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5 pros and cons of working in cybersecurity

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

No matter your industry or business size, it pays to have quality cybersecurity

With cybercrimes growing at alarming rates by the year – costing Australian businesses an estimated $29 billion annually – it’s no wonder security talents are in critically high demand. In fact, our country struggles to keep pace with the rising number of jobs; battling an expanding skills gap the government has (fortunately) invested over $230 million to resolve. 

That said, those with a passion for IT security will find no better time than now to get into this rising industry

SkillsTalk outline the five pros and cons of working in cybersecurity – helping you decide if this is the right career for you. 

What are the pros of working in cybersecurity?

  1. High salaries and opportunity.
  2. Being a high-demand job.
  3. High career progression.
  4. The opportunity to be self-employed.
  5. You’re always learning.

1. High salaries and opportunity.

As mentioned, cybersecurity is in high demand with plenty of opportunities across varying industries – these including the government agencies, banks, telecommunication businesses, health care companies, and investment firms. Wherever a business has online data – chances are, they’re looking for experts with the skills to protect them. 

On top of this, Australia faces a huge shortage in cybersecurity skills, paired with a sharp incline of new jobs. Hays Specialist Recruitment predicts our economy will require 18,000 more workers between now and 2027 to keep up with the rising number of cybersecurity roles. 

Of course, with high-demand comes high salary potential. Reports state that employers are finding themselves increasing salary offers for seven out of every ten ICT hires; with security managers earning a typical salary between $131,250 and $198,750

For the average cybersecurity analyst, Payscale displays median earnings of $77,000 per year, with the higher bracket earning approximately $108,000

2. Being a high-demand job.

As a highly sought-after profession, the cybersecurity field offers its talents with solid job security. 

According to Hays, the rising need for security skills has surpassed Australia’s existing pool of experienced experts; with AustCyber reporting that roles have grown by 57% in the last year alone. In comparison, Indeed statistics show that we have a mere 7% of the cybersecurity skills required by the market – with less than 5,000 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) graduates per year.

As such, there is less fear of unemployment in the cybersecurity field – with skills transferable across a vast range of industries. Professionals can leave their current role and find quick re-employment in a new field of interest that demands their expertise. 

With society becoming increasingly reliant on technology, and hackers finding new, advanced ways of breaching digital systems and devices; the need for security skills isn’t waning anytime soon

3. High career progression.

cybersecurity concept

There is an expansive room for growth in the field of cybersecurity

Professionals who start out in entry-level roles can look forward to more advanced, specialised positions as they progress in their career. Individuals typically begin with titles such as IT technician, security analyst, and junior penetration tester – working their way up to roles such as cybersecurity manager, cybersecurity architect, and chief information security officer. 

Their high-demand skills also enable them to move from smaller to larger companies. 

Additionally, their salary potential grows with their years of experience. Payscale reports show that an early career in cybersecurity typically starts out with an average of $75,796 per year, increasing to up to $108,090 annually as one builds on their profile and experience. 

4. The opportunity to be self-employed.

As cybersecurity tasks can be done anywhere with an internet connection, professionals have plenty of opportunities for self-employment

Consulting and outsourcing is commonplace in the industry, with websites like Cybergig catering to those looking for freelance security work. 

This allows workers to achieve greater work-life balance while handling the high-pressure tasks associated with the job. In an interview with Varonis, CEO of Jon Rasiko reveals his ability to set his own hours per day; making time to further his skills each week through “random video[s] from an academic institution, a tech company, or a researcher” to ensure his expertise stays fresh and relevant. 

5. You’re always learning.

The field of cybersecurity is constantly growing, with new trends, practices, technology and threats emerging each year. Global spending for the industry is projected to skyrocket by 88%, expected to hit $270 billion US dollars by 2026. 

As the profession continues to expand, with research birthing new discoveries – most workers are never left unchallenged or stagnant in their careers. Individuals have multiple online sources available to keep in tune with the industry (such as the Australian Cybersecurity Magazine), along with plenty of training opportunities to develop their skills

As aforementioned, the Australian government supports continuous education in the field, with a long-term Cyber Security Strategy that funds related courses and programs among schools, along with constant growth and innovation in the industry

What are the cons of working in cybersecurity?

