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Does cybersecurity require coding?

October 14, 2021
Group of programmers working on computers in colorful office

You’ve seen the stat:

By the end of 2021, as many as 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs will go unfilled.1

It’s a daunting projection, but a promising sign for those in information technology (IT) that they’re in a thriving field. Plus, with median salaries reaching $103,590 per year2, it’s an attractive field to get into.

If you’re considering a career in cybersecurity, now’s the time to strike. But beyond job openings and projected salaries, there’s a lot you need to know about making an entry into the field. What do you actually do day-to-day as a cybersecurity analyst? What technical skills do you need to work in cybersecurity? Does cybersecurity require coding? Keep reading to dig into these topics and find out all about launching your cybersecurity career.

What do cybersecurity analysts do?

You likely already have a general idea of what people working in cybersecurity, or information security, do for their organizations. In general they put in place measures to protect organizations’ data and networks from internal and external threats. Sometimes that’s as simple as educating employees about best practices for making secure passwords and how to properly secure their workstations. In the most challenging of days, information security analysts could be mitigating the effects of a malware attack or the corruption of data.

Overall, cybersecurity professionals might be responsible for any of the following tasks2:

  • Monitoring networks for security breaches and investigate a violation when one occurs
  • Installing and use software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, to protect sensitive information
  • Documenting and reporting on security breaches
  • Conducting testing that simulates attacks to look for vulnerabilities in their systems
  • Developing security standards and best practices for their organization
  • Recommending security enhancements to management or senior IT staff
  • Assisting employees when they need to install or learn about new security products and procedures
  • Creating a disaster recovery plans for IT systems and data

What skills do you need to work in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity jobs often require the same hard and soft skills as other IT or computer science roles. If you would describe yourself as detail-oriented and analytical, this could be a good career for you. Cybersecurity requires a keen eye, patience and ingenuity. Not only do you need to anticipate the attacks that could happen, you have to keep a cool head when faced with any real threats.

Technical skills for cybersecurity

As far as hard skills go, these are some of the most important computing topics to have knowledge on:

  • Database and storage systems
  • Security models
  • Project management
  • Algorithms and algorithmic design
  • Enterprise architectures
  • Network configuration
  • Administration of computer systems
  • Data management and analysis
  • Cloud computing

Do I need to know coding for cybersecurity?

Not necessarily.

Skills such as knowing how to configure networks, manage computing architectures and installing and managing security patches are all more critical to entry and mid-level cybersecurity jobs than being able to write lines of code. However, being familiar with coding is certainly helpful and can be a good skill to add to your toolbelt once you’ve spent some time in the field.

Coding knowledge will help you advance and find more opportunities in cybersecurity. Consider starting off by developing some understanding of programming languages and how they work. Your employer might even pay for you to take a programming course, or might have an internal education plan for programming in place. Knowledge of programming is most helpful for people who want to work in security software engineering or become an expert in penetration testing.

Soft skills for cybersecurity

Soft skills, or character traits and interpersonal skills, necessary for a career in cybersecurity revolve around the ability to work with a team to solve problems quickly and effectively.

Cybersecurity soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership
  • Critical thinking

Another frequently cited characteristic of cybersecurity experts is inquisitiveness. To stay ahead of threats you need to be passionate and diligent about learning the latest trends in cyber attacks and methods for stopping them. You should keep up to date with updates in the field of cybersecurity by joining relevant associations and paying attention to cybersecurity publications.

How do I become a cybersecurity analyst?

A career in cybersecurity requires a comprehensive knowledge of both fundamental computing concepts and deeper understanding of the theories, applications and trends of information security. If you’re already in the IT field or have a background in computer science you might have an opportunity to learn on the job to position yourself for a cybersecurity role.

If you want to enter the cybersecurity field with confidence, whether coming from an existing IT career or another professional background, a master’s in computer and information science with a concentration in cybersecurity is a strong choice. A master’s program will provide you with in-depth courses to fully comprehend the theory behind core information security concepts while also preparing you with skills to adapt to all sorts of security challenges you might encounter.

Fortunately, today, many master’s programs are offered online with the same curriculum and faculty as you’d find on campus. That means you can continue to work and make gains in your current role, applying relevant information from your courses, while earning a degree that could unlock significant career opportunities.

Join an in-demand field with a top-ranked program. If you’re looking for an entry into cybersecurity, check out Marquette University’s online Master of Science in Computer and Information Science. The online master’s offers the Information Assurance and Cyber Defense (IACD) specialization recognized as an Academic Center of Excellence by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Meaning Marquette is among select colleges and universities that have been recognized for the depth of its cybersecurity curriculum and leadership within the field.

Plus, Marquette’s online M.S. in Computer and Information Science is ranked as the No. 14 best online information technology master’s degree by the US News and World Report along with a third-place ranking for best online student engagement.3 This means you’ll not only get a top-tier education from Marquette, but you’ll also get the the faculty attention and investment you’d expect from an in-person program. Explore the comprehensive curriculum and set up a call with an Admissions Advisor to find out more about the pathways available to career changers and those with IT experience alike.