Dr. Melissa Danforth

Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
California State University, Bakersfield

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Cybersecurity Careers
Cybersecurity careers span a vast number of job titles and positions. People specializing in cybersecurity might work as a researcher at a security company, a penetration tester for a consultant firm, a secure software designer or security quality assurance manager for a software company, an IT consultant specializing in cleaning up after a cyber security incident, a government employee trying to harden the government systems against a cyber attack by a foreign nation, a cryptographer developing new encryption schemes, an IT consultant specializing in hardening systems for clients, a crytanalyst trying to determine if there are any weaknesses in an encryption scheme, a computer scientist devising new techniques to detect attacks as they happen, and many more careers.

Preparing for a Cybersecurity Career
People interested in a cybersecurity career would be best prepared by pursuing a college degree in Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, Software Engineering, Mathematics, Management Information Systems, Computer Engineering, and similar college majors. Not all universities provide cybersecurity courses within those majors, so one would want to look for degrees that provide concentrations in "information security", "information assurance", "computer security", "cybersecurity", "cryptography", "cyber defense", and similar options.

Career Projections
Several major media outlets and career research companies have highlighted the growing need for trained cybersecurity specialists in the coming decade. The cybersecurity field has one of the highest expected 10 year growth rates of all careers in the nation. People with cybersecurity skills are also competitive for a wide variety of related careers, particularly as the "Internet of Things" becomes more pervassive and technology touches every aspect of modern life.

The following information is gleaned from a variety of sources (each source is attributed in its section) and shows the potential careers available in the field of cybersecurity or in fields which need a strong understanding of cybersecurity for success.

U.S. News & World Report
In its 100 Best Jobs of 2015 report, U.S. News & World Report use several metrics to rank jobs listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These metrics include the 10 year job growth, median salary, unemployment rate, number of job openings vs. number of job seekers, stress level, and work-life balance.

These are some cybersecurity related jobs that made the rankings (it should be noted that the top 10 jobs were either medical or technology related):

Rank Job Title Median Salary Unemployment Rate Job Openings Growth by 2022
3 Software Developer $92,660 2.7 percent 139,900 22.8 percent
7 Computer Systems Analyst $81,190 3.5 percent 127,700 24.5 percent
8 Information Security Analyst $88,590 3.5 percent 27,400 36.5 percent
11 Web Developer $63,169 3.8 percent 28,500 20 percent
21 IT Manager $123,950 3.5 percent 50,900 15.3 percent
31 Computer Systems Administrator $74,000 0.3 percent 42,900 11.7 percent
34 Database Administrator $78,520 3.1 percent 17,900 15.1 percent
63 Computer Programmer $76,140 4.2 percent 28,400 8.3 percent

CNN Money
CNN Money's Best Jobs in America list was developed in collaboration with PayScale.com. They ranked the jobs based on number of jobs, expected job growth, median salary, job satisfaction, education level required, promotion opportunities, stress, and telecommuting.

The following are cybersecurity related jobs and their rankings:

Rank Job Title Median Salary Growth by 2022
1 Software Architect $124,000 23 percent
2 Video Game Designer $79,900 19 percent
8 Database Developer $88,200 23 percent
9 Information Assurance Analyst $96,400 37 percent
17 IT Program Manager $122,000 15 percent
32 Software Quality Assurance Analyst $110,000 15 percent
38 IT Security Consultant $110,000 37 percent
39 Telecommunications Network Engineer $90,500 15 percent
40 Technical Consultant $101,000 23 percent
47 IT Research and Development Engineer $108,000 20 percent
67 Network Architect $122,000 15 percent
71 IT Network Engineer $79,100 12 percent
83 Database Administration Manager $120,000 15 percent
90 Information Technology Auditor $88,200 25 percent
98 Database Administrator $89,100 15 percent

Forbes has a list of degrees with the highest starting salaries in 2015. The data was gathered from Michigan State's Collegiate Employment Research Institute, which surveyed 3,300 employers. The starting salaries for majors related to cybersecurity are:

Degree Program Average Starting Salary
Computer Engineering $56,576
Software Design $54,183
Computer Programming $54,065
Computer Science $52,237
Mathematics $47,952

National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has several resources on starting salaries for various degrees on their Starting Salaries page.

Degree Program Starting Salary
Computer Engineering $65,497
Computer Science $62,149
Management Information Systems and Services $60,829
Mathematics $52,821

PayScale.com has a list of early career and mid career salaries for various majors in its list of Majors That Pay You Back.

Degree Program Early Career Salary Mid Career Salary
Electronics & Communications Engineering $64,100 $113,200
Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) $66,500 $113,000
Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) $66,700 $112,600
Computer Engineering (CE) $67,300 $108,600
Computer Science (CS) $61,600 $103,600
Computer Science & Mathematics $63,200 $101,400
Software Engineering $61,700 $99,800
Business & Information Technology $56,900 $99,100
Applied Mathematics $54,300 $96,500
Management Information Systems (MIS) $56,300 $95,500
Mathematics $50,300 $92,900
Computer Information Systems (CIS) $52,400 $89,900
Information Systems (IS) $53,500 $88,900
Telecommunications $46,600 $88,400
Information Technology (IT) $51,100 $86,500
Information Security $53,400 $85,800
Networks & Telecommunications $50,300 $79,200
Information Technology & Systems $51,400 $76,200
Information Technology Management $53,400 $74,800