IT security career path, for many people, is a way to make a living while still working independently. You can find jobs in this industry that are less demanding on the physical aspects of your job and more dependent on your brainpower. It’s also an industry that will never go out of style; as technology evolves, so does the need for IT professionals who know how to keep it safe.
IT security careers are varied, but there are five main areas you can get into network security, software development, system administration, information assurance, and forensics. Depending on what you’re interested in doing with your profession, it might be wise to focus your studies around one or two of these disciplines instead of trying to learn all about them at once since each requires a different kind of knowledge.
You don’t necessarily need any qualifications to get into the IT security field. Still, you should be willing to learn new things because gaining experience can take years, if not decades. To help you out, here’s a quick summary of what you need to know about this career path.
1. What Is IT Security?
IT security is something that is becoming more and more popular every day. If you know how to keep systems safe from hackers, viruses, malware, and other threats, then it’s likely you already have all the qualifications you need to enter this industry, even though some specialisms might require individual skillsets.
The world of IT security can be divided into five main areas: network security, software development, system administration, information assurance, and forensics. Each of these areas requires a different level of skill to perform successfully, so it’s essential to choose which one you want to specialize in before you start with your career.
2. What Does An IT Security Professional Do?
IT security professionals are usually involved in all kinds of projects to provide their expertise. If you work for a private company, then the level of your involvement might be more limited, but many large companies have dedicated IT security departments. It’s possible to perform different roles within these companies, including penetration testing, computer forensics, or network administration.
The job of an IT security professional is to design, implement and monitor different systems that ensure the safety of information and cryptography. You might be involved either at the development or the operational level, so it’s essential to understand how both aspects work together to keep data safe from potential threats. This is a rapidly evolving field, so you should always be willing to learn new things and acquire new skills.
3. How Do I Become An IT Security?
To get started on your IT security career, you will first need to choose which area of the profession you want to specialize in. Depending on how much experience you have, certain areas might require additional qualifications, so it’s essential to do your research before you start studying for a degree or other qualification.
You should also not forget about certifications because these can provide proof of your skills and expertise, as well as valuable connections with other professionals in your field. For example, EC-Council offers a wide range of security certifications to help you find employment much more quickly after you graduate.
Studying for your qualifications may take years, so it’s essential to have a plan to keep you motivated throughout. You might also need to take some exams if the qualification requires it
so make sure you are aware of any tests that are compulsory before you start studying for them.
4. What Skills Do You Require to Become An IT Security Professional?
You might need to have several different skills if you want to become an IT security professional. For example, one of the most critical aspects is understanding how networks work since many attacks can occur at this level, so being familiar with networking basics is essential to understand how hackers manage to compromise systems.
In addition, you will need to know how malware and viruses work and how security exploits are created. In many cases, you will also be expected to have a background in programming, especially if you want to specialize in system administration. Knowing how operating systems work from the inside out is essential for this field.
In terms of soft skills, communication is essential in this profession, so you will need to be able to explain your thoughts clearly and concisely and listen carefully when someone is trying to explain their point of view. This is especially true if you want to work as an IT security consultant. Most of the time, you will be performing different types of assessments were listening carefully and understanding what other people are saying is crucial for success.
5. What Kinds of Tasks and Projects Do IT Security Professionals Work On?
As we already mentioned, there are two main aspects that an IT security professional might be involved in. The first one includes the operational level, where you will need to make sure that all systems and devices follow the most appropriate security measures. This means that you will need to ensure that systems are correctly configured, and protocols like change management, patching, and vulnerability testing are implemented.
In addition, at this level, you might be involved in assistance during an incident if your company needs help resolving a potential security issue. Another critical task is the creation of documentation since this will help other members of your team understand the infrastructure and follow the proper security protocols.
The second aspect is more technical; this means that you may need to conduct penetration testing to find potential vulnerabilities so they can be fixed before hackers exploit them. You might also need to perform forensics on different systems when necessary, especially if there is a breach, and you need to understand how it happened.
6. How Much Does An IT Security Professional Earn?
The salary of an IT security professional varies according to the country they work in, the industry they are employed by, and their seniority. According to several surveys, you can start your career as an IT security expert with a salary of $60,000-$80,000 per year. If you become a consultant or information security manager, this number can go as high as $150,000-$200,000 per year.
