So, you want to work in Cybersecurity?
By Tech. Sgt. Jared Whalen, 436th Communications Squadron
/ Published October 16, 2018
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- I know that most of us have heard or seen the ads on the radio, TV and internet. Cybersecurity is an in-demand and ever-growing career field. Cyber threats increase every day, and companies need people to protect their information.
It pays well too. "Cybersecurity professionals report an average [annual] salary of $116,000, or approximately $55.77 per hour. That's nearly three times the national median income for full-time wage and salary workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” wrote Kenneth Corbin in an article published in CIO magazine, an online technology news source.
All kinds of companies need cybersecurity. Of course, those of us who work around the military know that government and Department of Defense agencies require it. Financial companies need it to prevent theft, and medical companies need it to protect patient records. Then, to top it off, any company that does business online needs it. That covers just about everyone else these days.
"But I'm not really into tech yet," you may say. That's fine. You can start with the basics just like any other career field. You could start with a basic certification such as CompTIA Security+, which gives a broad overview of Information Technology fundamentals, and even this certificate alone grants an average starting salary around $59,000 annually. You could also start off with a degree at most local colleges and universities. Most local colleges offer a degree that covers IT fundamentals, and many of us can use our tuition assistance to pay for it. Use your benefits.
After you have the basics covered, you can then branch out into a more specialized area that suites you. Do you work with security forces? Then, maybe you have the "finding the bad guy" part down already and could go into computer forensics with a GIAC Network Forensic Analyst (GNFA) certification. Do you want to become a hacker? You could earn a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) license to become a penetration tester. Are you more of a manager? You could shoot for a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. Average salary is well over six digits for any of those three certifications, and that's just scratching the surface.
By the way, those of us in the military can use Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (AFCOOL) to pay for most of these. Once again, use your benefits, people!
When you consider the ever-increasing dependence companies have on computer systems and the ever-increasing threats they face, the demand will only continue to grow. Now is the perfect time to jump in and set yourself up for a great and high-paying career.