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Cybersecurity Professional: Portable Career Option for Military Spouses

For some people, a transitory lifestyle can prove to be challenging. Among other issues, it can be difficult to find a profession that allows an individual to follow a career path while frequently changing locations.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with military spouses, who move as the military requires their spouses to change location – something that can happen frequently. In addition to the stress of handling household duties, and the constant strain of worrying about their spouse, there can often be the added concern of earning a salary.

Military spouses, including those who themselves were previously servicemembers, could turn to the arena of technology for opportunities to secure a portable profession. Within that field, the issue of cybersecurity has been drawing increasing attention over the past several years, both in corporate offices and the halls of Congress.

In the summer of 2012, Congress debated a bill that called for more government regulation and action on cybersecurity. In the private sector, meanwhile, companies are beefing up their defenses against cyber attacks. Larger corporations now often include security personnel in their information technology (IT) departments or hire outside consultants to help guard against attacks.

In July 2012, military officials reported that the number of cyber attacks on the United States increased 17-fold between 2009 and 2011. According to a New York Times report, such attacks are coming from criminal gangs, hackers and other nations, and are aimed at power grids, water and sewer systems, and computer, cell phone and other infrastructure.

Cybersecurity Analysts Job Description and Career Outlook

With the continuing proliferation of technology and the digital age into all areas of life – from medical records to bank accounts – the need for cybersecurity professionals is projected to grow over the next decade.

Cybersecurity analysts – also called information security analysts – work to ensure a company’s computer network is safe from cyber attacks, whether internal or external. As the variety and number of cyber attacks increases, the knowledge required to be an effective analyst will shift and change. Therefore, a major responsibility of a cybersecurity professional is to conduct research and stay current on the latest issues affecting the industry.

Armed with this information, information security analysts develop a plan to secure an organization’s networks and then carry that plan out, installing or overseeing the installation of the software programs needed to protect a computer network.

Cybersecurity professionals often work with company executives, recommending new security measures to enhance network safety.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which places information security analysts into the same category as web developers and computer network architects, estimates that all jobs in the category will grow 22% from 2010 to 2020. That’s well above the projected growth for all occupations (14%).

The average annual pay for employees in those professions was $75,660 in 2010, the BLS reported. Local market conditions and other factors such as experience and education will affect career and salary potential.

Education and Career Path for Cybersecurity Analysts

As with most computer system jobs, individuals who work in cybersecurity generally hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Typically, the degree is in computer programming or computer science. Some employers prefer advanced educational qualifications.

Earning a master’s degree will usually require an additional two years of study, although some programs allow students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree together in five years.

Career paths can vary. For example, someone who wants to oversee database security might first work as a database administrator. In a similar fashion, an individual who wants to work in systems security might begin as a systems analyst.

No matter which path is chosen, certain skill sets will apply. A cybersecurity analyst must be organized and able to concentrate on complex challenges for lengthy periods. In addition, the ability to think like a hacker is invaluable, as is knowledge of the latest methods used in cyber attacks.

Military Occupational Specializations

A factor that likely will be of particular interest to military spouses who previously were servicemembers is that a cybersecurity analyst’s duties may share a number of similarities with various military occupational specializations.

Among the applicable military specializations: military intelligence officer; criminal investigations special agent; information technology specialist; and information warfare officer.

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