With the UK and other countries across the world facing an ever-growing number of cyber threats and attacks, cyber security professionals play a vital role in tackling and addressing the associated risks. 

Salaries across the sector (in 2021) are rising and it is predicted by 2022 that there will be around 100,000 unfilled cyber security jobs in the United Kingdom alone. This makes the sector an attractive prospect for graduates, whether they are technical or not. Safeguarding the security of the internet, wider telecommunications networks and computer systems has become and will remain big business, with a rising demand for cyber security skills and expertise. 

 

Where do I start?

The future of cyber security

As you are starting to explore the broad range of opportunities in the cyber security sector, it will be important to consider the current trends and future of this vital area of work. 

Some key areas for consideration include the rapid growth in numbers of “Internet of Things” devices, including your fitness tracker, your smart TV and even household white goods can be managed online - everything is connected and this means that cyber security has moved beyond standard computers and smartphones. As the number of these devices has increased, so, too, have opportunities working to keep them secure. 

Another area of new technology with an impact on the security landscape is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The ability of these technologies to extract useful information from large sets of data is having a significant impact on industry and research and security firms consistently use these to identify patterns that may be indicative of a cyber attack. 

Other areas of expertise to be aware of are encryption - which is already widely used to protect sensitive transactions and data - and blockchain technology, which works to make banking and commercial transactions more secure. 

For further information visit the Cyber Security Jobs website.

Cyber security career paths

Whilst cyber security is broad and offers a wide range of opportunities for graduates or professionals with varying backgrounds, some common career paths may include network security, security management and penetration testing. 

Network security involves looking at the flow of data in a secure environment - with networking and security being bound together in modern IT systems. This area is largely covered by those in network engineering roles

Alternatively, security management focuses on the security strategies across an entire business/organisation and may include risk management, data privacy and firewalls. Importantly, this role is client-focused and aims to identify any vulnerabilities; with the opportunity to build and update client’s policies and procedures in relation to IT security. Penetration testing is closely linked to this, with a focus in this role on finding vulnerabilities in a client’s system before an attacker can exploit them.

To explore potential roles in further detail, Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.

 

Job roles

Job roles in this sector include (but are not restricted to):

Some more specific roles

Finding opportunities

As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.

  • National Cyber Security Centre NCSC provides advice and support to help the UK public and private sector avoid cyber threats.
  • Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure CPNI protects national security and provides up-to-date information on protective security and security measures and protocols.
  • IAAC The Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC) focuses on advancing Information Assurance (IA) and ensures the UK’s Information Society is robust and resilient.
  • Inspired Careers An interactive careers hub for people looking to enter the cyber security industry straight from education. The website also provides information on different roles within this sector.
  • Cyber Security Jobsite Cyber security news, trends and current affairs.
  • Security Week The latest news and headlines from Security Week.
  • The Guardian The latest updates on cybercrime and technology from The Guardian.
  • Reuters Thomson Reuters provides leading information for businesses and professionals.
  • BCS Information Security Specialist Group A sub-group of the British Computer Society and deals in all aspects of information security.

Getting experience

While there is a growing demand in this employment area, job opportunities often involve a competitive application process and the number of people applying for jobs can be high. Candidates who have previous (relevant) experience are viewed favourably by employers as they have developed important knowledge, skills and expertise; giving them the cutting edge against other candidates. However, finding experience will take time and effort, employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Careers and Employability Service website. The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Consider small and medium size companies, as well as larger organisations to help to widen your search for experience.
 

Placements

As part of your degree programme you may have the opportunity to take part in a salaried placement year, either in the UK or overseas to gain proven industrial experience by the time you graduate. This will provide you with an invaluable insight into working life and offer a unique opportunity to apply the industry knowledge you are learning as part of your studies.

Placements will also enable you to gain transferable skills in the workplace, such as communication, teamwork and time management, in addition to finding out more about a specific job role or industry, which will lead to more informed decisions upon graduating. To find out more about the range of different companies and roles students in your area have previous worked with, please find out more here

To find out more about sourcing and arranging your placement, we would encourage you to get in contact with your placement office. Find their contact information here

 

Internships

An internship is usually a work experience opportunity that is offered for a fixed period or a limited amount of time. Internships tend to be undertaken by students and graduates who are looking to gain more relevant/industry specific skills and experience in their particular field.

These opportunities can be paid for a period of between one to four months and typically take place over the summer, with closing dates generally around January to March, but some can be earlier.

 

Finding placement and internship opportunities

The websites below provide further information about placement and internship opportunities across cyber, security, forensic and network-based roles: 

  • MyCareer – the Careers and Employability Service's online jobs board can be used to search for internships, work experience and summer opportunities across sectors and locations.   
  • RateMyPlacement – offers information on placements, internships, insights and work experience jobs with a range of relevant companies in the UK.  
  • Gradcracker – as the UK’s careers website for Technology students, Gradcracker provides a search function for placements and internships relevant to your degree discipline.   
  • TARGETjobs – provides a specific section on different career sectors, with the ability to search for placement and internship opportunities relating to cyber security.    
  • Prospects – has its own search tool for work experience opportunities across sectors, including information technology.
  • Milkround – provides a search tool for internships and industrial placements across sectors, including security and IT-related roles. 
 

Volunteering

 

The websites below provide further information about placement and internship opportunities across cyber, security, forensic and network-based roles: 

  • MyCareer – the Careers and Employability Service's online jobs board can be used to search for internships, work experience and summer opportunities across sectors and locations.   
  • RateMyPlacement – offers information on placements, internships, insights and work experience jobs with a range of relevant companies in the UK.  
  • Gradcracker – as the UK’s careers website for Technology students, Gradcracker provides a search function for placements and internships relevant to your degree discipline.   
  • TARGETjobs – provides a specific section on different career sectors, with the ability to search for placement and internship opportunities relating to cyber security.    
  • Prospects – has its own search tool for work experience opportunities across sectors, including information technology.
  • Milkround – provides a search tool for internships and industrial placements across sectors, including security and IT-related roles. 

