Job Descriptions for Cybersecurity Analysts, Administrators, Architects, Engineers, Ethical Hackers and More

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Technology has come a long way in protecting sensitive data, but technology alone isn’t enough. Skilled cybersecurity teams make all the difference when it comes to separating organizations on top of their cybersecurity game from those vulnerable to intrusion.

A 2015 report from Cisco Systems on the state of the current job market for cybersecurity professionals revealed that globally, there were some 1 million job openings related to information systems security at the time the report was published. Symantec recently reported that the projected demand for cybersecurity experts would require a workforce of 9 million capable professionals by 2019. However, current projections suggest there could be a shortfall of 1.5 million.

According to Forbes, the annual investment in cybersecurity across the private sector is expected to surge from $75 billion a year in 2015 to upwards of $170 billion a year by 2020. As demand rises amid a shortage of qualified professionals, experienced cybersecurity experts are seeing more opportunities for upward mobility while those new to the field are being offered higher starting salaries as employers compete for top talent.

A 2014 ”State of Security” article (Tripwire’s award-winning blog) found a number of trends in the cybersecurity profession:

  • The career path for cybersecurity professionals extends from entry-level to executive-level.
  • Professionals in cybersecurity have a variety of career options and specializations available to them.
  • Careers in cybersecurity range across numerous industry sectors.

Cybersecurity Jobs: Where They Are, How to Land Them

According to a 2015 Burning Glass Technologies report, “Job Market Intelligence: Cybersecurity Jobs,” hiring has been particularly brisk in the retail, finance, and healthcare sectors.

The report also found that job postings for cybersecurity professionals have grown three times faster than postings for all other IT jobs. However, they also reported that companies take longer to fill cybersecurity positions than they do other IT jobs, likely because these positions are generally reserved for candidates with a higher level of education and specific industry certifications.

Nearly 84 percent of all cybersecurity jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree and 83 percent require at least 3 years of experience. One-third of all cybersecurity jobs require an industry certification.

Burning Glass Technologies predicts that the shortage of cybersecurity workers will persist until education and training catches up.

Graduate degrees in cybersecurity are common among professionals in the field, particularly for those interested in specializing in an area like cyber investigations, network security administration, and digital forensics.

Some of the other key trends in the cybersecurity job market as identified by Burning Glass Technologies include:

  • The professional services, manufacturing/defense, and finance industries have the highest demand for cybersecurity professionals.
  • The fastest growing industries for cybersecurity professionals are finance, healthcare, and retail trade. In the last five years, demand for cybersecurity professionals increased 137 percent in finance, 121 percent in healthcare, and 89 percent in retail trade.
  • The hardest-to-fill cybersecurity jobs require financial skills, such as accounting and knowledge of regulations, in addition to networking and IT security skills.
  • Job postings for cybersecurity professionals have grown 91 percent between 2010-2014.

Burning Glass Technologies also ranked states by their number of job postings for cybersecurity job between 2010 and 2014. Not surprising, California ranked first in the nation, followed by Virginia, Texas, and New York. However, the states with the largest increase in job postings during this time were:

  • Illinois: 163 percent
  • Ohio: 141 percent
  • Florida: 135 percent
  • North Carolina: 127 percent
  • Georgia: 121 percent

The Cybersecurity Professionals Every Employer is Looking For

While all cybersecurity professionals must possess a wide range of technical IT and advanced analysis skills, this career choice is not generic or one-dimensional, by any means.

Although there are hundreds of cybersecurity titles, the workforce encompasses seven, general job titles:

  • Engineer
  • Manager/Administrator
  • Analyst
  • Specialist/Technician
  • Architect
  • Auditor
  • Consultant

Nearly 26 percent of all job postings for cybersecurity jobs were for engineers, followed by 19 percent for managers/administrators, 18 percent for analysts, and 10 percent for specialists/technicians.

The following list highlights job descriptions for some of the more high-profile jobs in cybersecurity:

Information Assurance (IA) Engineer / Security Engineer

The information assurance (IA) engineer is one of the most sought after cybersecurity professionals, yet this is also one of the most widely misunderstood roles. This is mostly because it is as diverse as the cybersecurity field itself, and because IA/security engineers often go by a number of different titles:

  • Application security engineer
  • Cybersecurity engineer
  • Data security engineer
  • IA security engineer
  • IT security engineer
  • Web applications security engineer
  • Web security engineer

The cybersecurity engineer designs, develops, and deploys security-related systems and security in systems. Their focus is on ensuring the confidentiality of data, the integrity of data and the system, and the availability of data within the system.

Their responsibilities include designing hardware security appliances and security software, and they are often hired as consultants to design and implement secure systems for clients.

Learn more about a career as an information assurance engineer here.

