Chief information security officers ensure the security of technology in organizations by establishing and managing protocols. This generally includes securing computer software, websites, and databases. Chief information security officers typically have a bachelor's degree, but master's degrees are becoming more common.
Information technology professionals who have experience in maintaining computer system security and an interest in business management might consider becoming chief information security officers (CISO). A CISO is an executive who is responsible for safeguarding data held by a company or organization. A bachelor's degree and previous experience in systems security are typically required by employers. Product and professional information security certifications are available, but not required by all employers.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree; graduate degrees becoming more common|
|Other Requirements||Several years of experience in systems security; management skills|
|Certification||Optional product and professional information security certifications are available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||15% for all computer and information systems managers*|
|Average Salary (2016)||$145,319 annually**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Working with business managers, chief executive officers and information technology (IT) managers, CISOs observe and monitor the security of websites, applications, computers and databases. They may establish company-wide security protocols that require user identification and passwords and protect networks from hackers.
CISOs must keep current on antivirus software, firewalls, and other security systems. They develop emergency procedures for handling security breaches, manage internal communication regarding system updates and provide estimates of budgetary requirements for technical upgrades.
Many CISOs work their way up from IT positions after acquiring several years of experience in systems security and demonstrating managerial skills. In addition to on-the-job experience, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that IT management positions typically require at least a 4-year degree, though a graduate degree is becoming common.
To start on the path to becoming a CISO, interested IT professionals could pursue a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as computer science, business administration or information science and security. Students may take relevant classes, such as programming languages, database management, technical writing and calculus.
In order to hone the business management skills required of this position, candidates would benefit from a master's degree program in business administration (MBA) with a specialization in information security management. Aspiring CISOs enrolled in such an interdisciplinary MBA program can study marketing, accounting and finance, as well as Web analytics and computer system security.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS groups chief information security officers with the general computer and information systems manager category. The outlook for these managers is favorable, with about average growth of 15% expected over the 2014-2024 decade. PayScale.com reported that salaries for chief information security officers range from $88,937-$203,740 in January 2016, with the median wage being $145,319 annually.
The BLS recommends voluntary certification as an additional means of demonstrating technical proficiency. Though not required by all employers, CISOs may obtain product certifications directly from vendors, such as Cisco's certified network associate security certification. Additionally, professional certifications for information security professionals are available through the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium and the Global Information Assurance Certification.
Chief information security officers assess and manage the security of technology platforms in an organization to safeguard data. This often involves the use of firewalls and antivirus software. Many chief information security officers hold a master's degree and some obtain certification.