Chief Security Officer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation required to become a chief security officer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties, and other requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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Chief security officers may provide physical security, but there are also chief security officers who protect information for businesses and governments. These chief security officers need a bachelor's degree in computing or business, and relevant experience in IT. Voluntary certifications are also an option that may appeal to employers.

Essential Information

While chief security officers may provide physical protection or emergency management planning at a company, digital security has become a common concern for today's businesses. In a world of rapidly-developing technology, chief security officers protect sensitive digital information. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree at minimum, along with prior IT work experience.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Work experience and voluntary certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 15% for all computer and information systems managers
Median Salary (2015)* $131,600 for all computer and information systems managers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*

Job Description

There are different kinds of chief security officers. Some focus on the physical security of a company, school or other organization's facilities and employees. Others are responsible for digital and information security. In large corporations, chief security officers may provide both physical and information security. However, given the increasingly digital nature of society - from business to education to healthcare - the most prevalent type of chief security officer is the information security type, who is responsible for protecting company and employee information against unauthorized access. Equivalent titles for this position include chief information officer and chief technology officer.

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As a company executive, a chief security officer may also be the public spokesperson for all information security-related company issues. Generally, executives in this position need to prepare and present technical information to people with varying backgrounds. To strengthen security initiatives, the chief security officer creates and maintains good channels of communication and support across various departments. This person may also create digital security management programs and prioritize security initiatives and issues.

One must stay updated about current trends in data management and security threats to design effective data security systems. A chief security officer might also perform tasks related to risk assessment, crisis management, personnel safety and facility security.

These workers may also create a security policy education program for employees. Other tasks involve designing data security that is ideal for a particular industry such as a media company or a particular type of data such as employee health insurance records.


A chief security officer needs at least a bachelor's degree in a related field such as business or computing. Often, candidates with master's degrees are preferred. As with many executive jobs, multiple years of leadership experience are required. This position typically requires experience managing multiple large teams and designing IT security solutions. Some positions may require a lengthy general background in IT.

Specific certifications in IT security or particular technological programs may also be necessary. Chief security officers providing physical security might need a background in law enforcement or criminal justice.

In general, a chief security officer should have excellent communication, persuasion and public-speaking skills. He or she will need to build relationships quickly and should possess a quick analytical mind and a decisive nature.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information systems managers, including chief security officers, earned a median annual salary of $131,600 as of May 2015. The BLS projects that jobs in this occupational field will increase 15% from 2014 to 2024.

Chief security officers play a crucial role in protecting a business or organization's information from being accessed by those without clearance. They create security systems to protect data, and may also teach employees about their employer's security policies. A degree in computing or business is required to prepare for a career as a chief security officer.

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