Cyber Security Consultant

Introduction

Online safety is a hugely important issue, both to us as individuals and also in the world of business. As a Cyber Security Consultant, it will be your responsibilty to make sure your company's or business's online networks and systems are as safe and secure as possible.

Work Activities

As a Cyber Security Consultant, you will be responsible for maintaining the safety of your organisation's or client's online systems and networks. Both individuals and businesses face the constant challenge of cyber threats. It will be your role to identify and prevent these attacks.

Most Cyber Security Consultants work for specialist cyber security firms. Organisations and businesses will pay for your cyber security expertise. You will be allocated clients, and it will be your job to manage and maintain their online security. You might specialise in a particular area of business, such as insurance, financial, or government departments.

Each organisation has its own particular security issues, and it will be your job to assess them carefully. You will work with your clients to create security achitecture plans, roadmap strategies and business cases. Basically, these terms all refer to procedures you can go through to identify and prevent possible security threats. You will study your client's systems and networks in detail, identifying any vulnerable areas.

You will need to be able to explain in simple terms to your client exactly what, why and how their business needs protecting.

Once your research has been finished, you will then be able to create and design a security solution. It will be your responsibility to test and deploy the solution, once it has been agreed upon with your client.

You may be required to train your client's team in using your security solution, and you will also need to develop a long-term relationship with them, so that you can maintain the effectiveness of their online security solution over time.

Cyber security is a fast-moving environment, and you will need to stay a step ahead of the cyber criminals.

Technology is constantly changing. Here are some examples of the latest emerging security technologies. Find out as much as you can about:

  • hardware authentication - this involves using hardware to strengthen the security of a logging-in procedure. It requires three things from the user: what they know, such as a password; who they are, such as a username; and what they have, such as a special token or the device they are using.
  • user-behaviour analytics - this security technology will detect if a username and password have been compromised, and followed by malicious behaviour within an account
  • deep learning - similar to user-behaviour analytics, this involves focusing on the behaviour of a user and identifying unusual, possibly malicious activity

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Cyber Security Consultant, you will need:

  • great IT skills - especially technical knowledge of cyber security/information security
  • to have great team-working skills
  • knowledge of security technology - e.g. cloud-based security, Identity and Access, etc.
  • excellent communication skills, and the ability to explain technical issues to non-technical people
  • to be a great listener
  • good project management skills
  • good customer service skills
  • the ability to pay close attention to detail
  • to be able to work on your own
  • flexibility
  • the ability to meet deadlines and to work under pressure

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £26,500 - £30,000
  • With experience: £35,000 - £43,000
  • Senior Cyber Security Consultants earn £48,000 - £54,500

Hours of work

Cyber Security Consultants usually work 35 hours a week, Monday to Friday, but might work some late evenings when deadlines require, or work out of hours if systems fail.

Where could I work?

You might work for a business who specialises in cyber security. You will have responsibility for a number of clients, maybe focusing on one particular area. Examples of organisations and businesses relying upon cyber security include:

  • insurance companies
  • government organisations, e.g. defence
  • educational establishments, e.g. universities and colleges
  • financial institutions, e.g. banks and building societies
  • large retail businesses
  • aerospace organisations

This career could include working for an agency.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most employers require you to have a degree before you become a Cyber Security Consultant. Degrees in relevant subjects are available at many universities.

In order to get onto a degree course you will usually need at least two A levels. An A level in an IT or engineering-based subject would be a great help.

Another option is to get onto a Higher Level Apprenticeship in information security, or a Degree Apprenticeship in a relevant area. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Now is a great time to start planning your route through to university. Taking IT or engineering-based subjects at GCSE and A level can help you to stand out. Also, try to get as much experience of working with IT security systems as you can. This could be through work experience, a part-time job, or at school or college.

Work Experience

Previous experience working in an IT environment would be really useful for this career.

Qualifications

To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels.

For entry to a relevant degree course, the usual requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
  • English and maths at GCSE

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

The BTEC level 3 qualification 'professional competence for IT and telecoms professionals' will help you to stand out from the crowd. See if a college close to you offers this qualification.

However, course requirements vary so check college/university websites carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Courses

If you are a graduate with a non-relevant degree, taking a one-year IT postgraduate conversion course will improve your chances.

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in. These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Another option would be an HNC in computing on a part-time basis, either evening and/or daytime.

Alternatively, taking short intensive courses in specific computing languages with private accredited IT training providers can help you to develop the portfolio of technical skills needed by employers. Such courses can be taken on a flexible, evening, weekend or day part-time basis.

Distance learning

Distance learning opportunities include the Open University, which offers a number of degrees and diplomas in computing, including the degree in Computing and IT. Many educational institutions offer specific qualifications on a distance/online learning basis.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA

Tel: 0845 3004417

Email: custsupport@bcs.uk

Website: www.bcs.org

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Tech Partnership

Email: info@thetechpartnership.com

Website: www.thetechpartnership.com/

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