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How to Become a Cyber Security Engineer and Stop Cyber Attacks for a Living

As organizations start to grow, so do their profiles. As those profiles grow, so do threats. Large organizations are willing to pay for the peace of mind that comes from being protected. Let’s take a look at how to become a cyber security engineer, get high-quality cyber security training, and help protect businesses while making a living.

What Is a Cyber Security Engineer?

A cyber security engineer is a tech professional in charge of developing and implementing systems that protect an organization’s data and network. An organization’s data is sensitive and can range from financial records to information that may compromise the identity and safety of an organization’s workers and customers. 

What Does a Cyber Security Engineer Do?

A cyber security engineer is responsible for constructing and maintaining a safe tech environment that a company can trust. They keep unauthorized people out of the system, while making sure that authorized people are able to use the system safely. 

Prevent Unauthorized Access

A cyber security engineer’s main responsibility is preventing sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. To that end, they are in charge of building out an organization’s network security to be impervious to cyber attacks. 

These security professionals use the latest hardware and software tools to keep threats out, and are constantly ensuring that they are tailoring security to the latest threats and the unique needs of their company. 

Prepare for Cyber Threats

Cyber security engineers are always stress testing and ensuring that their systems are prepared for whatever may come their way. After building out the security for a system, they usually conduct regular penetration testing

Penetration testing is a process of simulating an attack against a system in order to see how it would hold up in the event of the real thing. By simulating these data breaches, they can ensure they’re not vulnerable in the event of a real cyber attack. 

Train Employees in Safe Practices

Cyber security engineers may have years of cyber security training and know everything about preventing an attack. But chances are, the other employees that work alongside them at an organization do not. These engineers work with employees to make sure that they don’t unwittingly install malicious software or fall for social engineering tricks that can expose a company’s systems without hackers even pressing a key. 

Engineers are usually responsible for conducting regular audits to ensure that employees are still properly following the cyber security measures that are instituted to keep everyone’s information safe. 

Essential Cyber Security Engineer Skills

Cyber security engineers work at the intersection of coding and cloud security. They have to be aware of tools that help businesses, and make sure that they’re conveying accurate information about all threats for now and in the future. 

Tech Prowess

If you get a job with a burgeoning company, you may have to install and maintain their secure network solutions on your own. If you’re joining a larger company, you’ll probably be assigned one facet of cyber security as part of a larger team. 

Regardless of where you go, you will have to be up to date on the latest technology in the field, and know how to use it to keep your coworkers safe from the latest threats. 

Problem-Solving Skills

If your company is unfortunate enough to fall prey to a cyber attack, you’ll be first in line to stop it. You’ll have to sort through your toolkit to find the source of an issue and protect what could be millions of people’s identities from leaking online. 

Outside of more dramatic situations like those, you’ll also have to think about the best protections for tech in your industry and the attacks you’re most likely to face. The aforementioned penetration testing and regular reading can provide you with the information you need to succeed, but it is up to you to interpret it to suit your needs. 

Communication Skills 

Your understanding of your professional cyber security practices means very little if you can’t help others understand them. You’ll regularly have to email your coworkers to update them on new practices, or schedule meetings to walk them through new software security tools. It is important that you can convey not only how these new tools work, but also why they’re necessary for keeping everyone safe. 

Cyber Security Engineer Salaries and Job Outlook

There’s a reason this is considered one of the best jobs in tech. According to Glassdoor, the average cyber security engineer earns a salary of $99,834. The job outlook for this position is good, as companies are expanding their tech needs every day. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the cyber security field will grow by 31 percent from 2019 to 2029. Companies as big as Amazon and Walmart need cyber security experts just as badly as your local credit union.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Cyber Security Engineer?

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Cyber security engineers help a lot of people, and make good money while doing it. 

It takes about a year to become a cyber security engineer. It is possible to take the online courses over the period of a year to master all of the tools that you will need to know. After mastering those tools, you should be ready to go. 

But different jobs do make different demands on potential cyber security professionals. Some jobs don’t require a degree at all, and you can climb the ranks without a degree as long as you have proven to be proficient at the job. Some jobs may require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and some more senior positions ask for applicants with a master’s degree.

How to Become a Cyber Security Engineer: A Step-by-Step Guide

Anyone can become a cyber security engineer if they follow these simple steps. 

