Cybersecurity Management Careers: What You Need to Know

Cybersecurity is a vital consideration for nearly every business in the modern economy.

Strong security controls, as well as the management strategies needed to deploy, oversee and update them, help keep companies safe from a variety of digital threats. Because nearly every type of organization uses digital tools and systems to manage their operations, connect with customers, market their offerings and address a variety of other needs, cybersecurity will only grow more important over time.

It’s important to recognize that the need for dependable security controls extends beyond the world of business. Nonprofit groups, as well as government agencies and departments, make broad use of digital tools and services. These organizations need dependable cybersecurity tools and professionals with the knowledge and skills to implement and manage them.

With such widespread need in mind, it’s not surprising that a variety of professional paths exist in the field of cybersecurity management. Organizations ranging from local businesses to the federal government and large multinational corporations all require the services of knowledgeable digital security leaders.

Earning a Master of Science in Information Systems is an effective way to build highly relevant and specialized knowledge related to the technical specifics of digital security operations. This degree also emphasizes the soft skills to lead teams of cybersecurity professionals and effectively interact with a variety of stakeholders.

Let’s take a closer look at what cybersecurity management is, roles in this field, vital skills that support professional success, the educational opportunities that can lead to a career in this field and more.

What Is Cybersecurity Management?

Cybersecurity management refers to the strategic development, implementation, and monitoring of cybersecurity policies and strategies, whether across an entire organization or within a more specific area of responsibility.

This discipline goes beyond simple tasks like installing antivirus software or setting standards for employees to update passwords. It emphasizes strong oversight and a comprehensive approach to managing a security strategy and developing incident response efforts.

Professionals in roles related to cybersecurity management often monitor the networks used by their employers to seek out potential issues and vulnerabilities, taking more direct action than may be expected of a manager. However, they also dedicate significant time to leadership and supervisory efforts. Directing the work of subordinates, presenting plans to stakeholders, quickly communicating about emerging problems and spearheading recovery actions all fall into this domain.

Why Is Cybersecurity Management Important?

Cybersecurity is constantly evolving. The frequent emergence of new digital technology, and the regular updating and improving of existing tools and systems, create a dynamic atmosphere. While organizations can, and certainly do, benefit from technological advances, these new resources also represent the potential for risk.

Cybercriminals and other malicious actors constantly look for vulnerabilities in new and existing technologies that allow them to steal critical information, hold key data for ransom and otherwise cause serious problems for organizations around the country and the world.

Cybersecurity management emphasizes awareness, communication, and strategy. This approach to digital security can help businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies keep pace with ever-evolving cyberattacks, reducing the chances of a successful effort.

Career Opportunities in Cybersecurity Management

Professionals often reach cybersecurity management positions after spending time building professional experience in frontline roles related to information technology, incident response and related duties. These digital leaders also frequently complete an advanced degree to sharpen relevant competencies and build additional expertise in security operations.

Now that we’ve recognized the common needs to reach management-level positions in cybersecurity, let’s review some potential career options.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers coordinate, oversee and lead digital technology efforts within organizations. This may include, but is not limited to, network security, protecting critical information and implementing effective processes and systems for digital defense. These professionals are directly responsible for the security of a company’s network and digital assets.

Managers in this role develop strategies for and assign tasks to frontline cybersecurity staff, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also frequently negotiate with vendors and service providers. These two common duties reflect the need for interpersonal and business management skills, alongside an aptitude for digital technology and security controls.

Qualifications Generally Desired by Employers

The BLS reports that a master’s degree is generally desired by employers seeking candidates for an open computer and information systems manager position, along with a bachelor’s degree in information technology or a related field. Similarly, many organizations require related work experience. That could mean a few years for a lower-level manager position, or significantly more for positions at the director and C-suite levels.

Compensation and Projected Growth

Pay and overall job outlook are both notably positive for this role.

The BLS reports a median annual salary of $151,150 per year as of May 2020. It’s important to note that, because this job category includes managers, directors and chief officers, the median pay reflects the enhanced salaries of higher-level positions. However, consider that the lowest 10% of earners in this role had a median wage of $90,430. That figure is still substantially higher than $41,950, the median annual wage across all occupations in the U.S.

In terms of job outlook, the BLS projects 11% growth in the total number of available positions through 2030. Additionally, the agency predicts approximately 42,400 positions will open each year through 2030. There should be plenty of opportunities for computer and information systems managers to begin or advance their careers.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts play a key role in cybersecurity management. They focus on building effective strategies to manage risk as well as implementing processes and tools to keep critical information and vital systems secure. They regularly monitor network security, engage in penetration-testing efforts, research related trends and make recommendations to other stakeholders, according to the BLS.
This combination of management and frontline duties places information security analysts at the heart of their employers’ cybersecurity efforts. Technical and interpersonal skills are required for success. Professionals in this role must be able to interpret key information from digital and human sources, express potentially complex concepts in terms that those outside of the cybersecurity field can understand, and communicate effectively as part of a larger team.

Qualifications Generally Desired by Employers

A bachelor’s degree in a field related to computers or digital technology is a general requirement for applicants to information security analyst roles, as is relevant work experience in a related or more junior role. An advanced degree in a related field — especially one that encourages developing business and technical skills, such as a Master of Science in Information Systems — can help candidates stand out for this cybersecurity management position.

Compensation and Projected Growth

Information security analysts are generally well-compensated. The BLS reports that as of May 2020, these professionals earned median annual salaries of $103,590. The job outlook for this role is especially strong as well. The BLS projects a 33% increase in the total number of positions by 2030. That means an additional 47,100 positions should exist in this field by the end of the decade.

