Becoming a Network Security Developer: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a network security development career? Get real job descriptions, job prospects and salary info to see if becoming a network security developer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Network Security Development

Network security development is a sub-specialty of software development and entails making networking software that is secure while remaining functional. Check out these pros and cons to see if becoming a network security developer is right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Network Security Developer
High earning potential for a career that requires a bachelor's degree (software applications developers earned a median salary of about $96,000 in 2014)*
Solid job growth for software developers (projected employment increase of 23% between 2012 and 2022)*
Cyber-security is becoming a big concern in the industry, leading companies to hire more software developers who specialize in network security*
Variety of tasks (overseeing programmers, analyzing project needs, developing solutions to errors in existing software)**

Cons of Becoming a Network Security Developer
Bachelor's degree or higher is required for this job***
May have to work overtime (About 25% of software developers worked more than 40 hours per week in 2010)*
High-stress job (software developers may be in charge of an entire project)*
Must be skilled in numerous technical fields (programming skills, math skills and in-depth knowledge of networking security)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online, ***Multiple job posts from July 2012.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

Network security development professionals design software that ensures information is secure and properly encrypted. The specific software you'll be designing depends on the industry you work in. You may oversee a team of programmers throughout the entire development process. Since software developers are often working with the people coding the program, they need to have a strong understanding of the programming language being used for the project.

This may be a highly stressful job, since you'll be responsible for the entire development cycle of a piece of software. If something isn't working properly, it's your job as a software developer to figure out what is wrong and find a solution. You may spend a significant amount of your time testing and modifying the software, all of which is your responsibility to document.

Salary and Job Prospects

According to the BLS, software application developers earned a median annual income of roughly $96,000 in 2014. Software developers who specialize in network security should have excellent job prospects; the BLS found that companies are concerned about cyber-security, which should result in increased employment opportunities for these professionals. The BLS also reported that software application developers was expected to grow by 23% from 2012-2022, which is considered much faster than the average growth for all other occupations during that same period.

What Do Employers Look for?

Education and Skill Requirements

The BLS stated that software developers typically have at least a bachelor's degree. Computer science is a common major for software developers, but degrees in math, software engineering and electrical engineering may also be acceptable. A few employers may want applicants who have a master's degree, but you'll generally have solid job opportunities with a bachelor's degree.

Software developers need to be competent in programming, especially if they are overseeing a group of programmers. Being able to understand different programming languages and explain to programmers what work needs to be done are abilities that software developers need to have. Skills in math and an in-depth comprehension of networking technologies are other key skills you'll need for this profession. Since you can work in a variety of industries, you may need additional skills and training specific to the industry you wish to work in.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Software developers who specialize in network security are needed all over the nation. A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is usually required by employers. Each employer may use different tools and programming languages, so it's a good idea to start browsing what different employers need and gaining the necessary skills for the types of jobs you're most interested in. Below are some job posts from July 2012:

  • A government contracting company in Massachusetts was looking for a software developer to work as part of a cyber security team. Candidates need to have solid programming skills and have experience with the development of software systems. Applicants must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree and be able to gain top-level security clearance.
  • A telecommunications company in New Jersey was seeking a network security tools developer to fill a contract position. Applicants need at least a bachelor's degree (computer engineering is preferred) and at least five years of experience. Knowledge of AI algorithms and experience with specific security testing tools was also required.
  • A technology corporation in Virginia wanted to hire a software developer to work on cyber security applications. Candidates should have experience using a number of Web technologies and also have a bachelor's degree.
  • A large computer company in California was looking for a system security developer who has experience in network programming. Candidates need to have at least a bachelor's degree and five years of experience. Applicants should also understand network security protocols and have solid communication skills.

How Can I Stand Out?

Get Certified

Since employers often look for potential employees who have knowledge in a particular programming language or network technology, you can stand out with a professional certification. For example, CompTIA offers the Security+ certification, which is a designation that validates a professional's ability to anticipate security risks and use a variety of tools to take care of security problems. If you're going to be using a specific programming language, software vendors and professional organizations may offer multiple levels of certification for that particular language. Each employer may require knowledge of different languages, so you'll want to find out which specific technologies are most commonly used in your industry before pursuing a designation.

Learn About Your Industry

Network security developers are needed in many different industries; find out which ones you'd like to work in. Next, start learning about what unique skills and knowledge that employers in that industry look for. For example, if the healthcare industry interests you, you can start by finding out which software applications are commonly used and what programming languages are used the most. If you're interested in working in the cell-phone industry, take some courses that focus on mobile device programming and security while you pursue a bachelor's degree.

Other Fields to Consider

Network Administrator

If you're interested in working with networks but you're not sure you want to develop secure software, then you may want to consider a career as a network administrator. Network administrators oversee an entire network and may install or troubleshoot computer systems that are part of the network. Most network administrators need a bachelor's degree, but they have slightly less earning potential than software developers; the BLS found that network administrators earned a median salary of about $71,000 in 2011. Network administrators should have solid job prospects, since the BLS projected that these workers would experience a 28% increase in jobs during the decade of 2010-2020.

Programmer

Perhaps you're more interested in the programming side of software development and you're unsure if you want to spend four years in school. If this sounds like you, you may want to look into becoming a programmer. Although some programmers have a bachelor's degree, employers may hire applicants who only have an associate's degree. Programmers use a variety of programming languages to create and modify software applications. You may also do some bug testing to ensure that a piece of software has as few errors as possible.

Programmers earned a median yearly income of roughly $73,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. The BLS stated that job prospects for programmers were predicted to increase by 12% from 2010-2020, but growth may be limited due to companies outsourcing work to other countries. The more programming languages you're competent in using, the better your job prospects may be.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • 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
      • BS in IT - IT Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
    Associate's
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Tulane University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - General
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - Information Security
  • Campus Locations:
    4. American National University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Network Administration - Associate
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. South College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Network Administration & Security
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. South University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems (MS)
  • Campus Locations:
    8. Altierus

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Computer Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS: Cybersecurity
      • BS: Computer Information Systems
      • BS: Computer Science
      • BS: Computer Science - Information Assurance
    Associate's
      • AA: Cybersecurity
      • AA: Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Instructional Technology
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Information Systems
      • B.S. in Computer Programming

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
  • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
  • AASIT: Network Admin

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Tulane University

  • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

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American National University

  • Network Administration - Associate

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Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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South College

  • Associate of Science in Network Administration & Security

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South University

  • Information Systems (MS)

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Altierus

  • Computer Information Technology

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