Pros and Cons of a Cybersecurity Career

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Are you considering a role in the cybersecurity industry? It’s a popular, growing field right that continues evolving. Explore the potential pros and cons of a cybersecurity career to decide if it is the career path for you.

[Featured Image] A woman works in an office and thinks about the pros and cons of her cybersecurity career.

Cybersecurity professionals play a pivotal role worldwide. By 2025, the experts at McKinsey and Company anticipate cybercrime to cost $10.5 trillion annually across the globe, a 300 percent increase from 2015 [1]. The explosive growth in cyber threats has given way to remarkable growth in the cybersecurity industry, which outpaced the rest of the overall tech market in the first quarter of 2023 [2].

A cybersecurity role could be a good match if you want a job in a booming field. Cybersecurity offers numerous benefits, and you’ll also want to consider the potential disadvantages.  

After reading this article, you'll have learned more about cybersecurity careers, the types of jobs you might get, and the pros and cons of a cybersecurity career to help guide your decision.

What is a cybersecurity career? 

A cybersecurity career involves working in roles focused on protecting technological assets from unauthorized or criminal use while ensuring information remains accessible and confidential when appropriate. As a cybersecurity professional, you will demonstrate an understanding of how computers and other business technology work. But that’s not all. You’ll also actively identify potential weaknesses and find ways to shore up your organization’s cybersecurity posture. 

In a cybersecurity career, you could play a part in several areas:

  • Keep all business IT current (with regular updates and software and system patches)

  • Educate employees about cyber threats (e.g., social engineering, weak passwords)

  • Monitor network traffic to identify potential threats

  • Block unauthorized access

  • Develop response plans in case of attack

  • Maintain compliance with industry standards

  • Ensure compliance with government regulations

  • Create security roles

  • Install authentication and access control

  • Evaluate new products 

  • Test protections and business recovery plans

Types of cybersecurity jobs

A career in cybersecurity can see you working at all levels of an organization. Many professionals pivot in their careers and change to work in cybersecurity after working in other areas. Others aim to start in cybersecurity from the beginning of their careers.

Gaining a four-year degree is one of many options to begin in cybersecurity roles like the following, which should offer you an idea of the breadth of opportunity in this industry. The following list sources its annual base salary data from Glassdoor as of April 2024 and does not include additional pay, such as commission and benefits.

Penetration tester

Average annual salary: $103,795 [3]

Also known as pen testers, these professionals perform vulnerability tests to help find and correct any issues. You can work in-house for an organization. Or you might work with a cybersecurity firm that specializes in trying to break into client systems.

Cybersecurity analyst

Average annual salary: $93,643 [4]

As a cybersecurity analyst, you’ll get to know your organization’s IT infrastructure in intimate detail. To protect its software, hardware, and networks, you’ll need to regularly monitor traffic and look for potential threats. Your job is to identify and evaluate vulnerabilities that could lead to trouble.

Ethical hacker

Average annual salary: $121,869 [5]

In this cybersecurity role, also known as “white hat hacker,” you use your skills and tools to find vulnerabilities. You do all the same things that a bad actor would, but you’re hacking for the good guys. Your organization can develop new security processes and response strategies by identifying the successful exploits. 

Digital forensics examiner

Average annual salary: $82,232 [6]

Digital forensics experts gather evidence about attacks on business technology. In this job, you’ll use your skills to understand how the attack happened and identify who did it. Your work can support the future prosecution of the bad actors.

Network operations center (NOC) technician

Average annual salary: $76,964 [7]

These technicians take responsibility for an organization’s network management. You’ll work to maintain networked business IT and help troubleshoot any issues. 

Security operations analyst

Average annual salary: $76,162 [8]

Typically an entry-level role, a security operations analyst helps monitor and fight security threats. You’ll be on the front line of evaluating traffic and assessing system security. This job may not require the same technical skills, but you’ll need to be good at analysis and problem-solving.

Pros of a cybersecurity career

Cybersecurity professionals can find work across industries almost anywhere in the world. After all, you don’t have to look far to find someone with a computer or online device that needs securing.

