Exploring careers in cybersecurity

Using the National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework

An important step in choosing a career path is identifying your interests.  Learning about your interests will help you identify opportunities to pursue and the topics you are most naturally drawn to, making school and work more motivating and enjoyable.

Skilled cybersecurity employees are in extremely high demand. The field of cybersecurity is expected to grow by 41% in the next 8 years, with an average wage of $38 per hour. Cybersecurity falls within the high growth area of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.

  • 41% Job growth by 2023
  • $38/hour Average wage in cybersecurity
Cybersecurity Careers: National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework

About the Framework  The National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework was created to describe all cybersecutiy work and workers. The Framework consists of 31 specialty areas organized into seven categories.  These categories, serving as an overarching structure for the Framework, group related specialty areas together. In essence, specialty areas in a given category are typically more similar to one another than to specialty areas in other categories. Within each specialty area, typical tasks and knowledges, skills, and abilities (KSAs) are provided.

If you are interested in learning more about cybersecurity job opportunities, click on each of the specialty areas below to learn about sample job titles within each category. Another great resource for exploring cyber degrees and career paths, including advice for degree seekers, career changers, and information on technical certifications can be found here.

Securely Provision Specialty Areas

Specialty areas concerned with conceptualizing, designing, and building secure IT systems, with responsibility for some aspect of the systems’ development

Information Assurance (IA) Compliance

Oversees, evaluates, and supports the documentation, validation, and accreditation processes necessary to assure that new information technology (IT) systems meet the organization’s information assurance (IA) and security requirements. Ensures appropriate treatment of risk, compliance, and assurance from internal and external perspectives.

Sample job titles

  • Accreditor Auditor
  • Authorizing Official Designated Representative
  • Certification Agent
  • Certifying Official
  • Compliance Manager
    Designated Accrediting Authority Information Assurance (IA) Auditor
  • Information Assurance (IA) Compliance Analyst/Manager
  • Information Assurance (IA) Manager Information Assurance (IA) Officer Portfolio Manager
  • Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist Risk/Vulnerability Analyst
  • Security Control Assessor Systems Analyst Validator

Software Assurance and Security Engineering

Develops and writes/codes new (or modifies existing) computer applications, software, or specialized utility programs following software assurance best practices.

Sample job titles

  • Analyst Programmer
  • Computer Programmer
  • Configuration Manager
  • Database Developer/Engineer/Architect
  • Information Assurance (IA) Engineer
  • Information Assurance (IA) Software Developer
  • Information Assurance (IA) Software Engineer
  • Research & Development Engineer Secure Software Engineer
  • Security Engineer
  • Software Developer
  • Software Engineer/Architect Systems Analyst
  • Web Application Developer

Systems Security Architecture

Develops system concepts and works on the capabilities phases of the systems development lifecycle; translates technology and environmental conditions (e.g., law and regulation) into system and security designs and processes.

Sample job titles

  • Information Assurance (IA) Architect
  • Information Security Architect
  • Information Systems Security Engineer
  • Network Security Analyst
  • Research & Development Engineer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Security Architect
  • Systems Security Analyst
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Solutions Architect

Technology Research and Development

Conducts technology assessment and integration processes; provides and supports a prototype capability and/or evaluates its utility.

Sample job titles

  • Capabilities and Development Specialist
  • Chief Engineer
  • Research & Development Engineer

Systems Requirements Planning

Consults with customers to gather and evaluate functional requirements and translates these requirements into technical solutions. Provides guidance to customers about applicability of information systems to meet business needs.

Sample job titles

  • Business Analyst
  • Business Process Analyst
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Human Factors Engineer
  • Systems Consultant
  • Requirements Analyst
  • Systems Engineer
  • Solutions Architect

Test and Evaluation

Develops and conducts tests of systems to evaluate compliance with specifications and requirements by applying principles and methods for cost-effective planning, evaluating, verifying, and validating of technical, functional, and performance characteristics (including interoperability) of systems or elements of systems incorporating information technology (IT).

Sample job titles

  • Application Security Tester
  • Information Systems Security Engineer
  • Quality Assurance (QA) Tester
  • Research & Development Engineer
  • Research & Development
  • Research Engineer
  • Security Systems Engineer
  • Software Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
  • Software Quality Engineer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Testing and Evaluation Specialist
  • Security Engineer
  • Systems Engineer Systems Security Engineer

Systems Development

Works on the development phases of the systems development lifecycle.

Sample job titles

  • Firewall Engineer
  • Information Assurance (IA) Developer
  • Information Assurance (IA) Engineer
  • Information Assurance (IA) Software Engineer
  • Information Systems Security Engineer
  • Program Developer

Operate and Maintain Specialty Areas

Specialty areas responsible for providing the support, administration, and maintenance necessary to ensure effective and efficient IT system performance and security

Data Administration

Develops and administers databases and/or data management systems that allow for the storage, query, and utilization of data.

