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How to Become a Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity engineer works on computer.

The use of data, devices, the internet, computer systems and networks has become an integral part of modern-day business. Today, businesses, government institutions, and medical facilities collect, analyze, and use customer data for many purposes. While this can provide benefits to an organization, the ability for individuals to gain unauthorized access to networks and data creates a need for technological protection.

In recent years, businesses have reported an increasing number of cyberattacks conducted by hackers and cybercriminals. As a result, companies are doing everything they can to protect their networks and data and demand for experts in cybersecurity engineering is growing.

What a Cybersecurity Engineer Does

Cybersecurity engineers are responsible for creating a company’s security strategies and policies, which they implement by designing security systems to protect data. These professionals are also responsible for running tests and troubleshooting issues. They regularly communicate with other professionals in a cybersecurity department, including analysts, architects, and managers to address any potential threats or develop the most efficient strategies for protecting an organization’s data.

While all cybersecurity roles aim to monitor security issues and threats, cybersecurity engineers work to develop plans and design systems that protect against attacks. They typically work on projects containing sensitive information or important data, so they must check security levels and write reports regarding issues or vulnerabilities in the system. From there, they can develop more effective scripts and software.

The job outlook for cybersecurity engineers is promising. Focal Point writes that according to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), cybersecurity engineer is the most in-demand cybersecurity job in 2020. Even though many careers are negatively impacted by COVID-19, cybersecurity engineers are integral to many small and large businesses, especially as more teams move to remote work.

Education and Training

Students and professionals interested in becoming a cybersecurity engineer should have a foundation in cybersecurity principles and a solid understanding of mathematics and computer science. They can begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in information technology security, computer engineering, computer science, or a related field. After earning a bachelor’s degree and gaining experience, professional cybersecurity engineers can pursue a master’s degree to gain advanced technological and leadership skills required for engineering positions.

Many professionals also choose to earn certifications through the Computing Technology Industry Association or the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium. Certification is not usually required for this position, but can distinguish potential cybersecurity engineers from other candidates.

Another important aspect of cybersecurity is staying up to date on current trends, threats, viruses, and challenges in technology. According to Cybint, cyberattacks occur every 39 seconds, and cybercrime cost over $1 trillion across the world in 2018. To remain experts in the field, understand hackers’ techniques, and prevent cybercrimes, cybersecurity engineers can attend monthly or annual seminars, trainings, or conferences with other professionals in the field. They can also join organizations such as the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) to stay current on strategies and policies.

Skills and Experience

In addition to earning their degrees, aspiring cybersecurity professionals must develop practical skills, such as how to create and manage security plans. They should also have skills to manage information technology equipment and network operations, identify threats and viruses, and troubleshoot security issues. The unique design of security systems requires that cybersecurity engineers have excellent analytical and technical skills, such as software development and scripting.

Aside from skills specific to cybersecurity engineering, professionals should also develop strong communication skills in order to communicate with other cybersecurity experts and managers. As more companies move to remote work, cybersecurity engineers must be able to communicate effectively with dispersed team members, providing support through a variety of online platforms. Gaining hands-on experience in the field is also important, as it will allow them to have vitally important practical skills.

Pursue a Career in Cybersecurity Engineering

Those looking to pursue a career as a cybersecurity engineer can earn a master’s degree from the Tulane University School of Professional Advancement’s Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management. Courses such as Databases, Data Analysis, and Cybersecurity and Information Security help students develop an understanding of how data structures work and how to protect an organization’s information. Pursuing an advanced degree in the field gives professionals a competitive edge in this rapidly growing industry and prepares students for careers as cybersecurity leaders. Learn more about Tulane University’s Online MPS in Cybersecurity Management program.

Recommended Readings
Cybersecurity Skills Gap: Key Needs for Tomorrow’s Workforce
NIST Cybersecurity Framework: 5 Essential Phases for Optimal Security
Three Major Benefits of a Career in IT

Sources:
CSO, “Survey: With All Eyes on Security, Talent Shortage Sends Salaries Sky High”
Cybersecurity Insiders, “A Brief History of Cybersecurity”
Cybint, “15 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats”
Focal Point, “The 5 Most In-Demand Cybersecurity Jobs for 2020”
Glassdoor, “Cyber Security Engineer Salaries”
InfoSecurity, “The Long-Term Impact of #COVID19 on the Cybersecurity Industry”  
National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), Cybersecurity Workforce Framework
Norton, “What Is Cyber Security? What You Need to Know”
PayScale, Average Cyber Security Engineer Salary

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