How to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist

Cybersecurity specialists go by many names, from information technology analysts and consultants, to network security specialists and analysts. No matter what the official job title, the main goal is to protect the networks and systems within an organization. 

Here are suggested steps to follow to enter this in demand profession.

  1. Learn at least one common programming language.
  2. Understand how operating systems and networks interact and function.
  3. Understand security compliance.
  4. Learn how to run Threat Risk Assessments (TRA) and vulnerability assessments.
  5. Earn one or more certifications. 
  6. Consider choosing a focus.

Interested in learning more? Continue reading below to find out what a cybersecurity specialist’s job responsibilities entail daily.

What is the Job Description for a Cybersecurity Specialist?

Cybersecurity specialists are responsible for the day-to-day monitoring of the systems and networks of an organization. They must keep all systems up-to-date on security protocols and make sure they are not susceptible to cyber threats. In order to do this, these professionals develop plans for system security tailored to the organization. They also regularly perform assessments to look for any possible threats or areas of vulnerability. If an attack does occur, they are responsible for fixing any damage and ensuring that systems are better protected.

As the experts, cybersecurity specialists can also be expected to train other employees about best practices to limit security breaches and attacks. They also must make sure that network and user access is up-to-date for employees as changes are made within the organization.

Cybersecurity Specialist Qualifications

With hard work and research, many of the skills for this profession can be self-taught. Many employers, however, do appreciate a formal education in this area because security is so crucial and certifications and degrees show a level of expertise and commitment to the field. There are associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s programs that have cybersecurity focuses.

Looking to enter this field faster? A bootcamp may be a great option for you.

How to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist

The path to become a cybersecurity specialist includes learning a variety of skills and tools to help ensure the security and health of an organization’s networks and systems. Below are five steps to help guide you to learning these necessary skills.

  1. Learn at least one common programming language.

Python, Java, C, C#, and Perl are common languages used in cybersecurity. Programming can be used to create automated systems for security. Associated language frameworks and programs may also be used to help with the security of web pages, networks, databases, and more.

  1. Understand how operating systems and networks interact and function.

In order to protect systems and networks, you first must comprehend how they work. Knowledge of the structure of systems like Microsoft and Linux, as well as networking, is crucial. It is also important to know how to maintain these systems and networks properly.

  1. Understand security compliance.

Organizations must remain compliant with protecting client data. Cybersecurity specialists must know security regulatory compliance standards to ensure businesses adhere to these standards. Note that while there are general security standards, many industries have their own specific standards as well. One of the most well-known sets of standards is HIPAA, protecting private data and information.

  1. Learn how to run Threat Risk Assessments (TRA) and vulnerability assessments.

Both types of assessments are necessary for the continual monitoring of an organization’s security. These assessments help the specialist see the web page, application, and database from the perspective of a possible attacker and work to fix any vulnerabilities or holes in security.

  1. Earn one or more certifications.

Certifications show organizations that you have a certain level of skill and knowledge in this critical area. Dice.com suggests adding one or more of the following certifications to your repertoire:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker
  • Certified Information Security Auditor
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional
  • GIAC Certified Incident Handler
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  • Information Systems Security Architecture/Engineering/Management Professional
  1. Consider choosing a focus.

Some cybersecurity specialists choose to hone in on a particular area of security. Some examples of focus areas include special IT systems like Cisco Systems or platform-specific like desktop versus mobile application security. Focusing on an area does not mean that you can skip learning other areas of this field, but it does make you more knowledgeable in one domain. This can make you even more marketable to specific sectors that require your particular area of expertise.

While they aren’t necessarily skills that can be taught, soft skills are also highly desirable in this position. Problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and communication skills are all needed to be successful in this career.

Explore schools offering Cybersecurity Specialist Bootcamps.

Job Outlook for a Cybersecurity Specialist

The cybersecurity job market is extremely promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs in this field to increase by 31% from 2019 to 2029. This is well above the average job outlook of all professions of 4%. This is largely because the number of cyber threats and attacks continues to grow. Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion by 2025. With technology constantly evolving, it is more important than ever for businesses to properly protect their systems and networks.

 

Industries Where There is a Demand for Cybersecurity Specialists

Virtually every industry benefits from having a cybersecurity specialist but there are some industries where the demand is especially high in 2021. There are, however, five key industries that need stronger cybersecurity in 2021 according to the International Security Journal:

  • Energy and utility companies are moving online and cyber-threats can cause a major disruption to service for large groups of people.
  • Healthcare, specifically in health administration and senior care, is vulnerable to cyber-attacks because of the private information and medical records they house.
  • Small businesses often don’t have the resources or knowledge to properly protect themselves which makes them a target of attacks.
  • Governments and government agencies need knowledgeable specialists because they store vital and private information about citizens that needs to be kept secure.
  • Financial services are moving online at a rapid rate. With innovative mobile apps for banking and investing, security breaches are a major concern. Qualified cybersecurity specialists are in demand in this sector.

Cybersecurity Specialist Salary

Because of demand and need, this profession is often well-paid — even more so as specialists gain experience and education. According to indeed.com the average salary for IT security specialists in June 2021 was $65,125. Many job postings offer a cash bonus which increases the average base salary. It is important to note that average salary varies based on location and experience. A list of average salaries for this position in certain tech hubs is listed below.

 
CityAverage Salary
New York, NY$124,729
Washington D.C.$116,939
Silicon Valley, CA$117,189
Atlanta, GA$107,430
Austin, TX$121,768

Next Steps to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist

Bootcamps for cybersecurity specialists are offered in-person, online, and via

hybrid courses. This formal structure can help you learn the necessary skills for the cybersecurity profession with the help of experts. Curriculums include the skills mentioned above and also have added benefits. Many bootcamps offer added perks such as internships, networking, portfolio and resume development, and more. Read more below to compare bootcamps and find the one that is right for your needs, goals, and schedule.

Browse bootcamps for Cybersecurity Specialist.

Explore some of the top schools offering Cybersecurity Specialist bootcamps and find the right fit for your needs and schedule.