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Cybersecurity is a fast-growing field, and for good reason. Recent spikes in severe cyberattacks are drawing increased attention to the need for effective defenses — both for businesses and entire countries… as well as the need for cybersecurity engineers and others who run these defense systems. In other words, the demand for cybersecurity engineers is higher than ever, and is only projected to increase over the next decade.
But is cybersecurity engineering a good career? Is it something anyone can break into? And how much money do cybersecurity engineers make?
We’ll walk you through what a cybersecurity engineer does and examine cybersecurity engineer salaries across the country.
What is a cybersecurity engineer?
Cybersecurity engineers are professionals tasked with the design, implementation, and management of security systems protecting one or more computer networks. They need to understand network operations and weaknesses at a pretty deep level; cybersecurity engineers often come up through the ranks after being information security analysts or IT administrators — though you can get into cybersecurity engineering even if you haven’t worked in the field before.
In addition to developing the overall security environment, engineers need to be able to respond to breaches/incidents in real-time.
This gives them a strong understanding of day-to-day operations and, over time, they can expect to continue their career growth into roles like security architect, cybersecurity consultant, and chief information officer (CIO), chief technology officer (CTO), or chief information security officer (CISO). That makes ‘cybersecurity engineer’ more than just a job title; it’s an exciting career growth pathway in a key area of corporate and government needs.
What skills do cybersecurity engineers need?
Because of the special mix of skills involved in cybersecurity engineering, job-seekers need to demonstrate hard cybersecurity programming skills combined with the soft skills like communication and leadership skills expected of key executives, managers, and employees.
Common job requirements for cybersecurity engineers include:
Planning, implementing, and managing security measures across a network’s infrastructure
Evaluating and implementing necessary protections for organizational data, especially sensitive data (i.e., customer information)
Testing for network vulnerabilities and mitigating issues that arise
Responding to security breaches in coordination with their security operations center (SOC) team (i.e. cybersecurity analysts, pen testers, cyber threat analysts, consultants, and compliance analysts)
Administrative and management duties, including creating activity and incident reports for management.
At the core of the cybersecurity engineer’s responsibilities is a foundation of hard skills and technical capabilities. Hard skills for cybersecurity engineers include:
Network administrator skills
Understanding database platforms, access points, data security, etc.
Computer operating systems and any proprietary programs or tools operated by a client/firm
These skills are now routinely taught in information systems and cybersecurity bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs; however, the need for qualified candidates has left the field of cybersecurity wide open for individuals looking to transition from other skill sets. Regardless of your experience, you can establish your industry bona fides through paths like a bootcamp, as well as by earning recognized certifications in the field.
Because cybersecurity engineers have a critical role in the overall security picture, and day-to-day issues, their abilities to act independently but work well in teams requires a special set of soft skills to succeed, including:
Problem-solving skills — these are critical in incident response, and for planning secure networks by anticipating possible attacks.
Communication skills — During a cybersecurity incident, engineers need to quickly communicate necessary company/employee/vendor actions or recommendations, and coordinate their incident response among multiple teams.
Training and development skills — cybersecurity engineers will need to ensure that more focused members of the team, such as analysts or pen testers, have the information they need about the networks and databases they will be working with.
Learn more about the soft skills that will give you an edge in your cybersecurity career.
Job opportunities for cybersecurity engineers
As mentioned above, governments and companies are quickly waking up to the threat cyberattacks pose on infrastructure, private enterprise, and personal life. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of cybersecurity jobs will increase 31% by 2029 (from 2019), with minimal unemployment. It has even been estimated that there are 3.5 million unfilled jobs globally in 2021.
And because cybersecurity engineers understand the system-wide architecture of a network, as well as day-to-day incident response, they are well-suited for career development in other areas including as network security engineers; penetration testers; information systems security engineers; and more.
Each of these fields offers fast-growing and high-paying career development, which bodes well for cybersecurity engineers.
Should you become a cybersecurity engineer?
There’s no question that cybersecurity engineering is now an in-demand profession, and is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Anyone with an interest in pursuing cybersecurity has a wide avenue of opportunity available to them - and competitive salary opportunities around the country. But what can a cybersecurity engineer make?
Cybersecurity engineer salaries
Here’s a quick look at cybersecurity engineer salaries in some of the country’s biggest markets. Depending on your years of experience and the company, average total compensation can be much higher in some situations.
Current as of July 2021:
New York City average cybersecurity engineer salary
San Francisco (California) average cybersecurity engineer salary
Washington, D.C. average cybersecurity engineer salary
Boston average cybersecurity engineer salary
Chicago average cybersecurity engineer salary
Miami average cybersecurity engineer salary
Austin average cybersecurity engineer salary
Houston average cybersecurity engineer salary
Seattle average cybersecurity engineer salary
Los Angeles average cybersecurity engineer salary
Nationwide average cybersecurity engineer salary
How to become a cybersecurity engineer
Ready to take the next step on your path to becoming a cybersecurity engineer? The Flatiron School Cybersecurity Engineering bootcamp is available as a full-time program that you can complete in as little as 15 weeks. You’ll learn from instructors that have industry experience and you will gain hands-on, practical skills in our Cyber Range lab environment. You can even try a free lesson to get a better understanding of our approach.
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