How to Become a Computer Security Expert: Career Roadmap

Oct 20, 2021

Research the requirements to become a computer security expert. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in computer security.

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Becoming a Computer Security Expert

Experts in the field of computer security can work in a variety of positions, including those as network and computer systems administrators or information security analysts. Network and computer systems administrators maintain computer and network security and update security programs as necessary. Information security analysts develop an organization's computer security standards, install software programs to protect information stored on computers, and monitor computer networks for security breaches. These positions often require sitting for many hours and looking at computer monitors.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Computer-related field
Experience Varies; typically 1+ years
Key Skills Analytical, written and verbal communication, problem-solving, and organizational skills; ability to use network security or other related software and industry tools such as network analyzers
Median Salary (2018) $98,350 (for all information security analysts)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online

To get started in this career, you typically need a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. The experience can vary, but some positions require at least one year of experience. The key skills for becoming a computer securities expert include analytical, written and verbal communication, problem solving, and organization skills; the ability to use network security or other related software; and the ability to use industry tools, such as network analyzers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 the median annual salary for an information security analyst was $98,350.

Steps to Getting Into This Career

What are the steps to become a computer security expert?

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is typically required to work as a computer security expert. Related programs include the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Information Technology with a concentration in cyber security; B.S. in Information Technology Management and Cyber Security; B.S. in Cybersecurity; and B.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in computer and information security. Classes in these four-year programs may cover topics like cryptology, Unix and network security, database design and administration, computer forensics and digital forensics. Some programs may include a senior project or similar graduation requirement.

To really up your chances of success, complete an independent project. Some schools allow students to complete an independent research project or a senior project during their studies. This project can permit students to obtain experience working to resolve a computer security issue. Being able to display this project or discuss its contents with potential employers can help an individual stand out against his or her competition.

Step 2: Obtain Employment

Prospective computer security experts can start their career in network and computer systems administration or computer support positions, which do not typically require prior experience. Working as an administrator can help professionals learn how to identify an organization's computer security needs. They can also develop skills in training on software programs, evaluating computer systems and maintaining network security.

While voluntary, earning a certification may assist an individual in advancing in their career. The CompTIA Security+ or the Network Security Administrator credentials, offered by CompTIA and EC-Council, respectively, are available to individuals who work in the field of computer security. Earning these credentials requires passing an exam.

Step 3: Gain an Advanced Computer Security Position

After obtaining several years of work experience, it may be possible for an individual to advance into a position as an information security analyst. These analysts work to protect an organization's computer information. Their job tasks may include investigating security breaches, developing security standards for an organization, installing security software programs and teaching employees how to use security software.

To recap, with a bachelor's degree and expertise in network security and software, computer security experts make about $99,000 a year to maintain computer systems, protect stored information, and monitor security breaches.

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