Over the last year, the demand for cyber security professionals skyrocketed by 60% and it’s not stopping there.

With technology advancing rapidly and more of us working in agile ways, businesses are investing in effective measures that protect our digital systems and data from harmful threats. That’s where cyber security comes in.

What’s cyber security and why is it so important?

Cyber security safeguards our digital networks, software, and devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, and computers) against malicious attacks from cybercriminals.

Once someone has unauthorised access to a system or data they can leak, damage, or delete sensitive information and prevent others from accessing this. This could have a widespread, catastrophic impact – which is why cyber security is a top priority for many leaders in government, private business, etc.

Three in-demand careers in cyber security

Cyber security is a dynamic and lucrative field. To help you navigate through the different career options we’ve pulled together some of the most sought-after roles available today.

1. Forensic Computer Analyst

Forensic Computer Analysts (FCAs) investigate cybercrime and cover anything from hacking, online scams and fraud to political, industrial and commercial espionage.

What skills and qualifications do I need to be an FCA?

A background in IT or a similar field is an excellent foundation to build upon. Some employers look for industry-related awards and certifications. To specialise in cyber security, Forensic Computer Analysts often need to have:

  • Good problem-solving skills
  • The ability to work in a high-pressure environment
  • Strong numerical and analytical skills
  • Microsoft (MS) Access or knowledge of Structures Query Language (SQL)
  • A solid understanding of operating systems

What salary ranges are available?

Salaries vary depending on your level of experience and seniority. Entry-level roles often start from £20,000 – £25,000 per annum, increasing to £60,000+ for advanced positions. Both private and public companies hire Forensic Computer Analysts, including:

  • Barclays
  • National Crime Agency
  • MET Police
  • MI5
  • Financial Conduct Authority

2. Ethical Hacker

As an Ethical Hacker, you’d use your cyber security expertise to expose and find solutions to any vulnerabilities in a business’ website, network or systems.

What skills and qualifications do I need to be an Ethical Hacker?

You need a degree in cyber security or Information Systems to become an ethical hacker. A Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification would also put your CV at an advantage. Alongside your qualifications, employers usually look for professionals who:

  • Can safely and ethically investigate vulnerabilities
  • Have a solid knowledge of hacker techniques and stay up-to-date on any developments
  • Understand confidentiality issues and the laws relating to them

What salary ranges are available?

Depending on what kind of experience you already have, salaries for Ethical Hackers typically start at £30,000 – £40,000 with a median salary of £50,000 – £65,000. At a senior level, you could earn £70,000+.

Ethical Hackers play a central role in lots of different industries – and once qualified you can work for companies such as:

  • Banks (Barclays and Natwest)
  • MI5
  • Media organisations (iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon Prime)
  • Ministry of Defence

3. Chief Information Security Officer 

Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) tend to have the highest-paid jobs in the Information Security sector. That’s because they direct strategy, operations and budgets to ensure that their company’s information assets and technologies are protected from any threats.

What skills and qualifications do I need to be a Chief Information Security Officer?

A degree in cyber security, Information Systems or an equivalent field of study would be a great advantage if you’re interested in specialising in this field. As a CISO, you’ll need to be confident with:

  • IT strategies, security architectures and key compliance frameworks
  • Firewall intrusion and detection protocols
  • The different legal, regulatory and financial constraints – and how they can impact the process of developing and implementing projects
  • Influencing and interacting with multiple stakeholders

What salary ranges are available?

A base salary for a CISO is often £130,000+ but this depends on your experience and the sector you work in. For example, you can expect these ranges in the following industries:

  • Finance and banking: £111,256
  • Retail: £104,400
  • Telecommunications: £85,889
  • Government: £74,600

Barclays, Natwest, Google, Microsoft, and MI5 are some of the biggest names employing CISO specialists today.

How to take your next step into cyber security

As more business leaders focus on fortifying their cyber security, it’s a uniquely exciting time to get into the field. Start your journey with a part-time postgraduate degree in MSc Cyber Security at Northumbria University.

Certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), you’ll gain the knowledge and practical skills needed to succeed across various industries. You’ll be able to study while working, and sharpen your expertise in:

  • Tackling security incidents
  • Identifying and creating solutions for new and existing threats
  • The fundamental concepts, principles and technologies for network security
  • Governance and assurance, and technology risk practices

For personalised advice and information about the course, entry requirements and our next intakes get in touch with our friendly team.

Editor’s note: This blog was republished with revisions in March 2023 for transparency.

Quick contact

Please note, this will overwrite any previous communication preferences you may have already specified to us on our website or websites relating to our University Partners. You can change your communication preferences at any time. QA Higher Education will process your personal data as set out in our privacy notice