  1. High-stress and demanding hours.
  2. Companies lack knowledge and/or resources.
  3. Some repetitive, boring tasks.
  4. Less room for mistakes.
  5. Difficulty keeping up with fast-paced trends and emerging new information.

1. High-stress and demanding hours.

Given their high level of responsibility, cybersecurity experts often face high job pressure and demanding work hours. Cybercrime is on a constant move, after all – with potential attacks posing a critical threat to a business’ finances, productivity, and reputation. 

As they can happen at any time, plenty of workers are required to be on-call to manage or mitigate problems as they occur. As such, they may be contacted during weekends, evenings, and even while on vacation. One individual states, “Hacking attempts against our company are so relentless that I am required to brief our CEO daily on the status of our systems.”

These pressures, however, often add to the high satisfaction and excitement of working in an extremely fast-paced dynamic industry; where no two days are the same, and employees are constantly challenged on (and thus, further develop) their skills and knowledge. 

2. Companies lack knowledge and/or resources.

While having a skillset in cybersecurity makes you attractive in the job market, plenty of companies can lack the adequate knowledge or resources to support your work

Businesses demand security talent, though some fail to understand the importance of such responsibility – much less its technicalities. This often results in constantly communicating issues to management and proposing initiatives for improving security culture. 

A lacking budget also acts as a typical roadblock to quality cybersecurity initiatives.

Fortunately, companies are increasingly encouraged to educate both their managers and employees on cybercrime and proper security practices; rather than relying on their IT or security team to mitigate, manage, and resolve all risk and incidents. 

At the same time, the Australian government has bolstered its budget in cybersecurity, which includes the further development of training packages and qualifications to boost skills in the area.

3. Some repetitive, boring tasks.

man overwhelmed at computer task, facing three computer monitors

Sadly, a cybersecurity career isn’t without its share of mundanity. 

Experts note that the Hollywood image of hooded white-hat-hackers battling espionage cases is nothing but exaggeration; that the reality of the job contains more methodology, analytics, and a heaping side of patience and discipline. 

Cybersecurity experts will commonly spend most of their time performing repetitive tests, applying repeated processes and analysing data to detect and mitigate potential threats. It’s a business – rather than a Bond movie, at the end of the day. 

Fortunately, AI and machine learning are now being incorporated in the field to relieve some of its repetition, helping workers focus on more substantial, innovative security initiatives. 

4. Less room for mistakes.

With data breaches costing Australian organisations an average of nearly $3 million per incident (or around $160 per data unit), the profession leaves little room for accidents or mistakes. 

Precision is key as a cybersecurity professional, and all the more so being self-employed; as mistakes will not only cost your client their business – but yours, as well. 

To succeed in the industry, it’s critical to be perceptive and communicative. Such qualities help in not only staying attentive towards existing and potential vulnerabilities, but also sharpen your ability to see problems from all sides (from your employer’s, colleagues’, and hackers’ perspectives); while helping you express such issues (in non-technical language) as necessary. 

5. Difficulty keeping up with fast-paced trends and emerging new information.

Of course, it can get overwhelming to keep pace with such a rapidly-evolving landscape. 

Not only does one need to stay on top of advancements in technology; but the new attack methods and malicious threats that emerge alongside these, as well. 

Then there’s also the constant development of new terms, acronyms and technical jargon to keep up with. 

It’s a never-ending treadmill of knowledge, and an intellectual arms race for many – but for the right person, such challenges only add to the excitement and daily stimulation of a dynamic, rewarding security career. 

Jumpstart your career in cybersecurity!

Think this may be your ideal profession? Upskilled offers the ICT50120 - Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security) to help you get your start in the field. Students will explore the design and implementation of security systems, the integration of sustainability measures of ICT projects and the implementation of secure encryption technologies. 

Best of all, it’s delivered online – helping you study according to your personal needs and schedule. 

Kick off an exciting career in cybersecurity, and enquire today.     
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