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Top 4 Cybersecurity Career Paths 

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.

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. 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.

 Within the field of cybersecurity, four core disciplines play a vital role in protecting data and sensitive information.

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.

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.

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.

View our Cybersecurity Courses

Salary source information obtained from Cyberdegrees.org and Salary.com.

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