Cybersecurity is a burgeoning industry at the moment. Organizations large and small need technology professionals who can secure tech stacks against internal and external threats. But what skills do you need to succeed in a cybersecurity role?
Possessing the right mix of skills (and landing the job) can translate into significant compensation. According to Lightcast, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, the median salary for a cybersecurity professional is $96,257 per year, and that number can obviously climb with experience and specialized skills.
Lightcast also predicts that cybersecurity positions will grow 23.1 percent over the next 10 years. The current time necessary to fill a position is 44 days, suggesting a high level of demand. Despite employers’ hunger, however, you’ll still need to demonstrate you have what it takes to do the job.
Necessary Cybersecurity Skills
Lightcast lists to following as “necessary skills” for a cybersecurity position—i.e., numerous employers want candidates skilled in at least some of the following:
- Information Systems
- Project Management
- Customer Service
- Software Development
- Software Engineering
In order to effectively defend systems, you have to understand how they work, hence the need for software development and engineering knowledge. Mastering some of the key tenets of cybersecurity, including authentication and cryptography, is likewise a prerequisite for the job.
Python has become a ubiquitous language in recent years, useful in a variety of contexts beyond cybersecurity. Cybersecurity experts also recommend familiarity with Golang and Java, as well as Linux.
Defining Cybersecurity Skills
Next come the “defining skills,” which Lightcast defines as the day-to-day skills that cybersecurity experts need to fulfill their tasks to the best of their ability:
- Network security
- NIST cybersecurity framework
- Security operations
- Intrusion detection
- Penetration testing
- Vulnerability assessment
Again, these make total sense: knowing how to execute the core tasks of the job (such as penetration testing and the principles of network security) is vital. Knowledge of “offensive” and “defensive” cyber-skills will open a wide range of opportunities.
Distinguishing Cybersecurity Skills
Next come Lightcast’s “distinguishing skills,” which are defined as the advanced skills that cybersecurity experts can use to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. As you’ll note, many of these skills constitute top-level analysis; use these to deliver accurate, understandable threat assessments to others in the organization—along with a plan for handling any vulnerabilities:
- Threat analysis
- Information assurance
- Threat modeling
- Cybersecurity knowledge
- Vulnerability analysis
- ISO 27001
- Cybersecurity assessment
- Threat intelligence and analysis
- Data security
- Data loss prevention
Proving You Have the Skills
Given the current hunger for cybersecurity talent, companies won’t necessarily demand that all job candidates possess formal training and degrees—but anyone applying for a cybersecurity role will need to prove they have the skills and experience necessary to actually do the job. Expect to face rounds of technical interviews, especially if you’re applying for a senior-level position.
Many cybersecurity experts also pursue certifications in order to show they have the right skills to successfully protect systems. According to Lightcast, here are the certifications that pop up most often in cybersecurity-related job postings:
- Security Clearance
- CompTIA Security+
- Information Systems Certification
Also keep in mind that many cybersecurity-related jobs outright require certain certifications such as CISSP, although you may be able to convince a recruiter or hiring manager that your experience effectively substitutes for a cert.
Related Cyber Security Jobs Resources: