Benefits of Cybersecurity Careers
No two cybersecurity jobs are the same. There are so many differences that really affect what a job is and what it entails that, at best, we can only make generalizations about the good and bad aspects of a career in cybersecurity. To see some specific examples of cybersecurity careers, check out these career paths, where we’ve looked at what common cybersecurity jobs entail.
Given that cybersecurity jobs exist in the public and private sectors, and in almost every industry, and can span both offensive and defensive tactics, and are constantly changing, it’s best to ask the professionals themselves what they think the strengths and weaknesses of their work. Here are the pros we found:
Pro #1: good salaries. Cybersecurity professionals are generally well paid once their careers are established. Their pay is high compared to the average employee in most organizations, and salaries seem to be rising. Here are a few notes:
- “My new job starts at $130,000 and in a few years I should be making what my co-workers are making, which is about $180,000.”
- “All of our cyber professionals earn six figures or more.”
- “You can easily earn over $150,000 if you have expertise and certifications, especially in the field of firewalls.”
- “I could make about $20,000 more with a security clearance.”
- “I make over $80,000 and I started in the field a little over a year ago.”
- “I’d like to work with you, but you can’t afford me.”
Pros #2: Cyber jobs are everywhere. The cybersecurity professionals we spoke with work at banks, investment firms, federal government agencies, telecommunications companies, health care providers, IT service providers, universities, local governments, public schools, and government contractors. Companies in almost every industry need qualified cybersecurity professionals, either in-house or on a contract basis.
Pro #3: Being asked. There is certainly a demand for cybersecurity. (Check out our article on why cyber will continue to be such a high demand for the next decade.) The cybersecurity unemployment rate is less than one percent (and has reached zero percent in some areas), meaning more jobs than people to fulfill them. Our cybersecurity professionals were well aware that they can leave their current employer and get back to work quickly, and possibly for more money. Here are a few notes:
- “I get job interview offers every week from recruiters who find me on LinkedIn.”
- “Google contacted me asking if I wanted to come to California.”
- “I’ve had offers from more than six other companies this year.”
- “Even if I lost my security clearance, I could find a job for over $160,000.”
Pro #4: Ability to move on. Because there are so many different types of cybersecurity jobs and the demand for qualified professionals is so high, employees who want to get ahead can do so if they want to. Since cybersecurity is an unregulated industry (compared to medicine, which requires a license, for example), there are many ways to advance your career. This includes obtaining additional certifications, degrees, or skills through training (we cover expected cybersecurity training costs in this article, including options that are free.)
Pro #5: Ability to be self-employed. There are plenty of IT and cybersecurity professionals we spoke to who chose to become self-employed. Since technology is often outsourced and consulting is commonplace, there are plenty of opportunities to become self-employed in the cyber career space if desired.
Pro #6: Ability to learn new things. Almost all of the cybersecurity professionals we spoke to love their jobs, especially being able to support their families well by doing work that interests them. These professionals seem to enjoy the process of learning new things and being challenged with new technology.
- “I love that I get the chance to learn something new every day.”
- “No day is the same.”
- “There is always something new to learn and try.”
Disadvantages of Cybersecurity Careers
No job is perfect, and cybersecurity jobs certainly have their drawbacks. The cybersecurity professionals we spoke to could list some of the downsides to their jobs, but for the most part seemed to feel like they were just part of the territory and that all jobs have a downside too. These professionals recognized the negatives of their jobs, but felt that the positives outweighed the negatives, leaving them with jobs that they found interesting and enjoyable. Here are some of the drawbacks they revealed to us.
Con #1: On Call and Demanding Hours. A cybersecurity attack is a critical issue and unfortunately can happen at any time, so many cybersecurity professionals find themselves in a situation where they are expected to be on call at any time, including weekends or evenings. The number of times they are actually contacted varies widely, making this negative a non-issue or a real problem depending on the situation. Here are a few notes:
- “Maybe I should reply to an email while on vacation.”
- “We rotate on call every three weekends.”
- “The first thing I do when I wake up is check my messages from the office.”
- “If the office needs to reach me, they know how to reach me.”
- “When we implemented this new system, it was all hands on deck.”
- “I worked from Friday morning to Sunday evening without leaving the office.”
Con #2: Some tasks are repetitive or boring. There are probably boring aspects to any job, and cybersecurity professionals claimed they had them too. This was mainly related to documentation tasks, checking incident logs and attending meetings.
Con #3: Work pressure. Like the demand for availability, some cybersecurity jobs are under pressure, due to the constant nature of the possibility of a hack or an attack. Here are a few notes:
- “An attack can happen at any time.”
- “We get hacking attempts every day and there is constant pressure to protect against them.”
- “We have to be prepared for anything, it feels like we could lose at any moment.”
- “Getting hacked would be very prominent, and not in a good way.”
- “The hacking attempts against our company are so relentless that I have to update our CEO daily on the status of our systems.”
Con #4: The learning treadmill never stops. No other field seems to be moving at the pace of cybersecurity. This is both a blessing and a curse as it can provide new and interesting things to learn and it removes those who don’t keep up. But the treadmill of learning in cybersecurity means you have to constantly learn in this area to stay put. That can certainly be a challenge. (If you’re interested in learning how to learn cybersecurity yourself, we’ve put together this resource.) Here are some of the thoughts shared with us.
- “I know I won’t be able to do this job forever. It will get harder to learn as I get older and I won’t be able to keep up with the younger guys.”
- “The constant learning can be exhausting.”
- “My employer has not upgraded the technology I support, which made my skills obsolete. Now I’m behind.”
- “Since I went into management, I haven’t worked with the technology as much as I should have. Now I am a generalist. It would be too difficult to get back in the field at my level.”
Con #5: Lack of resources. Most managers know that cyber security is important, but in the cyber security field it is very common that management does not really understand what you do and how important your work is. Therefore, cybersecurity jobs require constant communication with management and advocating on your behalf. This doesn’t seem to be the case everywhere, but some cybersecurity professionals called it a negative point, which usually occurs in larger organizations that are not active in the cybersecurity industry.
There are pros and cons to every job, and they vary greatly based on the environment of the specific job, as well as the individual and how they handle their job and their overall outlook on their job. There are many ways you can see the pros and cons of cybersecurity first hand. Watching job interviews online and finding opportunities to shadow with are a great way to get a sense of what a cybersecurity career is all about.
Is there a demand for cybersecurity? Cybersecurity has a low unemployment rate and is one of the fastest growing areas in the world. You can view our information on the cybersecurity demand here.
Are cybersecurity jobs boring? All careers have positives and negatives, but they are often determined by the attitude and point of view of the person in the job. What one finds boring, another finds interesting. It is important to know what you are good at and what you like.
Do I need a degree if I want to get into cybersecurity? Most cybersecurity careers require or will require a degree at some point. In this article, we have analyzed the chances of getting a job in cybersecurity without a degree.