IT Security Specialist Career Path & Training

IT Security Specialist Training
IT Security Specialists Defend an Organization’s Information Systems.

In today's era of rapidly escalating threats and sophisticated cyber warfare, organizations need to 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 to prevent attacks, educating employees on data security, monitoring and protecting against network breaches, 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 33% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the 8% average for all occupations, placing it among the nation's fastest growing career paths.

Accredited schools offer college degrees, courses and certificates in modern information security tools and technologies. Compare top-rated IT security training programs in the U.S. and online.

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

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IT Security Specialist Skills & Responsibilities

Typical day-to-day duties 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 transmit.
  • 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 important data on the shared corporate network.
  • IT security pros who specialize in computer forensics gather evidence for prosecuting cyber crimes.
  • Computer forensics specialists can set up & operate an investigator’s lab, and process computer crime scenes.

IT Security Specialist Salaries

The median annual wage for IT security specialists in the USA is $104,000, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

IT Security Specialist Salary $104,000

 

Average salaries for IT security specialists and related career paths by job role, seniority and technological expertise:

  • Information Security Consultant: $80,000
  • Information Security Analyst: $84,000
  • Computer Forensics Investigator: $88,000
  • Certified Ethical Hacker: $89,000
  • Vulnerability Analyst: $89,000
  • Cyber Security Analyst: $98,000
  • Cyber Intelligence Analyst: $98,000
  • Information Technology Auditor: $99,000
  • Firewall Engineer: $100,000
  • Network Security Engineer: $109,000
  • SAP Security Administrator: 115,000
  • Lead Digital Forensics Examiner: $115,000
  • Director of Information Security: $134,000
  • Security Solutions Architect: $150,000

Top paying US cities and metropolitan areas for information security specialists:

  • San Jose / Sunnyvale, CA $147,000
  • San Francisco / Oakland, CA: $137,000
  • New York City Metro (NY/NJ/PA): $130,000
  • Houston / The Woodlands, TX: $119,000

Although this is typically a full-time salaried position, the hourly wage for IT security professionals in the U.S. can range from $29 to $100+ per hour, dependent upon employee location, job-or-project role, certifications held and experience level.

Deep dive comparison of information security analyst salaries.

Sources: Indeed.com • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


IT Security Specialist Education Requirements

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

Specific coursework and in-demand skill sets to look for in an IT security specialist education program include networking and network security, operating system administration, business continuity & disaster recovery, intrusion detection, hardware & software configuration, risk management and digital forensics. IT security specialists need strong communication skills, as they are responsible for educating technical and non-technical staffers on computer security protocols and raising information security awareness.

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


IT Security Specialist Training Programs

Browse the top-reviewed undergrad & graduate degrees, professional certificates, online courses and self-paced training programs matching the IT security specialist education requirements and career path.

Admissions advisors can provide more info about security programs and curriculum, admissions & start dates, career placement, tuition costs, personalized financial aid options & scholarships.
Got targeted learning goals? Many schools offer individual courses and certificates from accredited degrees.

Associate of Arts in Information Technology

  • Gain the Skills and Credentials to Pursue a Range of Entry-Level IT Jobs
  • Prepare for IT Certifications from CompTIA, Microsoft & Cisco
  • Computer Network Security and Administration
  • Database and Information Systems Management
  • Intro to Computer Programming and Web Design
  • Soft Skills inc. Effective Speaking & Communication
 

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

  • Includes Certification Preparation for:
    • CompTIA A+, Network+ & Security+
    • TestOut Network Pro, Security Pro & Pro PC
  • Gain the Skills and Credentials to Pursue Jobs in Cyber Security and Network Management
  • Information Security Tools and Techniques
  • Design, Build & Manage Secure IT Networks
  • Cyber Security Policy and Risk Management
  • IT Service and Process Management
 

Master of Science in Network Defense

  • Includes Certification Preparation for:
    • EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) & Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA)
    • (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Assess, Develop and Implement Cyber Security Solutions & Infrastructure
  • Advanced Training in Ethical Hacking, Penetration Testing & System Hardening
  • National Security Agency (NSA) & Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Approved
 

Master's in Technology Management

  • Prepare for Leadership Roles in Business and Information Technology
  • Business Intelligence and Data Analytics
  • Cyber Security Threats & Countermeasures
  • Cloud Computing and Virtual Data Centers
  • Globalization and the Modern IT Workforce
  • Computer Systems Analysis Tools & Techniques
  • Wield Emerging Technologies and IT Personnel to Achieve Business Goals
  • No GRE or GMAT Required for Admission
 
Search IT courses and degree programs by job role, technology platform & major.

IT Security Specialist Certifications

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

IT Security Cert Prep & Degrees


IT Security Specialist Job Outlook

Employment of IT security specialists is expected to increase by thirty-three percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the 8% average for all U.S. occupations. Security will remain a top concern for IT hiring managers as the frequency and impact of cyber attacks continues to 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 a three-month period with a loss or decline in premiums for IT security specialists."

Sources: Foote Partners IT Labor Report, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook


IT Security Specialist Jobs

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

  • IT Security Specialist jobs link-icon
  • Network Security jobs link-icon
  • Certified Ethical Hacker jobs link-icon
  • Penetration Tester jobs link-icon
  • IT Auditor jobs link-icon
  • Computer Forensics jobs link-icon
  • Security Engineer jobs link-icon
  • Homeland Security jobs link-icon
  • Information Security Analyst jobs link-icon

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Frequently Asked Questions

Technology insiders answer common questions from people considering the IT security specialist career path.

What does an IT security specialist do?

IT security specialists defend an organization’s data and information systems. They accomplish this through a mix of managing security software and educating personnel on cyber security best practices to prevent data breaches, and responding with the appropriate countermeasures should a cyber attack breach the defenses.

How much do IT security specialists make?

Information technology security specialists, a.k.a. cyber security analysts, take home a median annual wage of $103,590, 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 entry-level IT security jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in cyber security, information assurance, or a related field of study; these programs typically take 4 years to complete as a full-time student.

How do I become an IT security specialist?

Simply put, the process of becoming an IT security specialist can be broken down into three steps: get educated, gain experience, and earn certifications.

  • Education: Most positions for IT security specialists require at least a bachelor’s degree in cyber security or a related field of study. Early on in the education process, you will likely zero-in on which security discipline is the best fit for you.
  • Experience: Many IT security positions require previous work experience in a technical role. Common jobs to have before becoming an IT security specialist include network administrator, systems administrator, and help desk technician.
  • Certifications: Either during your degree program or while you’re working in the field, earning cyber security certifications can help grow your skill set and improve your job prospects. Marketable certifications for IT security specialists include CompTIA Security+, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and ISC2’s CISSP.

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