Cyber Security: a stable, secure career path

As our society grows ever-digitized, we place our private information at further risk of prying, criminal hands.

Currently, active internet users comprise 88% of Australia’s population – individuals who rely on the cloud, social media, and other communication platforms to foster their social connections, secure their finances, and carry out their business transactions.

These activities often involve various personal data; be it full names, location, e-mail addresses, or all three and more. When left unprotected, such credentials left vulnerable to the rising crimes of digital fraud and identity theft.

It’s therefore no surprise that Australia (and the global market) face a rising skills demand for those in cyber security. On top of its boundless job prospects, the digital nature of the profession enables its experts to work from virtually anywhere – making it a stable, secure career path.

Below, we explore current trends and opportunities of the cyber security industry, and the varying roles you can pursue.

The industry outlook of cyber security

With cybercrimes on an unending rise (recent Australian data shows that incidents are reported every 10 minutes), professionals in IT security are of high demand – both locally and globally.

Considered a “job sector of the future”, revenues in Australia’s cyber security field are expected to soar from $2 billion in 2016 to $6 billion in 2026. Globally, the market is projected to be worth nearly $170 billion USD by the end of this year.

Though a growing profession – and a much needed one, at that – the field faces a critical shortage of qualified professionals. As the hacker community continues to expand, on top of evolving regulations surrounding data security; our local IT industry will require such experts more than ever.

In fact, the country is currently short of about 2,300 cyber security professionals, with AustCyber predicting the need for at least 11,000 additional workers over the coming decade. On a global scale, this shortage expected to reach 3.5 million by the end of 2021.

Those interested in the field will thus find plenty of career opportunity; and due to the high demand yet low supply of this unique skillset, companies are likely willing to offer attractive salaries for the best talents on the market.

As of now, cyber security specialists earn an average of $99,000 AUD annually (according to Payscale), with opportunities for higher pay as experience increases. Employment can also be found across most regions of Australia.

Additionally, with the increasing need for cyber security experts, the Australian federal government has funded the sector with up to $8.5 million – aiming to create more jobs in the field, on top of inspiring further innovative advancements.

As a field currently teeming with opportunity, there’s therefore no better time than now to enter the cyber security industry.

As stated by Alec Ross, the author of “The Industries of the Future” and former advisor to the US Secretary of State: “If a college student asked me what career would most assure 50 years of steady, well-paying employment, I would say cyber security. The growth is steep, the need will be sustained, and this need currently comes up against a major talent shortage.”

Your career prospects in cyber security

Now that you’re aware of the rising demand in cyber security – what specialties are available?

The profession is typically never a one-person job, with companies investing in security teams of two, three, or more individuals (depending on their business size). These groups are comprised of more focused roles, each doing their part to improve one’s security systems and processes. Such positions include:

Cyber Security analyst

Also known as “information security analysts”, cyber security analysts are responsible for improving a business’ security systems. They regularly conduct assessments of a company’s IT environment, testing and troubleshooting existing systems (and any added upgrades) to ensure healthy performance of a company’s overall security infrastructure. They frequently keep up-to-date on the latest security trends and strategies, and recommend employers any network enhancements or improvements as necessary.

Potential salaries for cyber security analysts in Australia range from $55,000 per annum (among the lowest-earning 10%) – to $109,000 per annum (among the highest-earning 10%). On average, these professionals earn $77,077 annually, with a steady increase in pay as experience grows.

Ethical hacker/penetration tester

Ethical hackers include the role of “penetration testers”, and are tasked with the challenge of finding any existing vulnerabilities in a business’ network systems. These professionals work with the same tools and techniques of “black hat” or malicious hackers, pinpointing a company’ security weaknesses before criminals discover them first.

Though they perform similar functions, penetration testing is a specialty under “ethical hacking” – and is focused on assessing the security of a specific area in a company’s network.

Ethical hackers earn an average of $100,000 per annum in Australia, with penetration testers earning an average of $91,021.

Security engineer

Security engineers are responsible for the regular assessment of a company’s security measures, developing new solutions to improve them. They work similarly to cyber security analysts – keeping track of any existent or potential security issues – though produce new methods and strategies of solving (or mitigating) these problems. Thus, they possess an advanced knowledge of security tools and protocols, along with intrusion detection and incident-response methods.

Those in this role require excellent communication skills, on top of strong problem-solving abilities and a thorough knowledge of common computer languages and operating systems.

Security engineers in Australia earn between $56,000 per annum (among the lowest-earning 10%) and $143,000 per annum (among the higher-earning 10%), with the average salary at $94,069 per annum.

Security auditor

Security auditors ensure a company’s cyber security measures are compliant, efficient, and effective through in-depth analyses of their technological functions. This data is then gathered to create an objective report of their existing security controls, with recommendations to improve their systems. Their role is designed to only increase the overall protection of a company’s data – but to enhance their risk management and compliance procedures.

Security auditors in Australia earn between $58,000 per annum (among the lowest-earning 10%) and $141,000 per annum (among the highest-earning 10%), with an average salary of $87,429 per annum.

This is, of course, an overview of the most common roles found in cyber security – as the field has plenty other specialisations to consider, including data loss prevention, architecture and policy, and secure DevOps. What you ultimately choose to pursue will depend on your skillset and specific interests.

Looking to launch a career in cyber security?

Those looking to pursue a rewarding, stable career path in IT can look no further than cyber security. As technology continues to advance, and its criminal landscape grows ever-sophisticated, the need for security skills will remain a necessity – securing your employment for years to come.

Aspiring professionals can get their start in the cyber security field through the foundational training provided by The Australian Institute of ICT’s (AIICT) Certified Cyber Security Professional course. Students can equip themselves with technical skills in incident response, penetration testing, network security, disaster recovery, and more – with a focus on building the soft skills they need to find employment.

Individuals complete this program with three certifications under CompTIA (A+, Security+, and Network+), a global leading provider in vendor-neutral IT certifications.

Start your career path in one of the largest IT industries today, and enquire with us on a course.