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How to get a cyber security job in Australia

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

With Australians reporting an average of 164 cybercrime cases per day, costing businesses an average of $276,323 per breach, and an estimated $29 billion to the Australian economy each year – the growing demand for cyber security comes as no surprise. In fact, the country is currently grappling with a growing skills shortage in the field; and as digital crimes continue to rise (both in number and sophistication), with opportunistic criminals banking on pandemic-related fears, the need for security skills and resources is greater than ever.

Those looking to enter the cyber security industry will find no better time than now, as prospects abound for those with the right skills, passion, and experience. 

Below, we dive into the benefits of a career in information security, the highest-paid roles to pursue, and what to expect on the job. 

Is cyber security a good career? 

Aspiring IT professionals will find few roles in the industry as a lucrative, diverse, and in-demand as those in cybersecurity. 

As mentioned, the cybersecurity field currently faces a high (and ever-rising) skills demand, as Australia struggles to fill a looming, severe shortage of security professionals. According to experts, an estimated 18,000 additional workers are required by 2026 to ensure the nation’s digital security – partially due to the “rapid digitisation” unexpectedly caused by COVID-19. 

With the passionate call for a larger workforce, those entering the security field are not only bound to find vast employment opportunities, but also have the benefit of high job and financial stability in the years to come. With most cyber security tasks done online, professionals additionally have the flexibility of working wherever they please – and allows the industry to persist amidst unexpected global crises (such as the current pandemic). 

Due to scarcity in talent, plenty of roles in the industry also offer a generous paycheck to entice potential candidates. While pay will vary depending on your job and position, the average salary offered to those in cyber security is currently $97,003, based on Payscale statistics. According to Robert Half, skills in cloud security, network security, web security, information security, and security architecture are among the top skills in high demand for 2021. 

Additionally, cyber security offers a varied, diverse range of professional roles suited to different interests, skills, and career goals. We explore some of the industry’s top jobs below. 

What type of jobs can you explore in cyber security? 

Ethical Hacker

To ensure a company’s security systems are working and up-to-standard, ethical hackers are hired to break into their computers and devices; tasked with finding existing or potential vulnerabilities and patching up these holes to keep actual cyber-criminals at bay. 

The role is an exciting one for those who enjoy complex puzzles or problem-solving, and are eager to keep up-to-date on the latest security technologies. With millions of viruses, worms, and malware created and distributed each day – ethical hackers are increasingly needed to keep businesses safe and wary of the latest digital threats.

According to Payscale, certified ethical hackers earn an average of $101,152 AUD per year.

Network Security Engineer

computer engineer at work

Network security engineers form a core part of business’ IT team, responsible for providing, deploying, and administering the critical pieces of a company’s network system, including security-related hardware and software. Such components typically include routers, switches, VPNs (virtual private networks), and firewalls.

Those in this role may also frequently perform network assessments to identify any existing or potential risks, issues, and vulnerabilities in their network security. These concerns or incidents are typically logged for future reports and performance tracking. 

Employers often accept one’s industry experience in lieu of formal degrees. To further your skills and training, a qualification in networking can help you stand out in the job market. Upskilled currently offers an ICT50120 – Diploma of Information Technology (Advanced Networking); a specialised online course to help bolster one’s career in the field. 

According to Payscale, network security engineers earn an average of $88,437 AUD per year. 

Security Analyst

Tech experts with a fine eye for detail may just find success as a cyber security analyst. Similarly to the previous roles, security analysts are responsible for ensuring the safety and integrity of a business’ digital information – though specifically focus on preventing, identifying, and analysing security risks or breaches, sometimes responding to and managing critical incidents as they occur. 

Security analysts must thus be skilled in ethical hacking, computer networking, and reverse engineering software (allowing them to fix bugs or analyse malware). Experience in computer forensics – the practice of collecting, examining, and reporting computer data – is also crucial to preventing future cyber crimes and gathering evidence in the case of a breach. 

Payscale statistics show that the average security analyst currently earns around $73,791 AUD per year in Australia, with potential to earn more as experience grows. 

IT Security Manager

IT security managers are among the highest-paid professionals in the industry, as they’re responsible for their company’s overall security systems and processes. Not only are they tasked with detecting, assessing, and anticipating security breaches; but they also direct and supervise an entire team of software engineers, programmers, analysts and other security staff to ensure the appropriate cybersecurity resources are installed, maintained, and calibrated when necessary. 

As such, those in this role are required to constantly update their knowledge of security technologies, threats, and workplace practices. They are also responsible for hiring qualified vendors and contractors when required.

According to Payscale, the average security manager in Australia earns upwards of $144,886 AUD per year. 

Is cyber security a stressful job? 

woman security professionals at work

Due to its rapidly-paced landscape and often understaffed departments, high rates of stress, burnout, and poor work-life balance are common trends in the cybersecurity industry. 

The rising rate of cybercrime, paired with our broadening skills gap, can typically place heavy demand on existing security staff to take on tasks or responsibilities beyond their scope. Large workloads, long hours, and lack of support are also common sources of career stress; and with the field constantly evolving in digital threats and technologies, workers can often feel overwhelmed in having to “keep up” with the industry. 

It’s thus critical for managers to foster an openly communicative workplace culture, as employees must feel safe and confident in voicing their concerns and struggles when necessary. Managers, in turn, should take the time to listen to and keep their workers’ interests in mind. This helps them ensure the proper systems and procedures are in place to make sure employees are working in an efficient, fair, and well-compensated manner. 

Additionally, further training should be a forefront priority for both business managers and cyber security professionals – as this helps managers successfully meet specialised security needs (without unnecessarily broadening the job scope of inexperienced employees), and allows security workers to consistently keep pace with the newest demands and developments of the cybersecurity field. 

Ready for a cyber security career?

With businesses on a constant hunt for cybersecurity experts, there’s never been a better time to build your security skills. 

Upskilled now offers an ICT50120 – Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security), a nationally-recognised qualification that specialises in the fundamental skills and knowledge of cyber security. Students can equip themselves with critical skills in network security, performing security risk assessments, managing cloud environments, penetration testing, and more.

Best of all, the course is delivered online, helping you study according to your personal needs and schedule.

Grow your skillset in one of IT’s most lucrative, in-demand, and innovative fields today – and enquire with us on a course.

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