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Cybersecurity Specialist

This career is expected to grow at a faster than average rate through 2018. An increase in computer security jobs is expected as technology continues to advance and become more affordable (although it may be off-set to some extent by off-shoring). More businesses will add computers and will need specialists to make their networks secure.

In addition, use of the Internet by businesses should increase the demand for computer security specialists. Some specialists will work inside consulting firms dedicated exclusively to computer security issues.

Those in executive roles—with titles such as chief information security officer, chief security officer or security manager—earned $106,326 on average. Those in more technical roles (security engineer, security penetration tester or web security manager) earned an average of $75,275.

Computer security specialists work with companies to build secure computer systems. They question managers and staff about their current security methods. They find out what information the company wants to protect. Specialists also learn what information employees should be able to access. Computer security specialists use their findings to plan the security system. They regularly train staff on how to use security software and properly use computers to prevent any problems.
Some computer security specialists write rules and procedures for employees to follow. In some companies, specialists coordinate security for vendors and customers in addition to employees. Specialists evaluate security breaks and determine if there are problems or errors. If there is a problem, specialists track where the break came from and shut off the access point.

There are many ways to become a computer security specialist. Many employers prefer to hire people with some formal college education. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems is excellent preparation for this occupation. Another route is to major in your area of interest and minor in computer science.

Bachelor’s degrees in computer security—also called information assurance—are available online.

An important part of preparing for this field is learning the latest technology. Some people learn through classes and others teach themselves.


As with other computer specialties, you can receive certification in certain products or groups of products, which can increase your appeal to employers.

Entering the Field:

Many security specialists learn their skills on the job. They are paired with an experienced specialist who teaches them the job. This type of training can take between one and two years. The military has become a leading trainer in this specialty area. If you have skills and employment in any technical aspect of computers—repair, database and office systems—you can retrain to specialize in cybersecurity.

Career Changers:

Many enter this field after working at a related computer specialty, such as programming or web mastering or network administration. You can re-tool quickly by earning a certificate or taking courses in cybersecurity or information assurance.

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Source for salary and growth data via The SANS 2005 Information Security Salary and Career Advancement Survey and Minnesota’s state iSeek site for career seekers. For more information on careers in cybersecurity, salaries, and job prospects visit: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Computer Network, Systems and Database Administrators and U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, Computer Systems Design and Related Services, is a consumer group that publishes online college rankings along the dimensions that matter most to online students themselves: affordability and credibility. All of our information is sourced directly from college and university websites as well government websites such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our mission:

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