Computer Networking Careers: What is a Network Security Specialist?

Updated January, 2021.

There are so many computer networking skills that are in very high demand right now. Network analysis and optimization is big, and so is virtualization, data storage, and hybrid cloud management (just to name a few).

But there is one area of expertise that outranks all others in terms of demand—and that's network security.

There is a well-documented, worldwide shortage of cyber security professionals. According to the Cybersecurity Jobs Report 2018-2021, we'll have 3.5 million unfilled cyber security positions across the globe over the next 5 years.

These jobs are not concentrated in any particular country, either. Numerous regions are feeling threatened by intensifying hacker attacks and data leaks—and a serious lack of specialists available to offer solutions.

Countries with the biggest security skills shortages include Israel, Canada, the US, Australia, India, Japan, Mexico, and parts of Europe.

This research matches what individual companies are saying about their networking needs.

In the 2018 State of Infrastructure Report, 60% of polled companies said network security was one of their biggest challenges right now—and highest priority for spending.

So let's say you've looked into computer networking careers, and you're particularly intrigued by the growing opportunities for security specialists.

Here are a few things to know about getting started in this field after college.

What exactly does a Network Security Specialist do?

Network security specialists—also known as InfoSec (information security) analysts—are responsible for protecting LANs and WANs from breaches and threats—such as unauthorized users, viruses, data leaks, and ransomware attacks.

If you work in this field, it will be your job to monitor the network, consistently upgrade protection software, predict potential attacks, and implement effective recovery measures should a breach take place.

You'll need to know how to use a wide range of network security tools, including:

  • firewalls
  • automatic scans
  • security alerts
  • spam filters
  • decryption tools for data recovery
  • screen unlocker tools
  • behavior analytics to predict threats
  • protection for cloud-based services, open APIs, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices

Network security specialists know how to analyze an existing network, identify risks and vulnerabilities, and design a strategy for protecting against threats. They stay on top of new protection software, tools, and tactics, and prepare response procedures to follow should a breach occur.

If there is a cyber attack on the network, the security specialists steps in with a disaster recovery plan. Their goal is to locate and seal up the breach, unlock any seized files, and get systems back up and running as quickly as possible.


What certifications do You Need to Specialize in Network Security?

The truth is, almost every networking or IT-related position touches security in some way. That's why quality computer networking training always includes coursework on security, and preparation for entry-level security certifications (like those offered through CISCO).

These basic skills are fast becoming baseline pre-requisites for a wide range of computer networking careers.

However, if you really want to specialize in security, and qualify for more advanced jobs, you'll need extra training to build your skills and prove your knowledge to employers.

There are several well-respected certifications you can pursue to validate your expertise as a network security or InfoSec specialist. These include:

If you take a closer look at those links, you'll find that many of the certifications require candidates to have several years of professional experience before they can challenge the exam.

For example, to attempt the Ethical Hacker exam, you need a minimum of 2 years security-related job experience. Those without it must complete a training program at an accredited institution before they can qualify to write the test.

So, what if you know you want to specialize in security right after finishing your computer networking diploma? How will you break into this field and gain experience? You could start with the Associate of (ISC)² designation.

This credential is for people who don't have much work experience yet, but want to get started in InfoSec. Once you've passed the exam and earned the designation, you'll have a better chance of qualifying for a security-focussed networking position.

From there, you'll be able to get the real work experience needed to go after those more advanced cyber security certs—and become a contender for more specialized jobs.


want to learn more about computer networking training?

If you haven't started basic training yet, and are still comparing computer networking schools, we suggest talking with an admissions advisor to learn more about your options.

Whether you choose Herzing or go with another college, we're happy to discuss your goals and point you in the right direction.

Click below to explore the Computer Networking program and chat live with an Advisor right now.

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