How to Become a Cybersecurity Consultant in 2023
What does an IT security consultant do? And how do you become one? Let’s dive into the skills you need, the roles, salaries, and careers.
What Is a Cybersecurity Consultant? How Can I Become One?
Company cyber attacks happen, and cybercrime is growing at a rate of 15% year over year. That’s where a cybersecurity consultant comes to the rescue. Also known as security consultants, these experts identify security issues with company systems and implement safety measures to mitigate security concerns.
If you’re interested in what a career as a cybersecurity consultant entails, keep reading. We’ll cover what consultants do, the skills you need, salaries, and how to start a career as one.
What Does an IT Security Consultant Do?
A security consultant aims to protect their client’s networks through situational assessment and suggestions for new security measures. Specifically, consultants specialize in developing protocols, policies, and security plans to help clients protect their assets.
Security consultants can work in-house (commonly as sales engineers) or within a consulting firm. One thing’s for sure: this role comes with many faces. Daily cybersecurity consulting services include:
- services include:
- Conducting security testing and performing necessary procedures
- Performing threat analysis and system checks
- Coordinating with the IT department on safety solutions
- Performing research on cybersecurity measures
- Distributing technical reports to company personnel
What Skills Do You Need to Be a Cybersecurity Consultant?
Technical skills are the most essential skill set for becoming a security consultant. Because you’ll assess security measures and develop protections against data breaches, you’ll be expected to:
- Understand hacking and coding.
- Have a working knowledge of security threats, including phishing and network attacks.
- Have an in-depth understanding of operating systems and how to roll them out.
- Understand how to encrypt sensitive company material.
Research and Comprehension
You’ll need the ability to research and understand cybersecurity. Your knowledge base will directly correlate with how well you can guide your clients and how well you can examine the security implications of your findings.
Another essential skill you’ll need as a consultant is communication. You must think critically, deconstruct your conclusions, and present them in a way company personnel will understand.
When working for a consulting firm, you may work alongside a new security team or build one from the ground up. Working in-house, you’ll need to be able to explain complex cybersecurity product logistics to the sales team.
Soft skills like communication will always be critical, regardless of the future of cybersecurity. Technical skills are more likely to change and evolve. Regardless of the level of expertise in the crowd, you must prepare to translate and share your findings.
A third useful skill for security consultants is the ability to remain level-headed. A high degree of ambiguity is natural for this job. The answers to security problems aren’t always straightforward, and consultants must adapt to different situations to prevent a cyberattack.
Add the difficulties of explaining product logistics or security assessments to less cyber-savvy individuals, and you can find yourself in a challenging environment. An even-keeled demeanor goes a long way for security consultants.
As a consultant, you’ll be able to help many people through challenging security situations. You’ll also be coaching them through the sense of dread that comes from being hacked. If you like to help others, this role is an excellent fit for you.
Learn more about the soft skills you need with our blog.
What Is a Typical Cybersecurity Consultant Salary?
Because cybersecurity consultants are vital to a company’s success and security preservation, they often enjoy high-paying salaries. As of 2023, a security consultant can expect to earn approximately $122,451 annually.
Ultimately, the amount you earn will depend on several factors, including:
- Location (salaries vary by state)
- Years of experience
Experienced security consultants can find their salaries well into the six-figure range, so once you’ve finished your education, be sure to put the time in, and your efforts will be rewarded. Don’t get discouraged by starting on the lower end. Everyone must work their way up.
Security Consultant Roles
We mentioned earlier that security consultants typically work in-house or as part of a consulting firm. You may ask yourself: “What’s the difference between the two types of consultancies, and how do I know which type of work is for me?” Let’s explore the many sub-categories by taking a closer look.
A common in-house position is a sales engineer. These experts spend their time on one end of the sales spectrum building and working directly with the product (deep implementation), but they don’t interact with customers regularly.
On the opposite end, sales representatives directly communicate with customers, but they tend to have minimal technical knowledge of the product they’re selling. What happens if the customer has a technical question or concern that must be addressed? This situation requires a sales engineer.
The sales engineer serves as the middle ground within product sales. Their technical knowledge lets them understand security risks better than regular sales employees. Their expertise enables them to offer the customer minor technical adjustments.
These types of consultants also tend to be more experienced in customer service than security engineers, so they communicate directly with customers or sales reps and answer complex questions. While it’s less common to see entry-level consultants working in-house than at a consultancy firm, it’s certainly possible. This consultancy is best for those who enjoy sales and have excellent customer service skills.
Consultancy firms help other companies strengthen their security measures by assisting them with setting up their security teams or filling in their gaps with outsourced employees. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when filling in the gaps of a company’s Security Operation Center (SOC). One company may need a penetration tester, while another may call for two analysts and an engineer.
A pen tester, security engineer, SOC analyst, and data scientist are all common cybersecurity titles with different roles, but they can all exist under the umbrella of “security consultant.” While they may have different skills and responsibilities, each position can solve a party’s cybersecurity problems.
If you like working in a traditional SOC role but want to help others reach cybersecurity solutions, a consultancy firm role may be an ideal fit. If you want in-depth information on the types of cybersecurity consultant careers, check out this guide for more details.
How to Become a Cybersecurity Consultant
If you aim to become a cybersecurity consultant, your best bet would be to get a bachelor’s degree in computer science or IT. Although a degree isn’t required, approximately 65% of professionals hold a bachelor’s degree. Still, there are other ways to acquire the education you need as a consultant.
Getting certified is a great way to gain the technical knowledge and skills you need to reassure an employer you’re qualified to get hired as a security consultant. Here are some certificates worth pursuing:
- Certified Protection Professional
- Physical Security Professional
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional
If you want to pursue a program without enrolling in a four-year college, you’ll need one with an in-depth learning curriculum. That’s what you get with our Cybersecurity Engineering program. Through our program, you’ll develop the technical skills suited for several careers, including:
- Cyber Engineer
- Security Analyst
- Penetration Tester
Our programs balance classroom theory, hands-on security threat labs, and practice with security issues. We ensure our students graduate with the skills and confidence to leave our academy job-ready.
The evolution from general IT to cybersecurity analyst can take three to seven years. Flatiron programs can get you there in just a few months. If you want to dabble in cybersecurity and see if it’s right for you, try our free Cybersecurity Prep.
Get Started With Flatiron School
If you have a passion for learning and a desire to help others, becoming a cybersecurity professional could be a great fit. Flatiron School can help turn your passion into a career.
Ready to get on the path toward a career in Cybersecurity? Apply today.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 18 September 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ. For up-to-date information visit FlatironSchool.com.
Posted by Dr. Bret Fund / September 18, 2023
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