Cybersecurity Jobs in Government: 8 Roles to Consider

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Cybersecurity professionals can find careers in many fields, including the public sector. Read on to learn more about popular cybersecurity jobs available at all levels of government.

[Featured image] A woman talks to a colleague about their cybersecurity jobs in government.

Demand for cybersecurity professionals is very high. In fact, the government-sponsored Cyberseek identified a 572,392-person supply gap for skilled cybersecurity workers in 2023. Not only is demand outpacing supply, but the need continues to grow [1]. 

Learn more about cybersecurity jobs in government, why you might want one, and how to advance your career prospects.

Read more: 10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

Why choose a cybersecurity career in government?

In cybersecurity, you’ll typically find more entry-level job openings than people available to fill them in the public and private sectors. That makes finding a cybersecurity job with the government easier and heightens your job security. If you pursue cybersecurity and agree to work with the government in advance, you could benefit from a CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. Otherwise, you may benefit from loan forgiveness offered to those who enter the public sector after graduation through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Working for the government may also provide you with meaningful opportunities to feel a sense of purpose. You’ll know that your work is helping your community, whether at the local or national level. 

You’ll also typically earn more in a cybersecurity role than you could in several other technology jobs. Additionally, cybersecurity is a potentially future-proof career, meaning you can have even greater peace of mind in a government job. 

8 types of cybersecurity jobs in government 

Cybersecurity professionals in government jobs help protect critical services and civic stability. Whether looking at the local, state, or federal level, you’ll find many cutting-edge cybersecurity job opportunities in technology with the government.

1. Software developer

Average annual salary (US): $105,565 [2]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 25 percent [3]

As a software developer in the public sector, you’ll design computer applications and programs. Analyzing user needs and cybersecurity functions, your role is to design, plan, recommend, and develop software that reduces risk.

Read more: What Does a Software Developer Do? Career Overview + Outlook

2. Cybersecurity analyst

Average annual salary (US): $98,790 [4]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 32 percent [5]

Cybersecurity analysts protect the government’s networks and systems. You’ll get to know the software and hardware so that you can manage and maintain it. You’ll also have to monitor for potential vulnerabilities and work to prevent attacks.

What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do? Job Guide

3. Information security analyst

Average annual salary (US): $115,329 [6]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 32 percent [5]

Information security analysts look for signs of security vulnerabilities or incidents. You’ll monitor and analyze the network and systems to recognize any potential threats or illicit activity. You’ll also research, document, and report on information security. 

Read more: How to Become an Information Security Analyst: Salary, Skills, and More

4. Computer scientist

Average annual salary (US): $140,958 [7]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 23 percent [8]

If you want to research new and innovative ways to use computing technology, a computer scientist job could suit you. Working in cybersecurity as a computer scientist, you could also play a role in creating new information security standards.

Read more: What’s a Computer Scientist? And How to Become One

5. Database administrator

Average annual salary (US): $105,277 [9]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 8 percent [10]

Database administrators set up and manage the systems the government uses to store and secure its data. You’ll need to know how to backup and query data and support business continuity.

6. Systems developer

Average annual salary (US): $99,777 [11]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 10 percent for computer industry jobs at large [12

A systems developer works to create efficient systems. You’ll design, develop, test, and evaluate hardware and systems that meet users’ needs. Part of your job will consider authentication, access control, and other security procedures.

7. Data analyst

Average annual salary (US): $76,822 [13]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 35 percent for data scientist jobs [14]

Data analysts leverage different data sources to gather insights. Specifically, in a cybersecurity role, you can expect to model, mine, research, and report on data and processes related to securing data, access, and workflows.

Read more: What Does a Data Analyst Do? Your Career Guide

8. Digital forensics examiner

Average annual salary (US): $88,648 [15]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 10 percent for computer industry jobs at large [12

In a digital forensics role, you’ll work to understand how an attack happened and its breadth. You’ll also gather evidence to identify the bad actor, which can lead to prosecution. 

Read more: Computer Forensic Investigator: Career Guide

How to pursue your cybersecurity career in government

The skills, education, and experience needed for a cybersecurity job in government can vary greatly. Still, the following elements could help you launch your career or stand out in the selection process.

Education

An undergraduate degree in cybersecurity, computer information systems, or a related technology field can help. Some positions will also require a graduate degree in cybersecurity. 

One starting point could be to attend one of the nearly 400 schools identified as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) programs. The National Science Foundation’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program also aims to help community college students work in cybersecurity for the government. 

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) Education and Training catalog also helps you find courses that can help you develop your cybersecurity skills. 

Since cybersecurity work doesn’t always involve direct technological skills, you could also find a role in the field with a communications, budget and finance, or legislative affairs background.

Skills

The breadth of skills you could apply in a cybersecurity role is expansive. You will need both technical and workplace skills. What’s required will vary depending on your responsibilities and job description. Technical skills you may encounter include:

  • Ability to code in several languages 

  • Understanding of programming and database languages

  • Knowledge of access management

  • Awareness of governance and regulatory structures

  • Experience with antivirus protections and ways to secure network access

  • Familiarity with cybersecurity frameworks such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

Among the common workplace skills, you can expect employers to look for strong communication and research skills, an interest in continued learning, adaptability, creative problem-solving, and the ability to work well in teams.

Security clearances

All government jobs require some level of security clearance. When applying for a federal job, the level of your cybersecurity role will dictate the level of the background check.

Boot camps

Boot camp programs can generally help you quickly develop relevant skills for a cybersecurity career. These intensive, accelerated learning experiences typically give you access to experts in the field and hands-on training. 

Certifications 

When seeking a career in cybersecurity, you could also benefit from a certification program. Some industry-related certifications to consider include:

  • CompTIA Security+ is for early-stage professionals who want to show they have a basic understanding of threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities; technologies and tools; architecture and design; identity and access management; risk management; and cryptography and public key infrastructure.

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), for more advanced professionals, allows you to demonstrate your ability to find vulnerabilities bad actors might leverage. 

  • AWS Certified Security - Specialty lets early-stage professionals prove their expertise in designing and implementing security solutions.

Read more: 4 Ethical Hacking Certifications to Boost Your Career

Getting started with Coursera

Begin preparing for a cybersecurity career in government with the from NYU on Coursera. Other useful options for beginners to start learning include Google’s course or the on Coursera. These programs cover cybersecurity fundamentals and why it's important to protect organizations from cyber threats.

Article sources

1

Cyberseek. “Hack the gap,” https://www.cyberseek.org/.” Accessed March 29, 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.