PROS / This is a fast growing, high paying career with great job security.
CONS / There are very few positions for this career.
VERDICT / Though competitive, this is a growing field with excellent pay.
A network security specialist, or a computer security specialist, is a kind of computer administrator that specializes in protecting a company's data and other information. Network security specialists build firewalls, install antivirus software on servers and computers within a network, and monitor networks for breaches in security. Individuals in computer careers such as this that specialize in one kind of systems maintenance usually work for large companies or organizations with particularly sensitive data, such as investment firms, insurance companies and government agencies.
The network security field is growing quickly as more businesses and individuals are storing sensitive data electronically. In addition to the technical roles of this position, a network security specialist often provides training to general staff regarding security issues, and he may develop policies that govern how employees can access company information using a smartphone, laptop, or home computer. These internal policies also regulate how employees transmit information using a thumb drive or an external online data storage service. Often a network security specialist will help facilitate authorized mobile access of company information so that proper security measures can be in place.
This IT job earned the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for computer careers.
The starting salary of a network security specialist averages $49,950 annually. Salary potential peaks at $135,600 annually based on a survey of current professionals. Because of the sensitive nature of the work, you will likely be hired as a full-time, permanent employee, which often makes you eligible to receive health insurance and other benefits.
With a median annual salary of $86,170, network security specialist is one of the highest paid computer careers that we reviewed.
Presently, 75,100 individuals are employed in this profession nationwide, and 27,400 jobs are expected to be created by 2022. These numbers represent the smallest number of total jobs and projected job openings of any of the computer jobs we reviewed.
You are more likely to be employed by mid-size to large companies with a national or global presence. In addition to companies that maintain sensitive personal information, web-based businesses or those that offer computer-related services also hire individuals in these kinds of computer careers.
Because of the sensitive nature of the data you work with, you can expect longevity in your job with opportunities for advancement along the way. If you have a variety of computer and business skills, are familiar with specific company processes and have proven yourself, you will often be eligible for higher managerial positions within your company. However, with increased responsibilities and increased access to sensitive data, there comes additional accountability and personal liability if information is compromised.
Although some educational programs are available which specialize in network and computer security, you will likely gain many security-related skills on-the-job that will be specific to the unique needs of your employer. You may receive a four-year degree in information technology at an accredited university or a career-specific program at a vocational school for a network administrator or webmaster. You may also receive training for this job through the U.S. military.
Network security specialists work in an office environment. You may be part of an IT department of a company or organization, or you may work in a separate, security-related department depending on an organization's size and emphasis on protecting information.
The job functions of a network security specialist are often broad to fulfill the unique needs of a particular office. Although specialization improves your marketability, you will do well to take additional coursework and gain a broad range of computer skills so that you are more adaptable to industry changes. Crossover also exists in many computer-related jobs. The additional training is helpful, especially if you perform additional functions outside the industry standard. It is also helpful in your interaction with your co-workers in other computer careers. Your knowledge of business functions is also helpful in this profession.
A network security specialist fulfills an important role in a company or organization. Some educational programs are available for this particular profession, but many come into the field by enrolling in a broader information technology education program or programs for related computer careers such as network or web administration. If you are loyal and trustworthy, you will be in high demand for this profession.