Cyber Security

Security of network systems has become of paramount importance in modern businesses. Financial and personal information must be protected from those who would misuse it, and if companies do not take steps to protect this information they risk hackers gaining access to it.

What Do Cyber Security Specialists Do?

The job duties of cyber security specialists vary from job to job depending on the type of threat to a specific computer network. However, in general network security analysts can be expected to perform the following jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Conduct research on technology and security trends. Network security analysts are expected to stay abreast of the latest developments and threats to computer networks.
  • Monitor and investigate any attempts at security breaches. Network security analysts are expected to immediately isolate and analyze any attempts at security breaches so that they can prevent cyber-attacks.
  • Plan and implement a security protocol for an organization. One of the major jobs of a network security administrator is to make a security plan and see that it is carried out.
  • Develop best practices for an organization’s workers. Network analysts also teach employees the best way to prevent security breaches in their organization.
  • Handle security software. Network security analysts are responsible for learning how to use, installing and operating a wide variety of software programs designed to keep systems safe.
  • Make recommendations about security procedures to senior company management.

Of course, cyber security specialists may have other duties as assigned by employers, and may focus on certain aspects of network security in conjunction with other specialists to provide seamless network protection for a company or business.

What Type of Degree Does a Cyber Security Specialist Have?

Cyber security specialists often have degrees specifically designed to promote network security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average network security specialist has a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. More specifically, network security analysts often seek a degree in computer science or programming. Because of the explosion of interest in network security, some colleges now offer degrees such as a B.S. in Computer Science, Security Concentration.

Large companies often have large network security departments, so there are various levels of positions for network security administrators in these companies. In order to receive promotions, larger companies often like to see a network security analyst with a master’s degree in computer science, business administration, or other related field.

Network analysts usually seek certification from various organizations to show that they are familiar with general and specific protocols in network software. There are a variety of certifications available; some are specific to certain networks while others are more general. For example, Cisco Systems offers six different types of security certification that may be transferred to several types of systems.

How Much Do Cyber Security Specialists Earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the annual median salary for a network security analyst was $75,660 in May 2010. However, a recent Robert Hall technology survey suggests that network and data security analysts earn between $89,000 and $137,000. Of course, the amount a network security specialist earns will depend on several factors, such as:

  • Location – While network security is not a field that is as dependent on location as some other careers, most well-paid jobs are located in or around larger urban areas such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Recently, cities such as Houston and San Francisco have also become known as technology centers, so there may be many jobs located in these areas. However, network security analysts can find work in almost any location.
  • Training – Network security analysts are basically paid for what they know rather that what they do. The more training a network analyst has and the more systems he or she is familiar with, the better the chances of earning a high salary.
  • Experience – Network security analysts sometimes find themselves specializing in a particular type of cyber threat or problem specific to their employers. If this is the case, the experience that the network security analyst gains from these jobs may lead to more responsible positions.

What Is the Job Outlook for Cyber Security Specialists?

With the explosion in concern over network security and the advancing level of sophistication of hackers, the number of job opportunities for network security analysts is expected to grow by 22 percent over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One area in which job opportunities are growing quickly for network security analysts is the healthcare field. New requirements for digitalization of healthcare records mean that experts will be needed to secure private and protected patient information. Another rich area for jobs in network security is the financial field. Banks, mortgage companies, loan companies, and anyone who deals with money is likely to need the help of a network security analyst to protect investors and prevent theft of funds.

If you are an organized person who enjoys working with computers and wants to make a difference in the business or healthcare fields by providing network security, a degree in computer science could lead you to a job as a cyber-security specialist.

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