Cyber-attacks are a serious threat to many companies across different industries. Hackers are becoming smarter and more advanced at penetrating firewalls and other security measures. In 93% of cases, external attackers can penetrate a company’s network perimeter and gain access to their local network resources. The demand is high for preventative measures.

According to a cybercrime study, 43% of cyber-attacks aim at small businesses but only 14% prepared to defend themselves. Common attacks include compromised devices, phishing, and credential theft. As more companies begin to take cybersecurity seriously, the demand for network security engineers will only continue to increase.

What Does a Network Security Engineer Do?

A network security engineer, or cyber security engineer, is responsible for the design and implementation of network security solutions in an organization. They specialize in protecting the company’s computer networks and systems from cyber-attacks, hacking attacks, infiltration, intrusion, and natural disasters. 

These engineers also ensure that data security, information security, and cybersecurity measures are followed in development, staging, and production environments. They often act as a technical resource that helps other teams in the organization to navigate and educate clients on technical matters. 

A network security engineer may install and configure computer networks like internet connections, such as Local Area Networks (LAN), Wide Area Networks (WAN), and other data communication systems. But their main role is to identify and resolve any vulnerability or security gaps in the network infrastructure.

A cybersecurity engineer ensures that security policies are updated on time and are always up to date. They often put identity and access management (IAM) policies in place to prevent unauthorized access to company data. They also maintain firewalls, VLANs, VoIP, VPNs, and web and email security protocols regularly. 

How To Become a Network Security Engineer

Cybersecurity threats are always changing and network security engineers are expected to stay on top of them. The role calls for IT networking and programming skills as well as the ability to keep up with information security trends. So, here are the steps to help you become a network security engineer

  • Earn The Necessary Qualifications 

Most cybersecurity positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s degree, in cybersecurity, software engineering, systems engineering, computer science, information systems/management, or a similar field. Such degrees will equip you with the technical knowledge and skills that are needed to help you succeed in this career. 

Aspiring network security engineers should focus on modules such as the design and building of software systems, risk assessment methods, computer forensics, and network architecture. These would help to prepare them for the real-world challenges that exist in the cybersecurity world. 

There are some professional cybersecurity certifications that many companies look out for. They help to show expertise and validate knowledge of best practices. Cybersecurity engineers are in demand and can become leaders by gaining work experience and earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity or software development. 

There are certain skills that network security engineers ought to have as they’re in demand. They need to understand programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, C++, PowerShell, or SQL. They should be proficient in conducting regular vulnerability assessments of the systems to prevent any security breach also. 

Cybersecurity engineers should know how to communicate effectively with team members and senior management. They also need to know and adhere to important cyber laws and compliance requirements in their field. They should make quick decisions and ensure faster recovery in case of a security event. 

A network security engineer should be willing to improve their skills and keep an eye out for the latest cybersecurity news and trends. They have to be aware of the newest methods that cybercriminals are using. They also need to develop better ways to protect organizations from serious cyber threats and attacks. 

  • Build on-the-job Experience 

Apart from formal education, there are other ways to gain experience and stand out in the cybersecurity field. Fresh graduates can start by getting an entry-level certification that helps to prove their expertise in network security. An example is the CompTIA Security+ Certification which emphasizes hands-on practical skills. 

A cybersecurity boot camp is another way to gain some real-world experience and make your resume look more impressive. It’s short-term training that teaches all the key competencies needed for an entry-level job. These boot camps are highly intensive and they usually run for 3 to 6 months.

Cybersecurity grads can gain experience through internships or similar on-the-job experience. Indeed, these are temporary positions that allow candidates to get hands-on training in a real-life scenario. Some entry-level cybersecurity jobs include information security analyst, system administrator, IT support specialist, junior penetration testers, etc. 

What Are the Career Prospects?

As more companies continue to digitize their business operations and processes, they will need to protect their systems from potential threats and vulnerabilities. Cyberattacks such as mobile malware attacks, large-scale data breaches, and more are growing rapidly and becoming more dangerous than ever. 

The pressing need to safeguard and secure digital assets continues to boost the demand for cybersecurity engineers. There’s a workforce gap of nearly 4.1 million workers in the cybersecurity field. Likewise, we would need a 145% increase in the number of qualified network security engineers (2.8 million) to fill this gap. 

More people should be encouraged to pursue a career in network security and help fight against cybercrime. Network security is an in-demand field that pays handsomely and offers a high job satisfaction rate. According to Payscale, the average salary of a network security engineer is around $92,000 per year.