Cybersecurity Jobs in Chicago

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

As you pursue cybersecurity jobs in Chicago, learn about the reasons why Chicago is a strong location, the common cybersecurity roles available, and how you can prepare to attain these jobs.

[Featured Image] A group of cybersecurity professionals meet in a conference room and talk about their cyber security jobs in Chicago.

The increasing use of technology across organizations today has resulted in a surge of professions tailored to provide security for devices and their data. Companies understand the importance of employing qualified experts to protect their resources and prevent cybercrimes. With a high demand for these careers, you can explore a cybersecurity career path that fits your desires and skill set across various businesses in Chicago. 

Why choose a cybersecurity career in Chicago?

Due to its size and strong economy, Chicago offers many cybersecurity jobs you can explore. Chicago has the third biggest city population in the US and is a prime location to pursue cybersecurity jobs. In fact, 3.5 million cybersecurity positions across the country will remain vacant through 2025, according to projections made by Cybersecurity Ventures [1].

As a major hub for business worldwide, Chicago will likely see an increase in demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals to manage its quickly evolving cybersecurity needs. The city also benefits from the new state-wide cybersecurity strategy from the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology. This mandate provides money for local colleges and builds relationships with public and private cybersecurity companies, all to protect the people’s and the states’ digital assets [2]. The city's abundance of present industries and companies allows you to pursue your interests and focus on a pathway that matches your skill set. 

Types of cybersecurity jobs

Jobs in cybersecurity expect to see major demand growth. From 2022 to 2032, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects cybersecurity jobs will see job growth of 32 percent, which is much faster than the average of 3 percent for all jobs in the US [3]. Below are a few examples of cybersecurity careers you can pursue in Chicago. 

1. Penetration tester

Average annual salary in Chicago (US): $105,546 [4]

Penetration testers work to locate and fix security weaknesses within an organization's systems and devices. These roles are increasingly prevalent in industries where sensitive data is frequently dealt with. The duties of this role are similar to that of an ethical hacker.

Read more: How to Become a Penetration Tester: Career Guide

2. Cloud security specialist

Average annual salary in Chicago (US): $81,447 [5]

This role deals with various cloud services and platforms to identify security weaknesses and build solutions to enhance an organization's overall system security. Once a cloud system is running, the security specialist is tasked with tracking potential threats and helping to respond to security situations. 

Read more: 7 Popular Cloud Security Certifications

3. Incident response engineer

Average annual salary in Chicago (US): $90,181 [6]

Incident response engineers are on the front lines of handling cybersecurity threats using forensics to secure cloud systems. Other tasks may include auditing an organization’s security and testing system weaknesses through vulnerability testing.

4. Cybersecurity analyst

Average annual salary in Chicago (US): $86,676 [7]

Analysts in cybersecurity specialize in identifying cyber threats and stopping attacks from occurring on the infrastructure and systems of a company. They'll analyze vulnerabilities, build software tools to aid in protection, and maintain security protocols. 

5. Ethical hacker

Average annual salary in Chicago (US): $104,537 [8]

Ethical hackers perform penetration testing on an organization's computer systems to find areas that hackers may potentially target. In this role, you will conduct security-focused assessments and model threats to advise your employer on where to direct improvement efforts.

Read more: 4 Ethical Hacking Certifications to Boost Your Career

6. Identity and access management architect

Average annual salary in Chicago (US): $100,054 [9]

These roles create and implement systems for organizations that manage users' access to internal resources and data, such as single sign-on (SSO) applications. Identity and access management architects identify weaknesses by conducting user testing to boost the security of systems and the data contained within them. 

Essential skills for cybersecurity jobs

Careers in the cybersecurity industry demand a particular set of technical and workplace skills. To stand out during the application process, refining your skill set and building in areas you may be lacking is a great way to give yourself an edge over other candidates. Below are some necessary workplace and technical skills for cybersecurity jobs. 


As with many jobs, employers desire candidates with strong communication skills. For the cybersecurity industry, having verbal and written communication skills can increase your perceived value for a potential organization. While handling security threats, you need to explain issues or the pathway to a possible solution to coworkers who may not share the same technical understanding.


As a cybersecurity professional, you constantly alter how you discover potential threats to your network and defend against these attackers. Having this agility to tackle new challenges requires creative problem-solving with critical thinking as part of your routine. 


As a cybersecurity professional, dealing with applications on the web and various online sources exposes you to different programming languages. Coding and programming languages are a core skill in cybersecurity because you use them to protect an organization's systems from attacks. Languages to hold an advanced knowledge of can include HTML, CSS, C#, C++, Python, Java, and MySQL.