Let’s explore the benefits this career offers in more detail. 

1. Availability of cybersecurity jobs

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts information security roles will see 32 percent growth in the decade between 2022 and 2032, a rate substantially faster than that across all jobs [9]. At the same time, the United States faces a shortage of people to fill cybersecurity job vacancies, adding to the demand. Technology continues to change rapidly, but more people need to cultivate the required skill set to meet that demand.

2. Robust compensation packages

Cybercrime costs organizations a great deal. Cybersecurity Ventures predicted at the end of last year that cybercrime would cost the world $8 trillion in damages in 2023, a figure that many experts anticipate will only continue growing [10]. Cybersecurity professionals bring the skills needed to combat these losses. So, you can typically expect compensation that reflects your expertise. Often, cybersecurity professionals make more than others in tech roles.

3. Variety of available career paths

You’ll find many jobs that fall under the umbrella of cybersecurity careers. As a result, you can play various roles within the industry while you learn on the job and find the opportunity that best suits you. Meanwhile, you can know that your work makes a difference in protecting sensitive data, privacy, and organizational assets.

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies provides a career pathways tool to help you explore related roles in the cybersecurity industry.

4. A potentially future-proof career

Technology has changed dramatically already and will likely continue to do so. Regrettably, we can also expect there will still be bad actors as well. This means you can generally expect ongoing demand for cybersecurity career professionals. You may even end up in a role that doesn’t even exist today as you read this article as the cybersecurity industry continues to change shape.

5. Evolving technology provides ongoing challenges

Cybersecurity promises consistent challenges. Technology evolves rapidly. Bad actors' methods and strategies in their attacks also consistently shift over time. You can even find a fresh challenge by moving from one industry to another to support cybersecurity best practices.

Cons of a cybersecurity career

Security professionals enjoy many positives. You may also want to consider these potential pitfalls before deciding about the direction of your cybersecurity career.

1. Unrealistic expectations

Your view of a cybersecurity career may be shaped by Hollywood. You might expect ongoing excitement from countering hackers. But, in reality, the day-to-day of entry-level cyber jobs can be routine and repetitive. It can take time to reach a level where you find the work more exciting.

2. Continual change

The rapid evolution of technology and the threat landscape make cybersecurity exciting. At the same time, it means you must always be learning. You typically can’t rely on what you first learn and expect that to last you your career. You’ll need to keep up with new technology, compliance changes, emerging threats, and the global cyber community’s best practices. 

3. The element of unpredictability

You’ll spend plenty of time monitoring for vulnerabilities and anticipating what could go wrong. Nevertheless, you’re unlikely to get advance notice of an attack. Downtime doesn’t always happen when you plan it. A cybersecurity career can require you to adapt to problems in an instant. 

Skills needed for a cybersecurity career

Technical and workplace skills are essential to succeed in your cybersecurity career. Because employers seek the highest quality candidates, it can be helpful to develop these skills.


To launch your cybersecurity career, you’ll typically need to have at least some of the following technical skills:

  • System, software, hardware installation and maintenance

  • Web application, endpoint, and cloud security

  • Computer programming and scripting

  • Disk management

  • Security information and event management (SIEM)

  • Security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR)

  • Knowledge of security audit practices

  • Understanding of antivirus and malware protections

  • Digital forensics

  • Cybersecurity framework knowledge


Develop your career in the cybersecurity industry with the following additional workplace skills:

  • Communication

  • Leadership

  • Logical reasoning and creative problem-solving

  • Ability to work alone but also collaborate with others

  • Attention to detail

  • Desire and willingness to engage in ongoing, continual learning

Getting started in cybersecurity with Coursera

The cybersecurity industry offers many promising and rewarding career opportunities. Now that you’re more familiar with some potential pros and cons of a cybersecurity career, consider taking the first step in honing your skills or gaining new ones on Coursera. For example, you can begin by learning Foundations of Cybersecurity, one part of the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera.

Article sources


McKinsey and Company. “New Survey Reveals $2 Trillion Market Opportunity for Cybersecurity Technology and Service Providers,” Accessed April 1, 2024.

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