Getting involved in volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop employability skills and experience a variety of working environments to assist you in discovering the right career path for you. It provides the chance to network, meet new friends and boost your confidence. Volunteering also enables you to gain practical experience and working examples to support your graduate applications. If you choose to commit a significant amount of time and impress the organisation during your volunteering, they may also provide you with a professional reference.

Volunteer to get practical experience

Approaching local organisations, charities or community groups who would benefit from your skills is one way of gaining that all-important experience. The competencies developed will be invaluable and enhance any speculative applications you make. The Careers & Employability Service offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank, which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. 

Examples of roles that the Volunteering Team have previously recruited to include:

  • STEM Ambassador – supporting a local school or community youth group by helping to inspire young people to make the most of their talents and pursue careers in STEM.

  • Code Club Volunteer – supporting children aged 9-11 years old as part of Code Club, which is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs. Inspiring them to get involved in digital making and developing skills in computational thinking. Recruitment takes place in August and September each year.

  • Computer Club Volunteer with Personal Choice – working with the organisation’s 50+ Job Club to assist members with developing and enhancing their computer and digital literacy skills.

  • Lead Computer Tutor Volunteer with Citizens Advice – building and developing workshop courses for members of the public covering computer skills and supporting Assistant Tutor volunteers to facilitate the sessions.

  • Social Media and Website Management Volunteer with Portsmouth Food Bank – assisting with the development and maintenance of the organisation’s dedicated website and promotion of work through social media channels.

Tips to build experience

  • Explore the various areas within the cyber security sector before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain the relevant skills.

  • Consider joining the BCS, Chartered Institute for IT as a student member for a small fee to access networking opportunities, mentoring and industry information. Other organisations you can join as a student include the Chartered Institute of Information Security.

  • The Cyber Security Challenge UK are a series of competitions designed to test your cyber security skills, is another source of opportunities, including virtual areas designed to support and enhance cyber talents through gamification. This initiative has been set up to try and attract more individuals to this type of work. 

  • Get involved in relevant university or external groups this is a good way of demonstrating your motivation and interest in this area of work.

  • Speak to your tutor or other members of faculty staff researching in the areas that interest you, as students are sometimes recruited to work on research projects over the summer.

  • Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.

  • Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers – see our Networking with LinkedIn and Social Media section for further guidance.

Finding a job

There are many different areas of work within the cyber security sector and work can be varied. Some areas you could get involved are: cryptography, security administration, security engineering, information assurance, network security and threat management, so some thought as to which area(s) you are particularly interested in will help you to target your job search.

Employers who recruit in these areas

  • National and local crime agencies
  • Government and intelligence organisations
  • Telecommunications companies
  • Digital and forensic companies/organisations
  • IT companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
  • Banks and financial organisations
  • The RAF, Army and Royal Navy
  • Airlines, transport and logistic companies

Useful websites to help you start your job search

  • The National Crime Agency Leads UK law enforcement’s fight against serious and organised crime.
  • MI5 The Security Service MI5 is responsible for protecting the UK against threats to national security.
  • Secret Intelligence Service The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), often known as MI6, collects Britain’s foreign intelligence to promote and defend the UK’s national security and economic well-being.
  • GCHQ UK Intelligence and Security Agency aiming to protect the country’s people, businesses and interests in the cyber age.
  • Serious Fraud Office An independent government department and its purpose is to protect society by investigating and prosecuting those who commit fraud, bribery and/or corruption.
  • Qinetiq A multinational defence technology company offering national and international job opportunities.
  • PwC The company has a ‘Forensic Technology Solutions’ section which specialises in the forensic capture and analysis of electronic data.
  • IntaForensics UK digital forensic company which provides data support and recovery to the legal sector, local authorities and commercial organisations.
  • Portcullis Provider of information security services and specialises in security testing, digital forensics, cyber defence and security consultancy services.
  • Cisco A company building high quality software and security products to protect businesses worldwide against complex threats, viruses and spam.
  • Accenture Company offering many analytic and technology related jobs.
  • Cybersecurityjobs A recruitment site offering a wide range of opportunities including; penetration testers, ISO jobs, cryptography, security specialists etc. It also has job profiles explaining what each role would involve.

Tips for finding a job

  • Keep up to date with news and trends in the cyber security industry by following companies on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn, this information might help you identify opportunities to network and tap into the hidden job market.
  • Keep your on line job search flexible as some employers might use different titles to describe the same job role.
  • If you are keen to focus on a specific area within cyber security, check out specialist websites for these areas for current vacancies.

Further information

If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research a sector in more depth.

  • Make UKan organisation for manufacturers in the UK; championing work across British industries, including defence, aerospace, space and security sectors
  • techUK techUK is the trade association for the technology industry and has a cyber security/crime exchange group which focuses on “high threat” areas (including organised crime, intelligence, defence, national security and the protection of critical national infrastructure).
  • Chartered Institute of Information Security - CIISec provides a focal point for the information cyber security profession; ensuring standards of professionalism for training, qualifications, operating practices and individuals.
  • Cyber Security Associations A list of cyber security associations & professional organisations.

Specialist agencies

  • Acumin A cyber-security and information risk management recruitment specialist with a global reach.

Contact us

The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:

  • Career options
  • Further study
  • CV and covering letters
  • Application forms
  • Job search
  • Interviews

We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.

You can also access our services by calling or emailing us:

Email us: careers@port.ac.uk

Phone us: +44 (0)2392 842684

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