Step 1: Take Courses Online

In this day and age, one of the best places to learn about tech is the Internet. There are several websites offering free or low-cost ways for you to tap into the ever-growing tech world. While taking these courses, you should learn about the coding basics you need to handle this job, how to build cyber security systems from scratch, and also which cyber security tools should fit the needs of your future gig. 

Step 2: Consider a Degree

As we mentioned before, you may see jobs in the sector you’re looking to enter that ask for applicants to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. You may also like the classroom method more than you like being responsible for your own education. So after you get a good look at the courses on offer, consider getting a diploma in computer science, IT, or a related field.

Step 3: Get Experience

Learning about cyber security and actually doing the job are two different things. After you’ve learned all you can about the job, it is time to go out and start doing it if you want to keep climbing up the ladder. As you keep working every day, you will continue advancing your knowledge of computer systems and all that goes into protecting them.

Required Education to Become a Cyber Security Engineer

Cyber security engineers are required to know how to ensure a good, safe rollout of security tech, how to conduct audits and penetration tests, and how to maintain these security systems. 

There is no particular diploma requirement for most jobs, but many recommend obtaining at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, engineering, management information systems, or a related field.  

Best Programs and Courses to Become a Cyber Security Engineer

Here are some of the best courses to get you started on the path to becoming a cyber security engineer. 

Introduction to Cybersecurity Tools & Cyber Attacks

This free course from IBM is great for laying the groundwork for people just getting into basic cyber security. They provide a primer on the history of cyber security along with why people carry out these attacks and how they can affect organizations and people. 

You will also learn about the basic tools and terminology along with critical thinking methods you will have to use in your day-to-day job. This course is the perfect place to start if you’re trying to decide if a job as a cyber security engineer is right for you. 

The Complete Cyber Security Course: Hackers Exposed!

This class provides a deeper dive into the threat landscape and the skills you’ll need to defeat those threats as a cyber security professional. This course covers security across every operating system, which will prepare you for implementing solutions in any ecosystem. 

The wide breadth of this class is sure to establish a base for all of the skills that you will need to learn as your career progresses. 

Cybersecurity for Critical Urban Infrastructure

A more specialized course than others, this one shows you the real-world applications for cyber security techniques and how they protect us in our daily lives. As hackers continue to make ransomware attacks on cities that cost them millions, cyber security engineers are working to protect cities from these debilitating attacks.

This course shows you how these cities can protect themselves, and how you can help them stay safe. 

Cyber Security Engineer Certificates

There are a few cyber security engineer certifications that can help you solidify your expertise and expand your knowledge. The following are just a couple of the most popular certifications. 

CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional

This is one of the most popular certificates for cyber security engineers. The exam tests your knowledge across eight topics, including security and risk management, asset security, software development security, and more. 

You’re required to have five years of paid work experience across two of the eight domains the exam covers. They have a few different concentrations available for the exam as well. 

AWS Certified Security – Specialty

This class certifies successful participants as experts in the Amazon Web Services cloud platform. It shows that you understand the data encryption methods along with other protection mechanisms. It also shows that you have at least two years of experience deploying secure software on AWS servers. 

As AWS is the cloud platform with the biggest footprint, you’ll open a lot of doors by showing you know how to keep data on the platform safe.   

Should You Become a Cyber Security Engineer in 2021?

You should definitely become a cyber security engineer in 2021. More and more businesses are scaling up their tech or moving to the cloud, and the field is constantly expanding. It is a relatively simple route towards a high five-figure salary with a barrier of entry that only requires competency in security.

Cyber Security Engineer FAQ

How much does a cyber security engineer make? 

A cyber security engineer makes around $99,834, according to Glassdoor. Your salary will depend on your industry and location, like most other tech jobs. 

Is cyber security a good career?

Yes. The cyber security field will continue to grow as the tech footprint for companies grows over the years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the field to grow by 31 percent by 2029. 

Is coding required for cyber security?

You are expected to have a few basic coding skills to get a job as a cyber security engineer. Not only will you be expected to maintain secure solutions, but in a lot of cases, you will also be asked to build out new solutions and install tools on top of a current framework. 

Where do I start in cyber security? 

There are plenty of free courses online, offered by some of the biggest companies on the planet. You can get started in the field at no cost, and around 55 percent of companies will pay for you to take certification courses after hiring you. These certifications are key for deepening your knowledge of cyber security. 

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