The Best-Paying Cybersecurity Careers in 2024

Best-Paying Cybersecurity Careers in 2024

There are many cybersecurity career paths you can take. Here are our top picks for 2024 (and beyond) based on career growth and compensation.

Reading Time 9 mins

Cybersecurity threats continue to evolve and organizations are looking for skilled cybersecurity professionals that can help them secure critical data and services. In fact, security misconfigurations are one of the top threats to cloud environments, and cloud security engineers help organizations protect against these threats. If you’re considering a career in the field and want to know which cybersecurity careers offer the highest earning potential, you’ve come to the right place.

In this blog post, we break down several cybersecurity careers, including overviews of the roles, common certifications recommended for the roles, and the average salary for the roles. 

The total compensation for these careers can vary based on experience level, geographic location, type of industry, and any specialized skills or training that you may have.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts are on the front lines of protecting an organization’s networks, systems, and data from cyber threats. They use a variety of tools and processes to identify, assess, and respond to cybersecurity incidents, and to implement security controls to help protect against future attacks.

Information security analysts may conduct tasks like vulnerability scanning, analyzing log data through security information and event management (SIEM) tools, and implementing incident response (IR) playbooks.

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Cybersecurity Specialist
  • Network Security Analyst
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst
  • Incident Response Analyst

Growth and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) estimates employment growth for this role to grow over 32% in the next 10 years. The average salary for an information security analyst is around $112,000 in the United States. Total compensation will vary based on geographic location, education, and the company you work for. 

Certifications

While cybersecurity certifications are not always required for an information security analyst career, some popular ones include the CompTIA Security+, the Google Cybersecurity Certificate, and the ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity certifications. 

After gaining a few years of experience as an information security analyst, some other certifications that are popular include the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) from EC-Council and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Depending on the organization, certifications can help you command higher compensation and get promoted.

Key Skills

While there are many skills that information security analysts hold, some of the key skills include having a solid grasp of computer networking and how data moves around an organization; the ability to analyze network traffic for anomalies; and the ability to be adaptable to changing situations.  

Information security analysts will also use a variety of tools, like Splunk, but the exact tools you use will depend on the organization.

Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity engineers focus on designing secure architecture for an organization’s network and systems to help protect critical data and business processes. They take data from past incidents to build better, stronger security across an organization.  

Cybersecurity engineers also work on developing security protocols, conducting vulnerability assessments, and responding to security incidents. They may also work closely with software development teams to help them build more secure software applications.

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Security Engineer
  • Product Security Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Architect
  • Information Security Engineer
  • Security Automation Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Platform Engineer
  • DevSecOps Engineer

Growth and Salary

The BLS estimates employment growth for this role to be around 9% over the next 10 years. In the United States, the average salary for a cybersecurity engineer is around $101,000 but this can vary based on location and the organization.

Certifications

While certifications are not required to get a job as a cybersecurity engineer, some popular certifications are the CompTIA Security+, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) from EC-Council, the CompTIA CySA+, and the CompTIA CASP+. Holding certifications can help employers validate your skills and allow you to earn more compensation throughout your career.

Key Skills

Cybersecurity engineers need to have strong technical skills that include hands-on experience in conducting vulnerability assessments and analyzing security tool log data. They also need skills in building security policies, plus project management, threat analysis, threat modeling, and secure architecture design skills. Besides these technical skills, cybersecurity engineers need to have strong communication, critical thinking, and conflict resolution skills.

Many cybersecurity engineers also have computer programming skills because this helps them understand the challenges of software development teams.

Cybersecurity Software Developer

Cybersecurity software developers focus on combining security knowledge and skills to build more secure software applications. They use their knowledge of cybersecurity threats to fix issues in the software code, like logic flaws and bugs, as well as removing hard-coded login credentials. Cybersecurity software developers can also use their skills to build security tools at leading cybersecurity companies.   

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • DevSecOps Engineer
  • Secure Code Developer
  • Software Security Architect
  • Secure Software Development Engineer

Growth and Salary

Career growth for software developers over the next 10 years is estimated at 25%. The average annual salary for a cybersecurity software developer is around $75,000; however, compensation will vary depending on the employer and geographic location.

Certifications

There are no certification requirements for a career in cybersecurity software development, but a few common certifications are the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) from ISC2 and the EC-Council Certified Secure Programmer (ECSP). Earning a certification in secure software development practices can help you earn more compensation and accelerate your career growth.

Key Skills

Two technical skills a cybersecurity software developer needs are the ability to write software code and knowledge of secure coding best practices. Good soft skills to have for this job include public speaking skills, project management skills, and critical thinking skills.

If you have already gone through a software engineering program to learn the fundamentals of software development, a career in secure software development could be a solid match for you.

Penetration Tester

A penetration tester (also known by the title Ethical Hacker) is responsible for conducting security assessments of an organization. They identify vulnerabilities and the ways a threat actor could exploit those vulnerabilities, and then make recommendations to the organization on how to correct or mitigate the vulnerabilities.