  • Content Staging Specialist
  • Data Architect
  • Data Custodian
  • Data Manager
  • Data Warehouse Specialist
  • Information Dissemination Manager
  • Database Administrator
  • Database Developer
  • Database Engineer/Architect

Knowledge Management

Manages and administers processes and tools that enable the organization to identify, document, and access intellectual capital and information content.

  • Business Analyst
  • Business Intelligence Manager
  • Content Administrator
  • Document Steward Information Owner
  • Freedom of Information Act Official
  • Information Resources Manager
  • Information Manager

Customer Service and Technical Support

Addresses problems and installs, configures, troubleshoots, and provides maintenance and training in response to customer requirements or inquiries (e.g., tiered-level customer support).

  • Computer Support Specialist Customer Support
  • Help Desk Representative
  • Service Desk Operator
  • User Support Specialist
  • Systems Administrator
  • Technical Support Specialist

Network Services

Installs, configures, tests, operates, maintains, and manages networks and their firewalls, including hardware (e.g., hubs, bridges, switches, multiplexers, routers, cables, proxy servers, and protective distributor systems) and software that permit the sharing and transmission of all spectrum transmissions of information to support the security of information and information systems.

  • Cabling Technician
  • Converged Network Engineer
  • Network Administrator
  • Network Analyst
  • Network Designer
  • Network Engineer
  • Network Systems and Data Communications Analyst
  • Network Systems Engineer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Telecommunications Engineer/Personnel/ Specialist

System Administration

Installs, configures, troubleshoots, and maintains server configurations (hardware and software) to ensure their confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Also manages accounts, firewalls, and patches. Responsible for access control, passwords, and account creation and administration.

  • Local Area Network (LAN) Administrator
  • Platform Specialist
  • Security Administrator
  • Server Administrator
  • Website Administrator
  • System Operations Personnel
  • Systems Administrator

Systems Security Analysis

Conducts the integration/testing, operations, and maintenance of systems security.

  • Information Assurance (IA) Operational Engineer
  • Information Assurance (IA) Security Officer
  • Information Security Analyst/Administrator
  • Information Security Manager
  • Information Security Specialist
  • Information Systems Security Engineer
  • Information Systems Security Manager (ISSM) Platform Specialist
  • Security Administrator Security Analyst
  • Security Control Assessor Security Engineer

Protect and Defend Specialty Areas

Specialty areas responsible for the identification, analysis, and mitigation of threats to internal IT systems or networks

Computer Network Defense (CND) Analysis

Uses defensive measures and information collected from a variety of sources to identify, analyze, and report events that occur or might occur within the network in order to protect information, information systems, and networks from threats.

  • Computer Network Defense (CND) Analyst (Cryptologic)
  • Cybersecurity Intelligence Analyst
  • Focused Operations Analyst
  • Incident Analyst
  • Network Defense Technician
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Security Analyst Security Operator Sensor Analyst

Incident Response

Responds to crisis or urgent situations within the pertinent domain to mitigate immediate and potential threats. Uses mitigation, preparedness, and response and recovery approaches, as needed, to maximize survival of life, preservation of property, and information security. Investigates and analyzes all relevant response activities.

  • Computer Crime Investigator
  • Incident Responder
  • Incident Response Coordinator
  • Incident Handler
  • Incident Response Analyst
  • Intrusion Analyst

Computer Network Defense (CND) Infrastructure Support

Tests, implements, deploys, maintains, reviews and administers the infrastructure hardware and software that are required to effectively manage the computer network defense (CND) service provider network and resources. Monitors network to actively remediate unauthorized activities.

  • Information Systems Security Engineer
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS) Administrator
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS) Engineer
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS) Technician
  • Network Administrator
  • Network Analyst
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Network Security Specialist
  • Security Analyst
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Specialist Systems
  • Security Engineer

Vulnerability Assessment and Management

Conducts assessments of threats and vulnerabilities, determines deviations from acceptable configurations or enterprise or local policy, assesses the level of risk, and develops and/or recommends appropriate mitigation countermeasures in operational and non-operational situations.

  • Blue Team Technician
  • Certified TEMPEST1 Professional
  • Certified TEMPEST1 Technical Authority
  • Close Access Technician
  • Computer Network Defense (CND) Auditor Compliance Manager
  • Ethical Hacker
  • Governance Manager
  • Information Security Engineer
  • Internal Enterprise Auditor
  • Penetration Tester
  • Red Team Technician
  • Reverse Engineer Risk/Vulnerability Analyst
  • Technical Surveillance Countermeasures Technician
  • Vulnerability Manager

Investigate Specialty Areas

Specialty areas responsible for the investigation of cyber events and/or crimes of IT systems, networks, and digital evidence

Digital Forensics

Collects, processes, preserves, analyzes, and presents computer-related evidence in support of network vulnerability mitigation and/or criminal, fraud, counterintelligence, or law enforcement investigations.

