Network Security Careers of 2021
If you want to pursue a network security or cyber security career, you have come to the right place. The tech industry is constantly growing, as is the demand for various security specialists. With such a variety of network security and cyber security jobs available, it can be difficult to determine which is best for you.
This guide to the best network security careers of 2021 has everything you need to start your career in cyber security. Here, you will find information about what industries hire network security and cyber security professionals and what the highest-paying career paths in this field are. This article also covers the best entry-level positions to help get you started.
Why Network Security?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of information security is expected to grow 31 percent in the next decade. This is a much faster rate of growth than average. This means in-demand jobs and career security.
Most network security careers only require you to earn a bachelor’s degree. There are even online cyber security undergraduate programs that you can attend. Some jobs, such as blockchain developer, don’t require any formal education. Only some positions require a master’s degree or higher, making it easier to start your career.
The network security job of information security analyst is considered one of the best tech jobs at the moment. Alongside many other job titles, information security analysts report high job satisfaction and high salaries. This work environment is perfect for those who are already interested in network and computer security.
Where Do Network Security Professionals Work?
Network security is a broad field of work, and professionals can be found in nearly every industry. With nearly every business and organization growing more dependent on technology, the demand for experts in computer security is growing significantly.
Some of the most common network security positions, such as security managers and blockchain developers, can be found in the banking and finance industry. You will find many cyber security jobs in the business, medical, and insurance industries as well.
There is also an abundance of network security and cyber security jobs available in the government. Many government agencies hire penetration testers and ethical hackers to help protect sensitive data from cyber attacks.
The Highest-Paying Network Security Careers: 2021 List
The following is a list of the top 10 highest-paying network security careers of 2021. Most of the careers listed here can be acquired with as little as a bachelor’s degree. Information in this list was sourced from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Glassdoor. Job growth statistics in this list refer to the predicted growth between 2019 and 2029.
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
The chief information security officer is responsible for anticipating and preventing cyber attacks and security breaches. This is done by working with other departments in an organization and delegating tasks such as penetration testing. You will likely have to earn a master’s degree for this job.
Chief information security officers can most often be found in tech industries, businesses, and banking and financial industries. For this job, you will need to be a natural leader and be capable of managing teams of people. You’ll also need a good understanding of computer networking and cyber security.
Director of Information Security
Median Salary: $170,740
Projected Job Growth: 10%
Min. Education Required: Master’s in Information Security
As a director of information security, you would perform similar tasks as a chief information security officer. Rather than working with other departments, you would likely focus on the management of the security department alone. This job involves working with other security professionals to plan and maintain information security strategies and procedures.
To succeed as a director of information security, you will need to be creative, organized, and able to stick to a budget. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an expected 10 percent job growth for all computer and information systems managers. This position is in high demand and is perfect for those who are comfortable in a management position.
Security architects typically work under the instruction of directors of information security and chief information security officers. As a security architect, you would follow their directions to create a vision for the best and most feasible computer or network security system.
A good security architect is able to see the bigger picture. You will need experience with security systems and the confidence to dictate what needs to be built and how. Security architects provide the blueprints for other network security professionals to build on, so you have to be a team player with creativity.
Lead Security Engineer
Median Salary: $137,614
Projected Job Growth: 5%*
Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s in Cyber Security or Software Engineering
As a lead security engineer, you will be tasked with building, installing, and maintaining security software. This position is great for anyone who wants to become a software engineer and focus on cyber security. These positions are found in nearly all industries.
To succeed in a lead security engineer role, you’ll need to be well versed in software engineering. This means developing both your own ideas and others’ ideas. You will also have to be good at problem-solving, as many assignments for lead security engineers can be difficult to navigate.
Security Software Developer
A security software developer is similar to a software security engineer in that the role focuses on software. However, where software engineers turn ideas into functioning software, security software developers create the plans. People working in this position take ideas and design software that reflects those ideas.
Working as a security software developer, you would need to be capable of designing and modifying new software. You also need a strong understanding of how existing security software functions. Security software developers continuously improve and design security software for various businesses, so being creative is important as well.
Cyber Security Architect
Median Salary: $126,976
Projected Job Growth: 5%*
Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s in Cyber Security
A cyber security architect does essentially the same thing as a security architect. The primary difference is that cyber security architects focus only on cyber threats, rather than network and computer security as a whole.
Cyber security professionals have to know the ins and outs of the Internet. Being knowledgeable about network and information security is good, but having an education that focuses specifically on cyber security is better. To succeed in this career, you will need to be focused, intuitive, and great at solving problems.
Senior Systems Engineer
Systems engineers are responsible for the design, development, and upkeep of various computer and network systems. This includes all systems, including those meant for security purposes. As a senior systems engineer, you would be tasked with managing the rest of the systems engineering team.
