How to Become a Security Manager

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Security managers run their organizations’ information security-related operations. They supervise information security analysts and administrators and assume responsibility for the big-picture elements of cybersecurity. Because their work proves so important to their companies’ success, security managers often earn handsome salaries. PayScale reports that information security managers earn a median annual income of over $113,000 per year.

This page covers how to become a security manager, outlining the necessary steps to enter this lucrative, exciting career. Read on to learn about the educational, experience, and certification requirements for companies hiring security managers. This page also details the hard and soft skills employers look for in security managers. Read to the end of this guide for a sense of security manager salary expectations and job growth.

What Does a Security Manager Do?

Security managers’ daily duties depend on where they work, their industry, and the size of their company. Those at large investment banks, for example, may oversee teams of security analysts and other technology personnel. Security managers working for small businesses may manage just a few people. In big companies, these professionals often focus on managerial responsibilities, while managers in smaller companies may take on more hands-on roles.

Security managers deal with high-level IT security issues, supervising employees who implement and configure security measures. Their duties include hiring new employees, preparing and overseeing budgets, and evaluating and ordering new security tools and technologies. They also develop wide-ranging policies, regulations, and strategies to enhance the security of their organizations’ computer networks and systems.

Security managers prove crucial to their firms’ success, since they oversee operations that defend against unwanted cyber intrusions. Through their work, security managers ensure their organizations’ data, financial assets, and customer information stay safe.

Steps to Become a Security Manager

Prospective security managers should understand the basic steps they need to undertake. No degree guarantees entry into a particular career, but this section explores potential academic paths for security managers. It also details the professional experience IT professionals must complete before assuming roles as security managers.

When it comes to education, employers generally require information security workers to hold a bachelor’s degree. They usually prefer applicants with degrees in information security-related disciplines, such as information technology, information assurance, or cybersecurity. Many universities offer information security as a concentration within a computer science bachelor’s program.

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Senior-level security manager jobs often require a master’s degree in a field like cybersecurity or information systems. Since security managers need excellent managerial skills, degrees in IT management or business administration may prove beneficial for finding a job. By earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an IT-related field, graduates can show potential employers that they possess the technical skills and conceptual knowledge necessary to protect information systems from attack.

Aspiring security managers can demonstrate mastery in the field through professional experience. Security managers supervise lower-level security employees, so they need strong managerial skills, as well as a robust command of information security procedures and technologies. These professionals generally need at least five years’ experience in the information security field, and they can work their way up to a management role through jobs such as information security analyst, security administrator, or network administrator.

Along the way, security professionals can further develop their security and management abilities through cybersecurity certifications.

Top Required Skills for a Security Manager

As with any job, employers seek some specific abilities when hiring new security managers. These include soft skills which apply to most jobs, such as communication, listening, writing, and collaboration. Information technology careers, such as security management, also require certain hard skills. Many companies test job applicants on their technical abilities through skills exams.

Prospective security managers enjoy several options for building their hard and soft skills. Security managers often develop foundational IT skills through bachelor’s degrees in computer science, cybersecurity, and information systems. These programs teach students the basics of hardware, software, networks, and security. Students gain additional skills through master’s degrees in the field.

Outside the classroom, information technology employees can build their skill sets on the job by learning from more experienced colleagues and supervisors. Certifications represent another way to sharpen skills and demonstrate expertise to employers.

In terms of hard skills, security managers need a strong command of information security measures, IT security architecture, and network architecture. On a basic level, they must know their way around various operating systems, including Linux and Windows. They must also be familiar with firewalls, intrusion detection protocols, and intrusion prevention measures. The aforementioned skills apply to many entry-level and intermediate cybersecurity jobs, such as information security analyst and security administrator.

In addition, security managers need strong communication, leadership, and strategic decision-making skills, since they need to manage employees and make important, timely decisions.

Security Manager Salary

Information technology occupations generally pay well, which proves especially true of senior-level positions in the field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and IT professionals earn a median annual salary of $86,320 — more than double the median salary for all occupations ($38,640).

BLS data indicates that computer and information systems managers take home a median pay of $142,530 per year. The top 25% of information systems management earners make at least $180,190 per year. Even the bottom 10% of information systems managers take home up to $85,000 per year.

This salary range is due in part to differences between various industries and locations. For instance, the top-paying industries for IT managers include financial services and electronic component manufacturing. In New York, California, and New Jersey, IT managers earn more than their counterparts in other states.

The career is experiencing rapid growth, as well. The BLS projects employment for computer and information systems managers to jump by 11% from 2018-2028, creating almost 50,000 new jobs.

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NOTE: Take a look at our Guide to Cybersecurity Certifications for more information and advice.

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