  • Computer Forensic Analyst
  • Digital Forensic Examiner
  • Computer Network Defense (CND)
  • Forensic Digital Media Collector
  • Forensic Analyst (Cryptologic)
  • Forensic Technician
  • Network Forensic Examiner
  • Analyst
  • Forensic Analyst


Applies tactics, techniques, and procedures for a full range of investigative tools and processes to include but not limited to interview and interrogation techniques, surveillance, counter surveillance, and surveillance detection, and appropriately balances the benefits of prosecution versus intelligence gathering.

  • Computer Crime Investigator
  • Special Agent

Collect and Operate Specialty Areas

Specialty areas responsible for specialized denial and deception operations and collection of cybersecurity information that may be used to develop intelligence


Note that Collect and Operate specialty areas are unique and highly specialized and the framework does not provide task and KSA level content.

Analyze Specialty Areas

Specialty areas responsible for highly specialized review and evaluation of incoming cybersecurity information to determine its usefulness for intelligence


Note that Analyze specialty areas are unique and highly specialized and the framework does not provide task and KSA level content.

Oversight and Development Specialty Areas

Specialty areas providing leadership, management, direction, and/or development and advocacy so that all individuals and the organization may effectively conduct cybersecurity work

Education and Training

Conducts training of personnel within pertinent subject domain. Develops, plans, coordinates, delivers, and/or evaluates training courses, methods, and techniques as appropriate.

  • Cyber Trainer
  • Information Security Trainer
  • Security Training Coordinator

Information Systems Security Operations

Oversees the information assurance (IA) program of an information system in or outside the network environment; may include procurement duties.

  • Contracting Officer (CO)
  • Information Assurance (IA) Program Manager
  • Contracting Officer Technical Representative (COTR)
  • Information Assurance (IA) Security Officer
  • Information Systems Security Manager (ISSM)
  • Information Systems Security Officer (ISSO)
  • Information Systems Security Operator
  • Information Assurance (IA) Manager
  • Information Security Program Manager

Legal Advice and Advocacy

Provides legally sound advice and recommendations to leadership and staff on a variety of relevant topics within the pertinent subject domain. Advocates legal and policy changes and makes a case on behalf of client via a wide range of written and oral work products, including legal briefs and proceedings.

  • Legal Advisor/Staff
  • Judge Advocate (SJA)
  • Paralegal

Security Program Management

Manages information security implications within the organization, specific program, or other area of responsibility, to include strategic, personnel, infrastructure, policy enforcement, emergency planning, security awareness, and other resources.

  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
  • Common Control Provider
  • Cyber Security Officer
  • Enterprise Security Officer
  • Facility Security Officer
  • Information Systems Security Manager (ISSM)
  • Information Technology (IT) Director
  • Principal Security Architect
  • Risk Executive
  • Security Domain Specialist
  • Senior Agency Information Security (SAIS) Officer

Strategic Planning and Policy Development

Applies knowledge of priorities to define an entity’s direction, determine how to allocate resources, and identify programs or infrastructure that are required to achieve desired goals within domain of interest. Develops policy or advocates for changes in policy that will support new initiatives or required changes/enhancements.

  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • Information Security Policy Analyst
  • Policy Writer and Strategist
  • Command Information Officer
  • Information Security Policy Manager
How to Determine if a Cybersecurity Career Is Right for You

Now that you have determined which category you might be interested in, review the Framework to learn more about the 31 specialty areas and specific knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) required for each..

More deeply explore one or more of the seven major categories that interests you.

  1. Choose one of the seven major categories in the Framework in that interests you and click on the corresponding box or the tab at the bottom of the page.
  2. Choose a specialty area within the major category of the Framework that interests you, click on the corresponding box.
  3. Identify at least three Task ID’s/KSA’s that you have experience with.
  4. Identify at least three Task ID’s/KSA’s that you do not have experience with or need additional training for.

Note that the major categories of “Collect and Operate” and “Analyze” are unique and highly specialized and the framework does not provide task and KSA level content.

Explore open positions in your area

The following employment websites offer listings of cybersecuruty-related jobs. By exploring these websites and job listings, you can determine what additional KSAs you would need, and can determine what sort of training might be right for you.

Find additional information and training

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is an initiative that enhances the overall cybersecurity posture of the United States by accelerating the availability of educational and training resources designed to improve the cybersecurity skills, and knowledge of our nation’s students and workforce.

Explore the NICE website to identify additional resources to help you fill the gaps in your skill set.