How to become a cybersecurity consultant

Insureon Staff.
By Linda Rosencrance
April 25, 2019
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If you are looking for a rewarding and challenging career that is in extremely high demand, a job as a security consultant could be a good fit.
A woman and a man looking at computer screens.

With hackers constantly figuring out new ways to hack into computer networks, the cybersecurity industry is booming. And that’s good news for people looking to start a business in the cybersecurity sector.

In 2018, there were more than 6,500 data breaches that exposed more than 5 billion records, according to security firm Risk Based Security. The United States experienced nearly 35% of those breaches – more than any other country – with 2.2 billion records exposed.

If you’re looking for a rewarding and challenging career that’s in extremely high demand, a job as a cybersecurity consultant could be a good fit. The average annual cybersecurity consultant salary in the United States is more than $110,000, according to ZipRecruiter, and it’s an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to the fight against cybercrime.

The job of a cybersecurity consultant is to assess an organization’s computer systems, network, and software for vulnerabilities, then design and implement the best security solutions for the needs of that company. If a cyberattack does happen, your clients will seek your expertise to respond and mitigate the damage.

Consider these steps if you are interested in a cybersecurity consultant career:

Education

An associate’s degree in cybersecurity can give an enormous boost to your future career as a cybersecurity consultant. Typically, it helps to have a background in math or computer science before you enroll in this degree program.

If you’re currently working, you could complete an online associate’s degree program. The information you’ll learn could help you obtain more advanced degrees in the future.

For example, you may want to earn a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, computer engineering technology, cybersecurity, or a related field, and maybe even a master’s in cybersecurity. A relevant degree makes you attractive to prospective clients, and you’ll gain the necessary skills to become an expert consultant.

Certifications

To stay ahead of the competition and earn more revenue with better contracts, consider at least one of these certifications:

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) shows you can effectively design, implement, and manage a top-notch cybersecurity program.

Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) offers more than 30 certifications for professionals working in the information security field.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is the standard of achievement for people who audit, control, monitor, and assess business information technology and systems.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) allows you to demonstrate your information security management expertise and gain recognition for your experience, technical competence, and appreciation of business objectives.

CompTIA Security+ certifies the baseline skills you need to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career.

Technical skills

To provide effective cybersecurity services to customers, you should possess the following skills:

  • Penetration testing and the ability to measure the vulnerability rating of software and cyber programs that each company uses
  • Firewall safety and management, and the ability to prevent and detect data breaches
  • Knowledge of advanced persistent threat management, including phishing, social engineering, and network access control
  • Encryption capabilities and techniques, so your clients can send and receive data over the internet without falling victim to cyberattacks
  • Programming languages used to store and process raw data; the more languages, the better
  • Operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac, and others available to the public or still being developed
  • Coding practices and principles of ethical hacking; a working knowledge of threat configuration and modeling

Interpersonal skills

You’re more likely to succeed as a cybersecurity consultant if you possess interpersonal skills, including the ability to:

Communicate clearly orally and in writing. You have to explain security threats and how serious they are to your clients so they can easily understand what you’re telling them. You’ll also be required to design and write reports to succinctly communicate your findings and convey your message in a way that’s appropriate for your customers and easy for them to understand.

Collaborate. Part of your job will be to work with your clients and their external vendors to make decisions and solve problems.

Deconstruct complex security issues. You’ll need to explain complex security issues to non-technical employees and senior management in simple terms.

See the big picture. You’ll have to conduct ongoing, detailed research on industry best practices and use what you learn to create effective security policies and training.

An individual who wants to break into the space as a cybersecurity consultant will find tremendous opportunity. With the right certifications, education, and skills, you could achieve lifelong success in a rewarding and lucrative career.

Protect your cybersecurity consultancy with the right insurance

Starting a cybersecurity consulting business means your company will be subject to risks stemming from data breaches, business disagreements, property damage, and other issues. Small business insurance can protect your personal and business assets from damages if you are held liable for a client’s financial losses.

Cyber liability insurance will protect your consultancy against liability and expenses related to the theft or loss of data, as well as security or privacy breaches. Another popular policy for cybersecurity startups is technology errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, which helps cover your business when a client files a lawsuit alleging your company’s mistake, missed deadline, or oversight caused financial harm.

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