One of the benefits of cybersecurity is that it doesn’t have to be office work in the office. If you are someone who likes face-to-face interactions with employers and colleagues, there are plenty of on-site positions available—but if your availability is more restricted (perhaps for medical reasons, kids, or location), there are plenty of telecommuting options in cybersecurity for you as well.
Several well-paying and in-demand cybersecurity positions give you the freedom to choose where you live – and where you work from – without having to worry about that nightmare commute.
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In this article, I’ll cover five different cybersecurity-related positions that some cybersecurity professionals do from home. The choices below are only the tip of the iceberg for work-at-home opportunities.
1) Cybersecurity Analyst
Cybersecurity analysts (also called cybersecurity information analysts or security analysts) are always in demand. As a security analyst, you’ll be the backbone of your company’s security. It goes without saying that you need to be very familiar with network and systems security.
As a security analyst, you are that person who stays one step ahead of cyber threats, proactively identifying any weaknesses in an organization and knowing how to defend it. You are expected to be able to educate others about security threats and, with the company’s approval, run vulnerability assessments to test the effectiveness of your organization’s current security methods.
Security analysts are in high-demand, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow 32% between now and 2028. While you are expected to have at least a bachelor’s in a related field (going even further in your education can only help), that education frequently counts as professional experience in the field. And many cybersecurity analysts are able to find employment without a bachelor’s degree.
It is possible for you to graduate with a degree in computer science or cybersecurity and qualify immediately for an analyst position. With a median pay at $98,350 a year, a cybersecurity information analyst is a dream job for telecommuters.
What does remote cybersecurity analyst work look like?
Much of the work of cybersecurity analysts are monitoring the system or systems you protect and looking for (and responding to, if needed) any perceived security incident.
Because companies may want or need you as a cybersecurity analyst to monitor systems in multiple locations, this is a job that aligns well with remote work. There are many security analysts that monitor systems all over the country or even all over the world and resolve those issues remotely. In many cases, the analysts have never been to the locations that they protect. If they are monitoring and protecting these systems remotely, they can do so from anywhere that has a strong internet connection.
2) Penetration Tester
Penetration testers are ethical hackers. If an organization hires you as a pentester, depending on your level of clearance you’ll be expected to try to hack the organization’s security either as an insider with a basic understanding of how the organization works or with no resources and knowledge but your own.
As a penetration tester, you need to be an expert in cyberattacks. You need to know how a hacker thinks and it’s critical that you stay up to date with current hacking techniques.
Think of a pen tester as the opposite of a security analyst. Instead of defending your organization by proactively identifying weaknesses and protecting them, you defend your client by identifying a weakness, exploiting it, and showing your client the results of that exploitation. Again, pen testers are ethical hackers—you must have an organization’s full approval before attempting to hack their system.
As a pentester, you should know several programming languages (Python, Ruby, and Java are frequently mentioned as desirable). You should have at least two to three years of related experience. At least a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field is required for many positions. The salary ranges between $60,000-110,000 a year.
What does remote penetration tester work look like?
Penetration testing as a career does have some customer interaction, which is frequently done in a face to face format, but that isn’t a requirement. Some penetration testers can work with a client from a distance, or they are part of a penetration testing team where one team member is local, but they personally are not.
Much of the work of penetration testing can be done remotely, and with organizations moving more technology into the cloud, penetration testing is moving into the cloud as well, which means it can be done remotely.
3) IT Project Manager
As a project manager, it’s your job to supervise wide-ranging technological projects. Basically, you are the genius controlling a company’s tech operations. From a cybersecurity point of view, that means you are the person who ensures that the company’s security policies are enforced and up to date and that all security-related procedures are performed following company-specific guidelines.
Because you may find yourself acting as a go-between, you should be comfortable interacting with employees and customers. Project managers are expected to be very familiar with several tech-related fields.
Not infrequently, a company advertising a project manager position will specify their ideal candidate as not only having a background in cybersecurity, but also another field like systems engineering.
Unlike the pentester and analyst positions, you are expected to have significant experience, preferably in another managerial role or system administration position. And experience in project management is a plus, including project management certifications, such as the PMP. At least a bachelor’s degree in a related field is required. Salaries range from $70,000-$140,000 per year.
What does remote IT project manager work look like?
