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How to Become a Cybersecurity Engineer



Cybersecurity engineers address the growing need for secure data and information systems by implementing security protocols to protect an organization’s valuable digital assets. The position requires professionals to be experts in all areas of cybersecurity and to have a thorough understanding of computer operating procedures and methods. Utilizing their expertise in vulnerability management and computer forensics, cybersecurity engineers work to keep computer networks safe from malware, spyware, and phishing attacks. As the information security job market continues to grow, so will the need for trained cybersecurity engineers. This overview of the cybersecurity engineer profession describes the type of education to pursue, such as a Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance, as well as the skills needed to succeed in the field.

A Look at the Cybersecurity Engineer Career

Cybersecurity engineers evaluate their organization’s information systems to prevent and detect data breaches, viruses, and other threats. They are also responsible for preparing for other risks that could harm IT infrastructure, including disasters such as fires and floods.

Cybersecurity engineers have a broad range of responsibilities. They often work with other technology professionals inside and outside their own organizations, including software engineers, programmers, and network managers; they also work closely with non-IT employees. Cybersecurity engineers may be involved in several projects at one time. On a given day, an engineer might install a firewall, meet with senior staff to recommend operational changes that could enhance security, develop new frameworks to address security issues, run cyberattack simulations to test network security, or train employees in computer security practices.

Because these data and computer network protection skill sets are in high demand across the board, cybersecurity engineers can work for a variety of organizations, such as large corporations, small businesses, and government agencies. In addition to being able to choose from a number of work environments, professionals in this field benefit from a strong job market outlook and above-average income potential. Industry research group Cyber Seek estimates an annual salary range of about $75,000 for an entry-level cybersecurity engineer to more than $120,000 for a senior position.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities for Cybersecurity Engineers

For a career as a cybersecurity engineer, one must have advanced programming skills and a deep understanding of technical concepts. Information security provider CompTIA lists the following as key areas in which cybersecurity engineers should have expertise: intrusion detection and prevention; penetration and vulnerability testing; firewall protocols; ethical hacking; secure coding practices; and threat modeling.

Along with these IT security skills, cybersecurity engineers must possess more generalized technical abilities related to network architecture, virtualization, database platforms, operating systems, and other relevant technologies.

Suggested Steps for Becoming a Cybersecurity Engineer

Once aspiring cybersecurity engineers are familiar with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the role, they can begin the path toward a career in the field.

Academic Requirements

Many cybersecurity engineers earn a bachelor’s degree in a related area, such as computer science or cybersecurity. After earning a bachelor’s degree, attaining an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance (MSISA), can provide cybersecurity engineers with the advanced skills and knowledge base needed to thrive in the position. Cybersecurity engineers who have earned an MSISA degree can advance to serve in more senior roles in the field, such as Chief Information Security Officer, IT Director, Networking/Information Technology (IT) Security Engineer, and Senior Systems Engineer (Computer Networking/IT).

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance program provides students with the business acumen and management skills they need to qualify for senior positions and become leaders in the cybersecurity field. Through its concentrations, this advanced degree gives individuals the opportunity to specialize in particular areas of cybersecurity, which helps them become more competitive in the job market. Concentrations include Vulnerability Management; Project Management; Critical Infrastructure Protection and Cyber Crime; Cyber Law and International Perspectives on Cyberspace; and Computer Forensic Investigation and Incident Response Team Management.

On-the-Job Experience

Aspiring cybersecurity engineers need to gain professional experience to thrive in the field. Many of these professionals seek internships and entry-level positions while earning their master’s degree. Doing so allows individuals to sharpen their knowledge and skills in real-world settings. For example, one might work at technology firms in entry-level positions as cybersecurity technicians, IT auditors, or incident analysts, roles that can provide them with a thorough background in cybersecurity and help them advance within the profession throughout their career.

Certifications

Attaining professional certifications, either before or after becoming a cybersecurity engineer, can be beneficial for continually enhancing one’s skill set. These credentials include the CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) and the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certifications. As the field evolves and cybersecurity needs become more complex, cybersecurity engineers and candidates should pursue additional certifications and competencies to show employers that they are fluent in current digital trends.

As computers, data, and digital technologies have become increasingly intertwined with our day-to-day life, the need for cybersecurity engineers to protect valuable digital assets has grown within organizations of all types and sizes. By earning a Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance degree, aspiring and current cybersecurity engineers can gain leadership skills along with advanced technical skills to help raise their earning potential and compete for senior positions in this increasingly important field.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities. At Norwich University, we extend a tradition of values-based education, where structured, disciplined, and rigorous studies create a challenging and rewarding experience. Online programs, such as the Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance, have made our comprehensive curriculum available to more students than ever before.

Norwich University has been designated as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. Through your program, you can choose from the five unique concentrations that are designed to provide an in-depth examination of policies, procedures, and overall structure of an information assurance program.
 

Recommended Readings

How to Become an Information Security Analyst

Information Assurance vs. Information Security

6 Trending Cybersecurity Careers

 

Sources

Interview with a Cybersecurity Consultant, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Your Next Move: Cybersecurity Engineer, CompTIA

Cybersecurity Career Pathway, CyberSeek

Should You Become a Cybersecurity Engineer?, Cybrary
Master of Science (MS), Information Security & Assurance Degree, Payscale