How Can I Become a Cyber Security Specialist?

Research what it takes to become a cyber security specialist. Learn about education and certification requirements, job duties and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Computer Forensics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Cyber Security Specialist?

Cyber security specialists help to ensure the safety of a company's computer networks and systems. They maintain the security of a computer network through testing as well as virus protection and regular updates. Because they are in charge of the electronic security of an organization, they will need to be able to communicate with members of other departments and explain the necessary precautions taken to prevent any attacks. Periodically, these specialists re-certify the security of applications and the server. They troubleshoot company-wide security threats and implement creative solutions.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Computer programming, computer science, information science, computer engineering
Key Responsibilities Add new software to security files, perform security tests on data processing systems, keep virus protection systems up to date
Certification Certification credential recommended
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18% (for information security analysts)*
Median Salary (2015) $90,120 (for information security analysts)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do I Need To Study to Become a Cyber Security Specialist?

If you'd like to train to become a cyber security specialist, you should obtain a 4-year bachelor's degree in computer programming, computer science, information science or computer engineering. English, statistics and mathematics courses will be needed as well. In some instances, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), relevant work experience combined with certification may be sufficient for employment (www.bls.gov).

At some universities, you can enroll in certificate programs in cyber security, which offer classes such as operating systems, biometrics concepts, network defense and advanced security. They might also offer a course in Comp Tia Security+ Certification. Associate's degree training may consist of subjects such as operating system security, computer forensics, security procedures, network security applications, encryption and fundamentals of information security.

A bachelor's degree program will include classes such as advanced computer security and advanced operating systems. Additionally, it might include studies in programming, principles of software engineering, criminal justice, mathematics, technical writing, computer forensics and network security.

What Will I Do?

As a cyber security specialist, you will add new software to security files, perform security tests on data processing systems and keep virus protection systems up to date. You may train workers on security procedures to maintain system security. Another aspect of your job will entail keeping system users informed as to changes in programming and instances of security violation.

What Jobs Can I Apply For?

After you have completed the educational requirements above, you may apply for jobs such as data security administrator, information technology specialist, computer specialist, information security analyst or information security manager. With experience comes the opportunity to advance into management or supervisory positions. You may opt to take additional training and become a computer systems analyst or independent consultant.

How Do I Become Certified as a Cyber Security Specialist?

A certification credential can increase your job opportunities and earning potential, and a large number of employers require it. Certification can be obtained through training institutes or computer product vendors. Additionally, Cisco awards the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification upon completion of an examination.

How Much Will I Earn?

The BLS estimated that median annual salary for cyber security specialists, listed as information security analysts, was approximately $90,120 in 2015. Cyber security specialists were employed most often in the field of computer system design and related services. According to payscale.com, as of January 2017, annual salaries for computer security specialists ranged from about $38,514 to $111,886.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Many other options exist in careers for information and security professionals. Software developers are the ones who create applications and programs from the ground up, writing the code and finalizing design that benefits users. Database administrators are charged with the security of databases holding important information, such as client lists or shipping records. There are also systems analysts, who act as a link between business and information technology, helping to bridge the gap between the two.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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