The following article discusses the career path of IT Security Specialist. Learn about how to become one, education requirements, job duties, traits and qualities, national salary outlook as well as top national employers of IT Security Specialists.
IT security specialists are responsible for putting security measures in place to ensure that computer systems and networks of the organization are protected. Their role changes very often as there are more cyberattacks and more sophisticated methods of cybercrime.
These professionals also work on creating a disaster recovery plan for the organization. This is the procedure that all IT employees have to follow if there is an emergency of any kind. Doing so ensures that the department can continue to function at all times and does not experience downtime. This means that this plan includes being proactive and putting preventative measures in place, such as regularly backing up data and storing these backups off site, and also coming up with methods to restore the functioning of IT systems if there has been some sort of disaster. IT security specialists continuously test each of the steps listed in the plan to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
It is important that these specialists always keep their knowledge up to date. They must be familiar with the existing IT systems, but also with latest methods cybercriminals use in order to get into computer systems. Hence, they must learn about the latest security technology and determine which one is most suitable for their organization.
Other job duties of an IT security specialists include:
- Monitoring the networks to avoid security breaches, and to determine what caused one if it did occur
- Installing and deploying software such as data encryption and firewalls, and ensure they work to keep sensitive information safe
- Creating reports on any security breaches, outlining the damage that has been caused
- Performing penetration testing, whereby attacks are simulated to spot any vulnerabilities in the system that a cybercriminal could exploit
- Keeping up to date with new IT security trends
- Putting best practices in place for security standards in their organization
- Determining whether security can be enhanced and reporting this to senior management
- Helping users in the organization in getting to know the security procedures, policies, and products
Where We Work
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 100,000 information security analysts in 2016. The largest employers of these professionals were:
- Computer systems design and related services: 28%
- Finance and insurance: 19%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 9%
- Information: 8%
- Administrative and support services: 6%
How to Become
The majority of IT security specialists hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Work experience is usually preferred as well.
An IT security specialist generally holds a bachelor’s degree in a field such as programming, information assurance, computer science, or a related subject. Sometimes, employers look for those who have a master in business administration (MBA) degree with an information systems concentration. This usually takes an additional two years of study and ensures students already have work experience and take more enhanced computer and business-related courses.
Work experience is very important. Usually, these specialists have spent a number of years working in IT departments as computer or network systems administrators. It is also recommended for IT security specialists to work in the field in which they want to specialize, such as databases or firewalls.
There are also a few certifications that an IT security specialist could choose to obtain. Some employers prefer to hire those who are certified, as it proves they have the necessary knowledge and experience required. The CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) is particularly popular, as are those that focus on specific areas of work such as systems auditing or penetration testing.
Traits & Qualities
The most effective IT security specialists have the following traits to some degree or other:
- Strong analytical skills
- Detail oriented
- Excellent problem solving skills
- Most Reported
Salary by State
The following section lists IT Security Specialist salaries in each state around the country. The figures are based on the total number of job postings through Indeed.com. For example, Connecticut had the largest quoted salary of $132,911 while Maine had the smallest quoted salary of $55,159.
Top 20 National Employers
According to Indeed.com, the following states had employers looking to hire a IT Security Specialist. The quoted salary figure represents the average salary from all job postings by this employer.
|Employer Name||Location||Average Salary|
|Bryant Associates, Inc.||Connecticut||$273,193|
|TEEMA Solutions Group Inc.||California||$254,815|
|WJT Client||New York||$240,000|
|Gina’s Tech Jobs||California||$230,000|
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|Career Name||Average Salary|
|Chief Information Officer||$121,573|
|Data Warehouse Engineer||$111,007|
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|Director of Sales||$108,014|