How to Become a Cyber Security Consultant

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

In this post, we'll discuss common questions on how to become a consultant within cyber security including the following:

woman sitting on sofa with headphones, laptop and notepad

So, how do I become a cyber security consultant?


There is no set path - as a starting point, look at the job listings for companies you would like to work for. Reach out to other cyber security consultants and get involved in the cyber security community.


Why not drop our team an email for an informal chat?


What exactly is a cyber security consultant and what do they do?


A Cyber Security Consultant is someone who works within one of the many areas of Cyber and Information Security to provide their expertise on a 'fractional' basis to clients.


Areas of cyber security specialism include, but are not limited to:

  • Penetration Testing

  • Forensics

  • Risk Advisory Services

  • Incident Response

  • InfoSec Management

For example, a Cyber Security 'Ethical Hacker' Consultant would provide Penetration Testing services to clients.


What is the role of a cyber security consultant within a business?


If you are working as a consultant within a cyber security vendor, then the breadth of your role could genuinely reach both ends of the spectrum across the full cyber security domain:

  • Penetration Testing

  • Red Teaming

  • Forensics

  • Risk Advisory Services

  • Incident Response

  • InfoSec Management

If you work internally for a company your job title would not typically be a 'cyber security consultant' as you are not providing consultancy services as a direct employee: more typical job titles for internal members of staff might be:

  • Penetration Tester

  • Data Analyst

  • Information Security Specialist

  • Information Security Manager

  • Risk Analyst

What types of roles are available in cyber security?


Some of the types of roles available in cyber security include:


1) Penetration Tester


This is where you ethically hack (pen test) organisations to identify cyber weaknesses and vulnerabilities in their assets;


2) Risk Advisory Consultant


This is a role where you provide cyber/infosec risk analysis, mitigation and guidance services to clients;


3) Forensic Consultant


A role where you will forensically analyse system post-break-in to identify 'how' something occurred and what actions were performed as part of the breach - including identifying the data that may have been extracted. This is a highly specialised, and skilled role normally requiring significant depth of technical knowledge and experience.


4) Information Security Manager


In this role, you will be responsible for the Information Security posture, strategy and management of your organisation's Information Security Management System (ISMS) and typically look to gain and maintain compliance to Information Security Standards such as ISO 27001.


What is the difference between a career in cyber security vs. ethical hacking?


There is no difference - ethical hacking is a specialism within cyber security.


What services do cyber security consulting professionals provide?


Cyber security consulting professionals are a broad subset of the cyber industry's personnel who can provide specialism across the full cyber security services spectrum:

  1. Penetration Testing Consultancy

  2. Risk Advisory Consultancy

  3. Forensics Consultancy

  4. Information Security Consultancy


What skills and experience does a cyber security consultant need?


Cyber security consultants need the skills and experience relevant to their field of expertise. Most cyber security consultancies, and independent companies, will be able to access and offer different levels of training to help get you to the standard required.


What education do you need to be a security consultant?


For the majority of security consultants jobs, there are no prerequisites in terms of formal education. It will help if you have a solid foundation of technical knowledge, even if it has not been honed specifically as a security consultant.


What is the entry-level for a cyber security career?


Most companies will have 'entry level' positions available or run specific programs (such as graduate programs) to help bring new talent into the industry. Therefore there is no specific 'entry level'.


A passion and curiosity for technology and security are, however, mandatory. Our recommendation is to start speaking to companies in the cyber security sector (such as CovertSwarm) and see what might be available.


Try to focus on the companies that offer the cyber security consultancy area that you want to specialise in. So for example, if you want to become a Penetration Tester or Ethical Hacker, look for a Penetration Testing company.


What is the ideal cyber security consultant's career path?


There is no ideal cyber security consultant path - do what works for you and feed your technology and security curiosity! Each career path will be different for the specific cyber security role you have chosen to pursue, and we encourage you to be guided by the company you work for as a good starting point.


How much does a cyber security consultant make?


Like most industries, there will be a range of salaries and packages on offer. Entry-level salaries typically start from around £25,000 (GBP) per year and scale up from there as you gain more experience.


How much do ethical hackers earn?


Similarly to cyber security consultants, there will be a range of salaries and packages on offer. Salaries typically start from around £25,000 (GBP) per year.


Is cybersecurity a stressful job?


Any job or anything you 'do' can be stressful - as with all things in life we recommend that you do what you love and work to develop mechanisms to manage your stress levels.


One of the most important aspects of maintaining a low-stress work life is to work for a company that looks after you, whose values you share and one - like CovertSwarm - that gives you unlimited holiday; unlimited training; and takes you and the rest of the company to DEF CON in Las Vegas every year!


Get in touch if you'd like to apply for a role.