How Do I Become a Security Engineer?

Security Engineer Job Overview

As one of the most creative jobs in the field of cyber security a security engineer is the individual who conceptualizes and breathes life into all of the security systems of an organization or corporation.

Security Engineer Duties

  • Design the product lifecycle
  • Perform vulnerability tests
  • Conduct a risk analysis and engineer new ways to solve cyber security issues
  • Create formal reports detailing every stage of the product’s lifecyle and then discuss report details with other in the security team as well as across departments
  • Provide training regarding matters of cyber security
  • Define “audits” and define “threats” for greater clarity among colleagues
  • Build firewalls, and anti-virus software and mend systems that manage security
  • Develop and modify software tools for quality information assurance
  • Test your software, and hardware and continually supervise for any changes
  • Supervise for any vulnerabilities or information assurance breeches within telecommunications
  • Assess company or organization’s user requirements/ needs and design according to standard analysis codes
  • Analyze network security architectures and network design diagrams

Product Lifecycle

As you may be able to recognize through context cues, a “Product Lifecycle” is a product’s existence from conception to use. As an engineer you are probably used to creating and overseeing every aspect of your design. As its maker, you understand how it works. Yes, you are Frankenstein, but to make the clear much called for disambiguation, Frankenstein was the creator, not the monster. Let’s digress now and examine the beast from birth to well, in many cases rebirth. Like the monster in Frankenstein. Now, about that digression…

The Cycle of Life

  • Conceive- necessity will be the mother of this invention. User need drives the idea
  • Design- make your art, engineer this is where you get to use your creativity skills
  • Realize- not only your own potential with your unique engineering mind, but also make the monster
  • Service- now it’s time to assess what you’ve done, give it some touch ups if necessary and coax others to treat your creation with respect

Security Engineer Career Pathway

Based on your starting point (whether you’re already active in cyber security, a service member, IT specialist, or a student) there are a few paths to entering into the role as a Security engineer. We’ve listed some different levels at which you can engage in security engineering jobs below. These levels will depend on the typical number of years of experience associated with career stages (entry, middle, senior) as well as how specialized your education is. For an in-depth look at how job experience in cyber security and education levels compare and contrast, check out our guide on how to prepare for a career in cyber security.

A note on this position: you will want to start with a Bachelor’s in Cyber Security, though evaluate the job market and take a look at what is required- you may be good to go with an and a certification in cyber security. If you want to do a little more digging, and are not quite ready for a degree in cyber security check out how to get all of the information for free using Cyber Security MOOCs. Also note that years of experience and a thorough understanding of what the role entails are very impressive and valuable to a potential employer.

Side note on the positions below: Some job titles are tiered within that position- a position labeled “mid-level” for example, may have a range between mid to advanced.

  • Entry level:junior vulnerability assessor,system administrator, security administrator
  • Mid-Level Level: penetration tester, vulnerability assessor, security engineer, Vulnerability Assessment Analyst
  • Senior Level: Vulnerability Assessment Analyst, CISO, Security director, Cyber Threat Analyst, Senior Security Engineer

Technical Skills Needed of Security Engineers

  • Split multi-line trunking
  • C++
  • C#
  • Other development languages, most commonly Python, Java, and Javascript
  • Penetration Testing
  • Vulnerability Testing/ security testing
  • Prevention Protocols
  • Encryption Tech, Subnetting
  • Unix/Linux and Windows
  • Hardware and Software- test bed design
  • SPNs, VoIP, VLANs network routing methodologies
  • Cloud Security
  • Web-based protocols such as HTTPS
  • Understanding of secure frameworks like NIST, HIPPA,SOX
  • Reverse engineering
  • Social Engineering, NAC, APT

Soft Skills Required of Security Engineers

  • Innovative
  • Troubleshooting, reasoning, and problem solving
  • Creative
  • Strong Oral and Written Communication
  • “Sticktoitivness”
  • Inquisitive
  • Calm and Positive under Pressure

Security Engineer Job Outlook and Salary

There are hundreds of jobs available for Security Engineers across the nation, and over a million positions recently opened in the general field. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security positions are projected to grow by 18% by 2024, which is much faster than average for other fields. According to Glassdoor the average salary for a Security Engineer is $105,527 per year with a range from $77,000-$140,000+ per year. This is a fantastic mid-level career with very straight forward educational requirements- for many a bachelor’s and a CISSP certification with 2 years of experience will land you in a position that offers a fantastic salary. For more information on how to become certified check out our resources section below.

Security Engineering Resources