Security engineers are professionals who protect computer and networking systems from potential hackers and cyber-attacks. Security gaps in technology have become more sophisticated and information security occupations are in demand. Knowing how to become a security engineer can help you find a rewarding career.



Information systems security engineers (ISSE), help businesses keep sensitive data safe. Data may include confidential client records such as patient records at a hospital, trade secrets, and financial records that are all potential targets from cyber-attacks. Being an ISSE plays important roles in guarding businesses, government, and individuals against hackers and cyber-criminals who are always creating new ways to infiltrate sensitive databases.



Planning to become a security engineer should start in high school. Taking classes in math, science and, of course, computer sciences will help you to prepare for a career as a security engineer. Writing and speaking skills are also useful to any career, but especially those in the sciences where you will need to present your ideas to potential employers or clients. A background with accounting and marketing is important for those pursuing a consultant or freelance career in security engineering.

The next step in being a security engineer is to obtain an associate or bachelor's degree from an accredited computer science program.

Your courses may include the following:

  • Computer engineering
  • Information systems
  • General computer sciences
  • Information technology security

You may take classes through a university, community college, or online classes. In many cases, an associate degree in security engineering from a community college will give you transfer credits to a university or college with less cost. A master's degree or graduate level program in computer security will often offer a Master of Science degree related to information systems. Pursuing a master's degree, in addition to on the job experience, has the potential to give you a more successful career and open up possibilities you could not find with an associate's or a bachelor's degree in security engineering.

Employers often prefer potential employees who at least have a bachelor's degree in disciplines such as information systems (IS), information technology (IT), applied mathematics, computer programming, engineering, or another computer-related field. Further education may be necessary during your career with certification from organizations and businesses such as Microsoft, Cisco, or other major software companies that need security workers.

Gaining these certifications will show you have the security knowledge for different operating systems and software. Potential security engineers can acquire entry-level certification through such organizations as the Computing Technology Industry Association.


However, those engineers who want to pursue career advancement in their chosen field should obtain CISSP certification through the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium. Candidates who choose to certify with the CISSP should have at least five years of work experience in computer security and be able to pass a background check. Those attaining the CISSP must take the certification every three years and meet the organization's continuing education requirements.

Security engineers need many technical skills. Some of the skills security engineers need are IT support skills, familiarity with Unix/Windows, understanding of how to monitor security systems, and knowledge of securities systems infrastructure. Other knowledge of networking operating systems, how to stop phishing attempts, detection of computer viruses, computer forensics, ethics of security engineering, encryption of laptops and email servers, knowledge of audit functions, computer lab systems, as well as security compliance.


Security engineers or prospective students in this discipline should consider joining networking organizations for training opportunities, career support, access to industry publications, and job openings.


Joining organizations such as the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) can help you keep involved and current with trends in the information security business. The association's stated goals are to organize and provide international conferences, seminars, and local chapter meetings and seminars for training and networking opportunities, to provide access to information through the ISSA Website, its E-Newsletters, and through the monthly ISSA Journal.

The organization gives its members opportunities to earn CPE credits by attending chapter meetings, ISSA Web Conferences, and through subscription to the ISSA Journal. The ISSA gives its members leadership opportunities to serve as a chapter or international council leader, to be on committees, and through sharing expertise as an event speaker or as a contributor to the ISSA Journal.


Another organization that does certification for security engineers is the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc. The organization's mission is to provide for its members educational resources, credentials and certification, and leadership in cyber-information, software, and infrastructure security.

It has many certification programs for its members in information systems security, authorization, systems security, secure software lifecycle, forensics, healthcare information security, cloud security, security engineering, computer architecture security, and security management. Whatever certification program you pick, it is useful to be knowledgeable about current trends for a successful career.