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IT Security Specialist Career


What is an IT Security Specialist?


An IT security specialist is well versed in the world of information security and the challenges that network security brings, including an in-depth understanding of a variety of cyber security threats and any other vulnerabilities that may affect the company they work for. They’re tasked with being the ultimate problem solvers, drawing on a wealth of knowledge to enhance information security and defend their employer and fellow employees from attack, while routinely strengthening those systems to seal off vulnerabilities. The more a security specialist can guard against attacks, the more a business is able to function at full technological throttle.

Cyber security jobs of all sorts are becoming increasingly crucial in the digital age. From a specialist to an analyst to the IT security director, there are many jobs that focus on network security and all of these positions are vital for information security success. It’s not just that more companies are adopting technological advancements to run their businesses—it’s that those advancements are becoming increasingly sophisticated and, in some ways, invite a challenge from hackers looking to breach those systems. As a result, cyber security jobs have only grown in importance and demand—especially with the growth of ransomware attacks and data breaches that expose sensitive information. And while Silicon Valley still wears the crown as a technology business stronghold, businesses and organizations ranging from nonprofits and hospice care, to colleges and universities, to private sector industries and the government need security specialists to help protect their tech networks, too.


What Does a Security Specialist Do?

The actual job description of a security specialist can be hard to pin down, because these specialists may have varying duties based on their actual position. But typically these specialists are expected to install, configure, and maintain security software designed to prevent outside attacks on the company’s internal network. IT security professionals are also be expected to monitor the company network for any breaches or vulnerabilities, devising plans for further safeguarding as needed.

In the worst-case scenario, these specialists are expected to address cyber attacks with analysts and other information system's experts by employing effective countermeasures that protect the company’s most vital and sensitive data. They may also be required to train company employees on security protocols and help them set up their computers, e-mail, firewalls, and other associated tech in compliance with company security measures. Staying up to date on industry standards is key, as is being aware of impending threats that could affect the company network.

Other elements of their job description may include:

  • Ensuring security updates are current across all systems
  • Running network tests and testing firewalls, creating patches or implementing new protocols as needed
  • Monitoring security administrations to ensure best practices
  • Liaising with complementary departments to ensure adherence to security protocols
  • Analyzing network systems and structures to ensure the most secure approach is being employed
  • Ensuring security tools are running properly on company networks and devices
  • Researching emerging threats and the safeguards that can provide protection
  • Protecting the digital system of a company
  • Developing systems for specialized security requirements based on specific company needs
  • Optimizing systems to ensure the network is supportive and responsive
  • Presenting findings, reports and solutions to upper management
  • Studying devices and implementing the best security protocols for everything from cell phones to tablets to laptops

One thing’s for sure—with this job description you'll never be bored! But being a key component of a company's information technology needs can be a rewarding responsibility.


What Education Does an IT Security Specialist Need?

As you might expect, IT security specialists require extensive technical skills and knowledge to effectively do their jobs. And while it’s important to have fluency in programming languages and experience with UNIX-, Linux-, and Windows-based systems, it’s even more important to have a bachelor’s degree to be qualified for this job.

IT security specialists can opt for a degree in computer science, cyber security and information assurance, or network operations and security. There’s also the option to go the extra mile and attain a master’s degree in categories such as information technology management. Choosing a reputable online degree program can make earning your bachelor’s or master’s more accessible by granting you freedom and flexibility in managing your course load.   

Best Bachelor's Degrees For IT Security:


Information Technology – B.S.

Award-winning coursework and value-add certifications make this online...

Award-winning coursework and value-add certifications make this online program a top choice.

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish within 39 months.
  • Tuition: $3,625 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 36 total courses in this program.

Certifications included in this program at no additional cost:

  • CompTIA A+ 
  • CompTIA Network+ 
  • CompTIA Security+ 
  • CompTIA Project+ 
  • CompTIA IT Operations Specialist
  • CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist 
  • Amazon AWS Cloud Practitioner
  • ITIL®*^ Foundation Certification
  • LPI Linux Essentials

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Scripting and programming
  • Networking and security
  • Systems and services
  • Data management
  • Business of IT

Data Analytics – B.S.

Lean into data, and walk away with a cutting-edge online degree:...

Lean into data, and walk away with a cutting-edge online degree:

  • Time: 62% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,735 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 39 total courses in this program.

Certifications in this program at no additional cost include:

  • AWS Cloud Practitioner
  • CompTIA Data+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • Udacity Nanodegree—a unique, highly recognized credential designed to prepare you for a career in data science
  • MSI Change Management (Optional Certification)
  • Certiprof Design Thinking Professional Certificate (Optional Certification)

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Data management
  • Data wrangling
  • Statistical analysis
  • Visualization
  • Leadership and management 
  • Model deployment & storytelling

Cybersecurity and Information Assurance – B.S.

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

Protect your career and earning potential with this degree.

  • Time: 60% of graduates finish within 29 months.
  • Tuition: $4,265 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 34 total courses in this program.

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

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Secure Systems Analysis & Design
  • Data Management
  • Web and Cloud Security
  • Hacking Countermeasures and Techniques
  • Digital Forensics and Incident Response

How Much Does an IT Security Specialist Make?


According to, the national average salary for an IT security specialist is $95,689 based on a scale that checks in at $45,000 per year on the low end and up to $102,000 per year at the high end. The pay rate can depend on the industry—for example, companies such as Target pay as much as $155,892 per year for an IT security specialist, while Boeing offers an annual salary of $119,450. The U.S. Army also offers $4,244 per month for their IT security specialist roles. 

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


The good news is, the job outlook for IT security specialists is exceptionally strong—and only getting better. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in this sector is projected to grow 31% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Plus, demand for this role continues to be exceptionally high with no signs of slowing.


What skills does an IT Security Specialist need?

Education is only part of the equation that makes up the wealth of knowledge an IT security specialist needs to bring to the table. Your tech skill set will need to be top notch and always evolving with this job. Some of the most important skills employers look for in an IT security specialist include:

  • Problem-solving capabilities in high pressure environments
  • Understanding of programming languages such as C++, PHP, Java, and more
  • Knowledge of software, including anti-virus, anti-malware, and other protection programs
  • Critical thinking and a troubleshooting mindset
  • Experience with Linux-, Windows-, and UNIX-based systems
  • Knowledge of authentication methods and security administration
  • Interpersonal skills to work cross-functionally between necessary departments
  • Strong ethics and an unshakable moral compass
  • Understanding of ethical hacking techniques and threat modeling
  • Interpersonal skills to support other staffers in adapting security measures
  • Knowledge of authentication methods
  • Ability to perform penetration and vulnerability testing
  • Strong communication skills with ability to present key findings to management

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Interested in Becoming an IT Security Specialist?

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