A Job In Security Leads To Job Security

Developers who focus on secure development skills find themselves in high demand.

Paul Curran, Application Security Community Specialist, Checkmarx

October 18, 2016

5 Min Read

Developers who choose to augment their knowledge with secure development skills will find themselves in the most in-demand career field as the growth in cyberattacks forces organizations and governments to strengthen their cyber war chests with more advanced tools, increased budgets, and larger teams.

A quick glance at the astronomical budgets that governments and Fortune 100 companies are allocating toward cybersecurity provides a glimpse into the extreme challenges organizations face because of the increase in cyberattack sophistication and volume. 

J.P. Morgan has increased its 2016 cybersecurity budget to $500 million, up from $250 million in 2015, and its general counsel for intellectual property and data protection says that the company "still feels challenged" by cyberattacks. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan has said that when it comes to cybersecurity, there are no budget constraints. At the federal level, President Obama has increased cybersecurity spending to $19 billion in 2017, up from $14 billion in 2016.

But even with massive budgets being earmarked to protect against cyberattacks, it's difficult for organizations to fill all their open cybersecurity positions. In 2015, more than 200,000 cybersecurity job positions went unfilled, a shortfall that is on track to increase to 1.5 million by 2019, according to Symantec CEO Michael Brown.

For developers passionate about securing code and willing to invest the time needed to add security to their IT skills, when it comes to career advancement, there are many opportunities. 

How Can Developers Choose "Secure Development"?
At the top of the pyramid when it comes to cybersecurity certifications is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP); however, it requires years of prior experience in information security. 

For developers looking to boost their secure development knowledge by attaining a security certification, an ideal place to start your research is "10 Security Certifications To Boost Your Career" in order to find the certification that matches your goals and current qualifications. 

When it comes to pinpointing which pathway best suits your cybersecurity career goals, there are numerous routes to take. 

Developers who have a passion for policy enforcement, incident response, auditing, or user awareness and are interested in providing a security perspective on third-party products can head in the direction of enterprise IT security.

Compliance-minded developers with experience developing applications with PCI-DSS, MISRA, FIPS, and other policy certifications can find roles available as security or compliance consultants, or as internal or external auditors. 

Other routes include jobs in wireless security, network security, cryptography, risk management, identity architects, and many others. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the most sought-after job titles in cybersecurity include security engineer, security analyst, information security analyst, network security engineer, and information technology security analyst. 

5 Top Security Careers, Job Descriptions & Salaries
Higher salaries are the most obvious benefit for developers who decide to enhance their cybersecurity knowledge and move into secure development roles. Roles in cybersecurity can pay up to 9% more on average than IT jobs outside of the security realm.

Note: Salary statistics taken from PayScale, job description information from Cyber Degrees.

Security Engineer
Security engineers build and maintain IT security solutions within organizations. They perform vulnerability testing, risk analyses, and security assessments while creating innovative ways to solve existing production security issues. 
Requirements: Degree in computer science
Median Salary: $88,777 

Security Analyst
Security analysts are in charge of the detection and prevention of cyberthreats against an organization through an ongoing analysis of the company's IT infrastructure. Tasks include the planning and implementation of security measures and controls, data maintenance and the monitoring of security assets, in-house security awareness training, and more. 
Requirements: Between one and five years of cybersecurity experience is needed.
Median Salary: $66,787

Penetration Tester
Penetration testers are legal hackers who help organizations find security threats in applications, networks, and systems. They're also known as pentesters. They test applications by simulating cyberattacks that have been found in the wild. 
Requirements: Unlike other cybersecurity, many openings for pentesters don't require a degree; however, your abilities will be under constant scrutiny, so some formal education is recommended. 
Median Salary: $77,774

Security Consultant
Security consultants design and implement innovative security solutions. Since security consultants are relied upon by numerous different departments to guide and implement long-term cybersecurity strategy, extensive industry experience is required. For developers who are new to security, starting as a pentester or security analyst is recommended, although after proving themselves in other security roles for between three to five years, and understanding the industry inside out, aspiring security analysts could find themselves relevant for this role. 
Requirements: A degree in computer science and between three and five years of experience in cybersecurity are needed. 
Median Salary: $80,763

Incident Responder
Incident responders, also known as CSIRT engineers, or intrusion analysts, investigate and limit the damage from cyberattacks that have occurred while working closely with the security team to prevent further attacks from taking place. Incident responders monitor their organization's networks and systems for threats while performing audits, risk analysis, and malware assessments. 
Requirements: Like pentesters, incident responders don't necessarily have to have a specific degree, although a cybersecurity certification or specialization is helpful.
Median Salary: Around $60,000

Don't Wait
While security analysts and security engineers must have a degree and extensive experience, there are options for developers who want to turn their security passions into a profession in roles such as incident responders and pentesters, with less-intensive requirements. If you're a developer, don't wait — start working on enhancing your career in cybersecurity now.

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About the Author(s)

Paul Curran

Application Security Community Specialist, Checkmarx

Paul is an application security community specialist at Checkmarx, responsible for writing, editing, and managing the social media community. With a background in mobile applications, Paul brings a passion for creativity to investigating the trends, news and security issues facing the development, security and greater IT communities worldwide. Through his work, Paul aims to inspire and teach security professionals how to stay ahead of the curve in application security in an era where cyber attack sophistication, and frequency, is rising exponentially.

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