The field of cyber security here in Ireland and all across the world is a growing area of expertise. Escalating cyber-attacks, demand for safe and secure data, and other apprehensions mean that organisations need cyber security professionals to keep their eco-system and information safe. As well as cyber security being an in demand skill set, it’s a financially lucrative one as well. According to our most recent salary survey, hands on cyber security engineers report an average salary of €69,000. That’s nearly €8,000 more than the likes of a similar mid-range development role. But, many cyber security professionals aren’t doing it for the wage packet alone. It’s a role that comes with an incredible amount of responsibility and brings immense value to the business and the individual in situ.
The path to a successful InfoSec career is not paved with expensive degrees but with motivation, focus, planning, practice, and persistence. Those who take the time to hone down skills that businesses need, and who take the necessary professional development steps, will be rewarded with a career full of interesting challenges, projects basically tangible value adds. Let’s start with the term itself – Cyber Security is an umbrella term that encapsulates a number of elements of the discipline; digital forensics, malware/ software detecting, auditing, pentesting, social engineering and many other career tracks. My advice for anyone looking to start a career in security or for people who have already kicked their journey off is as follows. Don’t just focus and specialise in security. Some of the best candidates I have met have come from very varied well-rounded backgrounds. The thing that will make you good at security is that you are great at something else first. Become a master of the fundamentals of say data networks, be an expert at administering multiple operating systems or be proficient at multiple scripting languages (Python, Bash, etc.). Then when you transition into the world of cyber security, you will be better positioned to understand say why a particular hack occurred, or why data set was breached.
Also focus on your interests and then think about where you would like to be in 5, 10, 15 years. I have met some excellent infrastructure people that transitioned across from being an exchange administrator to email security, network administrator to network security, forensics, etc, system administrator to security administrator and a web developer that went in software security engineering. Gaining as much practical experience is absolutely critical I have been told. Even if you’re not in IT, you can accomplish a lot with self-directed learning and guided training. Back up your hard earned experience with technical qualifications. The Security+ certification is a good place to start. Having one will go a long way toward showcasing to potential employers that you can handle the job duties of a cybersecurity job. Another common certification for cyber security professionals is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification.
A career in security cyber promises to be very rewarding not just financially but also from a career advancement perspective. The potential of this emerging market has yet to be untapped, and now is the time to get onto the ladder.