This article is part of an IT Career News series called Your Next Move. These articles take an inside look at the roles related to CompTIA certifications. Each article will include the responsibilities, qualifications, related job titles and salary range for the role. As you consider the next move in your IT career, check back with CompTIA to learn more about your job prospects and how to get there.
Demand for cybersecurity jobs is growing, and working as a network security specialist is a great example of how you can leverage your technology and analysis skills to solve problems that contribute to high-level organizational decisions. If you enjoy the challenge of keeping bad actors at bay, network security specialist may be a good next step for you.
What Is a Network Security Specialist?
A network security specialist is responsible for the procurement, set up and maintenance of hardware and software systems designed to ensure network security in the following ways:
- Deploys, tests and maintains security systems like VPNs, firewalls and email security
- Ensures hardware and software are well maintained and up to date with security requirements
- Confirms that the current network system security is suitable for future requirements
- Works with external suppliers to source solutions
- Generates performance reports
- Communicates with management to promote security best practices
The network security specialist supports the IT security team. They will identify and solve network problems both remotely and on premise. Some network security specialists research, evaluate, recommend and implement other security devices as well. This could include installing computer security software, conducting regular security audits, assisting in disaster recovery and gathering evidence regarding cybercrimes.
Network security specialist roles can vary in title depending on the industry. Some jobs fall under the title of information security analyst, IT security specialist or network security engineer.
How to Become a Network Security Specialist
Most companies hiring a network security specialist are looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field like computer science, information technology or management information systems. A network security specialist is a mid-level role that typically requires 2 to 3 years of experience working in networking systems. Aspiring network security specialists should be knowledgeable in network access control (NAC) systems, firewalls, routers, incident response techniques, intrusion prevention systems, information security methodologies, authentication protocols and different attack types.
CompTIA Network+ teaches the skills necessary to begin a career in IT infrastructure covering troubleshooting, configuring and managing networks. The latest version of the CompTIA Network+ (N10-008) exam addresses current networking technologies and proves candidates have the knowledge and skills required to:
- Design and implement functional networks
- Configure, manage and maintain essential network devices
- Use devices such as switches and routers to segment network traffic and create resilient networks
- Identify benefits and drawbacks of existing network configurations
- Implement network security, standards and protocols
- Troubleshoot network problems
- Support the creation of virtualized networks
CompTIA Security+ validates the baseline skills necessary to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career. Successful candidates will possess the practical knowledge and problem-solving skills required to:
- Assess the security posture of an enterprise environment and recommend and implement appropriate security solutions
- Monitor and secure hybrid environments, including cloud, mobile and IoT
- Operate with an awareness of applicable laws and policies, including principles of governance, risk and compliance
- Identify, analyze and respond to security events and incidents
CompTIA PenTest+ teaches the skills required of a network security specialist. Specifically, CompTIA PenTest+ is for cybersecurity professionals tasked with penetration testing and vulnerability management and requires candidates to demonstrate the hands-on ability to test devices in new environments such as the cloud and mobile, in addition to traditional desktops and servers.
The new CompTIA PenTest+ (PT0-002) will launch on October 27, 2021 and will prove successful candidates have the knowledge and skills required to:
- Plan and scope a penetration testing engagement including vulnerability scanning
- Understand legal and compliance requirements
- Analyze results
- Produce a written report with remediation techniques
In addition to the certification, CompTIA will release a full suite of training products to help you learn and practice penetration testing and vulnerability management skills and prepare for your certification exam.
Network Security Specialist Salary Range
The median annual wage for network security specialists is $84,810 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Network Security Specialist Job Outlook
From 2019 to 2029, The BLS projects an increase of 4% for network security specialist positions with 16,000 net new jobs expected during that 10-year period.
Job Titles Related to Network Security Specialist
Will your next move be network security specialist? If so, download the exam objectives for CompTIA PenTest+ to learn more.