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Cyber-security Jobs That Need Women: 5 Career Pathways

Cybersecurity is a lucrative field. With average salaries approaching or exceeding three figures, and with technology continually evolving, it’s the perfect time to get into the field. Women may be sorely underrepresented, but this article aims to help change that. Prove you have the skills, such as the ability to code, and gender won’t be an obstacle. Let’s look at a few careers that range the cybersec spectrum and what it takes to get the job.

Breaking Into the Field

Before we look at the jobs, however, there’s a few basics that apply to most cybersecurity jobs. First, ask yourself if you have the necessary soft skills. Do you like solving problems that often require multitasking? Do you stay ahead of the learning curve, brushing up on skills and gaining new ones? Do you pay attention to details, especially in complex situations? If so, you have a good foundation for cybersecurity.

It takes more than just telling a company they need McAffee, a secure password-sharing tool, and a secure Wi-Fi router, however. Chances are, you will need at least an associate’s degree — preferably a bachelor’s degree — and certifications related to your specific job. Solid knowledge of coding will also be helpful.

Source Code Auditor

While a bit of a menial job, going line by line through source code to find vulnerabilities, the average salary of a source code auditor was more than $67,000 in 2016. You will need good communication skills as well to deliver results to both legal departments and development teams. You will also work with dev teams to prevent any vulnerabilities before they can be coded in. Patience and the ability to question every coding decision are a must to ferret out problems.

You will need a bachelor’s in cybersecurity, computer science, or a related field. Typically, work experience is valued over a master’s degree. You’ll need to know the coding language the company uses, be it C, C++, Java, Perl, Python, or other languages. While no certifications are strictly needed, they will help boost technical knowledge. Penetration testing experience can also be helpful as well.

Penetration Tester

Speaking of pen testing, let’s talk white hat hacking. Also called “ethical hacking,” penetration testing is essentially trying to hack into a company’s computer system. Then, you write a report on how well the security held up, where vulnerabilities are, and what the company can do about it. If you are an on-site pen tester, you might be part of or helping the IT department fix the problems. The median salary for a pen tester is about $80,000.

You will need to know how to code in order to create your own penetration tools, or modify existing tools, in order to simulate real hacks against the company. A degree isn’t necessary, as skills matter more, though a degree in cybersecurity will keep you competitive against other prospects. Knowledge of systems analysis, forensics, reverse engineering, and cryptography principles are needed. While not required, CEH, CPT/CEPT, OSCP, and GPEN certificates will also help you stand out.

Security Engineer/Analyst

There’s often a fair amount of crossover between security engineers and analysts, and while the jobs are separate, it’s not uncommon to see a job listing that combines the two. Like pen testers, security analysts aim to break open code, while engineers seek to fix the vulnerability.

Analysts, unsurprisingly, analyze code and monitor security access. They perform audits, similar to pen testers, and investigate security intrusions. They can recommend courses of action to shore up security, but do not actually implement the recommendations.

That’s where security engineers come in. Managing and configuring firewalls, figuring out how to prevent hackers from getting into the company’s system, creating automated scripts that can handle and track security incidents, and testing security solutions are all part of the job description. It can be a think-outside-the-box job, staying one step ahead of the hackers, but also requires responding to security incidents after the fact.

As mentioned, these two jobs are often combined, where you will need to analyze and implement a solution to a problem.

Analysts, as of 2016, had an average salary of about $71,000. Engineers have a median salary of about $88,000. While a bachelor’s degree can help, like many of the other jobs on this list, experience is best. There’s no certifications that are required, but for analysts, ethical hacking certifications can help. Check job descriptions to see what a company wants. With that said, a CISSP or GIAC certification (especially Security Essentials, Incident Handler, or Intrusion Analyst) will put you a cut above the competition.

Cryptographer

If you are more into the coding side, but want to do more than just pore over code looking for problems, you might be perfect for a cryptographer position. It will be your job to create the algorithms and ciphers, along with the entire security systems, that encrypt a company’s sensitive data. This could be anything from financial information to client data. The average salary is about $69,000.

A bachelor’s degree in either mathematics or computer science — or a double degree with both — is recommended for this career path. A computer engineering degree or a degree in a related discipline is also common. A master’s degree is strongly recommended, especially if you only have a single bachelor’s. Experience with computers is required.

You will need strong math skills, such as in discrete mathematics, linear and/or matrix algebra, and an understanding of complexity, information, and number theories. On top of this, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of programming languages, encryption, digital signatures, and key exchange. There is only one certification for cryptographers, the CES.

Cybersecurity careers can be a deep dive into code, making the code, or trying to break the code. But they tend to be fairly lucrative, and with the right skill set, you can get a highly interesting job with a good company.

Security Software Developer

Finally, for a leadership role that will still see you coding, there’s the security software developer. In this position, you will oversee a team of developers with a goal of creating security software. This could take the form of independent software, or integrating security as part of the company’s applications during development.

You will lead your team through developing and implementing the design of the security software. It will be your job to plan a company-wide security policy, as well.

Programming knowledge is required, as you will likely do some yourself, as well as lead your team and oversee their code. You need to know how hackers will attempt to infiltrate the system, and how to protect against them. While certifications will be beneficial, only a bachelor’s degree in a computer science or similar field is required. As this is a leadership role, five years of experience is a normal requirement. This combines auditing and coding experience.

The expected salary range for a security software developer is between $90,000 and $110,000.