Network Security Specialist: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a network security specialist. Learn about the job duties, educational requirements, job outlook 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 Specialist?

Network security specialists, sometimes called information security analysts, plan and implement security measures to protect organizations' computer networks and computer systems from viruses and cyber-attacks. They typically install firewalls and encryption programs, monitor networks for security breaches, investigate the incidents and submit reports on the incidents and the extent of damages. They research the latest technological advances and recommend enhancements to improve existing security systems.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Systems administration, programming, network architecture
Key Responsibilities Install anti-virus software and firewalls, monitor security threats
Job Growth (2018-2028) 32%* (all information security analysts)
Median Salary (2018) $98,350* (all information security analysts)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Network Security Specialist Do?

Working with both LAN and WAN networks, network security specialists might install security software and monitor networks for security breaches. It could also be your responsibility in this position to educate network users about security risks or gather evidence about cyber attacks.

Because network hacking methods are constantly evolving, you may need to monitor reports of current computer viruses and update anti-virus software accordingly. According to job postings found on in May 2017, additional job duties could include developing network communication policies and installing firewalls.

Do I Need a Degree?

The BLS notes that most computer security specialists have a bachelor's degree.You might consider enrolling in an information or network security bachelor's program. In this type of program, you'll learn how to solve technical security problems and develop network security policies. Common course topics include Web programming, database security, digital forensics, computing ethics, network architecture and systems administration. You can usually earn a bachelor's degree in four years.

Is Certification Required?

Some employers prefer job applicants who are certified. Common certifications include the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and the Oracle Solaris 10 Security Administrator credentials. You'll need to successfully complete three exams to earn CCNP certification. One exam is required in order to earn the security administrator credential from Oracle.

Are the Job Prospects Good?

Though the BLS does not list specific wage information for network security specialists, it does list wage and job outlook figures for information security analysts, a closely related position. This field is expected to grow at a much-faster-than-average rate of 32% between 2018 and 2028. The median annual wage for these professionals was $98,350 in 2018.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A bachelor's degree in computer or information science is the most common qualification to become a computer systems analyst. They are the efficiency experts of the computer world. After investigating an organization's computer practices and systems, these individuals develop information systems solutions that are calculated to increase the efficiency of that organization's performance. They keep abreast of new, appropriate technological advances that might be applied to the system and also come up with ways to increase the effectiveness of existing systems without taking advantage of new technologies.

Software developers are the innovators of the industry. Armed with a bachelor's degree in software engineering, computer science or the like, these individuals analyze the functions and computer needs of an organization. Developers typically fall into one of two categories. In the first category, they design and develop applications that permit a computer to perform specific tasks. In the second category, they fabricate the basic systems that control entire networks or run devices.

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