How to Become a Security Specialist

Everyone and most every thing needs some type of protection. You protect your home with locks or alarm systems; you protect your car with insurance, and you protect your health by going to the doctor. A major corporation or organization uses a security specialist to protect their software and network security system. A security specialist is smart career path to take to begin your career in cyber security, as you’ll be the go-to person responsible for the overall safety of your employer’s data.

Security Specialist Job Responsibilities

It is possible for a security specialist’s job responsibilities to vary depending upon place of employment. Here are some of the most common duties:

  • Keep up to date with security updates and improvements
  • Monitor the security administrations
  • Protect the system against damage, changes or illegal access
  • Ensure accurate security tools are running properly, including anti-virus software and firewalls
  • Implement training to colleagues
  • Develop system specialized security requirements

Career Path as a Security Specialist

Since a security specialist is essentially an entry level position in the large world of cyber security, there are positions you can start out in at first and then, you can work your way up the ladder into a management role. It is a great career to enter as there are several roads to travel toward executive-level roles.

Entry-Level

System Administrator

Security Administrator

Network Administrator

Senior-Level

IT Project Manger

Security Manager

Security Consultant

Security Architect

Executive-Level

Chief Information Security Officer

Security Director

Similar Job Titles

When researching the perfect job as a security specialist, make sure you keep your eyes open for job postings under other titles that could be classified as a security specialist. Here are some examples:

Network Security Specialist
Computer Security Specialist
Information Security Specialist
IT Security Specialist

Job Requirements

Hard-Skill
Hard Skills

  • Knowledgeable in SIEM—Security Information and Event Management
  • Ability to perform vulnerability and penetrations tests
  • Understand computer protection programs and software such as anti-malware, anti-virus and firewall
  • Fluent in programming languages like PHP, Java, C++, C# or C
  • Comfortable working with UNIX, Windows, and Linux systems
  • Confident in threat modeling, coding practices and ethical hacking
  • Understanding of Load Balancer, Proxy Server and Packet Shaper
Soft-Skills
Soft Skills

  • Self-motivated
  • Able to work well with others
  • Strong communication skills
  • Critical thinker
  • Problem Solver
Education
Education When first starting out, some employers may accept an associate’s degree or a few years of work experience. To move your way up into some of the roles described earlier, a technical bachelor’s degree is usually going to be required. A master’s degree specializing in technical security, or obtaining approved certifications will give you the edge to further your career.

Work-Experience
Work Experience Always inquire with a potential employer for their specific job requirements. Some companies may accept as little as 1-to-2 years of experience while some may require over five years of IT security experience.

Salary Expectations

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook lists the median annual salary for the commensurate job, information security analyst, at $88,890. Depending upon where you live and work your salary could be as high as $140,460 per year.

Salary-security-specialist

Certifications

Research your future employers’ exact job requirements. For security specialists, certifications may not be required when you are first starting your career. They are good idea to work towards while gaining some work experience however, and may help you at promotion time. Some certification options may include:

  • EC-Council Network Security Administrator (ENSA)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate—Routing and Switching (CCNA)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • CompTIA’s popular base-level security certification (Security+)

A security specialist is an excellent way to jump start your career in cyber security. Whether it is something you are striving for before college, or making a job transition, be prepared by garnering as much knowledge as possible toward what companies are looking for in potential employees. Major job requirements can widely vary among employers and you might miss the opportunity to build up your work experience and knowledge before making the leap towards a senior or management position. However you choose, a security specialist role is a career with many opportunities.

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