Any organization with an online presence must rely on a team of professionals to keep data safe. As companies continue to move their operations online, the extent to which they become vulnerable to hacking attempts increases. Information security professionals work at the forefront of online security and safeguard the data of their employers from outside security breaches.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes an expected growth rate of 22 percent for information security professions from 2010 to 2020. This is a significant rate of growth, and reflects the increasing demand for information security professionals as a means to defend against cyberattacks. Information security is crucial to both business and government security, and information security professionals are expected to have significant job opportunities as more organizations begin moving to cloud-based storage systems.
Information assurance is a relatively new field, and responsibilities of information security professionals continue to develop as cyberattacks become more prevalent. At its most basic, the role of an information security professional is to monitor the security status of an organization’s computer systems and develop increased protection against intrusion as necessary. This responsibility requires ongoing research into the latest hacking strategies in order to anticipate and prevent future security breaches.
Information security professionals are also responsible for developing an organization’s disaster-recovery plan to prepare for cases where hackers may successfully break into an organization’s systems. To do this, information security professionals work closely with other members of the IT department and with upper management to create the best system of protection and recovery possible.
Information security professionals usually work full time, and may be required to remain on call outside of normal working hours in the event of an unexpected security breach. In 2010, about 17 percent of information security professionals were self-employed.
The BLS reported a median annual salary for information security professionals of $75,660 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent of professionals in terms of wages reported earning less than $43,190, while the highest 10 percent reported earning more than $119,940.A more recent survey by Robert Half Technology reported information security professional salaries of between $85,000 and $117, 750. (just delete this sentence if it’s not acceptable)
Employment prospects and salary ranges typically vary based on an individual’s work history, physical location and educational qualifications.
Aspiring information security professionals typically need a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as computer science or programming. While some employers have looked for business degrees with a focus in information technology in the past, an increasing number of programs in information technology at the master’s level, such as the Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT), may become the more common degree path for information security professionals.
Beyond formal education, information security professionals have a number of different certifications available to showcase up-to-date skills. Information on these certification options, such as those offered through the GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) program, can help professionals gain a competitive edge.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of information security to organizations in this digital age. Information security professionals work at the forefront of technology development, constantly assessing the degree to which their systems are protected. An exciting career prospect for those with interests in technology, computer systems or cybercrime, information security professionals enjoy high demand for their skills and an opportunity to provide a vital service to organizations ranging from small businesses to major corporations and government agencies.
If you enjoy the prospect of carefully analyzing hacking situations and computer systems and working with a team that safeguards an organization’s sensitive data, you may wish to consider a career as an information security professional.