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How to Become a Cybersecurity Consultant

Written by: University of Tulsa   •  Jan 19, 2024
A Team of Cybersecurity Experts Working on Computers.

How to Become a Cybersecurity Consultant

Organizations around the globe have become increasingly aware of the growing escalation of cybercrime. In 2021, more than 4,100 publicly disclosed cyber breaches exposed more than 22 billion records, according to a report by the security firm Flashpoint.

Companies interested in maintaining and growing their bottom line must proactively safeguard their sensitive data. This is where cybersecurity comes in. Cybersecurity consultants play a pivotal role in this ecosystem, offering specialized guidance designed to help companies fortify their digital defenses.

Students interested in pursuing this career should start by developing the in-demand knowledge and skills needed to address diverse cybersecurity challenges. An advanced education, such as a master’s degree in cybersecurity, can prepare graduates with the expertise needed to guide potential clients and employers in navigating this evolving realm.

What Does a Cybersecurity Consultant Do?

Cybersecurity consultants may work as internal consultants, serving a single organization, or as external consultants, serving multiple clients. Although the exact duties of cybersecurity consultants can vary based on the organization they work for, their daily duties typically include the following:

  • Conducting risk assessments to identify threats and vulnerabilities
  • Performing security audits to evaluate the effectiveness of the security measures
  • Developing comprehensive strategies and policies to enhance cybersecurity
  • Designing and implementing security solutions
  • Evaluating and recommending security tools and technologies
  • Monitoring network traffic and system logs for malicious activity
  • Training staff about best practices in cybersecurity
  • Developing incident response plans for confirmed and suspected security breaches
  • Keeping records of security incidents and the steps taken to resolve them
  • Performing penetration tests to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities
  • Communicating complex cybersecurity concepts to nontechnical stakeholders
  • Monitoring the latest cybersecurity trends, threats, and technologies

Steps to Become a Cybersecurity Consultant

Students interested in learning more about how to become a cybersecurity consultant should complete several steps to gain the required experience and expertise. Below are common steps to take to become a cybersecurity consultant.

A key step to becoming a cybersecurity consultant is to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as computer science or cybersecurity. Students develop a strong foundation in computer science, network security, and a thorough understanding of cyber threats and defense strategies, all of which are needed to pursue entry-level jobs in the field.  

Develop Key Skills

Aspiring cybersecurity consultants must have a thorough understanding of how to protect computer systems. They must also be highly adept in developing security standards, stay abreast of the latest cybersecurity threats, and be proficient in monitoring networks for potential vulnerabilities.

To succeed, professionals interested in the field should develop various hard skills, including the following:

  • Proficiency in programming languages, such as C and C++, Python, JavaScript, PHP, and SQL
  • Threat intelligence analysis skills
  • Network security skills
  • Risk and compliance auditing skills

Students will also be well served by developing various soft skills, including the following:

  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Analytical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills

Gain Work Experience

Students interested in pursuing careers as cybersecurity consultants must often have prior work experience in a related occupation, such as network administrator, information technology (IT) support specialist, security analyst, or junior penetration tester. Work experience helps future consultants develop the foundational knowledge needed to navigate network security principles, mitigate security issues, and secure network and computer systems.

Earn an Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity to Continue Your Professional Development

The curricula in master’s degree in cybersecurity programs include classes on defense cybersecurity technologies, system security and cryptography, and security audits and penetration testing, all designed to prepare graduates with the specialized knowledge and skills needed to keep pace with the rapidly evolving cyber landscape.

Students who opt for an online program have the flexibility to learn on their own schedule, allowing them to complete their degrees while still working full time. Taking classes online also allows learners a greater opportunity to balance their education with their professional, family, and other commitments. 

Cybersecurity Consultant Job Outlook and Salary Range

Employment for information security analysts, including cybersecurity consultants, is projected to grow by 32% between 2022 and 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That growth rate is more than 10 times faster than that of the labor market as a whole. As cyberattacks become more frequent and serious, demand for experienced cybersecurity professionals will remain strong. 

The BLS further reports that as of May 2022, the median annual salary for information security analysts was $112,000, with individuals in the top 10th percentile earning more than $174,540. Salary ranges for cybersecurity consultants can vary based on factors such as whether an individual works full or part time, the number of clients they have, their experience, and whether they’ve completed an advanced education.  

Earn an Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Pursue Your Dream of Becoming a Cybersecurity Consultant

Demand for experienced, skilled cybersecurity experts continues to surge across sectors such as computer systems design, information systems, health care, and finance. Working professionals interested in advancing their education will find that The University of Tulsa’s online Master of Science (M.S.) in Cyber Security has been designed to provide them with a comprehensive understanding of the foundational concepts within this field. TU has been at the forefront of cybersecurity since the 1990s and was one of the first 14 institutions designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance & Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency.

Are you ready to take the next step in advancing your knowledge and skills to pursue consultancy jobs in cybersecurity? Find out how an online M.S. in Cyber Security from TU can prepare you for the next chapter in your career.

Recommended Readings

Cybersecurity Defense Strategies: The Role of Cybersecurity in National Security

Information Security vs. Cybersecurity: What’s the Difference?

Cybersecurity Defense Strategies: The Role of Cybersecurity in National Security

Sources:

Betterteam, Security Consultant Job Description

Flashpoint, New Report from Flashpoint and Risk Based Security Finds 22 Billion Records Exposed in 2021 Data Breaches

Indeed, How to Become a Security Consultant: A Step-by-Step Guide

Indeed, How to Become a Security Consultant in 8 Steps (Plus Skills)

Insureon, How to Become a Cybersecurity Consultant

Medium, “5 Best Programming Languages for Cyber Security Professionals in 2023”

TechTarget, “10 Must-Have Cybersecurity Skills for Career Success in 2023

TechTarget, “Top 8 In-Demand Cybersecurity Jobs for 2023 and Beyond”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts

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