For a long time, cybersecurity was simple. Yes, every business would need to have some cybersecurity protection in place, but generally this could take the form of catch-all software such as firewalls and antivirus. However, while these forms of cybersecurity still have a role to play today, businesses are increasingly dependent on the skills of cybersecurity professionals.
In the UK, the average cybersecurity professional earns £62,500 per year – more than double the national average. And given the range of possibilities for career progression and fast pace in the industry, skilled staff can earn much more.
So, how did it happen that this relatively small industry has grown into such a lucrative profession in a relatively short time? Here we take a closer look at how cybersecurity has grown to a money-making career path.
When we consider the things that are most likely to make a career path financially rewarding, it is generally the case that the higher the level of responsibility, the more the staff are likely to be paid. This simple truism gives us a real initial insight into how cybersecurity has become one of the most lucrative career progression opportunities for IT professionals.
“Data breaches, exfiltration and high ransoms are making headlines daily and the costs to organisations, their brand reputation and their customers has become astronomically high,” says Anthony Webb, writing for BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT “But there are also high rewards for working in the industry, cybersecurity professionals have the opportunity to, not only solve critical problems, but use technology for good.”
Getting cybersecurity wrong can come with drastic financial and reputational consequences for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Perhaps it is no surprise that companies are happy to pay cybersecurity professionals very well to minimise and mitigate the risk they face.
Cybersecurity Skills Shortage
Another major issue affecting cybersecurity pay is a major ongoing challenge for the industry. The simple fact is there are more cybersecurity jobs than there are qualified and experienced staff to do the work; this is the cybersecurity skills gap.
Despite some positive trends in recent years, the size of the cybersecurity industry workforce remains 65 percent below where it needs to be. That is extremely significant, as it shows that the problem still exists and that the current measures to counteract it are not doing enough.
And while this is undeniably bad news for the industry, it does mean that it has pushed up the wages of the cybersecurity professionals themselves. With more jobs than applicants, skilled candidates can effectively name their price. And the aforementioned need for these professionals across virtually every organisation means that they will achieve them.
Rise of Cybercrime
Perhaps one of the key factors that have influenced the earning power of cybersecurity professionals comes from the fact that cybercrime itself is on the rise. Again, this is a problem for the industry (and for the businesses the industry protects) but it has also had the effect of skyrocketing the demand for cybersecurity professionals.
One of the most important factors in this rise has been the COVID-19 pandemic. With a huge number of companies taking their business online, it has created new opportunities for cybercriminals. In turn, these businesses have been forced to seek out professional cybersecurity help and advice.
This has the effect of driving up the demand (and therefore the wages) of the cybersecurity staff.
Something Every Business Needs
It is worth noting at this point that a key reason for the growing wages in cybersecurity is because it is something that is needed by virtually every business in every industry. If your company has any kind of online presence—whether that is customer-facing or behind the scenes—then you can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
The consequences of these types of attacks can be disastrous. A famous but shocking statistic shows that 60 percent of small companies that suffer a serious cyberattack will be closed within six months. Put simply, no business can afford to be without powerful cybersecurity, and they are willing to pay well to get it.
Another key reason for the growth in cybersecurity wages is that there are many different specialisms that all need expert input. Cybersecurity is too broad a subject to be left to just one individual. For example, the expertise needed for pen testing – “a form of ethical cyber security assessment designed to identify and safely exploit vulnerabilities” is completely different from the skillset of data analysts.
The range of potential options available to those interested in working in cybersecurity means that they can specialise and potentially up their salary even more.
The Digital Future
It is also worth noting that the earning potential for cybersecurity professionals is likely to increase as time goes on. The fact is that all businesses are having to embrace digital technology to a much greater extent—this has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The future is digital and that will inevitably mean that more cybercrime is on the horizon. It will be up to businesses to find ways to minimise the risk that they face and mitigate the damage that criminals can do. This will mean investing more in cybersecurity staff, driving up wages across the industry.
Is Cybersecurity a Good Career Path for Making Money?
Cybersecurity takes a great deal of training and a high degree of knowledge. It also requires constant learning to keep up with the latest trends in cybercrime. However, it can be extremely rewarding and not just from a financial perspective. For the right person, a cybersecurity career can be highly lucrative.
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