Cybersecurity jobs

A first-year Computer Science student asked: “What do I need to become a successful Cybersecurity expert? How much could I make as an entry level? What is the career of a Cybersecurity person? Please advise.”

Answer: Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing careers with extremely high demand all over the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), a Cybersecurity professional can make between $116,000 to $125,000 Dollars at the entry-level position, and much more when they have experience. That is one of the highest salaries among college graduates.

Image: Internet

Most positions in cybersecurity require a 4-year bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information system Management, or Computer Engineering. Most graduates start as entry-level cybersecurity engineer, after three to five years, some move up to Security Analysts, then Security Leaders, and ultimately to Chief Information Security Officers.

A Cybersecurity professional implement and monitor security measures to protect the computer system against attacks and unauthorized access. Since not many schools are teaching this field because it is changing quickly due to the nature of the works, but there are many excellent online courses at Coursera and edX on this field. There are several cybersecurity trainings that lead to a certification such as MTA security Fundamentals (Microsoft); Certified Information Security Manager (CISM); Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA); Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP); CompTIA Security certificate; and GIAC Information Security etc.

Before taking these courses, you need to know C and C++ as these languages provide access to low-level infrastructure such as RAM and system processes, which if not well protected, hackers can easily exploit. The C programming language is the core of most operating systems. It is an efficient language that can be used to complete a wide range of tasks such as cryptography, image processing, and socket networking. C++ is an object-oriented language that is based on many C code. The popular cybersecurity Nmap, the network mapper tool is written in C++. If you are good in C and C++, you will know how to respond to attacks targeting lower-level infrastructure of the computer systems.

Another popular programming language widely uses among cybersecurity professionals is Python. It is popular because Python is clear, simple, and widely available to perform malware analysis and create intrusion detection systems. However, Python is a high-level language, it will not provide enough visibility to hardware resources like C and C++ so you need to know all three languages to do a good job.

Another high-level programming language which is often used in the web is JavaScript. It is the most popular language that adds interactivity to web pages. Because of its extensive usage in websites, knowing JavaScript will allow you to know how websites and other applications work so you can manage and prevent malicious attacks such as “cross-site scripting” a JavaScript-based attack that involves an attacker implanting malicious code in a web application.

Since most websites are created using PHP. Knowing this language will allow you to know how to defend against intruders. Many DDoS (Denial-of-service) attacks usually attempt to make web applications unavailable to intended users. Knowing both PHP and JavaScript, you can implement solutions to help secure web applications.

These are popular programming languages that a Cybersecurity professional need to know, but I am sure there are more as new languages are created and hackers always use new techniques to access the system. To be successful as the Cybersecurity professional, the more languages you know, the better you can manage your system against intruders. As you gain more experience, you can work almost everywhere as this is one of the careers that is needed all over the world and the demand is very high.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University