Salary and Career Info for a Network Security Administrator

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a network security administrator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification programs to find out if this is the career for you.

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Network security administrators protect organizations computers and networks from security threats. This position requires a college degree; some employers may also prefer those who have certification. The job outlook for this career is about as fast as the national average.

Essential Information

Network security administrators keep an organization's computer systems and data secure from internal and external threats. The career could be ideal for individuals adept at problem-solving and working as part of a team. Academic preparation varies for the profession, and many industry organizations and manufacturers offer relevant certification options.

Required Education Associate degree or certificate for entry-level; Bachelor's degree for further career options or advancement
Other Requirements EC-Council Network Security Administrator (ENSA) certification and/or employer-specific security certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for all network and computer systems administrators)*
Median Salary (2015) $77,810 (for all network and computer systems administrators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Network Security Administrator Salary

According to May 2015 data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), network and computer systems administrators earned a median annual salary of $77,810 at that time (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that several industries paid higher than the national average in 2015, such as pipeline transportation of crude oil, securities and commodities exchanges, and support activities for mining, each of which paid an average of more than $104,00 per year. Location also factored into wage rates, with the BLS showing professionals in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and the District of Columbia earning an average wages of over $92,500 annually.

BLS projections indicated that increased concerns about information security were a driving factor behind the expected 8% growth in network and computer systems administration positions between 2014 and 2024.

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Network Security Administrator Career Info

Network security administrators perform a variety of functions to ensure that sensitive information on company computer systems and servers is protected. They develop company security policies, educate workers on computer usage and assign individual tasks in the event of a crisis situation. Administrators also establish and maintain event logs and document settings to establish baseline activity to compare to when issues arise.

Administrators conduct risk assessments of the state of a company's computer network to determine what protection measures might be best. Based on their analyses, they can install appropriate antivirus protection, intrusion detection systems and firewalls. When breaches or security issues arise, administrators troubleshoot network software, access, and hardware configurations to locate and repair the problems and vulnerabilities.

Education Options

The BLS states that most employers prefer administrators to have a bachelor's degree in a technology-related area, but an associate degree or relevant certification is often acceptable for some entry-level positions. Colleges and universities offer associate and bachelor's degrees in management information systems, information science, and computer science. These provide foundational training for aspiring network security administrators. Courses typically include data and network protection methods, database management systems, project management, and software engineering.

Certification Options

Administrators with certifications in the network security discipline can increase their employment and salary potential. The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) offers the EC-Council Network Security Administrator (ENSA) designation (www.eccouncil.org). The ENSA credential is granted to applicants who pass a written exam that focuses on defensive strategies to combat security threats.

Additionally, manufacturers of security devices, such as Cisco, SonicWall and Alcatel-Lucent, offer certifications that demonstrate a proficiency with each company's particular hardware. Certifying vendors typically provide online or instructor-led training and self-study preparation for certification testing. As new technologies and product versions are released, older certifications could expire or become inactive, and professionals can update their credentials by retesting.

Network security administrators usually need a bachelor's degree, but some entry-level positions may only require one to have an associate's degree. Some positions may also require network security certification and/or certification in specific security software or hardware. Individuals in this field earned a median annual salary of about $78,000 in 2015.

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