National Careers Week: Become a Cyber Security Expert

In honour of National Careers Week 2019, we’re profiling some of the latest jobs from Careers 2019.

Last in the list of roles is Cyber Security Expert, download a PDF of this job profile here:

Cyber Security Expert profile


Qualifications and courses

It is possible for school leavers to enter this profession through an entry-level position in IT or an apprenticeship. However, some employers may have a preference for those holding a relevant degree in computer science or in a STEM subject. A list of bachelor’s and master’s degrees which are certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is available from the NCSC website. Applicants for degree programmes typically require A levels or equivalent qualifications in STEM subjects.

Employers seek applicants with technical qualifications which can include the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). You may also be required to provide the employer with an ethical hacker certification. There are a number of training courses available including the ITIL Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management.

CyberFirst offers introductory cyber security courses for 11-17 year olds and runs its CyberFirst Girls competition each year. The scheme also offers a bursary of up to £4000 a year for students, as well as a new CyberFirst Degree Apprenticeship. The apprenticeship will take 3 years to complete and offers applicants the chance to earn a salary whilst learning. For entry-level and experienced IT professionals, the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) offers training and certification such as the CompTIA Security+ certification.


What the work involves

A cyber security expert will work to protect individuals and organisations from cyber attacks. Roles include consulting, engineering and operations. A consultant will run risk assessments and advise clients on how best to protect their organisation from attack. Those working in engineering roles will be involved with designing and building secure IT systems for clients. A role in operations will involve the live monitoring of IT systems and penetration testing. Depending on the size of the company, a cyber security expert may work across all of these areas or focus on just one.


Type of person suited to this work

You will need a strong knowledge of IT systems and good attention to detail in order to identify potential security concerns.

You will need to think like an attacker so the ability to apply creativity to problem-solving is important.

You will need to be quick to adapt and respond to new security technologies and threats.


Working conditions

There is a high demand for cyber security experts, especially in the south-east of England. Typical employers include banks, the government and security consultancy firms.

You are likely to be office-based though consultants may be required to travel to meet clients.

You may have to work on a call-out rota to be able to respond to urgent security incidents.


Future prospects

There is a major cyber security skills shortage. A 2017 study by Indeed found that job seeker interest in cyber security roles only met 31.6% of employer demand in the UK.

Only 10% of the cyber workforce is female. Schemes such as CyberFirst are helping to change this through initiatives such as its annual CyberFirst Girls Competition.

With experience, there are opportunities to be promoted into management roles. Experienced cyber security experts can also move into self-employment as consultants.



Cyber attacks can severely endanger an organisation’s integrity. It will be your responsibility to make sure a client’s information is safe and secure. The job can be fast-paced and stressful at times as you may be called out at short notice to respond to a cyber attack.

You will make a big difference to help tackle and lower rates of cybercrime by improving the IT infrastructure of your clients. It is a rewarding experience to stop cyber attacks from occuring.


Money guide

Starting salaries are around £25,000 a year.

With experience this can rise to around £35,000 a year.

Those working in more senior roles can expect around £45,000 to £90,000 a year.


Further information


International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council)

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)



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