How to Become a Security Software Developer

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Security software developers create new security technologies and make changes to existing applications and programs. They may also integrate security protocols into existing software applications and programs.

These professionals often participate in the entire lifecycle of a software program. They understand the design, testing, and implementation of technologies to best meet organizational and individual needs. Security software developers carry out upgrades and make changes to ensure software safety and efficacy.

As members of software development teams, these developers collaborate with information technology colleagues. Software developers may also work independently, building each part of an application or program on their own.

Using cybersecurity, technical, and conceptual knowledge, security software developers work for government agencies, private and public businesses, and nonprofit entities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), top industries for security software developers include computer systems design, software publishing, and finance. PayScale states that security software developers earn a median annual salary approaching $73,000.

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What Does a Security Software Developer Do?

Security software developers create safe, efficient software programs and applications. They may also adjust existing applications and programs by introducing new security measures.

As professionals who participate in all aspects of software development, security software developers boast extensive knowledge of programming languages, software design, and information technology security. They protect technological data and systems in business, government, and nonprofit settings.

These professionals build experience in general software development, information technology security, and network and computer system analysis. Previous work with penetration testing, ethical hacking, and forensics can benefit security software developers, as well, enabling them to anticipate potential threats and weaknesses.

Security software developers assess users’ needs before designing software, using their assessments as a guide when testing applications and programs. These professionals integrate programming techniques, design concepts, and knowledge of software exploitation in designs and tests. Security software developers may create new tools and systems to detect and prevent vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

Security software developers document application and program functions, making changes, performing upgrades, and conducting maintenance when necessary. Security software developers coordinate the integration of software components, often working with programmers, software analysts, and executives alike. As team leaders, they function as intermediaries and facilitate timely, efficient work.

Steps to Become a Security Software Developer

Careers in security software development typically begin with an undergraduate degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. Learners gain fundamental knowledge of computer systems and networks, programming languages, and information technology architecture.

Aspiring security software developers often enter the field as general software developers. Software developers participate in all aspects of the development process. Entry-level software development positions afford opportunities to design, test, and develop software. Developers account for users’ needs, security concerns, and performance requirements at each stage of development.

Software developers work closely with coders, sometimes writing computer code themselves. They may carry out penetration tests or coordinate with colleagues to find weaknesses and vulnerabilities in their designs.

Security software developers implement security measures and test them to ensure they function. They document problems, ineffectiveness, and weaknesses, adjusting and adapting applications and programs in the process. As software applications and programs come to fruition, developers make changes and perform upgrades to ensure efficiency and safety.

With five years’ experience as general software developers, individuals can enter mid-level security software development roles. Security software developers focus exclusively on creating secure software tools. They may develop entirely new software systems or make changes to existing security measures. They apply industry standards, organizational policies, and the latest research to their designs. With vast understanding of virus, malware, spyware, and intrusion detection, security software developers create plans for software to ensure data and access integrity.

Once deployed, security software requires continued monitoring. Security software programmers provide necessary processes and training for clients and consumers to assess continued function. They may also train individuals and groups to use security software, write manuals about the applications and programs, or conduct visits onsite to test and upgrade software.

Alongside college degrees, industry certifications provide security software developers with extensive relevant knowledge and skills. The Global Information Assurance Certification offers certifications in security essentials, critical controls, and advanced threats.

Top Required Skills for a Security Software Developer

Security software developers understand the stages of software applications and program lifecycles. As individuals with programming and coding experience, security software developers know languages such as Python, Java, and C++. They also know SQL and comparable relational database languages.

These professionals have experience testing software components, as well. Ethical hacking, penetration testing, and incident management skills all prepare security software developers to anticipate security needs.

Security software developers use Windows, UNIX, and Linux operating systems alongside cloud computing technologies. Expertise in internet protocol security allows security software developers to apply industry standards for authenticating and encrypting data communication.

Strong verbal and written communication skills benefit security software developers. Often project managers, security software developers relay technical information to software programmers, coders, and engineers. They also work closely with clients to identify and articulate security needs, often explaining complex concepts and ideas to nontechnical professionals.

Security software developers apply analytical and problem-solving skills at all stages of software development. When assessing security needs, they factor in existing technologies, cost, and function. They may research new tools and technologies to find the best solutions or apply current processes and protocols in innovative ways.

As security software goes through testing and implementation, security software developers address vulnerabilities and weaknesses. They may rewrite code, employ different security tools, and revamp existing security measures. They work well under pressure, responding effectively to deadlines, security incursions, and new security threats alike.

Security Software Developer Salary

The BLS projects a 12% growth in employment for computer and information technology occupations from 2018-2028. Software developers stand to see even more gains, with an estimated 21% increase in the same time frame. Based on BLS findings, software developers earned an annual median wage of nearly $106,000 as of 2018. PayScale reports security software developers earn an average annual salary of $72,965.

As part of the software development profession, security software developers benefit from overall trends in the field. Top industries for software developers include computer systems design, software publishing, and information services. Software developers earn the highest salaries in computer and equipment manufacturing, finance, and telecommunications.

California and Texas are home to the largest populations of systems software developers and application software developers. California also offers the highest annual mean wages to systems software developers, while Washington boasts top salaries for application software development professionals.

Similarly, major metropolitan areas in California and Washington offer the highest salaries for software developers. San Jose and San Francisco, California, rank in the top two for systems software developers. Seattle, Washington, also ranks in the three highest-paying metropolitan areas for application software developers.

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Advertisement CyberDegrees.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to find a school that's aligned with your interests?

Find the right education path to take advantage of this fast-growing industry and join the front-lines on technology and security.