I had an SMH moment while reading up on the hack job that recently rocked the foundation of the U.S. government. Chinese hackers reportedly pilfered the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) network in an attack that may have potentially put several existing and former federal employees at risk for identity theft. Some journalists are calling it more catastrophic than the Edward Snowden ordeal.
The growing number of high profile breach victims has smaller and lesser known organizations pouring more resources into IT security technology and personnel needs. Employers are now hiring for IT security jobs, and giving qualified candidates an opportunity to earn a fairly decent living.
1. Network Security Engineer
In today’s hostile business environment, network security engineers are as important to the IT team as anyone on the squad. From managing firewalls and anti-virus software to tracking security incidents and planning for a range of “what if” scenarios, they have a full plate in front of them. Network security engineers are hands on in securing LANs, WANs, VPNs, and all the hardware and software that interlink them. The job demands an annual salary of roughly $70,000 for newbies and around $100,000 a year for those with a decade of experience or more.
The exact qualifications for a network security engineer may vary a great deal depending on the employer’s requirements. A basic skill set would encompass network design, firewall implementation and management, and intimate knowledge of common security protocols. IT security certifications from respected vendors like Cisco and Symantec will go a long way in demonstrating this knowledge and experience to hiring companies.
2. Security Consultant
A company’s security architecture may be designed by experts employed within or outside of the organization. IT security consultants work closely with clients to formulate strategies that protect them from cyber threats. They know the best practices, keep an eye all the emerging threats, and help IT leaders incorporate policies that accommodate industry compliance. Security consultants average just over $80,000 annually, but seasoned advisers pull down around $120,000 a year.
Experience is essential to locking down IT security jobs that require giving orders or guidance to others. Employers tend to favor candidates who possess extensive knowledge of computer security and industry-specific regulations, in addition to familiarity with leading vendors and technologies. A combination of experience and schooling in computer science fields such as information technology, networking, and digital forensics are key items on an attractive resume for a security consultant.
3. Application Security Specialist
Web and mobile apps have given application security a new layer of complexity. Most breach investigations lead back to app-related vulnerabilities, so experts who can identify and sure up those weaknesses have become a crucial need. Application security specialists thoroughly test and may even incorporate built mechanisms into applications deployed across the organization. Based on a recognized computer science speciality, an application security specialist demands an average salary of about $80,000 a year.
Most application security pros have a bachelor’s degree in computer science backed by IT security certifications in relevant software categories such as operating systems and databases. Candidates can also benefit from communication and collaboration skills that enable them to thrive in team-oriented environments.
4. Cyber Security Analyst
Cyber security analysts are highly sought after personnel resources working in high-pressure environments. Not only do they evaluate the company’s vulnerabilities, they are responsible for sniffing out live attacks in progress and developing strategies that keep up with the dynamic threat landscape. They interact with a lot of people doing a little of everything, and their pay potential reflects it. Cyber security analysts make an average of $70,000 a year, but can earn a lot more when being promoted to IT security architects and managers.
A cyber security analyst typically handles quite a bit of data. Education in data mining, modelling, and visualization is necessary for those tasked with utilizing intelligence to analyze security threats, address vulnerabilities, and coordinate with other IT personnel. Furthermore, the ability to communicate and work in a team setting will prove to be valuable assets when it comes time to respond to real security issues .
5. Chief Security Officer
The chief security officer (CSO) role proves that life at the C-suite level isn’t all peaches and cream. A CSO has some major responsibilities, including making sure employees are properly trained on using security tools, evaluating the effectiveness of existing security systems, and guiding the company in chaotic scenarios such as security breach management. CSOs are paid swell for having the world on their shoulders as they take home nearly $115,000 on average.
While having a degree in an area of computer science is certainly beneficial, it isn’t always a requirement. For instance, an IT savvy candidate with a law enforcement background can get their foot in the door if they have some solid security credentials behind them. A CSO is essentially responsible for an organization’s entire security infrastructure – physical and digital sides included – so strategic creativity and strong leadership skills are high up on the list of qualifications.
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