Introduction – Career Path to Cybersecurity Engineer

For many in the cybersecurity field and those considering cybersecurity as a career focus, the most coveted position is that of cybersecurity engineer. Cybersecurity engineers are responsible for implementing and maintaining information security systems within an IT network.

But for many, the question remains: what does the career path of a cybersecurity engineer look like? The best way to determine this is to use a career pathway tool, and the CyberSeek Career Pathway Tool is tailor-made for this task.

This article will delve into the career path of a cybersecurity engineer, using information available on the CyberSeek Career Pathway tool (available here). By the time you’re finished reading this article, you will have a much better idea of the job progression, education, certification and other requirements of this role.

CyberSeek Career Pathway tool overview

CyberSeek’s Career Pathway tool is useful for helping both job seekers and students plot out their intended study and career paths. For relevancy’s sake, this article will focus on job seekers.

Presented to you via an interactive user interface, CyberSeek helps job seekers map out the path to their chosen cybersecurity role. This pathway tool assigns roles to one of four categories: feeder role, entry-level, mid-level and advanced-level. Simply scroll over any of the roles displayed and you will see the roles in the previous category that lead to your target role, as well as the roles in the next category that your target role can lead to. A useful feature of this interface is that you can even see lateral moves available to you that will lead you to other jobs within your current role category.

Cybersecurity engineer

The role of cybersecurity engineer is one of the three core advanced-level cybersecurity roles presented in the CyberSeek cybersecurity positions. In the real world, this translates into a high-level cybersecurity role that includes a varied skill set responsible for implementing and maintaining information security systems.

Average salary

According to CyberSeek, the average salary you can expect is $108,000. It is important to understand that this figure is based on a national average and the amount that you will receive at your particular organization is based upon different factors — including your experience level and the organization’s budget.

Common role titles

Like many different cybersecurity roles, there are different titles that organizations may use when referring to this role. Commonly role titles include security engineer, network security engineer and information security engineer. Despite the role title used, you will have essentially the same responsibilities; these will only differ if the organization’s specific business needs require so.

Education

You will need an education to earn this role. However there is no consensus as to how much is required. The most in-demand level of education for the cybersecurity engineer role is the bachelor’s degree, with 67% of employers using it as a prerequisite to employment. The second most popular education level is a graduate degree, with 23% of employers requesting it. A sub-bachelor’s degree, such as an associate degree, is demanded by 11% of employers. Of course, having a higher education level than what is demanded will not necessarily hurt you, but you may find yourself with the high-class problem of being overqualified.

Top certifications

When you comb through cybersecurity engineer job openings, you will notice that certifications are often required for this role. However not all employers require the same certifications. This may be because of simple oversight by the hiring manager who posted the job, or it may be because some certifications may not apply to the specific organization. CyberSeek has done the legwork for you and determined the most demanded information security certifications for this role. These certifications are:

  • CISSP
  • GIAC
  • CISM
  • CISA
  • Security+

Top skills

For many, cybersecurity engineer is their dream cybersecurity role. To reach this role, you will need to have amassed an impressive information security skill set. According to CyberSeek, the top skills demanded are:

  • Information security
  • Network security
  • Linux
  • Information systems
  • Python
  • Cryptography
  • Cisco
  • Project management
  • Authentication

Total job openings

According to CyberSeek, there are 40,988 total job openings for the role of cybersecurity engineer and related role titles. This figure is based on the number of related roles posted in online job listings and is a general projection, as this number was based on jobs posted from September 2017 through August 2018.

NICE cybersecurity workforce categories

The cybersecurity field has an ever-changing job landscape. To help those in the industry and those looking to enter it, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) has created a framework of jobs that neatly organizes them based on attributes, including job duties and technical competencies.

There are seven main categories of jobs and cybersecurity engineer straddles three different categories. These categories are:

  • Securely Provision: Conceptualizes, designs, procures and/or builds secure information technology systems, with responsibility for aspects of system and/or network development
  • Operate and Maintain: Provides administration, support and maintenance needed to ensure effective and efficient information technology security and system performance
  • Protect and Defend: Identifies, analyzes and mitigates threats to internal information technology systems and networks

For further information on these category headings, click here.

Getting to cybersecurity engineer and where to go from there

Since the cybersecurity engineer role is categorized as advanced-level, you will need to have reached a mid-level position to be considered for this role. The good thing is that, according to CyberSeek, every job categorized as mid-level leads to cybersecurity engineer.

Once you are a cybersecurity engineer, you still have career options ahead of you. In the event that you want to move on to another role from here, cybersecurity engineer gives you a direct route to the other two jobs in this category — cybersecurity architect and cybersecurity manager/administrator.

Conclusion

When you are going somewhere, having a map definitely helps. When your destination is a job in cybersecurity, you have a useful map at your fingertips in CyberSeek Cybersecurity Career Pathway. This career pathway tool has the itinerary mapped out for you, including projected job numbers and the earning power of jobs like cybersecurity engineer.

Whether you’re entering the cybersecurity field or you are a seasoned professional with one more step to take before you are qualified for this role, you can find your way here.

 

Sources

  1. National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework, NICE
  2. Cybersecurity Career Pathway, CyberSeek