7. What Is the Job Outlook for An IT Security Professional?
The outlook for IT security professionals is highly positive, and the numbers keep growing every year. For example, according to CSO, there were 1.5 million security jobs in 2010, and this number will go up to 1.9 million by 2014, representing a 22% growth rate. Another important aspect is that 35% of these jobs require special skills and knowledge associated with IT security. More companies are starting to recognize the importance of hiring professionals with experience and specific training in this field.
8. What Is the Best Way to Get Into this Industry?
As we already mentioned, having a technical background is extremely important. Many of these positions require some certification, so you will need to start studying for different courses if you want to pursue this career. For example, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is one of the most sought-after certifications in this industry. It is presented by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)².
Another vital certification that many companies are looking for when hiring new employees is the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), which you can also find at (ISC)². Of course, the number of certifications available in this field is vast, so if you want to become an IT security professional, this is something you should consider.
9. What Are Some Interview Tips for Someone Trying to Get Into IT Security?
To get into this industry, you will need to prepare yourself for many technical interviews since most IT security positions require knowledge of different operating systems and networking protocols. In addition, many companies are looking for candidates with experience in specific areas like auditing and compliance, so if you want to stand out from other applicants, make sure that your resume includes previous work experience and previous certifications.
10. What Are the Challenges An IT Security Professional Faces?
The main difficulty in this field is that you are always one step behind when it comes to hackers because they are constantly changing their tactics and developing new kinds of malware. Another aspect is that security professionals need to focus on compliance, forensics, policy creation, etc., making this career extremely demanding.
Finally, IT security professionals spend a lot of their time traveling for different workshops, training, and conferences, making it difficult to maintain personal relationships or even see your friends and family.
11. What Is the Difference Between an IT Security Specialist and An IT Security Professional?
An IT security specialist usually focuses on one particular area like auditing or compliance. In contrast, an IT security professional has a more general approach and is usually responsible for security strategy, policy creation, and forensics.
12. What Are the Top 3 Certifications Every IT Security Professional Should Have?
According to a survey by CSO, these are the three most requested certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – presented by International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)² Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – presented by ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – presented by ISACA.
13. Best Colleges to Study IT Security
To get into this industry, you will need a technical background and a solid academic record from an accredited university. In addition, many companies are looking for candidates with previous experience in areas like auditing and compliance so make sure your resume includes any previous work experience.
These are some of the top colleges where you can study IT Security
Carnegie Mellon University – Institute of Software Research The George Washington University – School of Business Purdue University – Krannert School of Management Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Clarkson University Boston College (BC) Stevens Institute of Technology Northern Arizona University (NAU)
14. Which Positions Are Available for IT Security Professionals?
There are different positions available for IT Security professionals, such as
Software Developer (Security) – the job of a software developer includes developing and creating new software that will have security features in them. This is an important job because you are developing ways for hackers to get into the system. You’re planning what they want to do and how they can exploit it. If they can’t exploit it, then you’re a hero.
Security Administrator – a security administrator’s job involves managing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other protection mechanisms for an organization.
System Administrator – the job of a system admin is to manage day-to-day operations about computers and networks. This includes monitoring event logs and applying security patches, etc.
Security Analyst – a security analyst’s job is to analyze and assess system vulnerabilities and recommend possible solutions. This may include monitoring logs, analyzing information; investigating incidents; updating policies/procedures; identifying training needs; writing reports, testing products for vulnerabilities, and making recommendations.
Network Security Engineer – a network security engineer‘s job is to design, install, and maintain network-related products. This may include designing, installing, and maintaining firewall systems; Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs), and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
Network Administrator – the job of a network administrator is to manage day-to-day operations about LAN/WAN, routers, and switches. This includes monitoring event logs, applying security patches, etc.
Database Administrator – the job of a database administrator is to manage a company’s databases. They work closely with the IT team daily to ensure that company data is adequately put so there won’t be any issues when retrieving the correct data at the right time.
There are many benefits to pursuing a security career. The pay is competitive, the work can be fulfilling, and there are abundant opportunities for advancement in this field. When you think about what it takes to succeed as an information security professional or network engineer, make sure that your skills match up with the needs of the employer before committing to any training programs or certifications. If you want more help figuring out which direction might suit you best, reach out today! Our team would love to answer all of your questions and lead you down the path towards success.