What is a Cyber Security Administrator?
An excellent position within the cyber security field is that of cyber security administrator, also called the IT security administrator, security administrator, network systems administrator, or systems security administrator. What this employee does in a routine day relies heavily on the size of the employer and the nature of the industry you are a part of: finance, healthcare, retail, banking, or government.
Beginning cyber security administrators have usually earned their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Or, they may have attended a bootcamps that taught them what they need to know and enabled them to earn experience and vital certifications. Degrees from a university are usually preferred, along with prior experience working in information technology (IT). People who are interested in cyber security as a career don’t have to earn earlier degrees (associate or bachelor’s) in a computer- or IT-related field. As long as they have a degree in a different field, along with experience that transfers to a technical field, they should do well.
Steps to Becoming a Cyber Security Administrator
Cyber security administrators are specialists with the knowledge and expertise companies need to protect themselves and their data from cyber-thieves. They may work for the government, private companies, corporations, or for national or international firms. Their main responsibility may be to protect the data belonging to their employer, but they do so by leading a team of IT professionals and maintaining best practices throughout the organization. They prevent attacks, detect attempted intrusions, and respond to attacks as they are in progress. They may also help choose and install the security systems needed to maintain their firewalls.
Step 1: Enroll in a Cyber Security/Information Security Program
Step 2: Take Part in an Internship
Step 3: Find a Job
Step 4: Earn Needed Certifications
Step 1: Enroll in a Cyber Security/Information Security Program
A degree program in some aspect of cyber security or information security is part of what makes this professional highly valuable to a company. If a professional already has an undergraduate degree in a different field, they may be able to apply to a master’s degree or MBA focused on cyber security. While taking certificate courses can be useful, they have their limitations.
Knowing that companies are struggling with a shortage of more than two million cyber security professionals, anyone who is interested and has met some of the requirements may be able to land a position in cyber security. Salaries for cyber security managers are close to $100,000 and, with time in their positions, these security administrators will see their median salaries going up. A person interested in this career path can enroll into a master’s degree program in cyber security and embark on an exciting career.
Step 2: Take Part in an Internship
Companies offering cyber security services to organizations without their own cyber security department or employee covering IT security responsibilities may hire information technology interns who are currently enrolled in educational institutions – this may include institutions from high school all the way up to the bachelor’s level. If you are earning anything less than a master’s, you’ll want to make sure that you find yourself an internship of some kind to get your foot in the door of IT.
Interns shouldn’t spend their days answering phones; instead, they’ll work on their cyber security skills by working together with other cyber professionals. Those with the best internship experiences will work closely with others on the IT team on mission-focused projects; in addition, interns can expand their skills, learn in a fast-paced environment, and enhance their upcoming careers. They may also gain exposure to cyber security work that isn’t in their current assignment by way of working in a larger IT environment.
Step 3: Find a Job
As students near their graduation dates, it’s time for them to begin looking for the cyber security positions they most want. As you consider existing job openings, you should keep your mind open to all available possibilities. For instance, you may want to work as an administrator but, if you don’t have much experience, you may need to work as vulnerability tester (penetration tester) for a while in order to have the opportunity to advance.
Other mid-level positions include cyber security consultant/manager and cyber security analyst. And, once you’ve been chosen for advanced-level work, you might then work as a security manager or cyber security architect.
Step 4: Earn Needed Certifications
New graduates and cyber security professionals alike can gain much by seeking out security-focused certifications, which will provide them with insight into the work they do every day.
Some of the many options available include:
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC): br This prepares IT professionals for the unique challenges they face and enables them to become valued partners to the company.
- Certified Ethical Hacker CEH):
This certification allows penetration testers to build their skills so that they are able to look for vulnerabilities in systems. They learn to use the same tools as a malicious hacker, only they use them for good.
- Certified Information Privacy Professional/US (CIPP/US):
Cyber security administrators who earn this certification become familiar with U.S. privacy laws and regulation.
