May 23, 2021

Security researcher – what is it and how to get there?

Hello everybody! I started working as a software engineer (field of network and security) 2 years ago (first job). I am 26yo. At the beginning I liked coding, but then I started seeing it as repetitive and the enthusiasm started fading off. I have the impression that the challenges in software engineering are of immediate solution and there isn’t much space for creativity, which is often (rightfully) labelled as “overengineering”. Some people say that software engineering is mostly CRUD work and I really had this impression. To the point where there isn’t really much space for technical improvements

So my idea is to look for more technical challenges by moving to security research and this would be my carreer plan for the future:

– resign and study security (possibly getting some certifications).
– get some experience as security researcher, maybe somewhere in the academic.
– apply for security research positions (as far as I understand, they only exist in big N companies).

But I have some questions about it:

– do you see some misconceptions in what I wrote? Am I lacking some understanding of the IT world?
– do you know some (academic) insitutions where I could get some experience? So far I have only found the Citizen Lab, a research group that focuses on emerging threats for human rights activists. How does someone become a security researcher otherwise?
– the carreer plan I wrote above is just “shooting for the stars” of course. I know it might not turn out the way I hope, but I still guess that I would land somewhere around there. I have looked for some information in the internet and it feels like security positions (like pen testers, soc analysts, etc…) earn less than SWE. Is that true? I am okay with losing some money, but I would like to know it before jumping into this field.
– for all security professionals out there. Do you feel your work is actually technically challenging everyday? Or do you feel like the enthusiasm fades away at some point like for every other job?
– I probably already know the answer, but work to life balance is important to me. I like, for example, working part time 80% because I like having three days off a week. Is it something I am never ginna be able to do if I go for security research?

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