Interested in learning how to become a network security administrator? When nearly every company has some form of an IT system to run their operations, network security admins have become increasingly important.
According to Zippia, there are over 8,000 security admins employed in the USA.
As you consider the next move in your cyber career, this article will help you learn what security admins do, their salary, the benefits of taking this career path, the qualifications needed, and a lot more. Let’s dive in!
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How to become a network security administrator? Click below to find out!
What is a Network Security Administrator?
Security administrators are responsible for creating a safe and reliable digital environment for the organization ideally without interruption from security-related issues.
They work together with network and systems administrators to ensure any implemented security solutions are playing the role they were designed to play.
As such, they’re mainly concerned with managing systems as a whole and not the individual parts.
Security admins may also train colleagues on the operations of such solutions.
This can be done through face-to-face interactions or by creating policies regarding how the various security solutions should be used.
How Much Does a Network Security Administrator Make?
Of course, one of the factors to consider while choosing a career is the potential salary once you’ve acquired the necessary skills.
According to data from Salary.com, the median salary of a network security admin is about $82,956/year.
With more experience, you can earn over $90K per year.
Network Security Administrator Responsibilities
A network security admin is responsible for installing, implementing, and troubleshooting the company’s security solutions. Let’s take a more specific look:
Ensuring company networks are safe by scanning and assessing them to detect any security vulnerabilities. If any are detected, a security admin needs to fix or ensure closure of these vulnerabilities before they cause havoc to the organization.
To install and configure security systems, including antivirus applications, firewalls, and patch management systems. The security admin needs to choose the right vendor for these security systems and also ensure they are updated at all times.
Sharing knowledge with employees regarding the overall security of the systems used in the organizations. Security admins should also be available for consultation in case a concern arises related to the security of the tools being used.
Ensuring all information systems are protected against unauthorized access, modification, or in the worst case, destruction. They put mechanisms in place that requires every user to authenticate before gaining access to the system.
Monitoring network traffic for any abnormal activities. This may involve installing network monitoring tools that can alert all the concerned parties if any unusual activity is happening with the network.
Developing and updating security protocols to ensure business continuity.
Working with incident responders to create network and system recovery plans that can be implemented during emergencies. They also need to ensure that teams are effectively trained on disaster recovery protocols.
Network Security Administrator Skills
Let’s take a look at some of the skills needed to be successful as a security admin.
Security administration is a very sensitive task, and most organizations can’t afford to trust someone who is minimally skilled. Some of the essential technical skills expected of a network security admin include the following:
Familiarity with popular desktop operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix. Having knowledge about mobile operating systems like iOS and Android is an added advantage.
Advanced knowledge of Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS).
Familiarity with networking concepts such as Proxy Servers, Packet Shapers, and Load Balancers.
Familiarity with common security protocols, including SSL, HTTP, DNS, SMTP, and IPSec.
In addition to the technical skills, network security administrators also need soft skills. Some of the most relevant skills of a security admin include the following:
Patience. Certain problems you’ll encounter will take time to resolve, so patience is key.
Collaboration and effective communication skills. You’re expected to work with various team members; therefore, it’s important to learn how to interact to create a professional working environment.
Reporting skills. You will often have to provide reports to colleagues and your seniors about the ongoing events in your docket.
In addition, you must have a keen eye to pay attention to detail, show initiative when appropriate, display your ability to resolve complex problems, and have an open-minded attitude.
The Path to Becoming a Network Security Admin
Now that you know the responsibilities and skills of being a security admin, here’s how to become one.
Some employers require a bachelor’s degree or higher in computer science, software engineering, information technology, or cybersecurity before considering you for a security admin position. However, having a degree is by no means the only way to get a security admin job.
Even if you don’t have a degree, your primary focus should be studying network security. You should frequently update your knowledge through reading books, research papers, and articles related to cybersecurity.
Another popular option to learn and prove your knowledge of cybersecurity principles is by studying for and passing security certifications.
Having an industry-recognized certification will give you an edge over the competition. Even if you have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, seeking additional security certifications will add more weight to your resume, making it easier to get a job as a network security admin.
Some of the popular security certifications include: Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), EC-Council Network Security Administrator (ENSA), and CompTIA’s most popular security certification, Security+.
Most of the above certifications can be acquired in less than one year and will cost an average of $500 to $1000.
So, if you want to expand your knowledge and increase your bargaining power in this field, getting several of the above certifications is the way to go.
If you’re the type that needs more hands-on experience, then taking a security course, commonly referred to as a “bootcamp,” is another way to enhance your knowledge.
Bootcamps offer intense training in several fields related to cyber security, including network security administration, principles of computer science, penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, data security, and more.
However, keep in mind that security bootcamps are no joke; the average cyber security bootcamp can take between 3 to 9 months to complete and range in price between $9,000 to $20,000.
If you have the time and financial means, bootcamps do give you the opportunity to learn at an incredible pace while providing you experiences you won’t get from studying on your own.
Above all, experience is king. Many companies, in lieu of a degree, are willing to hire someone with the necessary experience in security administration.
So, even if you’re not a college graduate or don’t have a security certification, you still have a chance of becoming a security admin if you can show a minimum of 3-5 years of security experience.
Being a network security admin requires taking several steps to get the necessary skills and experience.
But even if you don’t possess both, you can still get your foot in the door through other means. Be patient and keep moving forward in acquiring new knowledge and experience. Your efforts will be worth it!