Data Security Administrator / Information Security Manager

Data security administrators, often referred to as information security managers, IT security managers, and system security managers, implement and oversee security systems designed to protect and maintain the integrity of computer systems and data files.

This major cybersecurity role serves as a company’s first line in defense for monitoring suspicious activity and identifying breaches in security. Data security administrators perform risk assessment and audit activities and vulnerability and penetration tests while monitoring network traffic for suspicious activity. They also update software and configure security systems, including antivirus and firewall software.

Learn more about becoming a data security administrator/information security manager here.

Security Analyst / Cyber Intelligence Analyst

Security analysts, often referred to as cyber intelligence analysts, are responsible for analyzing the security measures of a company to determine their effectiveness, often finding flaws or vulnerabilities in systems and recommending changes to remedy them.

A major responsibility of security analysts is to develop reports that detail the efficiency and effectiveness of data/network security measures and include recommendations for changes. They also often organize and conduct training sessions for employees regarding company security.

Learn more about the steps necessary to become a security analyst here.

Security and Privacy Architect / Network Security Architect

Security and privacy architects, also referred to as network security architects, build and maintain the network infrastructure for an organization. These cybersecurity professionals are capable of understanding an organization’s IT needs and developing and testing security measures designed to protect those systems.

Security and privacy architects make it their mission to gain a deep understanding of a company’s system, identifying its vulnerable points and making recommendations for improving and updating security measures. They initiate user policies and protocols and then oversee them to ensure their enforcement.

Learn more about how to become a security and privacy architect here.

IT Auditor

Information technology (IT) auditors serve as internal auditors with expertise in IT. Their job involves examining a company’s IT systems to ensure that sufficient controls are in place to protect the security of data.

IT auditors work alongside company officers and executives, performing audits on the company’s information systems and ensuring controls conform with law, policies, and regulations. Once the audit is performed, IT auditors provide business executives with their recommendations and solutions to repair internal controls.

Learn more about the requirements to become an IT auditor here.

Network Security Consultant / Infrastructure Security Consultant

Network security consultants, also referred to as infrastructure security consultants, support the delivery of security measures related to a company’s infrastructure security. This may include the integration of network security tools, security architecture design, the and the development and implementation of security technologies.

Networking security consultants are tasked with building, installing, and maintaining network security measures for the clients they serve. They must be familiar with security frameworks, compliance requirements, and security planning and operations.

Learn more about the skills required to become a network security consultant here.

Ethical Computer Hacker / White Hat Hacker / Penetration Tester

Ethical computer hackers are computer/network experts who systemically attempt to penetrate a computer system or network for the purpose of finding vulnerabilities that could be exploited by a malicious hacker.

Ethical hacking is the proactive form of cybersecurity also known as penetration testing, intrusion testing, and red teaming.

Ethical computer hackers, also referred to as “white hat” hackers or penetration testers, use the same methods and techniques as malicious hackers to gain access to a system or network. However, unlike malicious hackers, ethical computer hackers document their activities and provide their clients with advice on how to fix network vulnerabilities and increase their overall security.

Learn more about the unique role ethical computer hackers play in the cybersecurity industry here.

IT Security Specialist / Infosec Technician

IT security specialists, also referred to as information security—or infosec—technicians, perform a wide array of network security and system administrative duties associated with antivirus software, spam filtering, and intrusion detection/prevention systems.

These entry- to mid-level cybersecurity professionals facilitate system access, operations, and maintenance and perform security assessments, including vulnerability assessments. Much of their work involves planning, building, configuring, installing, and supporting physical and virtual servers, network routes, and storage hardware.

Learn more about the path to becoming an IT security specialist here.

Computer Security Incident Response Specialist

Computer security incident response specialists are members of the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRST), an organization that receives reports of security breaches, conducts analyses of the reports, and responds to the incident. CSIRSTs are usually part of a parent organization such as a government, corporation, research network, or university.

Computer security incident response specialists work with the team, developing and maintaining the organization’s cyber incident response program. Duties often include program documentation, process maintenance and technology implementation. These cybersecurity professionals are able to effectively communicate event analysis, incident identification, and response updates to senior management, business partners, and technologists.

Learn more about a career as a computer security incident response specialist here.

Intrusion Detection Specialist / Cyber Intrusion Analyst

Intrusion detection specialists, also referred to as cyber intrusion analysts, detect breaches in network security by monitoring the network in real time. Intrusion detection specialists understand and interpret alerts generated by automated tools and use their judgment to decide whether or not the alert represents a security breach.

When intrusion detection specialists determine that a security breach has occurred, they launch an incident response team (CSIRST) to handle the situation. Their job also includes interacting with external stakeholders, including customers and third party sources, providing threat and vulnerability intelligence and advice.

Learn more about what it takes to become an intrusion detection specialist here.

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