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Cybersecurity Architect Career Guide

How to Become a Cybersecurity Architect

Cybersecurity architects, sometimes called “security architects,” are responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining the security systems within an organization’s IT network, including the computer systems and data. These professionals are crucial for protecting personal information, financial transactions, and other sensitive data within organizations.

What Is a Cybersecurity Architect?

A cybersecurity architect is an information security professional responsible for designing, building, and applying an organization's high-tech security systems. The role requires thorough knowledge of the employer’s business and a comprehensive understanding of the technology it uses to conduct operations. Cybersecurity architects consider three major factors when building security systems:

  • Hackers: Cyberattacks get more sophisticated by the day. Successful cybersecurity architects must master the ability to think like hackers in order to anticipate malicious attacks and build the infrastructure needed to defend their employers' digital systems from security risks and information theft.
  • Organization: Cybersecurity architects must be experts on the ins and outs of the organization they work for so that they know what areas need to be protected against criminal penetration and to what degree. These professionals communicate directly with business executives.
  • InfoSec Expert: Cybersecurity architects must also be masters at building security infrastructure from scratch or updating existing systems in response to ongoing changes in the security landscape. The organization’s infrastructure is based on the capabilities and interests of relevant hackers in tandem with the security needs of the organization.

As cybercrime remains one of the biggest threats to professional organizations, especially due to the popularity of remote work, the demand for cybersecurity professionals will continue to rise.

What Does a Cybersecurity Architect Do?

male DevOps engineer

Every day, businesses, individuals, and government organizations experience crippling cybersecurity breaches, phishing scams, and internet fraud. But thanks to the tactical work of cybersecurity architects, these crimes become harder to carry out. The most successful of these professionals spend their time:

  • Gaining a complete understanding of the organization’s technology and information systems.
  • Planning, researching, and designing reliable, powerful, and flexible security architectures for IT projects.
  • Performing vulnerability testing on the completed infrastructure, including risk analyses and security assessments.
  • Researching the latest security standards, new network security systems, and updated authentication protocols.
  • Defining, creating, implementing, and maintaining needed corporate security policies and procedures, making sure that employees abide by them.
  • Developing requirements for IT assets, including routers, firewalls, local area networks (LANs), wide-area networks (WANs), virtual private networks (VPNs), and any other related network devices.
  • Reviewing and approving the installation of all firewalls, VPN, routers, servers, and IDS scanning technologies.
  • Preparing cost estimates for all cybersecurity measures and identifying any potential integration issues.
  • Designing critical public infrastructures (PKIs), including digital signatures and certification authorities (CA).
  • Testing the organization’s final security structures to make sure they function as planned.
  • Providing technical guidance and supervision for security teams.
  • Taking charge of any security awareness programs and educational efforts to better prepare non-IT personnel.
  • Responding immediately to any security-related incidents (e.g., data breaches, viruses, phishing scams) and providing a complete post-event analysis once there is a resolution.
  • Updating and upgrading the organization’s security systems as needed.

How Do I Become a Cybersecurity Architect?

Cybersecurity architecture is a highly technical career that requires a comprehensive education as well as years of experience in the IT field. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to starting your journey on this career path. 

The first, and perhaps most essential, step to becoming a cybersecurity architect is to earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. WGU's Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance degree will equip you to outsmart the most sophisticated cybercriminals and work on the front line for governments and top organizations as a cybersecurity master. This program will give you all the foundational knowledge you need to anticipate the crimes of hackers and build infallible systems. Designed with input from cybersecurity experts, this degree program meets the most recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Security Agency (NSA) guidelines. This program has also helped WGU receive the designation of a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense through 2026, so you can feel confident that you’re earning your education from a top-rated institution. This program includes 14 in-demand certifications that will set you up with a strong résumé right out of college. 

After earning your bachelor’s degree, you may want to pursue your master’s degree in cybersecurity to deepen your knowledge in the field and create more higher-paying job opportunities. While this step isn’t 100% necessary, particularly passionate and ambitious students will find that this makes them more competitive in the job market and quicker to secure leadership positions. WGU's online Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance prepares you to enhance your tools to protect sensitive data at top organizations like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple and can increase your earning potential and opportunities for advancement in the field.

Like WGU’s bachelor’s degree, this program is closely aligned with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) and was designed with input from cybersecurity experts to align with the most recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Security Agency (NSA) guidelines.

There’s a wide variety of certifications you may need depending on your niche, the industry you work in, and your job experience. Some of these certifications you'll earn while completing your degree program. Others you’ll earn on your own. In some professional roles, your employer will require, and pay for, certain certifications. Some of the most common certifications held by cybersecurity professionals include CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Systems Security (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), and Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP).

  • Gain five or more years of experience working in entry- and middle-level roles

Cybersecurity architect is a senior-level position, so you’ll need to get some experience in the IT world before jumping into this role. Some common entry- and mid-level roles are security administrator, network administrator, system administrator, security analyst, security engineer, security consultant, and security specialist

Best Degrees for a Cybersecurity Architect

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.


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What Skills Does a Cybersecurity Architect Need?

A great cybersecurity architect needs a very comprehensive set of hard skills in order to be successful. This is a high-stakes career, with highly sensitive information and hundreds of millions of dollars on the line. So, a keen expertise and sharp attention to detail are of the utmost importance. The most important skills of a cybersecurity architect include:

  • Utilizing emerging technologies to design and implement security solutions.
  • Consulting and engineering in the design and development of security best practices.
  • Security considerations of cloud computing, including data breaches, hacking, account hijacking, malicious insiders, third parties, authentication, APTs, data loss, and DoS attacks.
  • Creating, tracking, and enforcing policies that govern access management to sensitive technology resources and information assets.
  • Knowledge of Windows, UNIX, and Linux operating systems.
  • Knowledge of VB.NET, Java/J2EE, ColdFusion, API/web services, scripting languages, and a relational database management system (RDBMS).
  • Thorough understanding of relevant industry security standards and protocols.
  • Thorough understanding of the ISO 27001 specifications for an information security management system.
  • Knowledge of router, switch, and VLAN security.
  • Thorough understanding of risk assessment procedures, policy formation, role-based authorization methodologies, authentication technologies, and security attack pathologies.

How Much Does a Cybersecurity Architect Make?

$150,000

The average cybersecurity architect's salary in the U.S. is $150,000 per year or $76.92 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $131,625 per year while most experienced workers make upwards of $186,207 per year.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

33%

The job outlook for cybersecurity and information security analysts is very promising with a projected growth rate of 33% from 2020 to 2030. About 16,300 security architect jobs openings are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Where Does a Cybersecurity Architect Work?

Varies

Cybersecurity architects typically work for larger organizations that manage sensitive data in the private and public sectors, such as corporations and government organizations. The highest concentration of cybersecurity jobs is in and around Washington DC, where analysts work for the federal government, protecting very sensitive data.

Interested in Becoming a Cybersecurity Architect?

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