- Certified Information Systems auditor (CISA):
This certification is for cyber security professionals who audit, control, monitor, and assess information technology systems for organizations.
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM):
This is considered to be one of the most sought-after certifications and these professionals are some of the highest paid.
What Does a Cyber Security Administrator Do?
The cyber security administrator is the front person for an entire cyber security team. It’s their job to install and administer the security solutions for an organization, making changes when necessary to combat new threats. They also troubleshoot the software if something goes wrong.
Cyber security administrators also write up and support the use of security policies and the companion training documents used by the team. The administrator concerns themselves with the entire system and its security rather than focusing on specific parts. They are the professional who defends the entire system and turns back any cyber-threats.
Other responsibilities may also include:
- Developing/updating protocols for business continuity and disaster recovery
- Defending network systems from unauthorized access, modification, or destruction
- Training other cyber security employees and increasing their security awareness and ability to follow procedures
- Scanning a network and assessing it for vulnerabilities or reading the reports from those who do and deciding on a course of action
- Putting network security policies in place, which includes application security, access control, and the safeguards for corporate data
- Watching network traffic for unusual activity or reading the reports of those who do
- Configuring and providing support for security tools: firewalls, patch management systems, and anti-virus software
Cyber Security Administrator Skills to Acquire
- Problem-Solving Skills:
Problem solving skills help cyber security professionals as they inspect a company’s network system to determine how best to protect it. They should know existing digital environments and become familiar with those now emerging.
- Knowledge of Security on Various Platforms:
Professionals who are up to date on cloud networks, computer systems, wireless networks, and mobile devices need to be reading and learning almost all of the time in order to stay up with the fast pace of advancement.
- Technical Aptitude:
Cyber security professionals will be working with technology on a daily basis. Their daily responsibilities include troubleshooting, carrying out continuous network monitoring, updating the company’s information security systems, and providing security solutions in real-time.
- Communication Skills:
While you’re working with computers, you’ll also need to communicate well with people in other departments and managers. You’ll have to be able to express your concerns, findings, and solutions to them. Speaking and writing clearly is a valued soft skill.
- Effective Management Skills:
Cyber security managers manage people as well as network systems. They should know systems requirements, financial analyses, ethics, project management, data analysis, business intelligence, information security, and topics in global cyber security but they also need to be able to effectively manage a team that may have varying priorities and differing levels of interaction with the rest of the company’s departments.
- Broad Business Knowledge:
While the cyber security manager has to know about all things cyber, they should also have business skills across the field. This includes sales, finance, accounting, operations, human resources, marketing, and any other department they might need to work with.
Cyber security is one industry where a professional doesn’t have to earn a degree, but it is definitely preferred. If the professional is able to, they can show their competence by developing their own projects or taking part in competitions. Certifications will also demonstrate the cyber professional’s knowledge. At the least, employers will see that applicants are passionate enough to have sought out the certification on their own.
Cyber security professionals should be ready to accept an entry-level job, which may mean working during the less-popular weekend and overnight hours. However, experience can give you what you need to get into the position with a lower-level degree. These positions include systems administrator, IT technician, information security analyst, network engineer, and junior penetration tester. Eventually, they will find a position and they can show their value and begin advancing up the ladder.
One major factor for employers and job applicants to consider that companies in the U.S. and around the world are hiring cyber security professionals as fast as they can. The backlog of jobs waiting to be filled is believed to have expanded to 3.5 million in 2021. In 2014, it was one million. And it may get worse before it gets better; 58% of CISOs worry that the lack of expert cyber staff will get worse.
Cyber Security Administrator Career & Salary
Where Might You Work?
A cyber security professional may find work in private companies, corporations, the armed forces, government contracting, financial services, healthcare, or education. They may also work for an information technology organization that works in consulting with other industries. Really, considering how ubiquitous technology and big data have become, you may be able to find some sort of computer-related position in nearly any company in nearly any industry.
