What Is a Security Specialist?

Security specialists use training and skills to thwart criminals and stop criminal activity. Find out more about this field and careers related to it by reading below. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Defined

A security specialist can be defined as anyone that specializes in the security of people, assets, networks, telecommunications systems, and IT systems. You might be a personal bodyguard, security guard, or computer security analyst. You could choose to specialize in physical security, personal security, or cyber security. In some cases, you might take on a career that encompasses all three areas.

Important Facts About Security Specialization

Median Salary (2015) $47,392 per year
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 5% (for security guards and gaming surveillance officers)
18% (for information security analysts)
Work Environment Changes depending on the type of security provided
Professional Certification Available through the Certified Application Security Specialist and Physical Security Professional credential

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Salary.com

Physical Security

This security specialist focuses on keeping unauthorized personnel from physically accessing resources, confidential information, or buildings. This could be as simple as locking a door, or it could be as complex as using alarm systems and guard patrols.

You'll normally want to use a layered defense system. This means that you'll try to delay and deter intruders with locks, gates, and alarms. Along with that, you'll want to respond directly by trying to catch a criminal in the act with help from the previous methods.


Most employers can assist you with job training. This might be a formal classroom experience or it could be done on the job. Training includes learning about report writing, public interaction, first aid, protection, and crisis management.

It is recommended that you have a GED or a high school diploma. Any postsecondary education is valuable, especially in criminal justice or police science. If you're looking at a high-level vocation in physical security, you're most likely required to have an appropriate degree and work experience.

Career Options

In this field, you have several options. Security guard is one popular option. In this role, you'd be hired on to guard such settings as business complexes, shopping malls, high-rise apartment buildings, or schools. If you're overseeing larger properties, you might have access to more technology and a bigger team of guards.

Other vocational choices include armored car guard and gaming surveillance officer. If you're in the former career, then you'll work with banks to transport and protect money as it's transported from one location to another. If you're involved in the latter occupation, then you'll help protect casinos during monetary exchanges.

Personal Security

Important and high-profile individuals count on personal security specialists to keep them safe every day. You might work to protect a famous star from disgruntled fans or a politician from assassination attempts. As a security specialist in this field, you'll need to keep aware of your surroundings at all time.

If anything odd comes up, you must be aware of it and react appropriately. Acting defensively and in a preventive manner can help you avoid accidents for your client. When a dire situation does arise, you'll need to be able to respond quickly to keep the client safe.


You might want to pursue a police or military background before getting involved in personal security. Many of you can learn useful skills in those fields that you can later apply to personal security. The education and training requirements vary heavily, since the needs of employers can differ from one to the next.

The more sensitive the job, the more training is required. You might receive job training if the employer has several bodyguards or a personal security team. Postsecondary education in criminal justice or police science can be beneficial.

Career Options

In personal security, you have several options. You might find full-time employment as a bodyguard with a client. You can also work in an escort manner for a security firm. In these situations, you're hired part-time to act as a bodyguard for a client during a specific situation. When your time with that person is over, you'll move onto the next customer your firm assigns to you.

Cyber Security

As technology becomes more available in the information age, a demand has risen to protect computers, networks, and data. You'll familiarize yourself with viruses and other forms of cyber attacks to learn how to counter, prevent, and fix common damages. Your goal is to keep your employer's digital information safe.


An undergraduate degree is the recommended amount of education for entry-level positions. Once you complete your degree, you can pursue certification to demonstrate your credentials to employers. One such credential is the Cisco Certified Network Associate Security offered by Cisco.

Graduate degrees can be required if you're looking to obtain a managerial position. An employer might offer training in the form of familiarizing you with specific software or hardware the company uses.

Career Options

You could be hired on in other security positions to assist with cyber security, but typically, you'll acquire a position that solely focuses on your computer protection duties. Many computer careers like database administrator and network administrator involve working in cyber security. For a career fully dedicated to cyber security, you'll want to become a computer security specialist.

In this role, you'll protect your employer's information by maintaining and coordinating security efforts, like software installation and network monitoring. If a cyber attack can't be prevented, you'll have to be on hand to actively handle the situation. Backing up your employer's information is another duty you'll need to perform to ensure that in the worst case scenario, you don't lose everything you're working to protect.

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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