How to Become a Cybersecurity Professional
How to Become a Cybersecurity Professional

Cyberattacks are one of the hazards of the digital age. Every week, there seems to be another news story about passwords stolen, customer data hacked or celebrity photos leaked.

Cybersecurity professionals are on the front lines of defense against threats like these. 

Cybersecurity, or information security, professionals are in charge of keeping an organization’s networks and information safe. In the broadest sense, they plan and implement security measures and monitor for security breaches. Once a threat is detected, they work quickly to neutralize the threat and try to repair any damage. And, more recently, there has been a move toward more proactive rather than reactive security measures.

Projected Job Growth

Nationally: 31%

Washington State: 28%

Median Annual Salary


Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET.

“A lot of what security work was in the past was just patching up the mistakes other people made,” said Brent Lagesse, associate professor in the Master of Science in Cybersecurity Engineering program at UW Bothell. “And so now we're training people to not make those mistakes to begin with and to understand how secure code is developed.”


As the number and sophistication of cyberattacks increase, government and private industry organizations are clamoring to hire well-trained cybersecurity professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for information security analysts are expected to increase by 31% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the projected average job growth rate.

“There is such a huge demand for cybersecurity professionals all over the country and all over the world,” said Geethapriya Thamilarasu, an assistant professor in the UW Bothell cybersecurity master’s program. “There are all these critical infrastructures, and every sector — health care, industrial, banking, energy, power grid — every sector needs security professionals.”

In Washington state, jobs for information security analysts are predicted to increase by 28% by 2028, according to O*NET. In the Seattle area, there are opportunities in fields ranging from telecom and tech to manufacturing, retail, health care and more. Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Blue Origin and Starbucks — to name just a few — have all recently posted cybersecurity positions.


Information security professionals typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. To build their expertise, some professionals complete a master’s degree or certificate program in information security, where they get specialized training in areas such as secure software development, identity access management and threat modeling. They may also pursue certifications such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional or the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional.

Because this field is always evolving as new risks develop, it’s important that cybersecurity professionals keep a learning mindset.

“Staying up to date with what’s state-of-the-art in the field is key,” says Thamilarasu. “Always read the news and the latest books and blogs by leading experts in cybersecurity.”


If you’re looking to start or further a career in cybersecurity, UW Professional & Continuing Education offers numerous programs that can help.

Not ready to dive into a full certificate or degree program? Build a foundation in cybersecurity with our new online Essentials of Cybersecurity, offered through Edx.

For more career tips and industry trends, visit the News & Features section of our website, and subscribe to our email list. To learn more about UW Professional & Continuing Education certificates, specializations, degrees and courses, explore your options or contact us.

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