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In 2017, almost 179 million records were exposed in the United States because of cyber breaches. To say cybersecurity is a massively developing industry is to put things mildly.

Interestingly, many businesses are looking to hire cybersecurity consultants instead of full-time employees for a myriad of reasons.

So, if you’re looking for a career that is in extremely high demand, rewarding, and challenging, a cybersecurity consultant position may be an excellent option for you.

Here is a simple guide to the basics of what is expected of a cybersecurity consultant and what they do.

Career Spotlight: Cyber Security Consultant

As mentioned, the demand for cybersecurity consultants is booming thanks to continual advances in the efforts and successes of online hackers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for consultants is up to $90,120 per year. However, your pay rate as a consultant will vary depending on your qualifications.

As a consultant, you are also responsible for managing and covering your own expenses and benefits. However, in addition to your base salary, you may also benefit from profit sharing, bonuses, overtime pay, commissions, or other forms of cash earnings.

The Job Description

While the job title gives some indication of what is expected, there are many valuable skills that a cyber security consultant must possess that may not initially occur to some.

Here’s an example of a potential job description you may find for such an individual:

-Upgrade security systems when needed

-Testing of security software

-Ability to identify potential areas of vulnerability to breach

-Plan, research, and implement security strategies for any new project

-Deliver reports on security tests and formal papers on your findings

-Determine the best way to protect company data, computers, software, information systems, etc. against online hackers or attacks

-Discuss with department heads potential security issues

This list is far from comprehensive as every company you may consult with will have varying needs. This list provides a general idea of what role a cybersecurity consultant takes in a company and the basic expectations you may find anywhere you work.

Qualifications for Consulting

Educational Background

You may be able to get hired as a cybersecurity consultant with an associate’s degree, but as the market for such professionals grows, so does the competition for high paying cybersecurity jobs.

Having a bachelor’s degree, or better yet, a master’s degree, in a related field will be much more likely to produce a yearly salary like that reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Such degrees are likely something similar to engineering, computer science, or information systems. You may take the route of earning a cybersecurity certificate and make it a master’s degree.

Work Experience and Climate Awareness

To stand out among your competition for a consulting job, three to five years experience is a great start. The more years of experience you have, the more confident businesses will be that you have valuable insights and actual successes at defending data under your belt.

If you’re newer to the cyber security industry, but still want a great way to shine compared to other consulting candidates, we suggest becoming updated on as many new developments as you can.

What are the very latest in security strategies? What are the most recent development hackers are using to get online data?

Do your research and find out. In some cases, current know-how and awareness of the cutting edge trends can trump experience. To stay current, subscribe to and read technology blogs, magazines, or brush up on the big technology websites.

Special Skills

When the time for submitting your resume approaches, these special skills will be valuable to add to your list. Keep in mind that this list provides a general idea of what potential employers may be looking for.

Each security project and each business you take on will require it’s own unique combination of skills. Just a few may include:

-Basic principles of ethical hacking: You need to know how to code and how to model potential threats and their configurations.

-Proficiency at encryption: You must be able to receive and send data online in a manner that is impervious to hacker’s attacks.

-Fluency in programming languages: Know how to code or write to store and process raw data. You’ll be more competitive the more languages you are familiar with.

-Familiarity with various operating systems: Do you know UNIX, Windows, Linus? If not, get to know them… Find out what other systems are up and coming as well or available to the general public and make yourself at least somewhat familiar with how they work.

-Penetration Modeling and Testing: It is also useful to have the ability to measure the vulnerability of a company or business’ software to be able to make them aware of potentially “hackable” areas.

-Current knowledge of persistent threat management: Know all you can about phishing. Make sure you’re also experienced in defense against social engineering breaches and network access control.

-Firewall management: As this is one of the most common methods for preventing an attack, you best be able to list management of firewalls as a special skill on your resume.

Other Valuable Skills

These “other skills” are far more than “fluff” to add to your resume. As a cybersecurity consultant, you will do a lot more than test software for vulnerability and manage firewalls.

Some vital skills this career demands of those involved include excellent negotiation skills. Leadership is essential as you are often responsible for educating an entire staff or getting them on board with new security measures.

The ability to communicate effectively and clearly is also a must-have for consultants. What good is security software or strategies if no one understands how to use them properly?

Sometimes speaking with IT departments or clients may require a good deal of patience and tact.

Consultants have to be excellent problem solvers, perceptive analysts, and creative engineers.

To put it simply, you have to be a superstar.

Where to Start

Now that you have an idea of what a cybersecurity consultant does, earns, and what they must bring to the table, start your career pursuit today.

Check out our collection of online bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs and advance your career from home.