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Cyber security engineers work to protect computer networks from cyber attacks and hackers. Artificial intelligence and sophisticated attacks loom heavy. As such, there’s a huge demand for cybersecurity professionals ready for anything.

Career prospects are looking good for cybersecurity engineering positions. Any company dealing in sensitive data will need information security professionals on hand. Whether that’s in the form of an in-house employee or as an outside consultant.

What’s more, government, healthcare, and private companies all report a shortage of security analysts. Meaning, there’s never been a better time to pursue this line of work.

Cybersecurity programs are a new addition to many institutions, and might not be available in all schools. IT and computer science degrees can serve as excellent starting points, as well.

What is Cybersecurity Engineering?

Cybersecurity engineers perform several functions such as architecting, developing and implementing network solutions that protect against cyber attacks. Engineers perform assessments, penetration tests, and security management on an ongoing basis.

Engineers might work at a single company. Or they might work on a consulting basis. In either case, their role is to help decision makers execute security measures and respond to breaches and attacks.

This person should have a strong mix of technical know-how and soft skills. Pros must be able to identify threats, come up with solutions. And, they must communicate those recommendations to people with little technical knowledge.

Job Outlook for Cybersecurity Engineers

Cybersecurity engineers can be hard for employers to find. The skills gap means that those with the technical know-how could have their choice of well-paid positions in a growing field.

According to the BLS, information security professionals earn a median salary of $95,000 on an annual basis, while the top 10% earn over $150,000. As cyber attacks and data breaches increase and we introduce AI and new technologies into the fold, demand is on the rise. The profession is on track to grow by 28% by the year 2026.

What Kind of Skills Do You Need to Become a Cybersecurity Engineer?

Cybersecurity engineers design, install, and watch computer security systems. Before heading down this career path, you should know what the job entails.

You’re a person who excels under pressure. You’re analytical and have a keen attention to detail. You also need to be able to communicate well. You’ll need to explain complex technical problems to people who have no idea how networks function.

You also need to have a strong interest in hardware, software, and networks, plus an interest in IT. If you decide to major in cybersecurity, expect to take classes in math, network engineering, computer science, and IT. As such, you should have some working knowledge of computing languages before you enroll.

Education for Aspiring Cyber Security Engineers

Your first step should be earning a bachelor’s degree. Cyber security analysts need a four-year degree before finding work in the field, as well as an in-depth knowledge of IT concepts.

While the tech industry is often friendly to dropouts, earning your BS is the best place to start. The reason is, learning in a traditional environment is more effective than teaching yourself cybersecurity best practices on the job. Additionally, a degree, can broaden your job prospects and boost earning potential.

Four-year programs will typically include courses like digital forensics, computer forensics, database design, and network security. You’ll also learn the ins and outs of various programming languages and more about network and database management. Explore potential degree options by clicking here.

While you don’t necessarily need to earn a master’s degree in cyber security to become an engineer, an advanced degree is an asset.

Graduate degree holders will have a leg up in securing well-paying jobs and increased access to leadership roles. Additionally, earning a master’s might be a good choice for IT professionals who have been working in the field for a few years.

Not only will an advanced degree boost earning potential, it also will help you stay updated on the latest innovations and best practices.

Getting Your First Job

Prospective computer security engineers can start their career in a support role, perhaps working in systems administration. Typically, students with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity can find work right away. Banks, government agencies, colleges, network providers, and consultancy firms are good places to start your job search.

Some potential entry-level roles:

  • Systems administrator
  • IT tech
  • Network administrator
  • Web developer
  • Database administrator

Mid-level roles:

  • Consultant
  • Penetration tester
  • Analyst

Advanced roles:

  • Cybersecurity manager
  • Cybersecurity engineer
  • Cybersecurity architect

Certifications

In most cases, employers prefer employees to have a bachelor’s degree. Information technology, programming, networking, or information systems, or similar are all good options.

On top of earning a degree, you may also want to look into certifications. Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, and others offer a broad range of certifications that can help you level up in your career. Earning these credentials typically requires studying and sitting for an exam. But, that hard work lead to higher wages and can keep you up-to-date on the latest technology best practices.

Because cybersecurity is a new field, working professionals may want to consider certification. It’s a great way to keep pace with changing technology. This is a good option for those working in IT, computer science, or security, but earned their bachelor’s degree several years ago.

Next Steps

If you’re thinking about becoming a cyber security engineer, now is the perfect time to make those moves. Whether you’re looking for a rewarding career change or considering majors, we can help you find the right program.

Learn more about working in cyber security by reading our career blog.