As the internet becomes an even more important part of our lives, demand for qualified cybersecurity engineers is higher than ever.
This is no surprise, considering someone has to safeguard our data and ensure that what information we give to a company stays confidential and secure. Cybersecurity is one of the most lucrative career paths in computing today, offering high salaries, positive career prospects, and the ability to work on different problems each day.
However, learning how to become a cybersecurity engineer can be difficult, especially if you have no prior technical background. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to become a cybersecurity engineer. We will also share a few resources on cybersecurity salaries and bootcamp training programs available in this exciting field.
What is a Cybersecurity Engineer?
A cybersecurity engineer is a type of programmer responsible for protecting data and systems against unauthorized use by external parties. Cybersecurity engineers create policies and programs to help protect an organization’s data from cyber attacks.
Job Responsibilities for Cybersecurity Engineers
Cybersecurity engineers are focused on protecting networks, websites, databases, and other technological systems against attack. While the exact job responsibilities of a cybersecurity engineer vary between organization, here are a few tasks you can expect to have as a cybersecurity engineer:
- Keep up to date with the latest technology developments
- Identify potential weaknesses in a system and create policies to resolve them
- Advise staff on how to stay safe when using company computers
- Evaluate new security policies
- Monitor a company for attacks and report on any problems that may occur
A cybersecurity engineer will do more than just monitor for attacks. They may also have to create programs to fix vulnerabilities in systems, and work with the rest of a company to ensure that a company’s systems are safe. Cybersecurity engineers also protect a company from the risk that their systems are attacked, which can cause damages that are costly and time consuming to repair.
Cybersecurity engineers are on the front line in protecting our data. If you’re interested in this career path, Career Karma can help you find the right coding bootcamp or training program that matches your unique needs.
Cybersecurity Engineer Job Outlook
Cybersecurity engineers have an impressive job outlook — as companies become more reliant on technology, more cybersecurity engineers will be needed to secure their systems. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in cybersecurity are expected to grow by 32 percent by 2028, which is much faster than the average job, and faster than many other roles in computer science.
Cybersecurity Engineer Salaries - How Much Do Cybersecurity Engineers Earn?
According to ZipRecruiter the average salary for a cybersecurity engineer is almost $120,000 per year. Entry-level cybersecurity engineers usually earn over $50,000, and more senior engineers can earn up to $188,000 per year.
The exact salary you will earn depends on the company you work for and your location. For example, cybersecurity engineers in San Francisco earn an average of almost $125,000, and some positions offer salaries of up to almost $363,000. In Atlanta, however, the average salary is around $120,000. If you are working for a cybersecurity company or a company with big data needs — Google, for example — then your salary will likely be on the higher side.
The money you make as a cybersecurity engineer will also depend on your experience. Senior cybersecurity engineers can expect to earn higher salaries. Also, your salary will not include stock options and other perks offered by tech companies, so you should keep that in mind when you’re looking for a new job.
Some cybersecurity engineers also work as an independent consultant, and are not affiliated with any one company. These engineers usually have more experience in cybersecurity, and can earn thousands for only a few hours of work.
How much can you earn? (source: Glassdoor)
How Can You Become a Cybersecurity Engineer?
There are many different paths you can take to become a cybersecurity engineer, but here are the most common paths people take when starting a career in this field:
- Pursue a degree in Computer Science at a traditional university
- Attend a coding bootcamp focused on cybersecurity engineering
- Learn cybersecurity engineering on your own through self-study
Each path has its own benefits. In cybersecurity, the most common path is to pursue a computer science degree, because many employers require a CS degree when hiring cybersecurity engineers.
However, more short-term, intensive coding bootcamps and training programs have started in recent years, which can train you how to become a cybersecurity engineer in less time. Rather than spending four years in university and taking out loans, you can instead learn all of the practical skills you need in a bootcamp at a price lower than the cost of a university degree.
