Network Security Specialist: Job Description and Requirements

Network security specialists detect, prevent and resolve security threats to computer networks. They also play an important role in maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of a company's data and information systems. A bachelor's degree and industry certification are often needed for network security positions.

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Job Description of a Network Security Specialist

Network security specialists monitor computer networks for security threats or unauthorized users. They may identify compromised machines and report on security measures taken to address threats. Network security specialists also analyze security risks and develop response procedures. Additional duties may include developing and testing software deployment tools, firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

Some network security workers research, evaluate, recommend and implement other security devices as well. This may include installing computer security software, conducting regular security audits, preparing security status reports, educating users on computer security, creating security documentation for users, assisting in disaster recovery and gathering evidence regarding cyber crimes.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Network security specialists can also be called information security analysts, and the employment outlook in this profession is favorable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the field of information security analysts, web developers and computer network analysts should see a 22% increase in demand, adding over 65,000 jobs between 2010 and 2020. The average salary for information security analysts was $89,290 in May of 2012.

Requirements to Become a Network Security Specialist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers often require network security specialists to have a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field (www.bls.gov). Relevant degree programs include computer science, information technology and management information systems. Some employers may be willing to hire applicants who don't have a degree as long as they have the equivalent experience.

Employers may prefer applicants who have years of experience working in networking systems, network security or information technology, according to multiple job listings found on Monster.com in October 2010. Areas that aspiring network security specialists should be knowledgeable in include network access control (NAC) systems, firewalls, routers, incident response techniques, intrusion prevention systems, information security methodologies, authentication protocols and different attack types.

Certification

Earning professional certification may help network security specialists find employment or advance their careers. A number of different certification options are offered by Cisco, International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), CompTIA and other organizations. Certification is usually earned by passing one or more examinations.

Some types of certification that are specific to network security specialists include the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certifications offered by Cisco; Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications offered by ISC2; and Security+ and Linux+ certifications offered by CompTIA.

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