Internet Security Specialist Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about an Internet security specialist's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job duties and see the pros and cons of becoming an Internet security specialist to determine if this is the career you want.
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Pros and Cons of an Internet Security Specialist Career

Internet security specialists, also known as information security analysts, ensure the safety of a company's information by monitoring an organization's computer and networks systems and guarding them against cyber attacks. Learn more about the pros and cons of becoming an Internet security specialist to decide if this is the right career for you.

Pros of Being an Internet Security Specialist
Faster-than-average job growth (expected 37% growth between 2012 and 2022 for information security analysts)*
Good wages (mean annual wage of $89,000 as of May 2014)*
Can work in any geographic location*
Can work in a variety of settings (computer systems design firms, finance companies, etc.)*

Cons of Being an Internet Security Specialist
May be required to work evenings, weekends and holidays*
May be required to put in long days*
Master's degree may be preferred by employers (two extra years of study)
Certifications required for best employment opportunities*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Internet security specialists are the experts behind keeping computer and network systems free from cyber attacks, such as hacking or fraud. They do this by constantly monitoring the systems and constantly researching the latest in information security trends. Through this research, they should be able to stay one step ahead of cyber attackers who can compromise the security of organizations. Internet security specialists also analyze a company's security needs and implement a system to meet those needs, while also educating that company's IT staff on how to install security products.

Other duties include installing security data encryption programs, firewalls and other security software. Internet security specialists may attend conferences to determine what other professionals are using and have experienced. In addition to implementing an Internet security system, they also develop a disaster recovery plan the company can fall back on in case of an emergency. Internet security specialists often answer to and work with the Chief Technology Officers (CTO) of a company to ensure they're both abreast of the most recent security measures.

Job Growth and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of information security analysts was predicted to grow 37% between 2012 and 2022. Contributing to this faster-than-average growth is advancing technology and the increasing need for protection against cyber attacks. Other factors keeping these workers in demand are the healthcare industry's increasing need to protect electronic health records and the federal government's need to ensure security in the nation's information technology systems. The BLS reported that information security analysts earned a mean annual wage of around $92,000 as of May 2014.

Education and Training Requirements

What Employers Are Looking for

To become an Internet security specialist, you'll typically need to complete at least a bachelor's degree program in computer science, computer programming or a related field, although some employers may prefer master's degrees. Several years of work experience may also be required. In addition to completing classroom and lab studies, you'll may also participate in cooperative education programs.

Typical courses may include database management, operating systems and hardware, computer networks, statistics, physical security, computer forensics, network administration, cryptology and network security, artificial intelligence and disaster recovery. Many schools offer associate's degree programs in Internet security. These programs may prepare you for an entry-level position or a transfer to a 4-year college.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Most employers seeking to hire Internet security specialists are looking for candidates with both experience and a degree. Many also ask for specific knowledge of particular networking technologies, programming languages and operating systems. Below are some real job postings found at Careerbuilder.com in April 2012:

  • An Illinois university is seeking an experienced data security specialist to ensure the safety and security of its information system and network assets and protect them from outside access. The data security specialist will be involved in the design and installation of software products used to comply with the university's security policy. Candidate should have knowledge of SQL, UNIX scripting, HTML, Oracle, Perl and XML. Applicant must also have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, business data processing or a related field. On-call work is occasionally required.
  • A Maryland software company is seeking an Internet security specialist to assess and interpret the security needs of its computer and networking system. Candidate should have a solid understanding of security-related technologies such as networking protocols, encryption, IP networking, DNS, electronic e-mail and network security techniques. Knowledge of various operating systems (Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc.) is also required. Applicant must have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, four years experience working in network or data security and security certifications (CCNA, CISSP).
  • A Minneapolis bank is seeking a qualified Information security architect to develop and implement security policies and procedures in the bank's computer systems, monitor and install firewalls, analyze threats and vulnerabilities in the bank's operations and instruct security policies to internal customers in regards to compliance and information security standards. Applicant must have at least a bachelor's degree in information security and at least two years of recent forensic technology experience. Experience in information security fields is a plus. Knowledge of Javascript, HTML, Microsoft SQL, ASP and Windows Office Suite is also required.

How to Maximize Your Skills

As important as earning your degree and obtaining work experience is for your career, you'll want to maximize your skills so you can be competitive in the workforce. In addition to keeping up with the latest technology in Internet security, you may wish to obtain certification in as many areas as possible.

Formal training programs for aspiring Internet security specialists offer courses that prepare you to take certification exams. Some possible certifications include Comp TIA Security+, Network+, A+, Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC) is an organization that offers various certification programs, such as Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP), Certified Authorization Professional (CAP) and Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP).

Alternative Career Paths

Computer Programmer

If you enjoy computers and possess a creative mind, you may find a career as a computer programmer to be the perfect fit. Computer programmers write the codes to create programs that enable computers to perform user requests. They also analyze programs and fix them, if need be. According to the BLS, computer programmers were predicted to see an employment growth of 12% between 2010 and 2020. As of May 2011, these workers earned a mean annual salary of around $76,000. Although computer programmers usually have bachelor's degrees, you can become a computer programmer by completing an associate's degree program.

Software Developer

Software developers come up with the ideas for computer programmers. If you have a creative mind and enjoy working on computers, you may enjoy putting your ideas to work as a software developer. Software developers earned a mean wage of around $92,000 in 2011, reported the BLS. The BLS also stated that, due to the demand for computer software, software developers were predicted to see an employment growth of 30% between 2010 and 2020. To become a software developer, you need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field and a strong background in computer programming.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • MS in Cybersecurity Management
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
    Associate's
      • Associate: Information Technology
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD in Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Cybersecurity
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
    Master's
      • MBA - Computer and Information Security
      • MSTIM - Cybersecurity
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Information Systems
      • MBA - Management Information Systems
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
      • BS - Game Design (Campus)
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Information Technology Management
      • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin - Information Security Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
      • B.S.s - Management Information Systems
    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
      • MBA: Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Public Safety Leadership and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project/Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • Bachelor: Technology Management
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
      • Associate of Science - Technology Studies
  • Campus and Online Programs
    8. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Visual & Game Programming (BS)
      • Visual & Game Programming (BA)
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Cyber Policy
      • MBA - Cybersecurity
      • MBA Economic Crime and Fraud Management
      • MS in Cybersecurity - Computer Forensics
      • MS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
      • MS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Intelligence
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems - MSIS (Master's)
      • Leadership Studies - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MSIS (Master's)
    Bachelor's
      • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
      • Game Software Development - Bachelor
    Associate's
      • Information Technology - Associate

Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

  • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
  • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
  • PhD in Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
  • MBA - Computer and Information Security
  • MSTIM - Cybersecurity

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
  • BS - Game Design (Campus)

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master - Information Technology Management
  • BS - Information Technology
  • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Master of Business Admin - Information Security Management
  • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management

What is your highest level of education?

The Art Institutes

  • Visual & Game Programming (BS)
  • Visual & Game Programming (BA)

What is your highest level of education?