Depending on the work environment, cyber professionals may be expected to carry out more general roles because the company may not be large enough to hire a full team of cyber professionals. In a large company, the professional may find themselves working within a large team, with everyone assigned a specific role such as penetration testing, security consultant, analyst, network security administrator, or security architect. All of these roles ensure good cyber security for their employer’s network systems. Any time a breach takes place, all specialists will be required to work on narrowing down where the break-in occurred, what the possible damage is, how to block the cyber-thief, patching the opening and all other openings that made the network vulnerable, and hardening the network’s security.
The employment picture for cyber security management professionals is bright. As of the 2019-2029 time frame, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that their employment will grow by 31%. The demand for cyber security professionals, including cyber security managers, is high and will remain so until companies, non-government agencies, private companies, and corporations are able to fully staff their security needs.
Cyber-attacks keep happening more and more often and cyber security specialists are needed to monitor systems and keep hackers and cyber-thieves from getting into a network and stealing or locking private or critical information and causing issues for operating systems. Banks and financial institutions are particularly vulnerable to security issues. If one hacker breaks into their systems, they can cause major damage. Healthcare networks and facilities are also extremely vulnerable; cyber-thieves can obtain financial information, information about each patient, their dates of birth, etc.; and they may commit identity theft or threaten to shut down the hospitals vulnerable systems, risking loss of life and health for their patients.
New graduates and professionals switching from one employer to another are seeing growth in their field. The rate of growth expected is faster than for all other occupations in the U.S. Cyber security managers are needed because of the complexity of technology and because people are so involved with their devices on a day-to-day basis. A skilled cyber security professional may have their choice of positions and, if they have earned certifications and done their work well, they may begin moving up into executive management right away. The range of positions runs from security software developer, computer forensics, chief privacy officer, and chief information security officer, among others.
Computer and Information Research Scientists:
This professional is responsible for designing and building new developments in computing technology. They also work with existing technology and find new uses for it. A master’s degree is required.
Computer Network Architects:
The education requirements for this position include a bachelor’s degree. Computer network architects design and build data communication networks. These include local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets.
Computer and Information Systems Managers:
These professionals work to plan, coordinate, and supervise computer-related activities in a company. A bachelor’s degree is often sufficient for this position.
Computer Support Specialists:
Applicants for these positions may need an associate degree, though many employers prefer candidates have bachelor’s degrees. These professionals provide help, guidance, and advice to organizations and computer users.
These professionals write and test computer code, allowing applications and software programs to function as intended. A bachelor’s degree is needed.
Computer Systems Analysts:
These professionals study the current computer systems of an organization, then find and develop a solution that works more efficiently and effectively. A bachelor’s degree is needed.
These professionals should have bachelor’s degrees. They work with specialized software so they can store and organize an organization’s data.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators:
These professionals are responsible for operating the daily functions of computer networks; as long as they hold a bachelor’s degree and meet a company’s specific requirements, they’ll qualify for this position.
Web Developers and Digital Designers:
This position requires an associate degree. Professionals in this role develop and create new websites. They test the website or interface layout and functions and check them for usability.
These individuals create the software systems or applications running on computers or mobile devices. A bachelor’s degree is needed for this position.
Computer Hardware Engineer:
A bachelor’s in computer engineering is needed for this position, but employment numbers are rising for these specialists.
Advancing from Here
After putting a few years in as cyber security administrators, professionals may be ready to move up in their field. In general, the best way to do so is through education. If you have a bachelor’s, you can earn a master’s degree. Or, if you are set on moving into management or further into the business side of the field, you may want to earn an MBA. Outside of education, the primary means of “moving up” or advancing in the field is to earn certifications. There are practically hundreds of certifications available, from general certifications for specific positions, such as penetration testers or systems analysts, to certifications meant to help professionals prove they have the chops to work with specific software systems, such as CISCO and SQL certifications.
No matter where your career is headed, if it needs a boost, you might want to look into your educational or certifications options before you take your next step.
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