Learn about the job landscape, the global threats cyber criminals are posing, and how to make the leap into this booming industry.

In an age when everything from our bank statements to our stovetops are going online, safeguarding the world’s digital assets has never been more critical – and the success of that venture begins and ends with the cybersecurity industry. Here at Udacity, we’re extremely excited about cybersecurity as a whole for a number of reasons. For one, cybersecurity truly is becoming one of the world’s most pressing issues – and no, we aren’t exaggerating. The World Economic Forum recently categorized cybercrime and cyber insecurity as one of the ten most severe global risks we’ll face over the next decade. If we want to keep our businesses and personal lives safe from the threat of cyber criminals, it’s going to take talented, passionate professionals to join in and lead the charge. Secondly, the outlook of the job landscape is trending upward. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor has labeled cybersecurity as one of the fastest growing industries within the IT space.

Still not convinced cybersecurity is right for you? In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are our 6 favorite reasons to consider becoming a cybersecurity professional in 2024 and beyond.

#1. A growing industry means job stability. 

Contrary to common belief, it isn’t only large corporations that invest in cybersecurity to stay afloat. Small businesses, scrappy startups, and even brick-and-mortar stores need to secure their data and private information against unauthorized attacks. That means more job openings across a wide variety of industries. According to Simplilearn, the demand for cybersecurity roles at large is expected to grow by 18% over the next five years. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the employment of information security analysts will jump 35% from 2021 to 2031, compared to a 5% average growth rate for other occupations. 

While there’s always a level of uncertainty when projecting the future of any field, it’s safe to assume that as long as there are cyber criminals running rampant, there will be a need for cybersecurity professionals. So if you’re looking for a career path you can trust to be at a premium for the long haul, then look no further.

#2. High salaries from entry level to the C-suite.

The state of the industry is reflected by the pay of its most prominent positions as well. PayScale lists the average annual salary for cybersecurity engineers in the U.S. at $97,000, malware analysts at $92,000, and ethical hackers at $125,000. As you go up the cybersecurity career ladder, the figures get even more impressive – with over half of CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) nationwide making anywhere from $400,000 to surpassing $1 million a year according to a 2023 benchmark study.

#3. A career path as unique as you are.

The professional trajectory of an individual in cybersecurity is far from set in stone. Here are just a few real-world examples of the different career paths you can take, along with a little about what each is responsible for.

  • Cybersecurity Analyst: This role involves monitoring systems, analyzing security threats, and implementing security measures to protect an organization’s digital assets.
  • Ethical Hacker (Penetration Tester): These professionals test systems and applications to identify vulnerabilities, mimicking real cyber threats to help organizations improve their security from top to bottom.
  • Security Consultant: Security consultants provide expert advice to organizations, assessing their security status and recommending solutions to enhance protection.
  • Security Engineer: These engineers design and implement critical security measures, including firewalls, encryption protocols, and access controls to safeguard an organization’s infrastructure.
  • Compliance and Policy Analyst: Professionals in this role ensure that an organization adheres to relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards regarding cybersecurity.

#4. Make a world of difference. 

We’re not saying you have to wear a cape to work every day if you decide to become a cybersecurity pro, but it would be pretty fitting based on the good work you’d be doing. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, worldwide damages inflicted by cybercrime are predicted to total $8 trillion by the end of this year. On top of that, an estimated 47% of American adults have had their personal information exposed by cyber criminals. By getting involved in the industry, you would be helping both businesses and individuals safeguard their personal information, their right to privacy, and in many cases, their financial livelihoods.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, worldwide damages inflicted by cybercrime are predicted to total $8 trillion by the end of this year.

#5. As many puzzles as your heart desires.

A quick glance into any spam folder in your email inbox will tell you that cyber criminals are getting more and more creative as the years go by. From scamming people out of their hard-earned retirement to hacking into company databases, cyber criminals continue to pose threats to people and companies around the world. As a cybersecurity pro, you’ll have the opportunity to tackle complex problems by conducting vulnerability assessments, leading penetration testing, developing your organization’s IAM (identity and access management) protocols, and more. So if you can’t let a puzzle go until you’ve figured it out, cybersecurity is a job that’ll keep you on your toes and intellectually engaged over the course of your career. 

#6. Loads of industries to choose from.

Organizations across all different fields are actively looking for cybersecurity professionals, so you’ll be able to follow your passions wherever they may lead. Always loved the medical field but can’t picture yourself wearing scrubs to work every day? Then take a look into cybersecurity openings in the healthcare industry. Want to carry your skill set from industry to industry to keep things interesting? Cybersecurity is one of the few roles that will let you do that.

Okay, I’m in. Where do I go from here?

Cheers to you on your potential new path! We recommend bucketing your plan of action into three distinct steps.

#1. Start planning.

As you dig further into your research of this profession, begin to take inventory of what drew you to considering the industry in the first place. Is it the humanitarian aspect of helping fight one of the top crises our world is facing? Is it the thrill of solving messy, multi-layered problems? Investing time now to look inward and self-reflect could very well save you time (and money) down the line.

#2. Start connecting.

Although it’s a relatively new field when compared to the rest of the professional world, the cybersecurity industry is largely a supportive, close-knit community – both online and offline. Start connecting with others on LinkedIn and in subreddits like r/hackernews and r/cyber, or on more formal forums like Malware Tips. You can also explore in-person groups by sifting through your local search results on Meetup.com. Even if you’re brand new to cybersecurity, it’s never too early to begin growing your network and asking the right questions to the individuals who have already gotten to where you’re headed.

#3. Start learning. 

There are many different learning paths you can take, all with their own sets of pros and cons based on your specific situation. From formal education to bootcamps to self-guided learning on YouTube, cybersecurity material is in no short supply and is yours for the taking. If you’re ready to gain job-ready skills from project-based learning, as well as 24/7 mentor support from cybersecurity experts, then we recommend you check out Udacity’s School of Cybersecurity. There, you’ll find 37 top-rated courses and counting that were co-created with industry titans. And now, with our ‘all access’ subscription, you can access our entire best-in-class catalog with a single subscription. 

Your cybersecurity journey begins now!

The digital ecosystem is always changing, and that means the need for cybersecurity experts is skyrocketing along with it. Cybersecurity is a profession where you can feed your curiosity and also make a big difference by keeping organizations and people unaffected by ever-evolving online threats. So, if you’re up for a career that’s both challenging and rewarding, all while making the internet a safer place, we hope you’ll consider cybersecurity.

Dakota Nunley
Dakota Nunley
Content Strategy Manager at Udacity