Top Cybersecurity Career Paths and Certifications

Myles Brown | Thursday, February 20, 2020

Top Cybersecurity Career Paths and Certifications

We’re living in a digital age. It’s an exciting world of possibilities for companies to expand their business across space and time, but with expansion comes risk. Opportunist hackers, malware and viruses are always lurking. As businesses fortify their defenses against online threats, careers in cybersecurity — the protection of network systems from intrusion — continue to boom, with multiple paths to take.

There have been countless cyberattacks in the 21st century with varying degrees of severity. However, the cyberattacks that made headlines over the past decade were NotPetya, Mirai, Stuxnet and WannaCry. These four attacks are examples of the inconvenient truth that most businesses are not prepared as they increasingly embrace digitization and begin the process of digital transformation.

The cybersecurity industry is anticipated to exceed the $220 billion mark by 2021. A 2019 CSIS survey of IT decision makers conducted across 8 countries found that 82% of organizations report a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals while 71% mention the skilled cybersecurity staff shortage as the major cause for extreme or moderate risk to their organizations. Experts at Symantec and Cisco claim that the world will need 6 million cybersecurity experts by the end of 2019. However, there is a shortfall of over 1.5 million skilled and trained cybersecurity professionals. (ISC)2 research estimates a shortage of close to 3 million cybersecurity professionals across the globe with a gap of 2.15 million in Asia-Pacific alone. 

The existence of too few cybersecurity professionals has been a huge problem for companies. Between September 2017 and August 2018, U.S. employers posted nearly 314,000 jobs for cybersecurity professionals. Top brands many organizations use include AWS, VMware, Microsoft, IBM, to name a few. The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education says that filling these positions would boost the country’s current cyber workforce of 714,000 by more than 40 percent.

According to an Accenture survey of 2000 UK workers:

  • 70% of professionals who received or have taken cybersecurity training felt that they had the know-how of how to recognize and react to potential threats while 25% felt that the most effective way to protect against threats is Cybersecurity training.
  • 55% of the respondents to the survey do not remember receiving any cybersecurity training.
  • 19% do not even know how to identify a phishing mail.
  • As the need for cybersecurity professionals continues to grow at a significant rate, undergoing formal training to upgrade cybersecurity skills is recommended for IT professionals. In fact, cybersecurity tops our list of the top IT jobs that are difficult for employers to fill, therefore it's important for to know what the top cyberseurity jobs are and what certifications can help you get them.

The Core Disciplines of Cybersecurity 

1. Network Security

Network security guards against the unauthorized intrusion of a network(s). The goal is to ensure that internal networks are secure by restricting access and protecting/maintaining existing infrastructure. 

2. Cloud Security

Cloud security is a software-based tool that secures and monitors data on cloud infrastructure. It involves regularly creating and implementing new cloud security tools to fortify infrastructure against new forms of hacking and cyber breaches.

 3. Critical Infrastructure Security

Critical infrastructure security encompasses the cyber-physical systems that are used in high-value, high-sensitivity environments to enhance cybersecurity. Examples of critical IT infrastructure include power grids, traffic lights and hospitals.

4. Application Security

Application security involves leveraging industry-leading IT security software to protect against external threats that may arise during the initial stages of an application. Types of application security include antivirus programs, firewalls and encryption programs.

Cybersecurity companies predict that the demand for skilled and certified cybersecurity professionals will continue to rise over the next decade - which makes cybersecurity training and certifications a worthwhile investment. Cybersecurity training and certification might seem a little costly but are worth the investment as these present you with an opportunity to negotiate a higher starting salary. 

The Top 4 Cybersecurity Career Paths

1. Cybersecurity Architect

Average Salary: $122,634

A cybersecurity architect designs, builds, tests and implements security systems on an organization’s network. This senior-level role requires a thorough understanding of all the complex IT security structures. You are also expected to be knowledgeable in the latest security standards and protocols.


  • Review current security system measures and recommend enhancements
  • Conduct regular risk analyses and vulnerability testing
  • Respond to all security threats and establish disaster recovery protocols
  • Ensure everyone within an organization has access to the IT system, limited by roles and needs as necessary
  • Develop timelines for ongoing security projects within an organization

Why Become a Cybersecurity Architect?

A cybersecurity architect performs a critical role in protecting a company’s data, network and other sensitive information from cyberattacks. These IT professionals are in high demand and enjoy considerable job security. Pay is determined based on location and level of experience.

2. Cybersecurity Analyst

A cybersecurity analyst is tasked with planning and implementing security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. This role also diligently monitors the organization’s network for potential and imminent threats.

Average Salary: $107,579


  • Monitor computer networks
  • Investigate security breaches and document these breaches to analyze the damage caused
  • Install security measures and software to protect systems
  • Work with security team to uncover any network vulnerabilities
  • Conduct research on security enhancements and present to management for review
  • Stay up to date with IT industry trends

Why Become a Cybersecurity Analyst?

This profession presents the ultimate potential for growth in your cybersecurity career. In this role, you will come to realize that learning about IT security is continuous, as it’s a role that pushes you to stay engaged and seek out new challenges.

Learn more about taking a Cybersecurity Analyst+ (CYSA+) course virtually or in person.

