How to Become a Cybersecurity Project Manager

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Understand the role of cybersecurity project manager and what you need to pursue a career in this position.

[Featured Image] A cybersecurity project manager talks to his team about a new project.

Cybersecurity is a growing industry, and professionals are in high demand. To work as a cybersecurity project manager, you need to develop a diverse skill set in the areas of management, business, leadership, and technology. Companies report a skills gap, with many candidates lacking the technical skills and knowledge required for the field. According to a 2023 Cybersecurity Skills Gap report, 56 percent of companies have difficulty recruiting skilled cybersecurity staff [1]. 

In addition to this, project management skills are in high demand. Cybersecurity professionals who can manage projects, including looking at the budget and resources to achieve targets, have a good foundation for working as a cybersecurity project manager.

Learn more about the role of a cybersecurity project manager, how it merges two in-demand skill sets, and how to start on this emerging career path.

What is a cybersecurity project manager?

A cybersecurity project manager is a cybersecurity professional with the skills and responsibilities for running and delivering IT security projects, ensuring they meet security needs and standards. As a cybersecurity project manager, you will most likely work for an organization’s IT department, collaborating closely with cybersecurity professionals like database administrators and cybersecurity specialists.

Duties and responsibilities 

The duties and responsibilities of a cybersecurity project manager vary depending on where you work and the project's specifics. In general, a cybersecurity project manager has the following responsibilities:

  • Defining the project scope

  • Developing project plans to reduce risk and security threats

  • Supervising the input of security team members 

  • Managing the application of security patches where necessary

  • Ensuring the protection of personal information

  • Managing compliance of project work

  • Identifying key stakeholders 

  • Managing budget and expenses

How to become a cybersecurity project manager

Becoming a cybersecurity project manager means building skills, knowledge, and experience in cybersecurity and project management. With a skills gap in cybersecurity, it’s vital that you can demonstrate to employers that you have a range of workplace and technical skills, as well as up-to-date knowledge about the field. Here are several steps you can take to begin a career in cybersecurity project management:

Step 1: Get a degree in IT, management, or business.

A great starting point for you to become a cybersecurity project manager is to study for a relevant bachelor’s degree. You might consider majors such as computer science or information technology with courses in business or a business major with computer science and cybersecurity courses. You might even pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) specializing in cybersecurity. Some universities even offer a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity project management. 

While a degree isn’t always essential to enter the field of cybersecurity, it is usually required to become a project manager, as it is a recognized method for cementing knowledge and skills. Becoming a cybersecurity project manager without a degree is possible if you have the right experience, skills, and certifications. According to Zippia, 60 percent of cybersecurity project managers have a bachelor's degree, with 14 percent having an associate degree and 18 percent holding a master’s [2]. 

Step 2: Build technical skills with certifications and training

Certifications and training for improving your skill set are highly important in the cyber industry. Keeping up with the latest technology trends is essential in such a fast-moving field. Certifications, online courses, certificates, and bootcamps are all excellent, accepted ways to do this.

Recognized cybersecurity certifications that employers look out for include:

  • ITIL 4 Foundation - IT Service Management Certification

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

  • GIAC Certified Project Manager (GCPM) 

  • CompTIA Security+

Along with cybersecurity certifications, project management certifications can be very useful for you and may be a requirement in some cases. The Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification is highly regarded. 

It’s also possible to find certifications, certificates, and training that are specifically in project management for cybersecurity, such as the Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) Certification.

Read more about certifications for cybersecurity project managers: 

Step 3: Gain some management and technical experience

Employers of cybersecurity project managers look for experience in the field. This is especially important if you don’t have a degree. To begin your path to cybersecurity project manager, you can start working in an entry-level role such as security analyst, security architect, or security auditor. You might also consider finding a mentor from a cybersecurity project manager with extensive experience or even pursuing an internship in an unfamiliar cybersecurity area. Finally, additional options to advance your career are attending conferences, taking specialized courses, and joining professional associations where you can network.

Step 4: Build your cybersecurity project manager resume

The relevant qualifications, skills, and experience are vital to securing a cybersecurity project manager job. It’s also essential that your resume presents your credentials and abilities effectively to employers. Ensure your resume is tailored to the role you’re applying for and lists your skills, degree, certifications, and experience while highlighting your relevant achievements. 

Salary and job outlook

The cybersecurity industry has an excellent job outlook, and salaries are high. In addition, project management skills are in high demand, making cybersecurity project management a lucrative career option. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for the cybersecurity industry for positions such as security analyst is 32 percent, which is much higher than average [3]. The Project Management Institute also reports that demand for project management professionals is high, and this trend is set to continue. It’s predicted that roles will increase by 33 percent by 2027 [4]. 

Median annual salaries for project managers and cybersecurity professionals are higher than the average median salary in the US, and the average annual salary for a cybersecurity project manager is no exception. You might seriously consider this as a career choice because the average annual salary for a cybersecurity project manager is $122,507, according to Glassdoor [5]. 

Cybersecurity project management essential skills

Recruitment into the cybersecurity industry heavily relies on your abilities, and recruiters look for a blend of technical and workplace skills. In the role of cybersecurity project manager, project management skills are also vital. Cybersecurity project manager essential skills include:

Technical skills

  • Risk management

  • People management

  • Project management

  • Security systems

  • Cloud management

  • Threat assessments

  • Penetration testing

  • Access management

  • Budget and resource management

Workplace skills

  • Organization

  • Communication

  • Problem-solving

  • Negotiation

  • Leadership

  • Time management

  • Working under pressure 

  • Teamwork

Entry-level positions to kickstart your career

To gain relevant experience in cybersecurity, you may consider some of these entry-level positions:

  • Incident responder: $64,631 average annual salary 

  • Penetration tester: $103,503 average annual salary

  • Systems administrator: $80,496 average annual salary

  • IT support specialist: $58,870 average annual salary

  • Junior security analyst: $80,719 average annual salary

  • Cybersecurity technician: $84,551 average annual salary

  • Security auditor: $83,974 average annual salary

  • Digital forensic investigator: $91,760 average annual salary

*All average annual salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of March 2024 and does not include additional pay, such as commission and benefits.

Getting started with Coursera

If you want to get started as a cybersecurity project manager, having relevant skills and credentials is important to securing a position. Consider online courses or Professional Certificates to bolster your skills and resume. Check out the Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals Specialization, delivered by Cisco, or the Google CyberSecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera.

Article sources


Fortinet Training Institute. “2023 Cybersecurity Skills Gap,” Accessed March 15, 2024. 

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