Cybersecurity has become increasingly important as security incidents have risen, leading to a greater demand for specialized skills in the field. Many professionals have bolstered their skills through certification courses or further education. This progression has formalized the cybersecurity career path, with distinct milestones and requirements. The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) International has developed the Cyber Security Career Lifecycle (CSCL) model to help professionals chart their path in the industry.
The CSCL model outlines five career steps, each with multiple job titles and skills. The first stage is the Pre-Professional phase, which includes individuals with no cybersecurity experience, such as those with backgrounds in liberal arts or law enforcement. These professionals can transition to the cybersecurity field and are well-suited for roles such as threat researchers due to their investigative and analytical skills. Entry Level positions typically require 1-3 years of experience, often in roles like security analysts in a security operations center (SOC), with salaries ranging from $40,000 to $80,000.
Mid-Career professionals, with 3-5 years of experience, have mastered general security principles and have begun to focus on specialized areas such as network security or cloud security architecture, with salaries ranging from $80,000 to $105,000. Senior Level professionals, with 5-8 years of experience, take on leadership roles, leading threat intelligence teams, or managing pen tests and incident response teams. They earn salaries ranging from $105,000 to $160,000, with top professionals making close to $250,000.
Finally, Security Leaders, who have 8 or more years of experience, are seasoned veterans who manage people and projects. These professionals, including Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), have a deep understanding of business and cybersecurity, and are crucial for effectively communicating security risks to senior management. Salaries for these professionals range from $160,000 to $265,000, with top CISOs at Fortune 500 companies earning above this range.
Overall, professionals interested in the cybersecurity industry can follow a structured career path, which includes mastering different levels of experience, and gaining the necessary qualifications and skills. With the increasing importance of cybersecurity, the demand for skilled professionals continues to grow. Steve Zurier, an independent freelance technology writer, covers topics such as IT security, networking, and cloud computing.