Before conducting any penetration test, it’s important to have the rules of the engagement understood and signed. A penetration tester will work with their employer to ensure this document is signed by the employer and client before beginning the penetration test. Since unauthorized computer hacking is a crime in the United States, this rules of engagement documentation acts as a “get out of jail free” card when conducting a penetration test. In fact, some penetration testers were arrested several years ago in Iowa even though they had the correct legal paperwork in place.

The rules of engagement in a penetration test also map out what the penetration testers can test and what is off limits.  

For example, the penetration test might limit the range of IP addresses that can be scanned.  In the case of a manufacturing facility, the penetration tester might be blocked from running any scans on the Industrial Control System (ICS) network because this could cause malfunctions in the plant equipment, which could lead to a loss of human life.

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Security Tester
  • Red Teamer
  • Offensive Security Engineer
  • Web Application Penetration Tester
  • Network Penetration Tester
  • Mobile Penetration Tester

Growth and Salary

The demand for penetration testers is expected to grow by 9% over the next 10 years. The average salary for a penetration tester in the United States is $92,000 but varies based on the geographic location and organization.

Certifications

Penetration tester is a career where certifications are not required. However, some popular certifications include the TCM Security Practical Network Penetration Tester (PNPT), the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), the INE Security Junior Penetration Tester, the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker, and the CompTIA Pentest+. While certifications are not required for a penetration testing career, holding certifications can help you get promoted and earn more compensation.

Key Skills

The top technical skill for a penetration tester is the ability to write comprehensive reports of the findings from the penetration test. Penetration testers should also have strong knowledge of computer networking, hardware, operating systems, vulnerability scanning, threat modeling, and critical thinking. Coding skills in scripting with Bash, PowerShell, and Python can be helpful, too. 

Application Security Engineer

Application security engineers work to identify vulnerabilities in applications and their architecture. They work closely with software development teams to integrate security practices into the software development lifecycle. Application security engineers also conduct code reviews, assess application vulnerabilities, and recommend security improvements.

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Product Security Engineer
  • DevSecOps Engineer

Growth and Salary

The demand for application security engineers will grow by approximately 9% over the next decade. The average salary for this role in the United States is around $136,000 but can vary depending on the organization and location.

Certifications

Certifications are not required for this role, but many professionals hold a secure software development certification and/or a cybersecurity certification. Some of the most popular certifications are the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP),both from ISC2, and the EC-Council Certified Application Security Engineer (CASE). Obtaining certifications in secure software development best practices or application security can help you earn more compensation in your career. 

Key Skills

Application security engineers need to have solid technical skills in software development as well strong skills in vulnerability assessment and threat modeling.

Cloud Security Engineer

A cloud security engineer is a specialized cybersecurity professional responsible for ensuring the security of cloud-based systems, applications, and data. The role entails building and implementing security policies and controls; conducting risk assessments; identifying and addressing vulnerabilities; and monitoring and responding to security incidents in cloud environments (among other things).

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Cloud Security Architect
  • Cloud Security Administrator
  • Cloud Security Solutions Engineer
  • Cloud Security Consultant

Growth and Salary

The demand for qualified cloud security engineers is projected to grow by about 9% over the next 10 years. The average salary for a cloud security engineer in the United States is around $136,000. Again, this number can vary depending on the organization and geographic location. 

Certifications

Certifications are not always required for cloud security engineer positions; however, most professionals have at least one certification from a major cloud service provider. Popular certifications include the AWS Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Security – Specialty, Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate, the Certificate in Cloud Security Knowledge from the Cloud Security Alliance, and the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) from ISC2. 

Holding certifications in cloud computing and cloud security can help you earn more in compensation and also help accelerate career growth.

Key Skills

Cloud security engineers need to have strong technical skills in IT fundamentals, cloud computing technologies, and the security and compliance risks of using cloud-based systems. They also need experience with security tools and techniques used for securing cloud environments. In addition to these technical skills, it’s important for a cloud security engineer to have strong soft skills like time management and critical thinking skills. 

Cloud security engineers need to have skills in at least one of the large cloud service provider platforms, like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud.

Cybersecurity Careers: Conclusion

The cybersecurity landscape offers diverse and lucrative careers for those with the right skills and drive. Regardless of the path you choose, remember that the cybersecurity field values passion, problem-solving prowess, and a commitment to protecting the digital world.

Flatiron School can help you discover cybersecurity career paths through our Cybersecurity Bootcamp program, where you can jumpstart a career in the field in as little as 15 weeks. Check out a tech prep course for free or download the course syllabus to see what you can learn. 

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of February 14, 2024. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Ken Underhill

Ken has over 20 years of IT and cybersecurity experience and holds a graduate degree in cybersecurity. He's also the bestselling author of the book Hack the Cybersecurity Interview.

More articles by Ken Underhill

Related Resources