Increasingly more and more, project managers are leading a team of talented cybersecurity professionals that reside all over the place, which means as the leader, you can work remotely as well. Sometimes, this type of work may require a visit to a specific location to meet clients or interact with team leads, but much of the work can be done remotely if you prefer.
4) Security Engineer
If you like coding, security engineering may be the perfect work-from-home opportunity. Security engineers develop programs that help identify weaknesses in an organization, adding an extra layer of defense. They also design automation scripts that facilitate the process of logging security incidents.
Security engineers are the ones who know how an exploit is created, how to create their own exploits, and how to reinforce a system against common or expected exploits. Because of the low-level nature of some defense operations, a security engineer has no problem working at the command line.
An understanding of PowerShell or another programming language that has been used in security design, such as Python, is required, and you should be able to demonstrate familiarity across operating systems, from Linux and Mac OS to Windows. Security engineering is a demanding job and as with most security-related fields, it’s your job to keep pace with constantly evolving security trends.
Frequently, employers expect the ideal candidate to have at least a bachelor’s degree with over three years’ related experience—but if you love a challenge and can’t get enough of squaring off against cyber threats, this may just be the role you’re looking for. Ranging between $70,000-140,000 a year, the salary for this critical position is more than competitive.
What does remote security engineer work look like?
Since many security engineers are spending a good bit of their time creating code, they are spending that time in front of a keyboard. Where the security engineer and the keyboard happens to be doesn’t matter all that much.
Just like the IT project manager, security engineers may need to get on-site for meetings, such as with the full DevOps team, but they may find that those meetings are rare, or at worst they can work from home multiple days a week.
5) Cybersecurity Instructor
While this option may seem like a departure from the previous choices, nonetheless, if you’re looking for a role with work-at-home benefits, a cybersecurity instructor could be a perfect fit.
You won’t be required to actively defend systems, but the importance of educating new cyber professionals should never be underestimated. Cybersecurity is a pivotal field in our modern, technological world, and a class environment introduces many people to the topics that are fundamental to their success.
As important as it is that cyber professionals are fighting off hackers and securing our information, it’s equally vital that students are trained in order to fill these roles themselves.
A cybersecurity instructor is frequently required to have at least a Master’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or another related field. Previous teaching experience, besides familiarity with online learning, is necessary. The average annual salary for a cybersecurity instructor ranges from $70,000 to over $100,000.
What does remote cybersecurity instructor work look like?
There are many instructors and professors that teach classes online, and because of this, they may be teaching lots of classes for lots of different colleges, universities or trade schools. This work becomes easier if the instructor is able to pick up similar, or even the same course, multiple times so that they can keep their syllabus and preparation the same.
Securing Your Remote Job
The requirements for work-at-home or remote cybersecurity jobs vary by position. As a rule, education and experience are valuable assets to any resume. Certificates, particularly the CompTIA Security+, are critical in many cases.
When browsing remote-jobs, be careful to read all the qualifications. Frequently, employers emphasize different skill sets depending on the focus of their organization or company.
The demand for cyber professionals has never been higher and the salary for telecommuters is more than competitive with on-site employees’. With a variety of choices, the ideal decision ultimately depends on what works best for you.
Steps you can take to secure a remote job
If your interested in getting a remote or work-from-home cybersecurity job, consider the following options as ways to help make that happen.
- Keep in mind that you may have to work on-site until you prove yourself. Companies may choose to reward proven employees with remote work options, or they may have a phase-in period so that the company can get to know you.
- Make it a no-brainer for your company. When given the work-from-home option, an employer will be evaluating if it seems like the amount of work you’re doing is equivalent to what they think would get done if you were in the office. When working from home, and especially for the first few months, be sure to be ultra-productive.
- Avoid any inconvenience to your boss. If your boss feels like having you onsite would be more convenient for them, your remote work may be over. Be sure to communicate well when working from home, which means keeping your boss and others in the loop, being available when they call and responding to questions quickly.
- Use your time efficiently. Do you have downtime on Sunday evening when you’re not doing anything? Or perhaps you kill a half-hour waiting for the kids during piano lessons? Using this time to get ahead on a task or your emails will keep you ahead of your work, which will make you more productive, and more importantly, make you appear more productive to your boss.
- Be willing to travel sometimes. To land a good work-from-home job, the home office may not be in your area. Consider if traveling to the home office once every so often is worth the benefit of working remotely all of the other time.