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Computer Security Specialist Career

Career Description

A Computer Security Specialist plans, coordinates, and implements the organization’s information security. These workers educate users about computer security, install security software, monitor networks for security breaches, respond to cyber attacks, and, in some cases, gather data and evidence to be used in prosecuting cyber crime.

Common Work Tasks

  • Develop plans to safeguard computer files against accidental or unauthorized modification, destruction, or disclosure and to meet emergency data processing needs
  • Confer with users to discuss issues such as computer data access needs, security violations, and programming changes
  • Monitor current reports of computer viruses to determine when to update virus protection systems
  • Perform risk assessments and execute tests of data processing system to ensure functioning of data processing activities and security measures
  • Encrypt data transmissions and erect firewalls to conceal confidential information as it is being transmitted and to keep out tainted digital transfers
  • Install new security software and hardware
  • Document computer security and emergency measures policies, procedures, and tests
  • Maintain network hardware and software, direct network security measures, and monitor networks to ensure availability to system users
  • Collaborate with computer manufacturers and other users to develop new programming methods

Other Job Titles

Computer Security Specialists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Computer Support Specialists
  • Computer Systems Administrators
  • Computer Engineers
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Systems Programmers
  • Applications Programmers

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
 
A bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems is a prerequisite for some jobs; other jobs, however, may require only a computer-related associate degree. And for some jobs, relevant computer experience and certifications may substitute for formal education.

Experience
  People interested in becoming a computer security specialist must have strong problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills because troubleshooting and helping others are vital parts of the job. The constant interaction with other computer personnel, customers, and employees requires computer support specialists and systems administrators to communicate effectively on paper, via e-mail, over the phone, or in person. Strong writing skills are useful in preparing manuals for employees and customers.

Salary

The median annual salary for a Computer Security Specialist is $43,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $70,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $26,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of computer security specialists are:

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services - $46,320
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools - $41,520
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises - $47,510
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $42,610
  • Software Publishers - $49,620

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  13%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 71,000
  • Employment 2006 : 552,000
  • Employment 2016:  624,000

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