As hacks and data breaches continue to dominate headlines, it comes as no surprise that cyber security experts are among the most sought-after professionals. With very good pay, job security, and the allure of fighting on the front lines of cyber-warfare, the information security industry can seem nothing short of glamorous.
So what’s the catch? While cybercrime is very real, the prospective thrills surrounding the prevention of newsworthy data breaches are often overshadowed by reality. As with other jobs, work in the information security industry can be demanding, stressful, and routine.
Ultimately, when making any major career choice, it's essential to start with realistic expectations. To help, we’ll review the realities of jobs in Cyber Security: the good, the bad, and the ugly surrounding what can be a highly-rewarding career.
Cyber Security Salary, Growth, Demand, and the Power of Choice
Technological advances have made protecting systems against hackers, spyware, and viruses vitally important. Virtually every type of organization has confidential information stored on computer networks—professionals are needed to keep this vast amount of information safe. As the Internet grows, so does cybercrime.
Luckily for cyber security professionals, this generates great demand for jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of Information Security Analysts is projected to grow 37 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than average.
As the principals of supply and demand dictate, this also creates a significant earning potential for qualified individuals. The BLS reports a median annual salary of $86,170, or approximately $41.43 per hour.
And it's more than just money. Because of the high demand for their work, the most qualified cyber security professionals have the opportunity to shop around for jobs and are able to seek out organizations that are recognized leaders in the field. Expert professionals have the opportunity to work in a variety of organizations as well as high-level government and military positions.
Restrictions and Routine in Cyber Security Careers
Through mass media, cyber security jobs are often romanticized. While high-stake threats do occur, the daily tasks of these professionals are typically less exciting. Job responsibilities may include:
- Planning, implementing, upgrading, and monitoring security measures for the protection of computer networks and information
- Ensuring appropriate security controls are in place to safeguard digital files and electronic infrastructure
- Responding to computer security breaches and viruses
Standard intrusions may include monitoring unauthorized web pages on servers or responding to outbound transmission of compressed files. And as with any job, cyber security workers are often dealt daily, routine administrative tasks.
The Burden of Responsibility
While daily responsibilities are often less than glamorous, it is important to remember that cyber security professionals work in complex, fast-paced work environments and are often faced with odd hours and overtime. Due to the sensitive nature of their jobs, stress is a primary complaint for many professionals.
Much of this stress is caused by the unpredictable, evolving nature of cybercrime. Cyber security professionals must always consider possible vulnerabilities and monitor systems constantly. While technology has relieved professionals of some responsibilities, it is crucial to remember that humans are often the weakest link; a simple human error can result in an astronomical problem.
While this may seem like an ugly truth of the cyber security industry, going into a new career with a pragmatic understanding of the truth will benefit new employees in the long run. Having realistic expectations can ease stress before, during, and after, if problems should occur.
— Ash (@OatzTheGreat) May 16, 2013
Take Action with a Network Security Degree
The need for cyber security and network security professionals is rapidly expanding—so quickly that there are not enough qualified individuals to fill open positions. This is partially due to the evolving, demanding nature of the job. But with guaranteed job security, outstanding entry-level rates, and the power of choice, now is an ideal time to enter the cyber security industry.
Interested in working in cyber security? ECPI University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer and Information Science with a concentration in Network Security program that can prepare you to begin your career. Through our year-round schedule, you could earn your degree in just 2.5 years. You know the realities of the industry—what are you waiting for? It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
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