How to become a cybersecurity consultant


04/12/19 9:01 PM By Ascend Education

The most common job title that is also very closely tied to the cybersecurity consultant is the information security consultant.  There are other, not as commonly used job titles which still refer to being a cybersecurity consultant:

  • Security consultant
  • Security specialist
  • Commercial security consultant and
  • Senior security consultant

However, being a seasoned and respected cybersecurity consultant is considered to be much more of a mid-level role.  To have the best chances in landing this kind of position, a candidate should have at least an undergraduate degree in information technology or computer science from an accredited college or university.  Since this is such a competitive field, having a Master of Science in either of the previous majors just described will help to separate you from the rest of the crowd.  Also, you should have at least 5-8 years of relevant work experience.

The typical entry level roles which can lead to becoming a cybersecurity consultant include the following:

  • Cybersecurity specialist/technician
  • Cybercrime analyst/investigator
  • Incident analyst/responder and
  • IT auditor

Once you have worked as a mid-level cybersecurity consultant for a number of years, there are great advancement opportunities as well. The following job titles will become available if you advance:

  • Cybersecurity manager/administrator
  • Cybersecurity engineer and
  • Cybersecurity architect

To reach these higher-level job titles, the candidate must have solid experience in the following skills:

  • The fundamentals of project management
  • A working and troubleshooting knowledge of the Linux and UNIX Operating Systems
  • A background in network security
  • A solid understanding in the concepts of risk management
  • The ability to deploy and implement cryptographic tools and
  • The secure coding practices of the Python programming language

 

Salaries for a Cybersecurity Consultant

The average salary for a cybersecurity consultant is $80,754.  The average hourly rate is $48.80 (if you are working as a W2 employee or 1099 independent contractor).  The specific salary breakdown by years of experience can be seen in the table below:
 

Years of Experience Average Salary
Entry Level (0-5 years of experience) $72,000.00
Mid-Career (5-10 years of experience) $93,000.00
Experienced (10-20 years of experience) $104,000.00

The Certifications Needed to be Competitive

In order to stay ahead of the competition, and to command a higher salary level as a cybersecurity consultant, you will need to have at least one of the following certifications (of course, the more you have the better):

  • Any of the GIAC certs

Given the ever-changing dynamics and complexity of the cybersecurity threat landscape, the demand for cybersecurity consultants is expected to be fairly high. According to an online job portal called Cyber Seek, at the present time, there are 13,500 roles that have yet to be filled; but to be successful, you should also be a very good multitasker, and possess a deep knowledge of and experience in the skillsets mentioned above.