A good senior systems engineer has a lot of experience in the field. This is a job typically only requiring a bachelor’s degree, so be prepared to work your way up the ladder. You will need to be a good leader and very detail-oriented.
Senior Network Engineer
Median Salary: $115,902
Projected Job Growth: 4%**
Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering
A senior network engineer is responsible for the process of setting up, maintaining, and troubleshooting computer networks. You will focus on all types of computer networks needed by the organization you work for, including security systems. As a senior network engineer, you will be in charge of a team of other network engineers.
As is typical of senior positions, you will need to be a good leader to succeed in this position. You will also need a vast knowledge of computer systems. Good senior network engineers are also able to communicate well with businesses and customers, to build both relationships and custom computer systems.
Median Salary: $107,634
Projected Job Growth: 22%***
Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s in Information Security
Blockchain developers work with blockchain technology, typically in industries such as banking, finance, and insurance. Many businesses hire blockchain developers to create the most innovative and secure projects to add to a business’s network security.
Many blockchain developers easily become self-employed and often do not even require higher education. To succeed in this type of environment, you will need to be independent and confident in your abilities. You will also need to be very organized, good at time management, and up-to-date with the latest blockchain technology developments.
Information Systems Security Engineer
Information systems security engineers piggyback off of the various other security measures put into place in an organization. As an information systems security engineer, you are responsible for using various types of software and technology to monitor and safeguard important data.
You’ll want to have a vast knowledge of anti-viral software, firewalls, and other security technology. Information systems security engineers are great with all kinds of technology, work well independently and as part of a team, and are very organized.
*Based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report on computer network architects
**Based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report on network and computer systems administrators
***Based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report on software developers
What Education Is Required to Pursue a Career in Network Security?
Most network security careers don’t require much formal education. You will likely find most job listings, even the 10 highest-paying careers, only require a bachelor’s degree. These education requirements can often be met by attending one of the best cyber security bootcamps instead.
If you are required to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science for your job position, you will likely also need to study computer and information technology, information systems, or cyber security. Many degree programs allow you to major in computer science with a focus in one or more of these areas.
For some higher-level positions, you can get ahead of the competition with a master’s degree. While this is never really a necessity for network security positions, it can help you achieve higher positions and salaries with ease.
Can I Study Network Security Online?
You absolutely can study network security online. As you research the best schools for network security, keep an eye out for online degree programs in computer science, cyber security, and information systems. You will have options for fully online studies or hybrid programs that allow for some on-campus studying as well.
Additionally, some online bootcamps focus on network and cyber security education. If you want to avoid the commitment of a coding bootcamp, you can choose to enroll in standalone online courses. There are many online options for studying network security.
Common Entry-Level Jobs in Network Security
With a bachelor’s degree or coding bootcamp certificate, you can easily find entry-level network security work. You can certainly apply for the more advanced positions, but you will find much more luck if you aim for an entry-level job.
Below are five of the most common entry-level jobs in network security. Each position is an excellent start to your career. All information in this brief list was sourced from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.
Junior Penetration Tester
Entry-Level Salary: $67,947
Projected Job Growth: 31%*
Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s in Information Security or similar field
Junior penetration testers spend their workdays hacking various systems. This is called ethical hacking and it serves a purpose. You will be showing businesses which aspects of their security systems are weak and need improving.
Junior Software Developer
Entry-Level Salary: $63,460
Projected Job Growth: 22%
Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s in Computer Science
Software developers often need bachelor’s degrees, but are also often self-taught. In this job, you will develop ideas for new software, ideally security software, and help create the blueprints for engineers to make it a reality.
Though employment of computer programmers is on the decline, this is an easy job to get started in if you are pursuing a network security career. As a computer programmer, you would write and test code in various programming languages to ensure everything is functioning properly. Computer programming is also commonly taught at coding bootcamps.
Entry-Level Salary: $51,319
Projected Job Growth: 4%
Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s in Computer and Information Technology
Systems administrators are responsible for managing the day-to-day aspects of computer and network systems. You will help determine what security needs an organization has and how to meet them. You can start this well-paying job with as little as a bachelor’s degree.
Computer Support Specialist
One of the most basic jobs you can get to start your network security career is as a computer support specialist. This is often considered one of the most important jobs in a business, as computer support specialists help solve all types of tech-related issues for other users.
*Based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report on information security analysts
Is a Network Security Career for Me?
Network security careers are typically well-paying and in high demand. Anyone interested in working in tech would benefit from a network security career. With the ability to study online and on your own time, this is an easy career path to follow for just about anyone.
Now is the right time to begin pursuing your career in network security. If any of the careers listed in this guide sound interesting to you, network or cyber security may be the right field for you. Take some time to consider your education and career goals, and use this list to determine the best network security career for you.