How To Become a Cybersecurity Manager in 5 Steps
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If you’re just starting your search for the right profession or have been in the workforce for some time but are trying to find ways to upskill yourself into a better career, you may be looking into what it takes to become a cybersecurity manager. This career path will be filled with daily challenges to keep your interest level high. It’s also unlikely that the need for cybersecurity managers will be decreasing anytime soon, with demand for experts in this technological field growing every year.
Cybersecurity managers are responsible for the safety and security of an organization’s or an individual’s computer networks. This includes protecting these networks from hackers, malware, other viruses, security breaches, and any other loss of cybersecurity. A cybersecurity manager is also tasked with keeping computer networks running smoothly, staying up to date on the latest threats, monitoring the implementation of all upgrades, and ensuring compliance with any regulations by conducting frequent audits.
As more and more companies, governments, and individuals conduct business transactions and keep data records online, the risk of security breaches and hackings for ransom grow, too. This has led to a rapidly growing demand for skilled cybersecurity managers to help decrease the vulnerability of computer networks.
Cybersecurity Manager Job Requirements
As with most jobs, cybersecurity managers need both hard and soft skills to meet the rigorous demands of the companies hiring them and the HR professionals interviewing them.
Soft skills are natural personality traits that can be honed with experience. These skills can’t be learned in a classroom. Those needed for a cybersecurity manager include:
- The ability to be calm under pressure
- The ability to handle several crises simultaneously
- Strong communication skills
- Being a team player
- Being willing and able to constantly upgrade your knowledge base
- Attention to detail
Hard skills can be taught and many of those needed to be a cybersecurity manager require extensive learning. These skills include:
- Strong knowledge of operating systems
- Strong knowledge of the major computer languages
- A thorough understanding of the software and hardware required to keep a computer network running smoothly
- An understanding of the hacker mentality and the techniques they use
- Strong knowledge of the most common virus and malware threats and how to thwart them
- Thorough understanding of computer security measures like firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention protocols
- Thorough, up-to-date knowledge of the language of cybersecurity
Most hiring managers will require a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a closely related field — at the very least — to consider a candidate for any position in this technological field. The position of a cybersecurity manager is not an entry-level position so quantifiable and valuable experience will likely be required for a candidate to be considered.
How To Become a Cybersecurity Manager in 5 Steps
While nothing’s ever set in stone and success cannot be guaranteed, following these five steps should give you a great chance of being hired as a cybersecurity manager.
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Some four-year colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity but many do not. You may need to earn your degree in a related field like information technology. Some colleges offer majors in computer science with minors in information security. Any of these options should be enough to get your foot in the door as a cybersecurity specialist.
2. Gain Experience in the Field
Once you’ve landed an entry-level position in cybersecurity, learn everything you can from those who have more experience than you. Books can only teach you so much. The hands-on experience you gain is much more valuable to hiring managers.
3. Gain Managerial Experience
Cybersecurity managers don’t just work with the computer networks, they also have a team of people they lead. As a cybersecurity manager, you may be responsible for the hiring and firing of these people. You will most certainly be responsible for their training and actions on the job. Any experience you can gain in the management of teams of people will be helpful, both for your resume and your job.
If you don’t have a pathway to such experience in your current position, taking a few classes in management and human resources may be enough.
4. Earn Certifications
There are several certifications you could earn to increase your knowledge base and your chances of being hired as a cybersecurity manager. These include:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
- Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
As the field of cybersecurity grows, more certifications are being added every day. It would be wise to earn as many certifications as you can manage.
All of the current certifications require passing an exam. Some also require on-the-job experience and classes. Most also require you to earn recertification after a couple of years.
5. Earn a Master’s Degree
While earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity may not be absolutely essential in all situations, it would be wise to plan on earning one. Having this degree won’t just give you an edge over those candidates that don’t have one, it will also ensure that you’re current on all of the latest techniques and technologies.
Salaries and Growth Opportunities for Cybersecurity Managers
According to PayScale, the median salary earned by information security managers stands at around $117,598 per year. The most common determining factors for these salaries were the area in which the position was offered and the years of experience of the employee.
Job security is high for any cybersecurity position according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and it seems likely that demand for people skilled at these positions, including cybersecurity analysts, will only continue to grow. Because cybersecurity managers have already reached a management-level position, career growth within a given company tends to be rather low. The odds for continued professional growth in this field generally increase if you’re willing to change employers, leaving one company to join another in the role of cybersecurity manager.
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