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Careers of the Future: Cyber Security

This article is sponsored by TAFE Queensland

Globalisation, automation and rapidly changing needs mean the future of employment will probably look very different to now. In fact, many current careers won’t exist in the next 10 to 20 years. So, it’s critical that students ask the important question: ‘Will my chosen study path lead to strong job opportunities after graduation and beyond?’

In this series we’re exploring a range of occupations forecast to have strong employment prospects in the future. Some careers in the tech industry are quickly emerging. Plus, there are other existing careers that will also have an important place in the employment opportunities of tomorrow.

With technology evolving at a rapid rate and a growing awareness of cyber risks all over the world, today, we’re looking at cyber security, including the top benefits of cyber security jobs and what the future of the sector looks like.

Why cyber security?

We all like to think we can completely trust our online platforms. However, the fact is that we don’t always know where our data is going, or who we are actually revealing our information to. In general, most of us use the internet without thinking too hard about the digital footprint we leave behind, or how our information could be stolen and used against us.

Consider the Medibank and Optus data breaches of 2022, which saw the names, addresses and personal information of tens of millions of people leaked illegally. Breaches like these have underscored the need for highly skilled cyber security professionals now and in the future. These experts work behind the scenes to strengthen systems and develop solutions to secure, control and protect sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

Read more: Opinion – Why International Students Could be the Biggest Victims in Medibank’s Data Breach

You’ll protect people’s online lives (and livelihoods)

“We actually are living online,” said expert Romeo Farinacci, in his TED talk on the importance of cyber security. “If the bad people get hold of this information, they can actually pervert what we are doing and who we are, and actually change our image. Change what we are trying to represent. Modify the truth.”

When you work in cyber security, you could be doing anything from protecting democratic data exchanged during elections and securing sensitive client medical records, to combating cyber terrorism and cyber espionage. You’ll be integral in stopping fraud, guarding against malicious attacks, and maintaining the integrity of important networks.

Studying cyber security is part computer science, part psychology

In order to stay one step ahead of a hacker, you’ll need to think like a hacker — and beat them at their own game! The best cyber security experts outsmart malicious hackers by being the ‘white hats’ (good guys) of the hacking world. They strategically predict an attacker’s next move and move fast to patch up vulnerabilities.

Cyber security is a booming industry

Australia’s information and communications technology industry is facing a skilled labour shortage, which means professionals in the sector are in extremely high demand. Several positions are listed on the 2022 Skills Priority List, including:

  • Cyber Security Engineer
  • Cyber Governance Risk and Compliance Specialist
  • Cyber Security Advice and Assessment Specialist
  • Cyber Security Analyst
  • Cyber Security Architect
  • Cyber Security Operations Coordinator

The demand for these professionals isn’t expected to slow as the industry itself is projected to boom even further in the future.

According to the Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan 2019, an additional 17,000 skilled workers will be needed in the industry by 2026. 

Cyber security jobs are in high demand all over the world

In 2022, it was reported there are more than 3 million unfilled cyber security jobs worldwide. While Australia is expected to see an increase in cyber security jobs of roughly 38 per cent in the next five years, this figure makes it clear that there are opportunities across the globe. In short, pursuing a degree and career in cyber security could be your ticket to launching a global career.

Cyber security jobs pay well

There are big gains to be made for those working in cyber security. In 2017, cyber security was regarded as one of the ten best-paying jobs in Australian tech.

According to job-hunting platform SEEK, the average cyber security salary for analysts in Australia is $95,000-$115,000 annually – notably higher than the national average salary of roughly $90,000 per year.

Education pathways

Hoping to study cyber security in Australia? Well, you’re in luck because there are plenty of pathways for you to explore.

If you’re interested in vocational studies, you may want to consider a TAFE or VET course. For example, at TAFE Queensland, you can pursue a Certificate IV in Cyber Security, which will give you the skills you need to succeed in the sector, including how to implement network security infrastructure, detect breaches in network security, and engage with stakeholders. With a Cert. IV in Cyber Security, you could secure a career as a:

  • Cyber Security Support Officer
  • Information Systems Security Support Officer
  • Network Security Support Officer
  • Website Security Support Officer

Other relevant study pathways may include:

  • Diploma of Science (Computing/IT)
  • Diploma of Cyber Security
  • Bachelor of Science (Cyber Security)
  • Graduate Certificate of Cyber Security
  • Master of Cyber Security