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Network Security Engineer Career

How to Become a Network Security Engineer

Cybercrimes are a major threat to organizations in all industries. Unfortunately, many businesses—particularly small businesses—are not adequately equipped to defend against cyberattacks. Despite constant advancements made by cybersecurity professionals, hackers continue to find new ways to breach firewalls and other sophisticated security measures. Some of the most common attacks include phishing, compromised devices, and credential theft. 

In 2022 alone, over 4,100 publicly disclosed data breaches occurred in the U.S., equating to approximately 22 billion records being exposed. With a rising need for better security measures, there’s consistently a high demand for talented, well-educated network security engineers, who create and maintain stronger networks.

What Is a Network Security Engineer?

Network security engineers are responsible for designing and administering organizational network security systems and protecting systems from vulnerabilities, including bugs, malware, and hacking attempts. Most of their work consists of identifying and addressing the security gaps in a network. They also test and configure hardware and software systems in a greater effort to keep an organization’s information safe. These IT professionals are highly specialized in designing, implementing, and monitoring impenetrable computer networks, which is increasingly important for modern businesses.

What Does a Network Security Engineer Do?

A network security engineer wears many hats in their pursuit of creating and maintaining secure systems. All of their responsibilities are dedicated to ensuring that the computer networks in their organization are as impenetrable as possible. Some of these responsibilities include:

male DevOps engineer
  • Ensuring proper and regular maintenance of firewalls.
  • Making sure that web and email security protocols are maintained.
  • Tracking, recording, and monitoring any security issues.
  • Investigating and resolving any vulnerability or security issues that may arise.
  • Ensuring periodic testing of the organization’s network and systems from a security point of view.
  • Staying up to date on the latest threats in the cybersecurity domain in order to guide and advise the organization regarding the upgrading of systems.
  • Putting identity and access management (IAM) policies in place to prevent unauthorized access to company data.
  • Ensuring that systems are back up and running after any security attacks.
  • Making sure that security policies are updated on time and are always up to date.
  • Maintaining servers, routers, switches, and existing security as required.
  • Maintaining firewalls, VPNs, VLANs, VoIP, and web and email security programs and protocols regularly.

How Do I Become a Network Security Engineer?

Network security engineering is a highly technical career that requires an advanced education and certification. Here’s a detailed, step-by-step list for how to become a network security engineer:  

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in an IT field such as computer sciencenetwork engineering or cybersecurity.

WGU's bachelor’s degree in network engineering and security teaches you everything you need to know to design, develop, and optimize computer networks of modern businesses. This program’s curriculum is highly applicable to the current job market, designed to prepare you to graduate with all the skills needed to lead a successful career as an IT professional. You’ll also be ready to earn the certifications you need to stand out to future employers. 

2. Earn a master’s degree in a related field, such as cybersecurity and information assurance.

If you’re interested in pursuing a leadership position or a better salary and benefits, consider earning your master’s degree in a field such as cybersecurity and information assurance. WGU’s master’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance prepares you to continue building your skills to better protect sensitive information at top organizations. Getting this degree can maximize your earning power and open more opportunities for career advancement in the cybersecurity field.

3. Gain work experience.

On-the-job experience is the best way to hone your skills as a network security engineer. Through entry- and mid-level jobs, you’ll develop an expert knowledge in computer fields such as data networking and programming languages. Although, network security engineering isn’t an entry-level position, so you are more likely to work in an introductory role in network administration first.

4. Get certified.

You can make yourself even more competitive in the job market by earning relevant certifications. This will signal to employers that you really know your stuff. Some of the most common certifications for network engineers include:

Best Degrees for a Network Security Engineer

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.

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


Network Engineering and Security – B.S.

For network engineering and security professionals looking for a...

For network engineering and security...

For network engineering and security professionals looking for a Cisco or vendor-agnostic experience.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish similar programs within 39 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,625 per 6-month term.

Two focus areas: Students can choose between a Cisco or general program, allowing them to learn and gain experience in their chosen specialty.

Certifications: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Project+, CompTIA Cloud+, ITIL®*^ Foundation Certification, LPI Linux Foundations

The Cisco program also includes: Cisco CyberOps, Cisco DevNet, Cisco CyberOps

The general program also includes: CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA IT Operations Specialist (Stacked), CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist (Stacked), CompTIA Cloud Admin Professional (Stacked), CompTIA Secure Cloud Professional (Stacked)

This program will help you develop strong skills in network design, network operations, and security management.

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 Network Security Engineer Need?

Cryptographer coding

Some of the most important skills that a network security engineer possesses include:

  • Proficiency in conducting regular vulnerability assessments of the networks to prevent any security incidents.
  • Thorough knowledge of programming languages such as Java, C++, and JavaScript.
  • Expertise in penetration testing, networking, system administration, and operating systems.
  • Awareness of the latest methods and tools used by hackers to break into systems.
  • Competency to use the available tools to discover any dubious movement in the system.
  • Capability to manage risk and ensure disaster recovery in case of a security event.
  • Crucial soft skills such as clear written and verbal communication with team members and senior management. 
  • Knowledge of cyber laws and compliance requirements.
  • Ability to conduct an in-depth analysis of computer networks and identify any vulnerabilities or gaps in the system. Attention to detail is a fundamental personality trait of a network security engineer.
  • Quick decision-making to more efficiently solve problems and ensure faster recovery in case of a security event. 

How Much Does a Network Security Engineer Make?


Network security engineers make an average salary of $99,424 per year in the U.S. and receive an average annual bonus of $8,641.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for information security analysts will grow by 35% from 2020 to 2030. This growth rate is four times faster than the average for all U.S. occupations and will produce an average of 19,500 job openings for information security analysts each year over the course of the decade.

Where Does a Network Security Engineer Work?


You can find network security engineer jobs in a variety of industries, most commonly computer systems design and related services, finance and insurance, information, management of companies and enterprises, and administrative and support services.

Interested in Becoming a Network Security Engineer?

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

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