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Computer security specialists may work for a company, or they may work as independent contractors. They can evaluate the level of security needed for a computer system or network, develop a plan for installing a security system, and implement the plan. They may also be responsible for monitoring a computer network's security system while it is in place. Computer security specialists may be asked to conduct classes on computer security for a company's employees or to prepare security manuals to be used by a company's employees.
Computer security specialists may be asked to respond to a security breach or cyber attack on a company's computer systems. They may be asked to gather evidence to prosecute a person or persons who have illegally entered a company's computer system or network. Computer security specialists may work as consultants in the development of computer software, especially security software.
Computer security specialists should enjoy working with computers and be analytical in nature. They should be able to communicate effectively by writing and speaking. Computer security specialists should enjoy working with people, but they should also be able to work on their own without direct supervision.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008 the median annual income for people working in computer professions with the training level of computer security specialists was approximately $66,310. The top 10 percent made in excess of $104,070 annually.
Training and Education
While is is still possible to enter and work in this field with a combination of hands on experience and training or certification programs, a majority of employers are now expecting new hires to have at least a bachelor's degree. In many cases computer security specialists have a master's degree in a computer specialty. This is due in a large part to the advances in computer technology over the last decade and the advanced programs being developed to infiltrate computer systems illegally. Computer security specialists also have to continually update their education to keep up with the rapid changes in computer technology. Most colleges offer 4-year degrees in a number of computer-related fields, and many colleges offer graduate degrees in computer specialties.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2008 there were about 327,850 people working in computer professions with the training level of computer security specialists. These people worked for companies and industries, for the government, for educational institutions, and other organizations using computers.
The computer security specialist field is projected to grow much faster than most occupations over the next 10 years, and possibly beyond. The field is expected to expand by 27 percent between 2006 and 2016. This rapid growth is due to the increased dependence on computers for businesses, industries, government, and educational institutions to function on a daily basis. The increased dependence on computers to transmit and store secure or private information makes it vital that the systems in use are secure and safe for organizations and their customers to use. The use of computers and the Internet for banking and retail has also expanded over the last decade and is expected to continue to grow. The safeguarding of institutional and private data is very important in these fields, and the need for trained computer security specialists should grow as these fields expand.