Eight Magnificent Cyber Security Careers and the Education You Need to Keep Civilization from Imploding
The people with careers in cyber security are quite literally protecting the civilized world from the horde of digital barbarians who threaten to plunge us all into chaos and darkness.
“Look, man … I just want a good job with decent pay and plenty of vacation time.”
Oh, you’ll get all that if you go into cyber security. Over the next ten years, it’s projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by more than 30%. (For perspective, seven percent growth is considered stable, so cyber security is about 300% more likely to have plenty of opportunities than a regular job.) And when job markets grow, so does the salary and benefits package.
But this is not a job. It’s a career. A vocation. A calling.
…This may well be your Red Pill/Blue Pill moment.
Take the blue pill and pretend that the tens of thousands of threads that make up the fabric of our civilization aren’t being tugged at individually on a daily basis by vast numbers of bad actors with evil intentions. Hey, you can even pretend there is no evil in the world, no good either, and that things will likely go on just fine if you sit on the sidelines.
Or you take the red pill. You appreciate that at on any given day nearly three thousand cyber attacks are launched against the electronic battlements of the United States and its allies and all the good businesses within those countries. Those countries and businesses are made up of individual people—people you know and love.
But the red pill, it isn’t for everyone, Neo. Taking up the vocation of cyber security is not for the faint of heart. It requires people not just of sound technical mind, but also strong moral character.
So, make the call. Blue pill, click away to another, safer part of the internet and enjoy the peace provided by others, or take the red pill and read on.
UAT Students work in the Security Operations Center.
Careers in Cyber Security
List and Overview
Okay, Neo. One caveat before we dive in. Smaller organizations will have some of these roles folded into the internal IT department. This has its own set of pros and cons, but other departments may recognize their need for dedicated individuals to manage and implement their cyber security and may outsource some or all their needs.
Overall, the difference is that cyber-focused personnel are tasked with specifically protecting the organization, its intellectual property, and all the individuals, teams, and departments within the organization against internal or external threats (like the Sentinels.) Those with cyber expertise usually have titles that include terms such as cyber, network, data or information tied with security, forensics, engineer, analyst, etc.
Ready? Here’s some water for that pill.
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Cyber Security Engineer
- Penetration Tester
- Digital Forensics Analyst
- Cyber Supply Chain Risk Manager
- Cyber Security Consultant
- Information Security Research Scientist
- Chief Information Security Officer
Cyber Security Analyst (a.k.a. Threat Intel Analyst, Cyber Network Defender, Network/Information Security Analyst)
While this position goes by various names (Threat Intel Analyst, Information Security Analyst, The One, etc.) they all do generally the same thing. You guessed it; they analyze cyber threats. This will involve monitoring and advising on all information security-related issues to make sure that the bad things don’t happen to the business or organization. It also means doing some threat analysis; probing your own organization’s firewall and security to test for strength and permeability.
Learn more about Cyber Security Analyst and similar careers here.
Cyber Security (Firewall) Engineer (a.k.a. Network Security Engineer)
So, where the cyber security analysts test and analyze the organization’s security, the engineer builds systems to keep everything secure. It’s like the difference between those who test how safe a bank vault is on a day-to-day basis and those who actually build the vault. As the cyber security engineer (or network security engineer or cyber security firewall engineer) you will build the vault. You will build the vault based on your expertise in WAN and LAN intranet protocols. You will rely on your vast knowledge of computer languages and you will build the best digital vaults possible to protect those in your organization and those your organization does work with.
Learn more about Cyber Security Engineer and similar careers here.
Penetration Tester (a.k.a. Ethical Hacker/White Hat Hacker)
Of all the careers in cyber security careers, this is the one for people who just didn’t grow up. Essentially, this is the position that moves from analyzing a security system to actively trying to take it down—in an ethical and approved manner.
Imagine all of the other cyber security professionals are playing Jenga. They study the structure. Remove a piece here. Hold their breath. Ask everyone else to hold their breath, then take out one more piece. But you, as the tester, as the ethical hacker, you see that there is another way. You could play their game and hold your breath and take a piece out carefully, or you could pick up the yellow bean bag chair in the corner and from the other side of the room lob that yellow mass of vinyl and Styrofoam right in the middle of their game and watch it smash apart.
This is where it gets fun. When they turn to you, instead of yelling for the teacher, they say thank you, pay you a decent salary, and they build the tower back up again. Maybe this time with someone holding an umbrella. All the while, waiting for you to destroy it again. Sounds fun, right?
Learn more about Penetration Tester and similar careers here.
