IT Security Specialist
Explore the IT security specialist career path, including hot skills & certifications, education requirements, training programs, outlook, jobs, salaries & FAQs.

IT security specialists defend an organization’s data and information systems.

In today's era of rapidly escalating threats and sophisticated cyber warfare, organizations must be vigilant in combating attackers and protecting information assets. IT security specialists leverage an in-depth understanding of cyber security threats, technologies, and countermeasures to ensure secure computer systems; this often includes tasks like installing and configuring security software, educating employees on data security, monitoring and protecting against network penetration, and responding to cyber-attacks with the appropriate countermeasures.

Workforce demand for computer security specialists is high in all verticals, including corporations, schools, medical practices, and government agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IT security specialist job market will grow by 32% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the 3% average for all occupations, placing it among the nation's fastest-growing career paths.

Accredited schools offer college degrees, courses, and certificates in IT security tools and technologies. Compare top-rated information security degrees online.

a.k.a. IT Security Analyst | Information Security Analyst | Cybersecurity Analyst

IT Security Specialist Skills & Responsibilities

Typical activities and marketable skill sets for information security specialists include the following. IT security specialists:

  • Develop plans to safeguard computer files against unauthorized modification, destruction, or disclosure.
  • Choose, implement, monitor, and upgrade computer anti-virus and malware protection systems.
  • Encrypt data transmissions and erect firewalls to conceal confidential information during transmission.
  • Implement password authentication to keep unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data files.
  • Modify security files to incorporate new software, correct errors, and change user access status.
  • Perform risk assessments and tests on running data processing activities and security measures.
  • Educate workers about computer security and promote security awareness and security protocols.
  • Keep accurate and current backup files of all essential data on the shared corporate network.
  • IT security pros specializing in computer forensics gather evidence for prosecuting cyber crimes.
  • Computer forensics specialists can set up and operate an investigator’s lab and process crime scenes.

IT Security Specialist Salaries

The median annual wage for IT security specialists is $112,000, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

IT Security Specialist Salary $112,000


Here are the average salaries for IT security specialists and related careers by job role, seniority, and expertise:

  • Junior Cybersecurity Analyst: $71,000
  • Computer Forensics Investigator: $86,000
  • Information Security Analyst: $101,000
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst: $108,000
  • Cybersecurity Auditor: $109,000
  • Network Penetration Tester: $111,000
  • Network Security Engineer: $117,000
  • Information Security Consultant: $121,000
  • Information Security Manager: $141,000
  • IT Security Solutions Architect: $160,000
  • Director of Information Security: $172,000

These are the top-paying cities and metropolitan areas for IT security specialists:

  • San Jose / Sunnyvale, CA: $164,000
  • New York City Metro (NY/NJ/PA): $140,000
  • San Francisco / Oakland, CA: $140,000
  • Washington DC Metro Area: $138,000
  • Baltimore / Columbia / Towson, MD: $136,000

Although this is typically a full-time salaried position, the median hourly wage for IT security specialists in the U.S. is $54, dependent upon location, job-or-project role, certifications held, and experience level.

Here's a thorough comparison of information security analyst salaries.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Analysis of Online Job Boards

IT Security Specialist Education Requirements

Hiring managers for IT security specialists generally require at least a bachelor's degree in information security, computer information systems, computer science, or a related field. Job experience and cybersecurity certifications will aid candidates in securing IT security specialist positions.

Specific coursework and in-demand skill sets to look for in IT security specialist training include network security, operating system administration, penetration testing, business continuity & disaster recovery, software configuration, cyber operations, risk management, and digital forensics. IT security specialists need strong communication skills, as they are responsible for educating technical and non-technical staffers on cybersecurity protocols and raising information security awareness.

Research and compare top-rated information security degree programs online and in your area.

Search IT courses and degrees by job role, technology platform, and concentration.

IT Security Specialist Certifications

There are marketable certifications for just about every cybersecurity role and experience level. Here are some of the most desirable certifications for IT security specialists:

IT Security Specialist Job Outlook

Employment of IT security specialists will increase by 32% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the 3% average for all U.S. occupations. Security remains a top concern for IT hiring managers as the frequency and devastation of cyber attacks rise.

Aggressive government mandates are helping to drive demand for IT security specialists, for instance, the DoD 8570 initiative, which requires Department of Defense (DoD) employees, military personnel, homeland security officers, and private contractors with access to sensitive data to get trained and certified in information security topics relevant to their access and position.

"Security is the only area of certified IT skills that has never had a negative quarter throughout this recession," says David Foote, CEO and Chief Research Officer of leading research firm Foote Partners. "We've never had three months with a loss or decline in premiums for IT security specialists."

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook | Foote Partners IT Skills & Certifications Pay Index

IT Security Specialist Jobs

Your specialized IT security training, experience, and certifications qualify you for a range of positions, including:

Search Jobs

Frequently Asked Questions

Technology insiders answer common questions from prospective IT security specialists.

What does an IT security specialist do?

IT security specialists defend an organization’s data and information systems. They accomplish this by managing security software, educating personnel on cybersecurity best practices to prevent data breaches, and responding with the appropriate countermeasures when cyber attacks breach the defenses.

How much do IT security specialists make?

Information technology security specialists take home a median annual wage of $112,000, according to the latest salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How long does it take to become an IT security specialist?

Most IT security jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, information assurance, or a related field; these programs typically take four years to complete as a full-time student.

How do I become an IT security specialist?

Becoming an IT security specialist can be broken down into three steps: get educated, gain experience, and earn certifications.

  • Education: Most IT security specialist positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a related field. Here are some of the most affordable cybersecurity degrees online.
  • Experience: Many IT security careers require previous work experience in a technical role. Typical jobs before becoming an IT security specialist include network administrator, systems administrator, and help desk technician.
  • Certifications: Either during your education or while you’re in the field, earning cybersecurity certifications can help grow your skill set and improve your job prospects. Marketable certifications for IT security specialists include CompTIA Security+ and CySA+, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), ISACA CISM, and (ISC)2 CISSP.

Related Careers


About the Author

IT Subject Matter ExpertDaniel Greenspan is the founder and Editor-in-chief of ITCareerFinder. Working closely with IT professionals, world-class trainers, and hiring managers since 2005 has given him unique insight into the information technology job market and the skills and credentials IT pros need to succeed.