects 10 percent employment growth for the position between 2021 and 2031.

3. Information Systems Manager

Developing an organization’s IT goals and directing the organization’s IT functions are the primary responsibilities of information systems managers. The BLS reports that people in this role earned a median annual salary of $159,010 as of May 2021 and predicts 16 percent employment growth between 2021 and 2031.

4. Chief Information Security Officer

After building experience and expertise, individuals can eventually ascend to the role of chief information security officer (CISO). This C-suite position is responsible for the security of all an organization’s systems and data. Payscale reports that the median annual salary of CISOs was about $173,200 as of February 2023. The BLS projects 6 percent job growth for top executives in general between 2021 and 2031.

Following a New Career Path in Cybersecurity

With demand for cybersecurity expertise on the rise and a host of positions to pursue, pivoting to a cybersecurity career could be a promising move. Individuals interested in entering the field should explore Augusta University Online’s Master of Science in Information Security Management degree program to learn how its managerial concentration prepares students to lead the defense against cyber threats. Take the first step on a new career path today with AU Online.

Chief Information Officers Council, “We Need You – For Cybersecurity!”
Cisco Systems, “What & Who You Know: How to Get a Job in Cybersecurity With No Experience”
Computing Technology Industry Association, CompTIA Security+
Computing Technology Industry Association, “How Real Cybersecurity Pros Keep Their Cybersecurity Skills Sharp”
Indeed, How to Get a Cybersecurity Job With No Experience
Indeed, What Does a Chief Information Security Officer Do? (With FAQs)
ISACA, What Is the CISM Difference?
ISC2, CISSP – The World’s Premier Cybersecurity Certification
McKinsey & Company, “New Survey Reveals $2 Trillion Market Opportunity for Cybersecurity Technology and Service Providers”
Payscale, Average Chief Information Security Officer Salary
Technically, “5 Reasons to Consider a Cybersecurity Career in 2022”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Systems Managers
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Systems Analysts
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Database Administrators and Architects
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Top Executives
World Economic Forum, “Cyber Security Is No Longer Enough: Businesses Need Cyber Resilience”

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