Read more: Most Popular Programming Languages

Operating systems

As a cybersecurity professional, you assess the security risks of all operating systems. Having a strong knowledge of the various systems you can handle will allow you to be prepared for stressful situations. Operating systems to become familiar with include MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. 

Read more: What Is an Operating System?

Penetration testing 

Many cybersecurity roles involve conducting penetration testing, which can be required for many cybersecurity specialists. With experience in penetration testing, you can provide value to an organization by testing their systems for vulnerabilities and advising them on what areas need upgrades to defend against hackers. 

Read more: What Are the Different Types of Penetration Testing?

Risk assessment

A core part of cybersecurity jobs is mitigating risk by finding weaknesses in systems to prevent various threats. By understanding your organization's risks, you can determine which strategies may help stop potential attacks. Conducting thorough risk assessments may also be part of your job in cybersecurity. These help you find the most detrimental vulnerabilities within a system to focus on.

Additional skills

Additional workplace skills common in the cybersecurity industry include:

  • Critical thinking

  • Attention to detail

  • Adaptability

  • Collaboration

Beyond the technical skills already described, here are some additional skills and knowledge you should have:

  • Security information and event management (SIEM)

  • Computer science fundamentals

  • Hacking

  • Computer forensics

  • Security auditing

  • Cloud security

How to gain the skills you need for cybersecurity jobs in Chicago

With a growing demand and lucrative salaries, cybersecurity jobs require specific skills to succeed. Understanding how to acquire these skills through education, experience, boot camps, and certifications is a great place to start your journey into pursuing these roles.  


Professionals in cybersecurity typically have a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or another related subject, such as computer science, computer engineering, cybersecurity operations, and others. However, it is possible to land a cybersecurity job with an associate degree or no related degree. Two-year associate degree programs help you gain the proper skills to attain entry-level positions. If you do not have a degree, gaining relevant experience or completing boot camps and certifications can give you the proper qualifications. 

As you progress through your career, completing a master’s degree could allow you to reach a senior-level cybersecurity role. Companies tend to look at candidates with master’s degrees for positions where you may be in charge of teaching other professionals cybersecurity skills or dealing with public policy in some fashion.

You are Currently on slide 1

Read more: Your Guide to Cybersecurity Careers


It is common for employers looking to hire cybersecurity professionals to prefer candidates with some experience in the field. Gaining relevant experience through internships is a great option to begin your career. Many industries offer cybersecurity internships, even companies that are not technology-focused. 

If you are already a professional in a different type of role, your current experience may be applicable to help you qualify for a cybersecurity job. Transitioning from another career path is not uncommon for cybersecurity workers today. Examples of other disciplines with relevant experience include information technology (IT), software development, systems engineering, security, and more. 

Boot camps

Completing a cybersecurity boot camp is another great way to gain the necessary skills for cybersecurity jobs. These boot camps can help you prepare to pursue entry-level roles within a year due to the exposure they give you to industry experts and real-life scenarios to gain a full understanding of important concepts. Full-time workers looking to alter career paths into cybersecurity find value in boot camps because they allow you to handle your day job in parallel with pursuing professional development in cybersecurity.

Read more: Is Cybersecurity Hard to Learn? 9 Tips for Success


Certifications offer a great way to gain the skills to land your first cybersecurity role and advance within the industry. Many jobs within the cybersecurity industry mandate a certification to qualify.

Completing certifications usually requires passing a test and completing some professional work experience criteria. Having certifications when applying for jobs allows you to show employers that you have gained the proper skill set and knowledge in the required disciplines to be successful in a cybersecurity role. Many certifications exist for you to pursue, but a few of the top options offered today include:

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): Earning this credential proves to employers your expertise and ability to audit, monitor, and assess IT and business systems.

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): This certification validates your ability to gauge risks, respond to incidents, and have good leadership. The CISM ensures that you're updated on security threats and industry requirements.

Get started with Coursera

To learn more about cybersecurity jobs and how to prepare for these types of roles, completing a course or receiving a relevant certificate is a great place to start. On Coursera, you can enroll in some of the top courses in the world.

Check out Foundations of Cybersecurity by Google. This course features a shareable certificate and covers the basics of cybersecurity ethics, the core skills needed for cybersecurity roles, how cybersecurity threats impact organizations, and the tools analysts deploy in this field. 

Another relevant course worth exploring is the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Assessment by IBM. Taught at an intermediate level, this course leverages knowledge from industry experts to expose you to key skills used in cybersecurity jobs, real cybersecurity projects for you to gain experience, and common tools used in the industry. 

Article sources


eSentire. “2023 Official Cybersecurity Jobs Report,” Accessed March 20, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.