5 Steps to Becoming a Network Security Manager

Research what it takes to become a network security manager. Learn about training and education requirements, certification options 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 Network Security Manager?

A network security manager is a network administrator who specializes in protecting computer networks from intrusions and malicious software. As managers of security, they are the biggest line of defense against hacks, viruses and other events that could be a catastrophe for any business or organization. Security managers are well-versed in both computer science and security, and they are adept at programming and coding as well.

Explore the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Education Required Postsecondary certificate accepted, bachelor's degree is preferred; internship is recommended; master's degree recommended for advancement
Education Field of Study Network security, network administration
Certification Certification available and highly recommended
Key Responsibilities Install and configure firewalls and other security applications, monitor a network for suspicious activity, prevent attacks, explain network security to users
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for all network and computer systems administrators)*
Median Salary (2015) $77,810 (for all network and computer systems administrators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Network Security Manager Do?

Your duties as a network security manager include installing and configuring firewalls and other security applications; monitoring a network for suspicious activity; thwarting attacks; and explaining network security methods and policies to users. You might also collect evidence from an attack or intrusion to help authorities prosecute offenders.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A number of 4-year schools offer bachelor's degrees in network security or network administration with a security emphasis. Programs acquaint you with the fundamentals of network hardware and software, network security theory and current security practice. Courses may also cover operating systems, database systems, programming and Web security. Some programs may have you complete a thesis or capstone project. In some situations, an associate's degree and relevant professional experience might suffice in place of a bachelor's degree.

Step 2: Work an Internship

The benefits you gain from an internship include direct experience assisting with network security in a professional setting and an opportunity to establish contacts with industry professionals. Sometimes the same firm that provided the internship will hire you after you graduate. Internships are available from private companies, non-profit organizations and government agencies, such as the National Security Agency (www.nsa.gov).

Step 3: Pursue a Job

Dedicated figures for network security managers weren't available, but estimates for network administrators from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest about 382,600 were employed in 2014, excluding those who were self-employed (www.bls.gov). From 2014-2024 employment in this category was projected to reach about 412,800. The need for workers to manage higher-quality technology is expected to be strong driver of job growth. Your prospective employers include computer systems design firms, government agencies and schools, information firms, financial and insurance businesses and manufacturing companies. As of May 2015 you could have earned a median annual salary of $77,810.

Step 4: Consider Certification

Some employers will only hire you if you have certification, but even if certification is optional it can enhance your reputation and possibly allow you to command a higher salary. A number of trade associations and vendors offer credentials to security managers. Three of the most prominent include Cisco, CompTIA and the Escal Institute. Cisco offers the Cisco Certified Network Professional and the Cisco Certified Security Professional, while CompTIA offers CompTIA Security+ and Escal offers the GIAC Security Expert.

Step 5: Consider a Graduate Degree

If you're seeking promotion to upper management or administrative positions, a master's degree in information security or network security might help. Master's programs advance your understanding of network security infrastructure and develop your skills in designing information security systems, evaluating security risks and implementing countermeasures. Cryptography, intrusion detection and digital forensics are likely course topics. Some programs may allow you to choose between a technical track and a management track.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree in computer science or a similar field, you can do a lot more than just network security. Computer and information systems managers work to determine the information technology goals of a given company or organization. Computer network architects construct local area networks as well as intranets and wide area networks. Software developers create unique programs to suit their clients' needs, or computer applications that allow users to perform specific tasks.

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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