Database Administrator or Architect

Database administrators and architects oversee the critical information that so many organizations rely on. These professionals create (for architects) or structure (for administrators) the tools and platforms to manage a company’s data. While not their only task, ensuring information is properly secured is a foundational responsibility, the BLS explains. Database administrators and architects must consider the need for authorized users to access data and the imperative to protect those files.
Database administrators and architects can play a key role in backing up and restoring data that is lost, whether because of technical error or an intentional and malicious act. With ransomware attacks on the rise, this aspect of the job may become even more important. Because database administrators and architects work closely with stakeholders, they must have strong soft skills. Critical thinking, collaborative problem-solving and effective interpersonal communication can be just as important as the technical talents needed to build or manage a database.

Qualifications Generally Desired by Employers

Most database administrators hold a bachelor’s or professional degree, according to O*NET. The BLS notes that applicants with a master’s degree may be preferred by employers. Professionals in this role may need to hold or earn a variety of certifications, based on the tools and programs with which they work. Previous work experience is not a standard requirement but can come into play for more senior roles.

Compensation and Projected Growth

As is the case with many occupations related to digital technology, database administrators and architects can expect a high level of compensation. The BLS finds the median annual pay for this role is $98,860, significantly more than double the median wage for all workers. In terms of projected job growth, this role is in line with the average growth rate for all occupations: an 8% increase by 2030. In practical terms, that’s 13,200 more positions, in addition to the 168,000 that existed in 2020.

A women making sure the cables are correct in a control room.

Important Skills for Cybersecurity Management Professionals

While the duties associated with a specific cybersecurity management position are important to consider in terms of relevant skills, there are certain broadly applicable and useful abilities in this field.

Technical skills are an obvious and foundational need. The jobs website Indeed points to several others, such as network security, vulnerability assessment and information assurance. Generally speaking, cybersecurity professionals must understand the tools and systems they’re responsible for securing. That might involve standard business software, highly customized databases and supporting architecture, or environments that combine purpose-built and generally available digital tools.

A strong technical acumen is far from the only asset a successful cybersecurity management professional needs, however. Managers do much more than take instruction or complete discrete tasks — they build the broader strategy that informs the activities of frontline workers. That includes presenting a given strategy from supervisors and company leaders, deciding how to allocate resources, prioritizing tasks and much more. These are, at their core, business management skills.

Interpersonal abilities are another important consideration. Because individuals in cybersecurity management roles must gain approval for their plans, direct the work of their teams and respond quickly in crisis situations, they must be effective communicators. Talents like active listening, providing instruction, clear communication and many others can all come into play.

Education That Supports Cybersecurity Management Careers

Undergraduate Options

Most cybersecurity management careers begin with an undergraduate degree. While a single type of program isn’t most strongly associated with these roles, completing an undergraduate degree in a field such as computer science or information systems can serve as a strong foundation.

It’s worth noting that universities continue to develop a variety of degree options that have a more direct connection to cybersecurity. A bachelor’s program in digital forensics, for example, emphasizes key concepts that directly relate to digital security operations. A concentration or minor in cybersecurity or a closely related field can also support students interested in related careers. With so many options available, individuals interested in the cybersecurity management sector can select an educational path that best aligns with their professional goals.

Prospective cybersecurity managers can also consider a degree that combines the focus area of business management and technology. A Bachelor of Science in Information Systems is designed to build interpersonal and leadership skills alongside technology-focused abilities. Because technology plays such a central role in the business world, this degree can support graduates as they seek a variety of careers related to cybersecurity.

Graduate Degrees

A graduate degree may not be strictly necessary for some cybersecurity roles, even those involving managerial duties. However, completing an advanced program leads to further developing relevant knowledge and talents, which can set candidates apart when they apply for an open position. A graduate degree can also serve as a path to more senior roles related to cybersecurity management. In turn, that can lead to more engaging work, greater compensation and more responsibility.

Master of Science in Management Information Systems from the UAB Collat School of Business can offer especially effective support for students interested in spearheading cybersecurity efforts. Neither management and interpersonal talents, nor technical abilities alone, are enough for a capable leader in the world of cybersecurity. A combination of these skill sets is needed to address all the duties of professionals in the cybersecurity management field.

The Cyber Security Management concentration, one of three included in the program, is relevant to this career path. In addition to courses that generally support the development of business and technical knowledge, students who select this track benefit from 12 credit hours dedicated to identifying, mitigating and responding to a variety of cyberthreats.

Advancing in a Cybersecurity Management Career

Cybersecurity is a top priority for so many modern organizations and institutions. These businesses, nonprofits and government agencies require a variety of professionals to support secure operations, identify potential issues, and launch incident response efforts. That need makes cybersecurity management an exciting career field, one that’s experiencing significant growth and often offers substantial compensation.

By earning a Master of Science in Management Information Systems from the UAB Collat School of Business, aspiring professionals can take the next step on their career path — and do so without seriously disrupting their current jobs. With part- and full-time options available for completing the program, learners can strike an effective balance with their other commitments. Even professionals without prior cybersecurity experience have a path toward building key skills in this field. The bridge program offers 18 credit hours that can get learners up to speed and ready to complete master’s-level coursework.


Recommended Reading:

How an MIS Degree Prepares You for Business Leadership

7 Reasons the MS MIS Degree is Right For You



Bureau of Labor Statistics — What Computer and Information Systems Managers Do

Bureau of Labor Statistics — How to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager

Bureau of Labor Statistics — What Information Security Analysts Do

O*NET OnLine — Information Security Analysts

Bureau of Labor Statistics — Information Security Analysts

Bureau of Labor Statistics — What Database Administrators and Architects Do

Bureau of Labor Statistics — How to Become a Database Administrator or Architect

O*NET OnLine — Database Administrators

Bureau of Labor Statistics — Database Administrators and Architects

Indeed — How To Become a Cybersecurity Manager