How to become a Security Engineer
What is a Security Engineer?
As with most cyber security jobs, a Security Engineer job description ranges from company to company. At its core, security engineering focuses on the tools and methods required of designing and testing secure systems, as well as adapting existing systems to evolving environments.
The four predominant concerns of a security engineer are policy, mechanism, assurance and incentive. Security engineers require a well-rounded, cross-disciplinary understanding of security. Anything from developing security related applications to employee awareness programs.
Many companies expect their security engineers to be security evangelists, communicating security concerns, protocol and best practices to every department within a company. They are also often expected to contribute to a company’s decision making pertaining to security.
What is the Average Salary?
According to Payscale.com, $85,177 is the median salary for a Security Engineer. The general average ranges anywhere from $55,338 for a security engineer with less experience working for a smaller company to $233,333 for a lead security engineer working for a larger company and even $300,000 (from a job listing I saw for Blue Owl, while making this blog).
What are a Security Engineer’s Responsibilities?
There are such a wide range of responsibilities, I’d be heart-pressed to try to list them all. However, here is a list of responsibilities I found in actual job listings for Security Engineers:
- Ability to influence decision-making
- Strong leadership and communication (both written and verbal) skills
- Hands-on experience with security scans and vulnerability assessments for network, software and mobile applications.
- Basic computer and mobile forensics knowledge.
- Configuring and operating scans and tool/environment testing.
- Understanding cryptography, authentication, authorization, security protocol and security vulnerabilities.
- Understanding the software development process.
- Experience with distributed systems and client-server architectures.
- Ability to perform analysis and provide recommendations for infrastructure environments.
- Ability to write technical reports and suggest resolutions/mitigate security issues.
- And more…
What Educational Background is required?
Most Security Engineer listings will want you to have a bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security or a related field as well as anywhere from 1 to 10 years of experience in information security. However, experience and certifications can often make up for a lack of formal education. Aside from this, the experience required will vary widely from organization to organization. Some will require certifications; some will require specific experience with public cloud or other environments. It’s best to have as well-rounded an understanding and experience level as possible for this position.
What Certifications should I take?
Extra Credit- CHFI- Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator
Where should I start?
The place to start is always with your education. You can go the higher education route and get your bachelors and/or masters in a cyber security related major. You can also start training for certification exams and begin gaining real-world experience as soon as possible. There is no right answer and there are multiple paths one can take. It’s all about what’s going to work best for you.
We recommend getting a base knowledge with certification training such as CompTIA’s Security+ certification training, then moving on towards CEH– a very versatile, and sought after, certification that is a great way to break into the cyber security field and start working towards becoming a Security Engineer.