Digital Forensics Analyst (a.k.a. Computer Forensics Examiner)
This career can range pretty wildly from the passive to the active and anywhere in-between. At it’s most basic and passive, a digital forensics analyst will respond to threats that have already taken place. In some instances, you will be handling active threats as they take place. Also on the more passive side, is dealing with the aftermath of an attack including analyzing for holes in the Matrix and getting those individuals affected back up and running.
On the more active side, some businesses use digital forensics analysts to proactively look for threats and ne’er-do-wells. This may come in the form of looking for those responsible for attacks and finding them in the digital world and putting a stop to them. You’ll be immersed in a world that uses phrases like Threat Hunting, Attack Lifestyles, and War Gaming. Definitely not a blue pill profession.
Learn more about the Digital Forensics Analyst and similar careers here.
Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management
This career combines the business need for a supply chain (all the tools and material needed to make the widgets or Neo’s cool sunglasses) with a supply chain that is secure from cyber threats (like Agent Johnson who wants to keep Neo from wearing cool sunglasses and jumping inside his body). It’s an interesting combination of skills and an interesting career. Where most areas of cyber security will be more digital, this particular cyber security career lies in the intersection of the digital and the real. The choices made in this career will have a real impact on goods and services, very possibly, in real-time.
Learn more about Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management and similar careers here.
Cyber Security Consultant
Consulting is a great profession. There’s freedom and a certain romance to it, especially in the cyber security landscape, because you’re a hero that knows no limits. What you do is highly valuable but not always used by everyone all the time. Because of this, companies will outsource specialty skills that are only needed occasionally, but they are almost always paid extremely well. Few people start out consulting. Rather, most start at one of the above occupations and after seeing a legitimate need in the sector, they take the leap and start their own thing. It’s highly rewarding, and at times, very difficult, but also a lot of fun.
How Do I Get There From Here?
To qualify for one of these highly confidential, digital, and IP security-focused positions, you must have a degree or extensive training in cyber security. We’re talking extensive knowledge and/or a degree in network security, network engineering, and technology forensics. These positions have the expertise of programming languages including python, and network architecture, and be fluent in system and network device administration, cloud computing, and virtualization technology.
And, if you are looking for one of the most “in-demand” fields, this is it. Cyber security expertise is needed everywhere, so you can still have that technical job and pursue your passion at the same time. This means working for the company of your dreams even if it's not in a “tech-based” industry. From the NSA and the CIA to social media and tech companies, to sustainable retail to high fashion, non-profits to hospitals to Hollywood. They all need their information, people, and customers protected.
So, yeah, a degree in cyber security is worth it.
Becoming a Cyber Security Shot Caller
To qualify for management and higher, all the way up to the Chief Information Security Officer, everything is on the table. Your education, certifications and years of experience, all of this combined with a proven ability to be innovative and have foresight in your field; this is what it takes to be The One. To set yourself up with all the bells and whistles an organization wants to see on your resume, a master’s degree in cyber security or information assurance is the best place to start building up your qualifications.
Information Security Research Scientist
This position is the Wizard of Oz, the man (or woman) behind the curtain. The analysts do their work and they do it well, but the Scientist/Wizard looks more deeply from his/her years of experience and impressive depth of knowledge. They usually have the letters MS or even Ph.D. after their names—and for good reason.
These scientists analyze what has been analyzed to develop working theories for the problems that may not even be apparent yet. They may develop new computer languages or software systems to help people work with and in the organization better and more safely. They will also test their theories and analyze the results of their digital experiments. In the world of cyber security, this is the position for those who first realized that there needed to be a red pill and a blue pill and then created them both.
Learn more about the Information Security Research Scientist career here.
Chief Information Security Officer
This is the top dog in the cyber security side of IT. You reach this position and you are the shot caller. It’s a position of great power and great responsibility. You will organize and oversee (through intermediaries, usually) the cyber protection needs of your organization. You will put the right people in place who are able to make sure the right people are doing the work that you oversee with your team. Altogether with you as the leader will keep the organization's information and people safe.
Learn more about the Chief Information Security Officer career here.
Final Thoughts as the Red Pill Kicks In
And where else to earn your cyber security degree than at UAT? There’s a reason the NSA designated UAT as one of the first CAE training centers in cyber defense in the Southwest. UAT has been teaching cyber security for over 20 years and has a complete continuum of undergraduate and graduate cyber security degrees that have prepared thousands of ethical hacking, network security, and cyber security superior graduates. A prestigious cyber security degree from UAT is recognized by industry and government bodies alike as a significant milestone.
So, what are you waiting for? The red pill has dissolved and it’s pulling you from your old safe, predictable life. A digital adventure awaits. Call our friendly admissions team at UAT and enter the future. Request information or apply today.
And, don't forget to follow UAT's Cyber Security News to stay up to date on the latest in the world of InfoSec from industry-recognized professors and more.