Why choose a career in cyber security
Cyber security careers are among the fastest-growing and in-demand fields of IT. Whether you're looking at further education options, have recently graduated or are considering a change of career, jobs in cyber security offer the potential for high earnings and interesting and varied experiences.
So why should you consider cyber security for your next career move? Here are a few of the key benefits you can expect to see when working in this area.
An in-demand career option
One of the key benefits of having skills in cyber security is that you'll be in high demand from employers. There is a significant shortage of talent in this sector, which means firms are always having to compete for the best employees.
Research by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) conducted in 2022 found half of firms (680,000 businesses) have a basic technical skills gap, while one in three have an advanced skills gap. However, 37 per cent of all vacancies for cyber roles since Jan 2019 have been hard to fill. As a result, if you do have the knowledge and experience businesses are looking for, you'll be well-placed to advance your career in whatever direction you wish.
According to the government's figures, the most in-demand roles that have proven difficult to fill include:
- Generalist cyber security role (30 per cent)
- Senior management (22 per cent)
- Penetration testers (17 per cent)
- Security architects (15 per cent)
More senior positions are proving especially difficult to find talent for, with the numbers of hard-to-fill roles for management jobs rising by 14 percentage points from the previous year.
Great salary prospects
This need is reflected in the salary you can expect to earn. Because demand for cyber security professionals far outstrips the supply of talent, those with the right skills stand to be very highly-paid.
According to research by PayScale, the average salary for cyber security professionals in the UK stands at over £42,000. However, those in senior and specialist roles can earn significantly more than this, with chief information security officers, for example, earning an average of £90,000 - going up to £142,000 for the top jobs.
Even for entry-level roles, salaries of over £30,000 are commonplace, so those with the dedication and skills can set themselves up well for a long and rewarding career.
A range of opportunities for growth
Cyber security offers an engaging career path with a wide range of options for growth and specialisation. According to figures from DCMS, the most common job roles employers are looking for include the following:
- Security engineers (34 per cent of advertised roles)
- Security analysts (18 per cent)
- Security managers (14 per cent)
- Security architects (11 per cent)
- Security consultants (seven per cent)
However, this barely scratches the surface of what opportunities are available for those with skills in cyber security. One of the main benefits of these roles is that they offer a varied work environment where no two days are the same. As the cyber threats firms face are evolving all the time, there'll always be something new to learn and new challenges to tackle.
A high level of satisfaction
Cyber security roles have a real impact. The consequences of data breaches or other incidents can be huge, so being able to step in and shield people and organisations from these is hugely rewarding. As such, it's no surprise that cyber security professionals report some of the highest levels of job satisfaction of any IT role.
According to ESG & ISSA's The Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals 2021 report, 79 per cent of cybersecurity professionals agree that they are happy with their career choice, even though six out of ten agree it can be a taxing environment.
The report authors noted: "This commitment to the mission regardless of the challenges is what makes cybersecurity professionals special. Rather than business or technical professionals, cybersecurity professionals behave like dedicated public servants, with a focus tilting toward the greater good rather than personal accolades
Therefore, if you enjoy working in a high-pressure environment and have a penchant for puzzle-solving and lateral thinking, the chances are you'll find a career in cyber security a highly rewarding way to make a difference.
Where can I work as a cyber security specialist?
Cyber security professionals are in demand in companies of all sizes, and if you've got the right skills, you can work for some of the country's most innovative and cutting-edge firms. Government figures suggest that the most common sectors where firms are looking for cyber security professionals include:
- Consultancy (17.7 per cent of advertised roles)
- Finance and insurance (13.8 per cent)
- IT (13.6 per cent)
- Aerospace and defence (8.7 per cent)
- Communications (seven per cent)
- Public sector (four per cent)
- Retail (3.4 per cent)
You should also be able to find a position local to you. According to government figures, around a third of cyber security jobs are in London. However, there are opportunities available all over the UK, especially in larger cities.
After London, the locations with the largest number of cyber security job listings are Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol. While most roles will be office based, there's ample opportunity for flexible and remote working, while those working on a freelance or consultancy basis may be required to travel around the country, or even further afield.
Does a career in this area sound like the right path for you? Then check out our latest cyber security jobs listings and find out where your next position could take you.