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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
|New York City||$126,055|
|Silicon Valley, CA||$117,189|