Companies that Hire Bootcamp Grads
How to Learn Cybersecurity Engineering
There are many ways in which you can learn about cybersecurity engineering. Some cybersecurity engineers will, as mentioned above, attend college and pursue a computer science degree. Others, however, may teach themselves about cybersecurity. This can be a good path if you can’t afford the price of a course, but it can leave gaps in your knowledge which may make you less attractive to prospective employers.
Coding bootcamps are a great option if you’re interested in becoming a cybersecurity engineer. These programs, which usually last between three and nine months, are intensive programs where you will learn all of the practical skills you need to pursue a specific career in the technology industry.
Top Skills Needed for Cybersecurity Engineering Careers
There are a few key skills you’ll need to develop and refine in order to succeed in a career in cybersecurity. Let’s break these down.
Essential Technical Skills for Cybersecurity Engineers
Here are a few of the main skills you’ll need to become a cybersecurity engineer. These skills include programming languages, development processes, and other important concepts you’ll need to know.
- Malware Analysis.
Protecting a system against malware is one of the most important parts of being a cybersecurity engineers. Cybersecurity engineers must stay up-to-date with the latest malware threats, and understand how they can protect against those threats.
- Continuity Planning.
In addition to actively protecting against threats, a cybersecurity engineer should create plans to ensure an organization can continue operations if there is ever an attack. This may include creating backup storage policies, recovery policies if data becomes corrupted, and other documents to ensure that an attack can be easily reversed.
- Bash, C, C++, Python.
As a cybersecurity engineer, you’ll need to have an active knowledge of at least one programming language. The most common you’ll encounter are Bash, C, C++, and Python, which are often used in cybersecurity tools. Most organizations will state upfront that they use certain programming languages which you’ll be expected to know. That said, having knowledge of additional programming languages such as PHP, Java, and Ruby on Rails may be helpful.
- Risk Analysis.
A big part of being a cybersecurity engineer is identifying risks before they become a threat to an organization. You’ll need to be able to find risks, track those which may present a threat to your organization, and ensure your systems are protected against certain risks. You’ll also need to conduct audits of existing company systems to ensure you have done everything to mitigate the risk of an attack on your network.
- Cloud Security.
Demand for cloud security skills is high in cybersecurity roles. This is because many companies use cloud technologies for everything from data storage to application deployment. You’ll need to be familiar with the basics of the cloud — how it works, why it is important — and have some knowledge on how to prevent against common cloud attacks.
Essential Soft Skills for Cybersecurity Engineers
Knowing technical skills is not enough to succeed as a cybersecurity engineer — you’ll need to have good interpersonal skills. Here are a few of the most important “soft” skills you’ll need to thrive.
Every day you’ll need to communicate with other members of your organization, including people who may not know a lot about cybersecurity. Thus, you should be able to efficiently communicate information with other people, and know how to simplify your work so that other people can understand what you are talking about.
- Problem Solving.
Being a cybersecurity engineer is all about problem solving. You’ll need to be able to figure out how to protect against risks, secure existing infrastructure, and more. The whole point of being a cybersecurity engineer is to be one step ahead of prospective attackers.
- Attention to Detail.
Details matter in cybersecurity. Potential attackers are only looking for one problem in a system which could allow them to compromise the entire network. Cybersecurity engineers need to be comfortable with precision and focusing on every detail.
How to Become a Cybersecurity Engineer: Step-by-Step
In our full guide, you’ll be able to learn more about how to become a cybersecurity engineer. But here are a few of the main steps you should follow to enter this growing industry:
- Learn cybersecurity engineering through university, a bootcamp, or self-study
- Refine your technical skills
- Build a portfolio, or start a blog
- Craft a technical resume
- Start looking for a job!
Career Karma is here to help you through every step of your journey to becoming a cybersecurity engineer. We’ll assign you a mentor who can help guide you to success, and introduce you to a community of your peers who can help hold you accountable for your goals.
Finally, we’ll be here to help you get into one of the top cybersecurity training programs, so you can access the support you need to succeed in your career.
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