It takes many skills and talents to manage and protect data, assess risks and thwart threats; to build, design, and maintain the software and apps we use; and to lead the people and teams behind all of this work. Earning a degree in a field as versatile and expanding as cybersecurity prepares you for a range of career opportunities and in industries of all kinds.
Types of Cybersecurity Positions
Cyber security professionals protect organizations and their customers from threats of data corruption, information theft, fraudulent transactions, or damaged or compromised systems. Job titles and duties will vary by place of employment, but here are a few roles you might consider with a cybersecurity degree.
Information Security Analyst or Specialist
One of the fastest-growing occupations today is the information security analyst, expected to grow by 31% between now and 2029. In this position, you would analyze and assess vulnerabilities within your organization’s IT systems and make recommendations--such as new tools or internal policies--for handling potential risks. Security analysts might also be tasked with assessing damage or handling the recovery process after an attack.
Penetration Tester or Vulnerability Assessor
Sometimes called ethical hackers, penetration testers put an organization’s security measures to the test. They’ll search for errors and vulnerabilities and attempt hacks and attacks to determine if the systems could be cracked by an outside threat. Penetration testers report their findings to the appropriate leaders, often including solutions for any problems encountered. Moving into this specialized position typically requires a few years of IT and cybersecurity experience.
Digital Forensics Specialist & Incident Responder
A specialized segment within the information security field, computer forensics is an exciting and in-demand field. Cybersecurity specialists focusing on digital forensics investigate cybercrimes, such as data breaches. You’d search for, collect, and manage evidence, which could include data, devices, and hardware. An emerging role within this area is a cyber security incident responder (or first responder), who might be called to a location to assess a recent crime.
IT Security Consultant
Many companies, especially small to medium-sized businesses that do not have their own IT departments, hire IT security consultants to keep their systems, networks, data and equipment safe and secure. Consulting projects will range in size and scope, giving you the chance to put your many technical and analytics skills to use. Duties can range from assessing vulnerabilities for an online store to designing and implementing a comprehensive information security architecture plan for a national corporation. IT consultants can work for small agencies, large firms, or even work for themselves.
Room for Advancement
With experience or additional education, cybersecurity professionals could advance into management positions such as a chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO), or they might transition into highly specialized roles, such as a security engineer or architect.
Top Industries for Cybersecurity Careers
No matter the size or sector, any business that stores information is at risk of an attack. Some industries are bigger targets because of the type and amount of sensitive and valuable data they store. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report listed healthcare, financial, and public sector as having the most data breaches, and Symantec reports that lifestyle and entertainment companies are the most prone to malicious attacks.
While the types of attacks are similar across industries, the devices, data, and mediums can differ. We’ll take a look at what a cybersecurity professional might specifically encounter in two high-risk industries.
Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Field
The health care industry’s reliance on electronic records and communication has created an incredible demand for professionals to protect patient privacy. According to CyberVista, an IT placement agency, there were 49,483 cyber security job openings in the healthcare industry alone in April 2020. While the types of attacks are similar across industries, the devices, data, and mediums can differ. In healthcare, cyber security specialists might work in roles such as:
- Medical device security analyst
- Patient privacy specialist
- Director of cyber security
- Health security engineer
- Information assurance/security analyst
- Information technology security officer
- Cyber intelligence analyst
- Cloud security architect, HIPPA compliance
- Cyber security incident response coordinator
- eDiscovery specialist
Cybersecurity in the Retail and Hospitality Fields
Whether a brick and mortar location or an ecommerce store, or whether an airfare comparison website to a small hotel, there are cyber risks at stake when you’re handing transactions and other sensitive data. Companies in these fields likely offer the usual information security positions, such as analyst and engineer. But, like healthcare, there are a few roles specific to the field:
- Cyber incident planner
- Cyber defense analyst
- Security threat intel analyst
- Malware security researcher
- Security solution architect
- Fraud operations specialist
- Privacy program manager
- Privacy analyst
- Identity and access management engineer
What you can do with a cybersecurity degree is a question with an ever-evolving answer: As new information security threats emerge, so will new job duties and position titles.
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