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Application Security Engineer Career

How to Become an Application Security Engineer

Does the idea of hunting down application vulnerabilities before hackers do seem exciting? What about adding value to a business by securing its software? If so, then a career as an application security engineer might be ideal for you. 

Applications, especially on the web, are targeted and easily exploited by cybercriminals. Since web applications have a large attack surface via the user interface, an application security engineer is needed to protect applications from attacks by developing, inserting, and testing security components in order to ensure every step of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) is secure. Additionally, an application security engineer provides technical leadership and guidance to the application security team.

What Is an Application Security Engineer?

Security used to be an afterthought within the SDLC, but now that companies spend up to $2.5 million on average recovering from a malware attack, the hiring of proactive security professionals is a top priority. Just like other kinds of engineers, application security engineers anticipate structural vulnerabilities and determine how to correct them. Their work includes updating software, creating firewalls, and running encryption programs within a computer network or application. Security engineers actively develop and enforce security plans and standards through regular testing and hacker simulations. Their goal is to find and repair areas of weakness before cybercriminals have a chance to compromise the code or application. In the instance of a security concern, these professionals react quickly to contain the issue, protect data or information, and collaborate with other team members to recover.

What Does an Application Security Engineer Do?

male DevOps engineer

As application security engineers work to analyze, evaluate, and develop security strategies, their day-to-day duties include:

  • Providing technical leadership, guidance, and direction to the application security team.
  • Developing and maintaining documentation of application security control.
  • Implementing software application security controls.
  • Performing application scanning and testing.
  • Designing technical solutions to address security weaknesses.
  • Analyzing system services and spotting issues in code, networks, and applications.
  • Following security best practices in performing tasks.
  • Developing and maintaining software application security policies and procedures.
  • Communicating the nature and severity of security concerns to the development team.
  • Helping the development team assess and remediate concerns. 

How Do I Become an Application Security Engineer?

The first step to becoming an application security engineer is to earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance or computer science. The next step is to gain experience working closely in application development or analytics. Experience is especially important in this field, as the more hands-on opportunities you have within various arenas of information security, the more knowledge you’ll bring to engineering and collaborating with other team members. Most application security engineer job openings require at least two to four years of entry-level experience.

In addition to a degree and work experience, many employers also seek out individuals who have improved their skills by obtaining certifications such as a Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP), a Secure Software Practitioner (SSP), or a Certified Application Security Engineer (CASE). If you’re interested in advancing into a leadership role, then earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance can further develop your expertise and earning potential.

Best Degrees for an Application Security Analyst

Cybersecurity and Information Assurance – B.S.

Protect your career and earning potential with this degree....

Protect your career and earning potential with...

Protect your career and earning potential with this degree.

  • Employer approval: 74% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition: $3,950 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Cyber crimes investigator
  • Director of cybersecurity
  • Chief of cyber counterintelligence
  • Cybersecurity engineer
  • Cyber operations planner

Certifications included in this program at no extra cost include:

  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) - Associate of (ISC)2 designation
  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) - Associate of (ISC)2 designation
  • ITIL® Foundation Certification
  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst Certification (CySA+)
  • CompTIA IT Operations Specialist
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Network Vulnerability Assessment Professional
  • CompTIA Network Security Professional
  • CompTIA PenTest+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Security Analytics Professional


Cybersecurity and Information Assurance – M.S.

Become the authority on keeping infrastructures and information...

Become the authority on keeping infrastructures...

Become the authority on keeping infrastructures and information safe.

  • Time: 76% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,295 per 6-month term.
  • Certifications: cost of two EC-Council certs, included.

The curriculum is closely aligned with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workforce Framework, plus includes the opportunity to earn these certifications:

  • EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker
  • EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)

This program was designed in collaboration with national intelligence organizations and IT industry leaders, ensuring you'll learn emerging technologies and best practices in security governance.

Computer Science – B.S.

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your task: ...

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your...

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your task:

Lay the groundwork for the computing breakthroughs that will enable tomorrow's technologies. 

  • Time: 67% of graduates in similar programs finish within 30 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,625 per 6-month term.
  • Transfer: Your previous college coursework and existing certifications may waive course requirements, helping you finish even faster.

You'll have the opportunity to earn these certifications:

  • CompTIA Project+
  • Axelos ITIL Foundation

Professionals who need the skills a computer science degree provides include computer systems analysts, computer programmers, artificial intelligence specialists, software engineers, machine learning engineers, and more.

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What Skills Does an Application Security Engineer Need?

An IT-professional runs a diagnostics check on a server rack.

A security engineer needs a wide variety of technical and nontechnical skills to be successful. Some of the necessary skills include: 

  • Knowledge of web application security
  • Knowledge of the SDLC
  • Knowledge of security capturing and consolidation
  • Understanding of coding 
  • Understanding of cryptography
  • Understanding of automation enablement 
  • Familiarity with an organization’s incident response plan
  • The ability to collaborate and communicate effectively
  • The ability to manage multiple expectations and deadlines at once
  • The willingness to analyze and adapt to changes as needed
  • The willingness to learn on the job
  • The readiness to quickly solve problems as they arise

How Much Does an Application Security Engineer Make?


The average salary for an application security engineer in the U.S. is $125,772, between $91,648 at the lowest range and $172,602 at the highest. California, Washington, and New York rank as the highest-paying states for security engineers. 

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


As more software programs and applications are developed, the need for security engineers to combat potential cyberattacks will only increase. Currently, the job field for security analytics and engineering is projected to grow by 35% between 2021 and 2031, significantly faster than the average occupation.

Where Does an Application Security Engineer Work?


Most application security engineers work inside software or IT companies or within the IT department of an organization. The largest employers of information security professionals are computer system design services, finance, insurance, and the information sector. Long hours are common in the field, so a willingness to work more than 40 hours per week and outside of normal business hours may be expected for success.

Interested in Becoming an Application Security Engineer?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this lucrative career.

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