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This Friday I thought it would be fun to dig up the dirt on the most exciting IT careers—the real-life versions of the glamorous IT folks you see in movies. Just think: A lucky few people actually get to do these jobs.
InfoSec crime investigator / forensic expert
Topping out the list of the SANS Institute’s coolest InfoSec jobs is the InfoSec investigator. This person probes security breaches to determine who caused them―and how to go after the perps in court. To get into this role, you need to know a lot about current security exploit methodologies, reverse engineering and forensic IT. You also need to be a creative thinker, because the criminals are always one step ahead. Interested in learning more? SANS offers certifications and courses to teach you the fundamentals.
Average pay: Around $85,000
Coolness factor: Using your IT intellect to fight criminals
Video game designer
For a creative person with tech skills, this might be the ultimate IT job. Video game designers work in teams with developers, graphic artists, writers and others, and they conceptualize stories and worlds, and scope out scenarios. While a video game designer doesn't do most of the actual development work, he or she usually needs some coding skills and technical knowledge.
Average pay: $70,000 a year
Coolness factor: Oh, yeah!
Super-smart people with a highly methodical mindset may find data architecture fascinating. Data architects must possess a deep understanding of how different software and hardware interact, data governance and how data function within a business.
Average pay: $78,000
Coolness factor: Your job is so esoteric that people literally can’t understand what you do
Also called “penetration testers,” ethical hackers are the white hat counterpart to cyber attackers. Companies hire them to try to hack their way through security and expose its vulnerabilities before a criminal can. Many also play at social engineering, trying to trick or persuade inside people into letting you into their systems. Word on the street (OK, according to my cousin) is the job’s as cool as it sounds.
Average pay: $70,000
Coolness factor: All the fun of crime with none of the risk
Jobs that AREN'T as great as they sound:
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO): While CISOs make top-dollar, the stress quotient in this job is pretty high, and CISOs often take the fall for a security breach. Basically, it’s a job in which you can only maintain the status quo or fail.
Video game tester: Sure, is sounds pretty fun to get paid for playing video games, and your friends would be super jealous. But the pay is peanuts, the work gets monotonous pretty quickly, and the hours are long. If you enjoy testing, you can find a much better career path in traditional quality assurance, working with developers to find glitches in their code.
Read last week's Friday fun for the IT crowd: The Internet of babies.