How to Become a Security Engineer

Sep 12, 2021

5 Min Read

Security professionals are a cornerstone of any technical team in a corporation. The main responsibility of information security professionals is to ensure the proper implementation of security measures inside a company. This will help you shield your sensitive information from intruders. 

The exact duties of security professionals will vary between the companies. Depending on company size, the role of cybersecurity professionals can be specialized or broad. Job duties will also depend on the environment where your company operates. 

How to start your career in this field

Research: To get started as a cybersecurity professional, you must look into career and education prospects in this field. Also, look at vacancies to determine what kind of certifications or accreditations the employers are looking for. 

Education: Once you’ve decided to pursue a career in this field, plan your education accordingly. Usually, you’ll have to get a bachelor’s degree in a technical field. Preferably, your degree must be focused on cybersecurity. At the more senior level, employers will expect you to have a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. Alternatively, you can use a history of work experience as proof of competence.

Accreditation: Biggest employers in the cybersecurity industry expect job candidates to have a certificate to prove their qualification.

Networking: It’s important to maintain relationships with other people working in cybersecurity. Networking can help an individual land an entry-level job as a cybersecurity professional.

What is a security engineer?

The main focus of cybersecurity professionals is to design and develop the code to ensure the security of the data.

The primary responsibility assigned to cyber security professionals is to design and implement security measures that are up to company standards. In addition, a big part of the job is to forecast possible weaknesses in network security and take the initiative to provide a higher quality of protection.

An example of taking the initiative is installing and renewing the licenses and implementing security protocols and encryption software. 

Many companies hire penetration testing professionals to detect weaknesses in their security measures. However, this approach involves testing the security by trying to breach it.

In some cases, a security professional will be tasked with responding to imminent threats to the security. The primary responsibility of these individuals will be to determine the best tools and instruments to ensure better protection for sensitive data. In some cases, such professionals might have to alert their superiors to draw attention to any security problems that might arise. 

Security engineer skills and experience

A cybersecurity professional must have an undergraduate degree, preferably in a technical field, to qualify for an entry-level job. Therefore, the degrees that specialize in data protection are usually prioritized.

Getting an undergraduate education helps you gain a better insight into the tools and methodology that you will use on the job. Formal education can also teach you how to plan out network architecture. 

What does a security engineer do?

The primary job responsibilities of security professionals revolve around the latest security practices on mobile and other devices. They need to have experience working with antivirus software and other network security measures. 

Professionals in this field must analyze the software written for security purposes. They must detect potential threats to network security. 

The job of cybersecurity professionals is not limited to detecting vulnerabilities in the system. They must also come up with concise and clear messages to communicate with their colleagues. In some cases, their responsibilities will include communicating software and security problems to their supervisors. 

For some jobs, it is expected that professionals in this field must be accredited or licensed by private or government institutions.

After the review of professionals working in this field, we’ve come up with the list of most important skills required to work in this industry:

  • An ability to read and comprehend software code, detect potential threats, and implement preventive measures to increase network security against malicious attacks
  • Experience in using tools to detect potential risks and prevent threats. 
  • Deep knowledge of computer forensics and other defensive protocols.
  • The necessary skills to summarize potential risks to the security of the software
  • Understanding of best practices in the industry and the ability to keep up with changing landscape
  • Track record of designing and applying the necessary measures for network security
  • The ability to use software and take preventive measures against potential hacker attacks

The primary job responsibilities of security professionals are using the tools and implementing the CIA measures. 

Security professionals can have many different job duties, depending on the seniority of their position and the company they work at. In some cases, depending on the size of the department and the number of employees, an individual security engineer may be tasked with implementing security measures for all applications. 

In some cases, an information security professional will be required to keep up with the maintenance of security measures. In some cases, their tasks will include penetration testing to detect the vulnerabilities in the system.

One more requirement is that a security professional must be aware of recent developments in the security field. They must be alert to new developments in malware and viruses and take preventive measures to enhance the security of the network. One way to do this is to apply for professional cybersecurity certifications.

Security engineer job description

Professional growth tools recommend few areas where security professionals can grow and better understand the principles necessary to do the job. 

  • Design and explain the implemented security measures and protocols: This measures the security systems’ efficiency and implements changes based on the results. Cybersecurity professionals must also communicate the findings to their supervisors and other staff in the department.
  • Implement security measures: In this role, you’ll be expected to design the architecture for security measures such as defensive code and put them to practical use.
  • Check the architecture for potential weaknesses: On rare occasions, cybersecurity professionals will be expected to test the strength of existing security measures by attempting to break into the system. This will test the effectiveness of existing data protection systems against real hackers. Some employers consider this part of a security engineer’s job, while others hire ethical hackers separately to perform this job. 
  • Keeping track of security measures: Besides designing and implementing tests for security architecture, informational security workers must also keep track of security systems to find potential threats of malicious attacks.
  • Look into problems that caused the security breach: Informational security professionals must sometimes look into malicious attacks to find the reasons behind the security breach. The scope of their work will sometimes contain cooperating with government officials. 

Outlook for security engineers

Qualified information security workers are always needed. Government statistics report that the demand for these workers is increasing every year. The demand is expected to go up by ~20 percent within the next five years. 

Security engineer’s compensation depends on the number of years they have spent working in the industry. It is not unusual to find people with more than ten years of experience. 

Other factors that influence security engineer’s compensation include the company’s size, the scope of their job duties, and the country of operations.

How much do security engineers make?

Professionals surveyed by Payscale confirmed that their estimated yearly compensation is $96,000. Professionals in entry-level positions earn around $60,000, while the engineers in supervisory positions earn approximately $140,000.

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