How Can I Become an Information Systems Security Officer?

Explore the career requirements for becoming an information systems security officer. Learn about the job duties, education requirements, certification, job outlook, and salary information to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Computer Forensics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Information Systems Security Officer?

Information systems security officers protect computer systems from viruses and hackers. They are responsible for the safekeeping of records and data from outside attackers and invaders. Many different areas of business and commerce utilize information systems security, from the corporate sector to the federal government. Information systems security officers continuously test networks in order to ensure the continued safety of both hardware and software used by a given company.

The table below provides an overview of the requirements for this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree for entry level; master's for advancement
Education Field of Study Computer science, information systems
Key Skills Technical, leadership, communication, conflict resolution
Certification Required Recommended
Job Growth (2014-24) 18% (for information security analysts)*
Average Salary (2015) $93,250 (for information security analysts)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do As an Information Systems Security Officer?

As an information systems security officer (ISSO), your job will include managing all aspects of an organization's information security system, including researching, testing, training and implementing programs designed to safeguard sensitive information from any possible breaches. You'll also need to work with those who are unfamiliar with information systems and to help them understand how to maintain them. Your work will require technical proficiency, leadership abilities, communication skills and conflict resolution expertise.

Do I Need a Degree?

To become an information systems security officer (ISSO), you'll need to earn at least a bachelor's degree. There are several relevant majors you can choose, including computer science and information systems. These programs provide essential training in information systems, such as networks, computer hardware and computer programming. In addition to hands-on training with information systems, you'll learn about how these tools are applied in different types of business settings.

Earning a master's degree could help you advance in your career and open the door to higher-paying jobs. A master's degree in information systems security can build upon your foundation in information systems and help you become an expert in technology-based security. Coursework in a master's degree program might cover topics such as operating systems security, digital forensics and security systems testing.

Do I Need to Be Certified?

Industry certification can demonstrate to potential employers that you've taken additional steps to become an expert in your field. The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)² offers the Associate of (ISC)² designation, a level of certification intended for those with little job experience ( Eligibility requirements include passing scores on an examination and endorsement from an (ISC)² member. Once you've gained at least five years of professional experience, you can become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Is Continuing Education Necessary?

In the field of information systems security, the enemy is always racing to stay ahead of you with the latest methods and technology. Employers will expect that you keep current with the latest developments in the field through seminars, online learning and independent study. Plan to continue pursuing your education as long as you're as employed as an ISSO.

Where Are the Jobs?

ISSO jobs can be found in a wide variety of settings, including financial corporations, scientific research organizations and technology companies. Additionally, there is a need for experts in information systems security in many government agencies, including the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. These agencies need individuals who can help protect the nation from terrorists and others who seek to harm the country through our computer systems. (ISC)² offers an employment resource center that features a hiring and career center that could help you find employment opportunities in the field.

What About Job Prospects and Potential Salary?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for all information security analysts for 2014-2024 is 18%. The same source notes the average salary for information security analysts in May 2015 was $93,250.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For professionals in computers, a multitude of options are available in similar careers. Information systems managers often manage the IT department of a company and may put plans into place in case of an outside attack on a network. Software developers are those who design programs and applications from the ground up, including the code used to run them. There are also computer network architects, who are in charge of the construction of area networks and intranet systems. These careers require a bachelor's degree in a computer science field, though a master's degree may be beneficial or preferred.

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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