Network Security Specialist: Job Description and Requirements

Network security specialist require a moderate amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certifications to see if this is the right career for you.

Keeping criminals out of computer systems requires network security specialists to monitor systems and upgrade security measures. Network security specialists have a wide range of job duties, depending on the security needs and protocols of the organizations where the work. These professionals must be ingenious enough to anticipate potential problems, and they must use analytical skills to fix problems and maintain system security at all times.

Essential Information

Network security specialists detect, prevent and resolve security threats to computer networks. They also play an important role in maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of a company's data and information systems. Employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree and industry certification.

Required Education A bachelor's degree in a computer-related field
Other Requirements A professional industry certification; experience in networking systems, information technology, or network security is recommended
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 18%* (information security analysts)
Median Annual Salary (2015) $90,120* (information security analysts)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Network Security Specialist

Network security specialists monitor computer networks for security threats or unauthorized users. They may identify compromised machines and report on security measures taken to address threats. Network security specialists also analyze security risks and develop response procedures. Additional duties may include developing and testing software deployment tools, firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

Some network security workers research, evaluate, recommend and implement other security devices as well. This may include installing computer security software, conducting regular security audits, preparing security status reports, educating users on computer security, creating security documentation for users, assisting in disaster recovery and gathering evidence regarding cybercrimes.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Network security specialists can also be called information security analysts, and the employment outlook in this profession is favorable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the field of information security analysts should see an 18% increase in demand, adding over 14,800 jobs between 2014 and 2024. The average salary for information security analysts was $90,120 in May of 2015.

Requirements to Become a Network Security Specialist

According to the BLS, employers often require network security specialists to have a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. Relevant degree programs include computer science, information technology and management information systems. Some employers may be willing to hire applicants who don't have a degree as long as they have the equivalent experience.

Employers may prefer applicants who have years of experience working in networking systems, network security or information technology, according to multiple job listings found on Monster.com in October 2010. Areas that aspiring network security specialists should be knowledgeable in include network access control (NAC) systems, firewalls, routers, incident response techniques, intrusion prevention systems, information security methodologies, authentication protocols and different attack types.

Certification

Earning professional certification may help network security specialists find employment or advance their careers. A number of different certification options are offered by Cisco, International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), CompTIA and other organizations. Certification is usually earned by passing one or more examinations.

Some types of certification that are specific to network security specialists include the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certifications offered by Cisco. The Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications are offered by ISC2. Finally, Security+ and Linux+ certifications are offered by CompTIA.

Network security specialists strive to stop cybercrimes, and to do so they run risk assessment checks on systems, maintain firewalls, update security procedures and monitor all systems. The rate of job growth for this industry was expected to be much faster than average during the 2014-2024 decade. Successful job candidates have training in computer networks and computer security systems, which is generally available through undergraduate degree programs; network security specialists also typically earn certifications through vendors or computer security training organizations.


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