How to Become a IT Security Specialist

6 Steps to Become an IT Security Specialist in 2021

With every passing year, the number of businesses migrating to the cloud increases and in turn, the number of cyberattacks increases. IT security specialists are responsible for their organization’s computer-related security, ensuring company data remains secure and protected against cyberattacks. 

Follow the steps below to get started on your path towards this high-demand career:

  1. Earn an associates or bachelor’s degree in a field such as information security, information technology, network security, computer science, computer systems, or a related field.
  2. Gain experience from an entry-level position such as IT technical support.
  3. Consider attending a cybersecurity bootcamp.
  4. Earn at least one related certification.
  5. Learn a programming language, such as Python.
  6. Earn a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity or Information System Security.

What is the Job Description for a IT Security Specialist?

IT security specialists are knowledgeable about cybersecurity and have the tools needed to ensure a company’s computer systems remain secure. They create and implement security plans for businesses and remain up to date on the latest trends in the field. 

Not only do these experts monitor systems against threats and utilize technology to prevent breaches within networks, they also must be able to quickly react when an attack occurs. A company also relies on their IT security specialist to educate other employees about practices that will keep their personal and company data secure. In order to plan and implement these company trainings, the IT security specialist must not only have the required technical skills for the position, but also necessary soft skills.

IT Security Specialist Qualifications

  • Choose, implement, and upgrade antivirus software
  • Encrypt data
  • Create firewalls
  • Utilize password authorization tools
  • Continue to monitor the security tools being used for effectiveness and update accordingly
  • Change user status and access as needed
  • Communicate security protocols and computer security to other employees and provide trainings as needed
  • Design and implement security plans that will protect files and networks
  • Update security technology and tools as needed to adjust to changing threats
  • Maintain secure and up to date backup files on a company’s network
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Continue to keep up with the latest in cybersecurity trends including possible threats and protection software

 

IT Security Specialist Education Requirements 

Most employers will require at least an associate’s degree in an IT focus. A Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology or related area, will make you even more marketable and teach you the skills needed for this field. To learn strategies and tools specific to this profession, a cybersecurity bootcamp is a great resource. These bootcamps are offered in-person and online and often help you learn the required information to pass certain certification tests. 

 

How Long Does it Take to Become an IT Security Specialist?

In general, becoming an IT security specialist will take 4 to 6 years. Even with a two-year associate’s degree, most employers will look for practical work experience or relevant certifications. After a bachelor’s degree, earning certifications is still necessary. Depending on your degree’s area of emphasis, a bootcamp may be a good idea to learn any skills that your degree program did not cover. Being an IT security specialist also requires leadership skills so employers generally look for some hands-on experience. If you are interested in attending a bootcamp to fill in any gaps or work toward a specific certification, a list of bootcamps is provided below so you can compare offerings and find the right format for you.

How to Become a IT Security Specialist

  1. Earn an associates or bachelor’s degree in a field such as information security, information technology, network security, computer science, computer systems, or a related field.

Because of the technical and secure nature of this work, an associates or bachelor’s degree is generally required by employers for even an entry level position in this field. 

 

  1. Gain experience from an entry-level position such as IT technical support.

Internships and entry-level IT positions will help you gain hands-on experience with security tools and protocols. Learning how to prevent and counteract threats and attacks efficiently takes practice and experience. Any knowledge you can gain from working with systems and networks as well as with others in the field will make you more marketable to employers.

 

  1. Consider attending a cybersecurity bootcamp.

Cybersecurity bootcamps have focused curriculums on the skills, strategies, and tools that IT Security Specialists will need to protect networks and systems. Many also offer preparation for a variety of certifications that are highly-regarded in this field.

 

  1. Earn at least one related certification.

There are a variety of certifications relative to network and system security that are beneficial for IT security specialists. Certifications show your level of expertise to potential employers. Some recommended certifications include:

  • CompTIA-Security+
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Informations Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker
  • CompTIA Network +
  • Microsoft Azure Security Certifications

 

  1. Learn a programming language, such as Python.

While most IT Security Specialists don’t use programming languages in their daily work, having proficiency in one programming language, like Python, is a skill that can set you apart from other candidates. In IT security, programming helps you create scripts for automation and is also used during penetration testing in higher-level jobs in this field. JavaScript is also great for scripting and cookies. It is used for many websites, so understanding how JavaScript works can help you keep a company’s website more secure. HTML, C++, and PHP are other languages that can be useful.

 

  1. Earn a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity or Information System Security.

Looking to obtain a higher level position? Earning a master’s degree in a related field shows that you have extensive knowledge in the area and have an even more extensive understanding of IT Security.

Explore schools offering IT Security Specialist Bootcamps.

Job Outlook for a IT Security Specialist

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not directly list the outlook of this profession, the job outlook for IT Security Analysts a related field is astounding! 

According to the Bureau, employment for IT security analysts will grow 30% from 2020 to 2030. This is well above the average job growth rate (as of October 2021) of 8%. This is encouraging news for anyone looking to enter the IT security field!

 

Best jobs for an IT Security Specialist

Companies in a variety of fields need these professionals. With the amount of data being stored and communicated through computer systems and networks, as well as the advancement and popularity of the cloud, businesses must work to keep information secure. 

In an October 2021 Indeed.com employment search, companies like Prudential, Stearns Bank, The Walt Disney Company, Grant Thornton, and Farmers Insurance Group are all in need of IT security specialists. What’s more, multiple government agencies like the National Security Agency, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Department of the Navy are also looking to recruit in this sought-after field.

IT Security Specialist Salary

According to Indeed.com, the average annual salary for this occupation is $50,380 in the United States. Compensation varies according to experience, as well as geographical location, so the average salaries for some of the most popular U.S. tech hubs are listed in the chart below. 

CityAverage Salary
New York City$126,055
Washington, D.C.$112,887
Silicon Valley, CA$117,189
Atlanta$112,713
Seattle$122,107
Austin$115,243

Browse bootcamps for IT Security Specialist.

Explore some of the top schools offering IT Security Specialist bootcamps and find the right fit for your needs and schedule.