So you want to work in… cyber security

Rebekah Valero-Lee Cyber Security


Within cyber security, there are many different roles covering a range of specialist disciplines. Therefore, when applying for a job in this field, it’s important to thoroughly read the job description to ensure the role suits your skill set and interests. Jobs in cyber security are, however, very much interlinked, meaning good teamwork and communication skills are essential.

So, what could you expect to do on a day-to-day basis as a cyber security professional? Many jobs will involve supporting the front line defence networks and implementing security measures to protect data from unauthorised access and violations. However, others can be focused around carrying out tests to expose security weaknesses or investigating cyber-crime.

Not only is it a multi-faceted specialism, but you could also find yourself working in numerous industries, including everything from finance to defence. If you think a career in cyber security sounds like something you’d be interested in, take a look at the information below to find out how to take your first steps.

What qualifications would I need?

You can begin your career in cyber security by learning on the job and working your way up, or by taking a relevant degree course at university. If you’re looking to take the university route, the following subjects will put you on the right track:

  • IT
  • Computer science
  • Cyber security
  • Networks and security
  • Network engineering
  • Forensic computing
  • Maths, physics and other STEM subjects

Alternatively, if you currently work in IT, you may be able to move across to cyber security. Working in sectors such as systems analysis, network engineering or database management could mean you already have many of the skills required to work in cyber security.

What skills would I need?

To have a successful career in cyber security, you’ll need to have a broad skill set that goes beyond your knowledge of computers. Here are a few of the essential qualities required to fulfil a cyber security role:

  • An extensive knowledge of IT security systems, procedures and tools
  • Excellent analytical abilities and a high attention to detail
  • Strong decision making and problem solving skills
  • A highly organised and methodical approach to working
  • Good teamwork and communication skills
  • The ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • An interest in IT which involves keeping up-to-date with the latest security threats and trends
  • Knowledge of security standards, confidentiality issues and relevant legislation

Want to know more? Here are the soft skills needed for a career in cyber security.

How much could I earn?

For a graduate, you can expect your starting salary to be between £20,000 – £25,000 per annum. However, even having a small amount of experience in this field can significantly hike up your wage. After just a year of working in cyber security you could be entitled to earn up to £35,000, and after five years you could see your salary rise to between £40,000 – £60,000. To get yourself into the higher pay bracket, you may want to think about taking professional qualifications and certifications during your career.

These figures are intended as a guideline only.

What would my working hours and conditions be like?

The majority of cyber security professionals are office based, although consultants or self-employed individuals may be required to travel to visit clients. Working hours tend to range from 35 – 40 hours per week, however you could be on a call-out rota to deal with cyber security emergencies outside of office hours.

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