Let me guess you’re the technical type, the person your family comes to for phone repair, and you have a natural ability to tinker with machines. The one question polluting your mind now is: what can I do with this?
You’re in luck because there are a plethora of career fields for tech-minded people such as yourself. Two of the biggest career fields that often get confused with each other are cybersecurity and IT. Both are well-known fields. Both fields are expected to have significant job growth in the next several years. However, the job duties of each are wildly different. This article will delve into the differences between these two career fields and the symbiotic relationship they share with each other.
In this new age of technology, it is vital that organizations adopt it into their business processes for increased efficiency and productivity. That’s where the IT team comes in. IT ensures that systems are working properly whether it’s the data servers, front-facing e-commerce websites, or the machines that employees work on.
There are several roles in the IT field covering different systems, but overall, some daily responsibilities of someone in IT may include giving technical advice, running diagnostics and reviewing the results, and installing or updating company systems. IT specialists can make an average of $53,000 when starting out and up to $100,000 depending on experience and location. Being an IT specialist requires a lot of technical knowledge and skills including coding, networking, and server administration. This field is great for those who want variety in their job and are able to learn quickly.
With all this new technology the need to secure these devices arise. Cybersecurity engineers ensure that machines in an organization are protected from both technical and physical disasters. Where IT Folk ensures the systems are running. Cybersecurity engineers make sure that the systems and the data within them are secure. They focus on creating secure configurations of already implemented systems, or as needed implementing more secure solutions.
There are several areas within the cybersecurity field that can wildly different daily responsibilities. A cybersecurity expert on the blue team may have responsibilities such as training company staff against security threats, creating firewall rules, and reviewing logs for suspicious activity. On the red team, some daily duties may be performing a penetration test, vulnerability testing, or port scanning. A cybersecurity specialist will make around $56,000 starting out and can make up to $130,000 later on. This field requires constantly learning about emerging security threats in order to keep an organization protected from new threats.
Where Cybersecurity and IT Meet
Although they sound similar on paper the two fields oftentimes perform entirely different duties. IT specialists focus on keeping systems functional and effective for a company. Cybersecurity specialists focus on balancing security with cost in order to keep a company protected. Considering their different goals and skills these roles often times work with and rely on each other.
When an IT specialist wants to update the current server to something that will allow for an increase in traffic, they might consult the cybersecurity expert on the security concerns of upgrading hardware. After performing a vulnerability assessment, a cybersecurity engineer may discuss the weaknesses in current system configurations with the IT manager. In smaller companies these roles may be synonymous as well, they may call the cybersecurity expert to reset their password or the IT specialist to create a strong password policy.
Choosing between the two fields may be difficult. Either choice is a great one to make for a technical person like yourself. When choosing between the fields consider which goal you want to strive for while working, and what skills you want to achieve. Both careers often have the same starting point and you can use similar college degree paths. You should think carefully about your choice. At the same time don’t feel too locked down in either choice as it isn’t too difficult to transfer from either career. I hope this blog has been a helpful starting point in your career choice.