These days we’re doing more and more stuff online—shopping, banking, posting on social media. You name it: we’re probably doing it on the internet. With all that activity, a ton of our personal data is floating around out there. That’s why cybersecurity is a huge industry, trying to keep hackers from stealing our info and messing with our accounts.
But what exactly does cybersecurity mean, and what jobs are out there if you want to get into the field?
What Is Cybersecurity?
Basically, cybersecurity is all about keeping our internet-connected stuff, like computers, phones, and networks, safe from people who shouldn’t have access or want to use it with malicious intent.
So, “cyber” is all about the technology we use, i.e. anything online or digital. And “security” is about keeping all those things safe from the bad guys, like hackers and malware.
Cybersecurity professionals are like internet bouncers—they keep shady hackers and digital thugs from sneaking into places they don’t belong online. They try to stop hackers exploiting your computers, for instance. These protectors watch out for sketchy activity, shield against attacks, spot defense weaknesses, and devise ways to stop future hacking.
This includes installing firewalls, managing access controls, encrypting data, developing security policies, backing up systems, and educating users on risks. It’s all about putting up barriers and safeguards in the virtual world.
What Jobs Can You Get in Cybersecurity?
So you may be wondering, can I score an entry-level cybersecurity gig without a ton of experience under my belt? Yes, you can make it happen!
While some cyber jobs call for specific certifications or advanced know-how, many employers are stoked to find folks with core skills and certified training and are hungry to keep learning.
When hiring, companies keep their eyes peeled for anyone with awesome problem-solving chops, great communication skills, and are pumped to take on new challenges. Relevant experience, even just tinkering with networks or building a PC, is a bonus too. Deep knowledge can be built over time once you’re in the role.
Here are some examples of entry-level cybersecurity jobs and their average salaries, according to PayScale:
- Cybersecurity Analyst: You’ll monitor systems for unusual activity, perform vulnerability assessments, and investigate security events. Median salary: $80,000
- Associate Security Engineer: You’ll assist senior engineers in tasks like system audits, security solution testing, and technical documentation. Median salary: $70,496
- Junior Penetration Tester: Working with more experienced testers, you’ll help identify application, network, and system weaknesses. Median salary: $70,000
- IT Security Specialist: You get to flex your troubleshooting muscles to address any problems with cybersecurity applications. It’s about being a friendly helper who can diagnose what’s wrong and fix it while also assisting employees with any questions. Median salary: $74,580
- Data Security Analyst: Responsibilities include assisting with encryption, access controls, database security, and protecting sensitive organizational data. Median salary: $70,518
Of course, a cybersecurity or computer science degree is also a valid path. But hands-on capabilities make you stand out if you’re changing careers.
Bottom line: if you put in the effort to build expertise, you can break into the cybersecurity industry.
Cybersecurity Offers a Desired Career Path
You can launch a career in the perpetually growing cybersecurity industry with diligent preparation and persistence. The field needs security-minded professionals to take on the hackers trying to wreak havoc.
So cybersecurity could be an excellent path if you’re up for an exciting, in-demand career protecting the virtual world.