How to Become a Source Code Auditor
A source code auditor is a cyber security professional who reviews source code in applications to find any glitches or bugs that might affect functionality or security. The code auditor needs to be aware of the latest technologies and methods in use by hackers and may need to simulate a cyber attack to test the code. This position is very demanding and requires a broad knowledge of computer science, cyber security and many other factors, too. This page is dedicated to exploring how to become a source code auditor.
Qualities of a Good Source Code Auditor
Before you head out to become a code auditor, consider whether you have the qualities needed to succeed in the position. Not everyone does, and you can ensure that you are making the best career decision when you take the time for a careful self-assessment.
First off, you must have a love of technology. It will help if you have some background with higher-level computing. Ask yourself these questions:
While by no means a comprehensive list, those questions should get you thinking about your inherent attraction to technology. If you are repelled by the idea of tinkering with your TCP/IP settings and HTML gives you hives, you might consider some other aspect of information technology, or pursue a different path. Here is a brief list of qualities found in many cyber security professionals:
- Highly analytical
- Detail oriented
- Lifelong learners
- Solutions oriented
- Able to work alone for long periods of time
Education is a key component of becoming a source code auditor. You will need to have at least an undergraduate degree, if not a masters or above. Many in the IT industry are more impressed with your demonstrable skills than a list of degrees, but the surest way to attaining skills is through academia.
There are many great programs available on traditional campuses and online, too. Some programs offer a hybrid option, where you can pursue your coursework either online or in classrooms. Try to take at least some courses online, as you will likely need to be familiar with this mode of learning in the future. For instance, you might some day want to take a professional certificate course that is only offered online.
When you enter college with the idea of entering the cyber security field, first make sure that your school will provide the courses you need to succeed. First, look for schools that have computer science or Information Technology departments. Then, look through the student handbook and analyze the courses they offer in the field. In particular, you might seek out the following classes:
- Introduction to Programming
- Cyber security law
- Computer forensics
- Course in specific languages such as: C++, Java, Python and PHP (among others)
- Database security
- Software engineering
- Introduction to Cryptography
If your goal is to enter cyber security as an auditor, devote your time as an undergraduate to learning as much as you can about any and all aspects of computing and computer science. While source code auditors are in a specialty area, their knowledge is anything but specialized.
Since most hiring professionals prefer graduate degrees, you will want to consider moving past your undergraduate degree with at least a graduate certificate, if not a full degree. You will need to have an undergraduate degree in either computer science or engineering to apply for a graduate program, but in rare cases you might be able to substitute relevant work experience.
To ensure that you land the job you desire after graduation, focus your work on learning as much about both software development and security issues. If you hope to thwart threats that are currently facing governments and industries, focus on finding a graduate program whose instructors are active in the field, or who can provide real-world examples from their professional experience. Black hat hackers (the bad guys) are constantly evolving their skills in order to outwit cyber security professionals, so you want to be prepared with current knowledge.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track data specifically for source code auditors, but it does have numbers for Information Security Analysts, a related job title. In 2015, security analysts commanded a median salary of $90,120/year. This figure does not necessarily factor in additional compensation such as health care benefits, bonuses or other perks.
The overall field for security analysts is expected to grow at an impressive clip through 2024. The BLS projections state that the field will expand by 18 percent. This “much faster than average” growth rate is due to the increasing dependence society has on technology, and then the attendant security issues that come with that phenomenon.
If you have the qualities of a code auditor and are ready to start your education, there is no time like the present. There are traditional and online courses starting all the time. Your future starts this moment – get started!
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