3. Network Architect

Average Salary: $112,000

Network architects are responsible for designing and building data communications networks. This includes wide area networks, intranets and local area networks, ranging from small connections to multinational communications systems.


  • Plan and build data communications networks
  • Embed information security when designing networks
  • Determine what routers, adapters and network drivers are required
  • Decide where hardware and cables will be laid out
  • Constantly research new technologies for an organization

Why Become a Network Architect?

Network architects are highly inquisitive and logical, and work alongside computer systems engineers when building the network they’ve designed. While technical abilities are an asset in this role, it’s logic and experience that provide businesses with the assurance that all precautions have been taken when building a network.

Learn the essentials of Digital Network Architecture Implementation.

4. Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO)

Average Salary: $226,265 

The CCISO position is a worldwide executive leader who addresses potential threats to information and security through a robust security strategy. These professionals must have the right expertise, experience, leadership skills and innovative mind to deal with these problems. Given the evolving demands in cybersecurity, this role is essential because organizations are increasingly in need of new skillsets at a scale.


  • Ensure network upgrades and other IT projects are implemented without compromising security
  • Create strategic IT security plans
  • Hire and manage security and IT professionals
  • Plan, monitor and forecast security budgets
  • Oversee onboarding of remote workers

Why Become a CCISO?

A CCISO has a unique combination of advanced IT security and leadership skills. This role also requires exceptional communication skills because you will be addressing employees, executives, shareholders and investors on a regular basis. Many consider becoming a CCISO to be the peak of a cybersecurity career.

Top Cybersecurity Certifications

A cybersecurity certification credential will help you stand out against competition, ultimately making the job market yours. For instance, there are 76,413 CISSP certified professionals globally compared to 78,523 job openings mentioning that same certification as a mandate. 2019 is the right time to upgrade your cybersecurity skills and earn accredited certifications to gain an edge over your competitors. 

Are you wondering or questioning yourself on which cybersecurity certifications are most valuable? The answer to this question depends on who you ask, and how you look at it. There are many cybersecurity certifications as listed below, and they’re all valuable. 

1. CompTIA Security+ 

Entry-level, vendor-neutral security certification. 

2. CEH - Certified Ethical Hacker

Intermediate-level credential offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) 

3. CND – Certified Network Defender 

Focuses on creating Network Administrators who are trained on protecting, detecting and responding to the threats on the network – offered by EC-Council 

4. SSCP - Systems Security Certified Practitioner

Validates your skills in the main components of cybersecurity including access controls, cryptography, monitoring and analysis, malicious code and activity, and security operations and administration. 

5. CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Validates your expertise to design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program. 

6. Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

Validates your expertise and hands-n experience in designing, managing, operations, and service of cloud security architecture. 

If you are a beginner in the field of Cybersecurity, career coaches at ExitCertified suggest you begin with and complete the CompTIA Security+ to call yourself a cybersecurity pro. This is a key cybersecurity certification IT professionals should earn to apply for intermediate level cybersecurity jobs. This certification establishes the basic knowledge and validates the baseline skills required for any cybersecurity job role. 

Prove You’re on the Forefront of Cybersecurity with Authorized Security Training 

As we already mentioned, Cybercrimes and hackers can hamper a company’s reputation and destroy their business. With the increasing number of cyber crimes, cybersecurity is becoming one of the fastest growing business components. Organizations are making cybersecurity training a top priority for their staff and IT professionals.  Most companies invest a huge sum in cybersecurity training for their employees so that they are aware of the cyber-criminals and hacktivists that scan their software systems and the web on the hunt for targets and vulnerabilities. 

We know your time is valuable and if you want to use it wisely, cybersecurity training is a smart investment and here’s why – 

Credibility – Getting trained and certified in cybersecurity positions you as an authority figure on security skills. Authorized training is an easy and quick way to showcase your knowledge and garner trust from employers. 

Versatility –  With multiple vendor-specific and vendor-neutral training available online, you can master cyber skills across diverse software platforms and become a versatile cybersecurity expert. This will make you more marketable to employers as you equip yourself with the skills required to protect data in different environments. 

Career Advancement - As millions fall prey to ransomware, phishing scams, DDoS attacks, organizations are struggling hard to fill the million cybersecurity job roles. There are plenty of opportunities for you to advance into a career that serves the greater good through security training and bridge the talent gap. 

Increase your Salary – One cannot deny the fact that money makes the world go round. The lack of trained and certified cybersecurity experts is encouraging companies to pay high salaries to professionals who can showcase their security skills by having undertaken certified training or earning accredited certification credentials.   

With multiple product-specific security training’s available at ExitCertified you can gain real-life security skills, knowledge of product-specific vulnerabilities and hands-on experience making you a critical resource for these organizations. ExitCertified delivers world-class vendor-specific security training to professionals across the globe. We are proud to offer a wide catalog of vendor-specific cybersecurity training – IBM Security Training, Cisco Security Training, and Checkpoint Training.  

Cybersecurity is a fundamental asset for businesses in 2020 and will continue to be for decades to come. The reality is that as businesses ramp up digital operations, monetary investments and database systems, the allure is undeniable to hackers. 
ExitCertified offers more than 9,500 courses. Browse our wide selection of cybersecurity courses and certifications for organizations and individuals, and help make the internet safer for businesses by paving your career path in cybersecurity.

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