Security Consultant: Career Information and Education Requirements

Apr 27, 2021

Security consultants have increasing employment opportunities in the business realm. This kind of professional could work in a variety of specialties, including physical security or IT security, each having its own responsibilities and required skill set. Most security consultants need to have at least a bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

Increasing security threats, such as computer hackers, terrorists and other potentially hazardous attacks, are causing business to move towards hiring security consultants to prevent these events from occurring. High-paying salaries in a quickly growing field can await security consultant professionals.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Certification preferred by some employers
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 25% for all operations research analysts*
Median Salary (2020-2021) $69,000 for physical security consultants,
$84,000 for IT security consultants**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Security Consultant: Career Information

A security consultant uses his or her subject-matter expertise to advise companies in securing and protecting physical, monetary and information capital, such as office buildings, investments, computer systems or other items. Specializations for security consultants exist in areas such as building security, computer security or natural/manmade disaster security. Security consultants may work for consulting firms or as self-employed contractors.

Security consultants may advise that companies install physical protection, such as implementing video surveillance and alarm systems, or they may recommend hiring security personnel. They could also advise that companies perform more rigorous background checks prior to hiring new people or train employees on measures to improve the security of property or information. Security consultants may assess existing IT systems and infrastructures for weaknesses and then develop and implement IT security solutions to prevent unauthorized access, data modification or data loss. They could also determine physical security risks, such as threats of violence in the workplace, and then implement solutions to lessen those risks. In addition, they might assess a building's physical stability and develop evacuation procedures or provide building maintenance and safety advice.

Federal and government security consultants might advise national leaders on steps to take in times of war or national crisis to counter acts of terrorism or violence. Finally, some security consultants provide expert advice to companies regarding what should be done to prevent damage and loss from occurrences such as tornados, fires, hurricanes or other natural disasters.

Salary and Employment Outlook

In 2020-2021, PayScale.com reported that physical security consultants earned a median annual salary of $69,000, while IT security consultants made a median of $84,000 per year. Between 2019 and 2029, operations research analysts overall were expected to see employment growth of 25%, which is much faster than average.

Educational Requirements

According to the BLS, most security consultant positions require at least a bachelor's degree, and advancement opportunities improve with educational attainment. Depending on the area of security consulting performed, a degree in criminal justice or a related area could be beneficial. IT security consultants may need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related area, according to security consultant job postings on Monster.com in February 2012. Other areas that prospective security consultants may benefit from studying include intelligence management, public safety, homeland security and criminology. Newly hired individuals should also expect fairly rigorous on-the-job technical training from employers.

Experienced security consultants can also earn certifications from a variety of professional organizations. A physical or IT consultant could become a Certified Security Consultant (CSC) or a Certified Protection Professional (CPP). Consultants specializing in IT could earn the designation of Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). To earn any of these credentials, candidates are required to meet requirements set forth by the credentialing organization, such as possessing the requisite professional experience, meeting education requirements and passing an exam. Certification programs also exist in logistics and safety, and certificates are available in areas such as loss prevention specialist and cyber-crime investigation.

While a physical security consultant may specialize in making sure a building or physical items are secure, an IT security consultant works to protect computer systems and data from hackers or other risks. At least a bachelor's degree is typical for these professionals, with opportunities growing with education level. Numerous professional certifications are available to show proficiency.

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